Valentine’s day is the perfect holiday to consider what you will be giving up for Lent. Lent starts on Wednesday, February 14th – Valentine’s Day. So, the timing is right to start making your plan for a Lenten fast, but there’s more to it than that.
Valentine’s day is a day to celebrate the people you love. Often, we do that in very tangible ways, with a card—sometimes handmade, a thoughtful gift, a special dinner or by spending quality time together. Valentine’s day is a day to be more intentional about expressing love to your significant other. Well, the same is true of Lent and the expression of our love for God.
During Lent, Christians are encouraged to give something up as one of the 3 Lenten disciplines. The “giving something up” is an example of fasting, which isn’t commanded for Lent (but is expected by Jesus as the Gospel appointed for Ash Wednesday, Matthew 6:1–6, 16–21, indicates). The same Gospel touches upon the other 2 disciplines of Lent, prayer and generosity to the poor. All 3 are appropriate ways for individuals to express our devotion to God. They are like Valentines, given to a loved one. They are expressions of love. They are ways to show God your love, not prove it.
On Wednesdays in Lent attend our special Lenten Worships held at 6:30 p.m., you are welcome to come early for soup suppers! This is a way to take up the discipline of prayer and spend extra time during the 40 days in Lent in worship.
Make a plan to increase your giving during Lent or support a charity, financially. This can be a church or other non-profit that serves the poor. The ELCA has some great extensions that serve the needy in the world including Lutheran World Relief and ELCA World Hunger or you may support our local Cache Community Food Bank.
Last, make a plan to fast this Lent. This is one of the most personal things we can do to express our love to God and our need for God. Fasting is an interesting exercise, to intentionally NOT do something as a way of expressing devotion to God. Lenten fasting isn’t always about giving up an unhealthy thing in order to become healthier! So maybe this year it’s time to go a little further than giving up candy, French fries or Lattes. Here are two suggestions for fasting this year.
Oh, and don’t forget, you don’t fast on Sundays. Why? Because that’s the day Jesus rose from the dead and it’s a day to celebrate His love for us!
Happy Valentine’s day!
Deanna S. Outsen
This blog is run by the council members of Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Logan, UT. For more information, check out our church's website at princeopeace.org.