Lent starts today. Traditionally this has been used by Christians as a preparation for Easter based around the idea of 40 days starting the day after Ash Wednesday. The idea of 40 crops up many times in the bible. It rained for 40 days and 40 nights on Noah (Gen 7v4), Israel wandered 40 years in the desert (Numbers 14v33), Jonah gave Nineveh 40 days to repent (Jonah 3v4) and Elijah survived 40 days in the wilderness without food*. The most likely reason the time period of lent is that Jesus went for 40 days and 40 nights in the wilderness without food before he was tempted by Satan. In giving something up you turn towards God more, at least that is the idea.
I have only once given up something for lent, that was chocolate last year. I found this surprisingly easy. This year a member of family has decided to give up meat for lent. This happened three years ago and at the time seemed a right hassle. However, this time I’m very enthusiastic so my lent activity will be to cut down on our meat consumption. There are several reasons for this change of heart. Firstly at least one of the younger members of the family will now eat vegetables and in fact is asking for vegetarian meals to be cooked. It seems to me that liking vegetables is foundational to being a vegetarian! Second, I am sometimes helping to lead the cooking for my churches Saturday night meal for the homeless. This includes a vegetarian option. I need quick and easy to cook recipes for this. Third, as I have blogged on before the amount of meat in the Western diet is not sustainable production wise, health wise or peak oil wise. Also I want to try new recipes out and have a bit more variety.
I have found it despite trying difficult to cut down on our meat consumption. This forces change. I’m sure one of the ideas behind lent is that some of the sacrifices we make during it become habit forming. That should be perfectly possible when I have learnt some delicious new recipes. More lent action including a lent study guide here.
*this is just the major ones searching for “forty” in my bible software brings up many others.