Today is Ash Wednesday, marking the first day of Lent. And this year, we’re going to ask you to try something new. In addition to giving something up, how about giving something away? Not just your money, but your time, your talent, your attention, your forgiveness? Here’s something your whole family (and your friends too) can do together to promote generosity during this season.
Lent is the 40 days leading up to Easter on the Christian calendar. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season for reflection and preparation before we celebrate Easter. Many Christians observe Lent by sacrificing something or withdrawing from some of their normal activities. In our materialistic culture, it is good for Christians to practice self-denial, and fasting is a good way to prepare our hearts to celebrate the resurrection that comes at the end of the observance.
But what if Lent (and our self-denial) were more active this season? What if, instead of withdrawing (as Jesus did to the desert), we went out (as Jesus did during his earthly ministry and his last days on earth). What if we all went together and tried to live the radically different kind of life Jesus did, engaging with outcasts, touching the untouchable, reaching out to the physically and spiritually weak?
Last year, more than 100,000 people joined our friends at the British giving charity, Stewardship to start doing just that. Participating in 40 generous acts over the course of 40 days, people changed some lives – and it changed their own lives in the process.
Here’s how it works
Take the 40acts Challenge.
Then, on each of the 40 days of Lent, you’ll receive an email with a daily challenge to complete, alongside a short reflection from one of 40 different Christian writers, thinkers, and leaders. You will also find free resources for families, churches, small groups, and schools on their site.
You can also follow along on Instagram or Facebook to watch videos and read stories about the experiences of others in the 40acts community. You can share your stories too, by including the hashtag #40acts on any of your social media platforms.
Generosity and courage for Lent: not giving up, but giving away
Here’s a fun story from one person who participated in 40acts last year.
“He looked at me as if I was a complete nutter and said he’d think about it!”
This is how one participant in 40acts described his experience on “talk to a stranger” day. God had prompted him to talk to a guy who was sitting on his own in a restaurant. He summoned all the courage he had and asked if the man wanted to join his group. The man politely refused, but later came over to thank them. He then sat down and chatted away for the next hour. The man said he really appreciated their generosity.
Create your own generosity story over Lent. Take the generosity challenge.
Lent marks a pivotal point in the history of the church, when Jesus prepared to give himself up as a sacrifice for all mankind. What could happen if we, who are called to be his body on earth (1 Corinthians 12:27), sacrificed a little bit of ourselves too?