I see Lent as an opportunity to realign ourselves. A time to re-commit to an integrity between who we are on the outside and who we are on the inside. To seek a wholeness between the person that we present for the world to see, and the person we are when no one sees.
And faith is an inside-out journey. It starts on the inside because change and transformation have to mean something to us as individuals if they are to make sense in the world outside. ’Authentic faith is always personal, but never private’, as Jim Wallis puts it.
What God wants
In Micah 6:8 there is a famous summary of the life God wants us to live:
‘Act justly, love mercy and walk humbly with your God.’
How can a verse like this become more real for you this Lent? Here are three suggestions that I am going to do:
1: Acting for Justice
Justice is the focus of the End Hunger Fast campaign. Rev. Keith Hebden, a priest in Mansfield is actually fasting from food for the next 40 days to highlight the scandal of food poverty in the UK. The campaign launches today – we can stand with him and the 500,000 people forced to use foodbanks in the UK and speak up for justice by joining in the National Day of Fasting on April 4th.
2: Being merciful and generous
Mercy and generosity is the focus of the 40Acts initiative which over 30,000 people have already signed up to. Each day during Lent the participants will be sent a reflection via email as well as a practical challenge to live more generously and show kindness to others. It is something really positive and hopeful that a whole family or a small group could all commit to and do together to show faith in a practical way.
3: Walk Humbly with God
Finally, Lent is a time to renew your inner life: your personal walk with God through prayer and reflection. The best book that I have ever read on this subject is ‘God of Surprises’ by Gerard Hughes and I am re-reading it this Lent. Hughes writes:
“Our treasure lies in our inner life. It is our inner life which affects our perception of the world and determines our actions and reactions to it. We tend to ignore this inner life, but it refuses to be ignored, either in individual or in national life. If ignored, the inner life will erupt in some form of violence.
In religious language this inner life is called ‘the soul’. and the art of knowing it, healing it and harmonizing its forces is called spirituality. Religion should encourage us to become more aware of this inner life and should teach us how to befriend it, for it is the source of our strength and storehouse of our wisdom.”