Lent: a time for contemplation and action

Lent: a time for contemplation and action

Taking place over forty days, Lent is a time for Christians to give something up, pray…and take action.

The word ‘Lent’ comes from a Latin word meaning “to lengthen.”

Many Christians mark Lent by giving something up, a sacrifice that marks Jesus’ forty days spent in the desert tempted by Satan. The first day of Lent is always Ash Wednesday, the day after Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day). Lent finishes on Holy Saturday.

People give up a wide variety of things for Lent, including chocolate, Netflix, coffee, alcohol, and hobbies or habits.

Far from being a time when people passively give something up however, Lent’s prominent position on the Christian calendar can also make it an ideal time for focused actions.

Reclaiming Jesus is a group of American Christians concerned that the Religious Right have co-opted faith. Reclaiming Jesus have announced that they will use Lent 2020 as a time to fast, pray, and act. 

A statement signed by elders of the Reclaiming Jesus movement outlines much of the purpose of Lent:

“Regular spiritual disciplines can deepen our faith, inform our citizenship decisions, and lead us to find the courage to stand up for the most vulnerable and if need be to protect our very democracy.”

Closer to home, a group of Uniting Church members use the forty days of prayer and giving something up to focus on donating to an important cause. Lent Event is a forty-day challenge raises funds for UnitingWorld, the Uniting Church’s overseas aid and development agency.

Participants pledge to give up something for Lent. They then either donate the money saved by giving that up or ask for donations from family and friends.

Since 2009, Lent Event has raised over three million dollars for people living in the Pacific, Asia, and Africa through long-term partnerships.

Lent 2020 begins on Wednesday, 26 February and finishes on Thursday, 9 April.

To sign up for Lent Event, visit the website here.

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