THE first day of Lent begins on Wednesday 17 February: Ash Wednesday. Growing up in the Protestant tradition I never understood why people would walk around with dirt on their foreheads. As I studied Theology I realised that this day belongs to all of us.
As the sign of the cross is traced on our foreheads, we are reminded that ‘We are dust, and to dust we shall return.’ Ash Wednesday is an opportunity to face our mortality.

This season has certainly shone a spotlight on this truth. If we have learnt anything from this pandemic, it is that life can take unexpected turns. Life is fragile, life is precious and death is a part of life. We are entering a very important season in the Christian calendar called Lent. It lasts for forty days leading us to Holy Week.
Despite being in the midst of a pandemic, I have heard a number of people share what they plan to ‘give up’ for Lent – certain foods, alcohol, chocolate, social media, Netflix and so on. The idea of ‘giving up’ something or ‘sacrifice’ is to be commended.
Lent provides us with the opportunity to provide space for God’s voice, presence and transformation. 
However, I just wonder what would happen if instead of thinking of things we want to give up we thought of ways to ‘give back.’ In other words, what if we spent the next forty days committed to thinking of ways to help others?


I am aware that this can be difficult considering we are in lockdown, but here are a few suggestions.
• Give something to a local foodbank.
• Give money to a struggling organisation.
• Give thanks for those close to you/who serve your community (send a card/message).
• Give your time to help a volunteer organisation.
Selflessness is a core component to Lent. If anyone exampled selflessness it was Jesus.
I love the words of Paul: ‘Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility, value others above yourself, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interest of others... have the same mind set as Christ Jesus.’

Why not take some time this week to read and think about those words in Philippians Chapter 2?

During this coming season of transformation, may the grace and peace of God be with us as we begin our Lenten journey toward the cross.