I know exactly what you are going to say to me. Didn’t we just make it through the Christmas season? Isn’t Christmas actually not even over yet until the season officially ends on the sixth of January with the start of Epiphany?
That is all very true. But it doesn’t change the fact that the season of Lent will begin just a little bit more than a month from now. I have considered mounting an appeal on the grounds that Easter is clearly coming far too early this year, but I understand that the scheduling is all tied up with other matters (something to do with full moons and solstices) and so I expect it will be denied.
So really, Lent will be upon us before we know it and so I am turning my thoughts to my preaching during that very important season. Today I had a bit of inspiration. I was thinking of the traditional practice associated with the season of Lent (mostly practiced by Roman Catholics) of “giving up” something for Lent. The idea is that you are supposed to give up something that you like (like chocolate or meat or coffee) for the season as a kind of special personal sacrifice. It is a fine practice, but I have never really taken it up because it is not really part of my traditions.
But I have been thinking of using the practice to spur my preaching in the upcoming season. I want to ask the question, “What do I want to give up for Lent.” But I don’t want to talk about giving up things. It is maybe too easy to give up things and I’m not sure it always gives the right message — the idea of giving up something but not because it is a bad thing, merely because it is a certain time of the year. What I want to talk about giving up is certain attitudes — particularly those attitudes that we sometimes cling to because they make us feel good but that are generally not all that helpful. Perhaps we could use this season to try and see what living without those attitudes could be like. We may find that we could all do a lot better without them.
What kind of attitudes am I talking about? How about, for example, the attitude where we want everything to be always organized to our liking and we don’t ever allow for spontaneity. I think that attitude can sometimes be deadly in a church. Sometimes, I think, God is more present in the spontaneous moment or reaction that in anything we can ever plan. But that is just one example that comes to my mind.
What do you think? What attitudes do you think that we could take a break from during Lent? I’d love to hear your suggestions.
Also need some pithy titles!