WHEN we talk about Lent, we often ask each other ‘What have you given up?’ It’s usually something like chocolate, alcohol or Facebook.
That’s a completely valid thing to do in Lent, and it comes from the Christian tradition of fasting – depriving yourself of one or more meals each day, and using the time and energy to focus on God instead.
But giving something up isn’t the only way that we can show a fresh commitment to God during Lent.
For some people, starting something new or doing something different might be a way of using Lent positively.
At Whiteley Church, we’ve signed up to do something called 40 Acts, which is run by the Christian charity Stewardship. Each day, we’re given a challenge to do something radically different and generous to help other people. It might involve sharing time, money or resources.
So the challenge one day might be choosing to visit an older person who might be feeling lonely, or a new parent who needs help with a baby. Another day it might be deliberately telling someone how valued they are, or taking time to listen to someone we might not normally have time for.
We’re sharing these challenges every day via Facebook groups to members of Whiteley Church and people living in Whiteley who don’t go to church. Participants are invited to say what they did, and what they learnt from doing it. Both primary schools in Whiteley are also involved and enjoy seeing each day’s new challenge.
And it was also the theme of our Messy Church in Lent.
Because there are 40 days in Lent, between Ash Wednesday and Good Friday, there are 40 different challenges, a new one each day. These are small acts of generosity that any of us can do. None of these individual acts will change the world, but the 40 Acts community has more than 100,000 people signed up, and between us all, we hope to make Lent a better time for others.
It’s not too late for you to sign up too – just go to 40acts.org.uk and register.
Whether you are a Christian, a worshipper from another faith, or even if you have no faith, we can all make our local community a better place – one step at a time.
Whiteley Curch meets at Whiteley Community Centre, Gull Coppice, PO15 7LA Sunday services: 10.15am (apart from first Sunday of the month, when Messy Church meets from 4-5pm in the community centre or Cornerstone Primary School – please call 07760 771667 for details).