8 Apr 2011
Lenten Reflections (No. 17) - Jesus gave it ALL up, not just chocolate
South Africa is big on traditions, but Lent isn't one of them! I've been living here for almost 2 years, and during the first year I was quite disconcerted to discover I had missed Shrove Tuesday. No pancakes on the floor, let alone in my tummy. Not even a glimpse of the ad reminding us not to forget the pancakes on Jif Lemon day (do they still have that?!). Growing up, I never really gave up anything properly for Lent, but I was always very aware of the time and the countdown towards Easter. It was a time of checking in with friends to see what kind of 'rules' they had on what they could eat and when. Mostly there was a get out clause of Sundays being a time of sweets or chocolate as it 'didn't count!'
As I moved away and grew up a bit, and Jesus became more of a reality than a rule maker to me, I realised the significance of Lent. Lent for me is time for a reality check. To look at the things I take for granted in my life, the things I'm leaning on too much, the wants I consider needs and the comforts that I'm not willing to give up if God asked me. Jesus was led into the wilderness for 40 days, away from the crowds, away from the comforts, away from food, just to spend time with his Father and be strengthened and renewed. So much so that He could stand up to temptation even at the very end. These times, when God has led me away from things that are taking me from him, sometimes forcibly, and asked me to spend time with Him, these times are always the times when I come away strengthened and renewed, able to turn from temptations. This, for me, is Lent. It isn't always coming up to the calendar time of Easter, but it always leads to a renewal in me. A reminder that Jesus gave it ALL up, not just chocolate, so that I could have that renewal and new life.
Cape Town, South Africa