Lenten Devotional, February 27: By Janice Anderson

What Shall I Give…Up

I grew up Presbyterian and only knew about Lent through my Catholic friends and neighbors. What I remember is they talked about what they were ‘giving up’ for Lent. That usually involved meat, candy, soda pop, or some other simple pleasure. Beyond that I really had no appreciation or understanding of Lent or its significance to individual Christians in their faith journeys and preparations for celebrating Easter.

In a similar manner, until South Main began observing Advent, I never really understood the meaningful preparation the season brings to celebrating Christ’s birth. All that said, at Christmas we often ask ourselves, just as the little shepherd boy asked, “What shall I give…?”  At Christmas we are often too focused on what we need to buy and give to our children, grandchildren, family, or friends, and we fail to fully celebrate the Season’s greatest gift – the Christ Child. 

So, I ask – What shall we give, or give up, for this year’s Lenten observance? If Christmas is for GIVING, I think Lent is for FORGIVING. That is, letting go of the biases, stereotypes, and petty grievances we are holding, consciously and unconsciously. Giving up the old tapes we play and replay about our own foibles and failures and those of our family, friends, and co-workers can make room for something more significant. Forgiving ourselves and emptying our hearts and minds will make room for God’s bountiful gift of love and forgiveness through Christ’s death on the cross.

Make a clean break with all cutting, backbiting, profane talk. Be gentle with one another, sensitive. Forgive one another as quickly and thoroughly as God in Christ forgave you.

Ephesians 4:31-32 (The Message)

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