Being an Anglican of somewhat dubious pedigree, I may not be quite as much into the Church calendar as some folks. However, even I have got it into my head that there is this time called ‘Lent’, that it happens before Easter and is characterised by ‘giving up something’. Or, well, is it?
If you don’t mind indulging me for a paragraph or two, I will inflict upon you my observation on this time. Either it will show I have learned something, or that I have a lot to learn. Let the reader decide….
To me, it’s ultimately not about giving things up. That, if you like, is the part of the iceberg that is above the surface. Ultimately it is about Christ – that He may become greater while we become less. If our focus is on what we have given up, then I would contend that we are focusing on the wrong thing. Rather, the only reason for giving things up is so that our focus may be more keenly on Him, perhaps as we realise how much of our focus has been elsewhere – we see that truth through the lens of renunciation.
It is the mark of an addict – and we are all addicted to various things to a greater or lesser degree – that believes oneself capable of picking up or dropping the addiction at ease. Lent provides the testing ground for that theory, which usually finds itself wanting. The trick at that point is not to continue our focus upon the addiction (and then perhaps at the end of the 40 days to congratulate ourselves at our marvellous self-control (or condemnation at our lack of it)), but to shift our focus on Christ alone – to take the gifts we had bestowed on our idols, and bring them to the foot of His cross.
That, to my mind, is the key. For, all other things will fade away. All other things time will destroy, nothing will remain but Christ alone. Lent is in a small way meant to remind us of that fact – that in the fullness of Christ alone is everything we need: the man that has Christ lacks nothing, the one who does not, though he possesses the world, in the end finds nothing but ashes.