This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Most of us think about Lent as a period of self denial. Deprive yourself of something you love. Somehow mirror the sacrifice that Christ made for us all.
Just a few years ago, my friend Becky told me about a new Lenten practice started by her priest. He encourages his congregation to focus on developing a good habit instead.
Think about it.
What if everyone who gave up chocolate or coffee or pizza, did something good in the name of Christ? Times are hard and you probably don’t have the money it would take to make a daily donation but consider the possibilities.
Pray for someone.
Each day of Lent, pick someone you know who is going through difficult times. Pray for them. Whether or not you let them know is up to you but imagine how many days you would brighten with a quick e-mail. “Today, I am celebrating Lent and honoring Christ by praying for you. May God Bless you this day.”
Look someone in the eye, actually see them and speak to them.
That’s what Ruth did the other day when she had to have her car inspected. She could have driven off in a huff but she paid enough attention to the staffer to see his side of things and she acknowledged him. Really acknowledged him. Call a checker by name when you thank them for helping you. Use the waiter’s name when you hand him your credit card. Let someone who is often publicly invisible while doing their job know that you SEE them.
Pass on good news.
So often, the news we watch and read is bad. When someone says, “Did you hear about Jane?” you can be fairly certain that the scoop is not going to be positive. Instead of joining the negative throng, make a point of passing on one good news story every day. It can be something you read online or simply pointing out the good job that someone else has done.
Any one of these actions done on a daily basis throughout Lent would add up. No, you wouldn’t be breaking a bad habit and none of these things need be a great sacrifice.
But Christ told us to do good to the least among us. This often includes the sick, the overlooked, and those other people speak badly about. Do something good in His Name.
What better way to celebrate the sacrifice of Christ?