Sunday, March 13, 2011

Please don't ask what I'm giving up for Lent

by Connie Thomas

Ah, the season of Lent- that time of year when everybody knows, no matter what their religious beliefs, that "good little Christians give up something they love for 40 days." I'll be honest- I used to be one of those people who never went to church but gave up something for lent each year. You know, just because it was a thing to do and I thought it made up for all the church I never went to.

At Community of Travelers tonight, we talked about this concept of giving something up for Lent, and what it all means. The short story is this- it's not about giving something up that you love, it's about getting to a place in your mind and heart where you can open up and listen to God. It's not just about cutting caffeine out of your diet and being cranky to anybody that will listen. It's about removing those things from your life that you use in order to fill that God sized hole in your heart.

One thing Pastor Tommy said tonight that really struck home for me is that, instead of giving something up, he focuses on adding something to his life. If the goal is to get closer to God, instead of giving up chocolate, add a morning prayer to your routine. Instead of giving up reading Cosmo magazine for Lent, read more books about God. Or, join a bible discussion group, volunteer to help people- do good in this world. It can be pretty darn easy to give up something superficial since you can always replace it with something else equally superficial. It can be much more meaningful to make small changes to your life that bring you closer to God.

So, to answer your question, I'm not giving anything up this year for Lent. I'm putting my energy into adding things- like morning prayer, reading a book about the bible, and attending more church activities (St. Aidan's offers all sorts of good stuff, like a discussion group on Wednesday nights, if you're looking for something).

On a separate note, I went to a more "traditional" service for Ash Wednesday down on the peninsula. Oh man, did I miss Community of Travelers. The whole thing seemed to be about "repent!" and "you're a sinner!" How refreshing to come to service tonight and see a dog running around and hear Tommy talk about hope, life, and love!


  1. "But unless you repent, you too will all perish", said Jesus to his disciples. Perfect words of love and life for sure. Our precious Lord and Savior is unambiguous when our lives are at stake. Lifesavers seldom speak in euphemisms when about their work. If we say we are without sin the truth is not in us. If we do not acknowledge our sinfulness, is there really a need for a Savior?

  2. I refer to it as a "GUS" or "TOM" choice about Lent (Give Up Something or Take Up More).