Re-Lenting image


I’m not at all sure about lent.

Everyone seems to be doing it. As well as the traditional ‘no chocolate for six weeks’ there are multitudes swearing off social media, which I guess is the contemporary equivalent of chocolate. Our own dear departed Andrew counts among this number.

The virtues of lent are obvious. Demonstrating that we are not enslaved to something by choosing not to use it for a time is good. Spiritual disciplines are good. Prayer and fasting are good. Taking time to think about the cross of Christ is very good: on the strength of Liam’s recommendation I have ordered a copy of ‘The Final Days of Jesus’.

I am also by temperament and theology inclined to an appreciation of seasonality. I have a fairly robust theology of the Sabbath and I like to adjust the pattern of my life in response to the changes of season, ‘from seedtime to harvest’. I am reasonably disciplined about such things as the time I get up in the morning and the exercise I take. I have been blogging through the seven deadly sins for goodness sake. I am a natural lent candidate! And yet, and yet… To me lent can feel just a bit too good, good…goody-two-shoes.

So it was with some enjoyment that I read this ‘vent about lent’ (even if the typeface caused me anything but joy. HT Reformation 21); just at I enjoyed St Stuffed Shirt’s advice on twitter:

The opportunity created by lent for Phariseeism is exceeding great. De-toxing is one thing, but self-justification through self-effort is dung. The gospel brings freedom, and that includes a freedom not to conform to societal pressures. I can tweet or not tweet, drink or not drink, without gaining or losing spiritual merit. There are disciplines I choose to employ because I find them helpful for my spiritual, emotional or physical health, but the standard I am measured against is not whether I keep this feast or that day – such things are mere shadows (Col. 2: 16-17). Rather my justification is in Christ. So it is with joy and freedom that I keep a bar of quality chocolate in the drawer of my desk, lent or no lent – after all, chocolate is for life, not just for Easter.

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