I make all things new
How Lent can be more meaningful for us
by Nicky Portelli - leader in the Youth Fellowship and member of the Service Team.
Many of us heard about it, maybe fewer of us know its origin: the word ‘Lent’ comes from the Anglo-Saxon ‘spring-time’ – the time for the blossoming of new life. This is precisely what we are seeking to live in our relationship with God.
So Lent starts with Ash Wednesday where we are reminded that ‘we are dust and to dust we shall return’. We are not here for ever but have been created for eternal life. Yet sin interferes with that and effectively we echo Adam and Eve’s transgression all over again: God we will do this our way!
Yet Lent is a special time of forgiveness and grace aimed at making us uncomfortable with our sin spurring us to change our ways and to make room for God’s mercy and grace in iyr lives.
We are given these 40 days to throw out the old and prepare for Easter which celebrates not only Jesus death and resurrection by which we are saved. We have been redeemed from the slavery of sin, set-free from the ball-and-chain which constantly makes us feel heavy, unworthy and unlovable.
Yet, if salvation is a gift, why all the fuss about fasting, praying and charitable giving?
Even though a gift is given freely we need to be open to receive it. If we are not in the right place at the right time we will miss the gift! If we do not have enough ‘place’ where to put this enormous gift we will have to leave it outside our house. So during this time of Lent we go through the process of making space in our hearts for God so that at the right time we will receive all that God has in store for us.
Many of us I tend to prefer small immediate rewards rather than a delayed big reward. It is the way we have been indoctrinated by today’s fast-paced society. A world which wants to sell, sell, sell so it makes promises which it does not really keep or in the end fail to really satisfy us. We are sold the latest gadget or holiday under the false pretence that it will satisfy our deepest needs to be happy, maybe even to be loved and accepted.
Consequently it is ways for us to fill our lives with small, useless fragments rather than wait for the big reward at the end and the joy of living in it from now. The big reward is eternal life in the awesome presence of God, a presence which we can already begin to experience especially in our time of prayer.
How do we do this?
We create space for Jesus by entering into a personal relationship with Him and allowing His Spirit to transform God is in the business of making us whole or holy once again and we co-operate by praying, fasting and almsgiving.
- Prayer is the powerhouse of every Christian through which we make sense of what is happening inside ourselves. It is direct communication with God. It is the time we set apart each day to receive what God wants to give us.
- Fasting allows us to feel our humanity and fragility. Skipping a meal is indeed unpleasant for the body but we need to keep in mind that it is an act of freedom not an act of restriction. It is a deliberate choice by which we deny our fleshy inclinations to make way for God’s work in our lives.
- Through almsgiving we offer material help to people in need. This act of generosity frees us from the constraints of materialism and leads us to a simpler and less cluttered life.
Prayer, fasting and almsgiving go hand-in-hand to create the space we need to realise what St. Augustine has long recognised when he said “You have made us for yourself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.”
If you have never experienced the joys of regular prayer, radical fasting and generous almsgiving this is the right time to try it out! Let’s go for it as we allow Him to make all things new.