“So, what are you giving up for Lent this year?”  That’s a common question on Ash Wednesday.  Some people always give up the same thing.  I know that every year Yvonne Chevannes gives up Phil Kyle.  I don’t know how that got started, but it’s a standing joke around St. Augustine’s.

Yesterday Twitter listed the Top 100 Ideas for what to give up for Lent. They analyzed 73,334 recent tweets on this subject.  Many of the suggestions were typical: pizza, donuts, alcohol, chocolate, that sort of thing.  (By the way, the hardest thing I ever gave up was French fries.  I’ll never do that again!)  Some people are giving up coke.  I honestly don’t know if they’re giving up the Atlanta beverage of choice or the illegal substance.

Others are giving up specific places, like Starbuck’s, McDonald’s, Chick-Fil-A, and (no kidding) church.

Don’t do that.  My guess is, people who are giving up church probably don’t go to church to begin with.

Many of the suggestions were tongue in cheek.  Some are giving up oxygen.  Others are giving up sobriety, virginity and men.

People are forsaking their phones, Facebook and Netflix.

Some will stop complaining.  Others will turn away from stress, anxiety and sarcasm.

Finally, for Lent, some people are giving up Lent.

What are you giving up?  That’s up to you, of course.  But I hope you will take this matter seriously.  During Lent especially, church tradition calls us to six specific practices: self-examination, repentance, prayer, fasting, self-denial, and reading and meditating on God’s holy Word.

What you give up is important.   (That’s the fasting and self-denial part of Lent.)  What you take on is equally important. (That’s the self-examination, repentance, prayer and scripture piece.)

Simply stated, Lent is essential for your spiritual life.  Lent is a lot more than giving up chocolate or French fries.  Lent is not a game.

At a bare minimum, I encourage you to give up at least one thing and take on at least one other.

Speaking of taking on things, I recently witnessed several women take on the vows of a religious order. Along with some others, parishioner Catherine Meeks took vows with The Society of Saint Anna.  No, Catherine is not joining a convent.  The Annas are mature Episcopalians who live in the world but take on three specific vows.  These women live according to their vows of simplicity, balance and creativity.

Simplicity, balance and creativity: I am impressed with these vows.  They make very good sense to me, and I commend them to you.  Simplicity, balance and creativity.

In fact, by God’s grace, these are the things I will take on for Lent 2018.  I will explore ways to live a simpler, more balanced, and more creative life.

During Lent I’ll meet with the 10 a.m. Sunday Adult Forum.  We’ll look at the lessons assigned for the day. And if the group is interested, we can also talk about simplicity, balance and creativity.  You’re invited to join us.  The Adult Forum could be what you take on for Lent.

During Lent and Easter, members of The Anglican Communion are reading through The Gospel of Luke and The Book of Acts (Luke during Lent, Acts during Easter.)  We’re calling it The Good Book Project.  A portion of scripture is assigned for each day.  And don’t worry.  If you miss a day or two, you can always catch up.   You’ll find a flyer with details in the narthex.  The devotional booklet Forward Day by Day is participating in this worldwide project.

Speaking of devotional booklets, The Episcopal Relief and Development Lenten booklet is also available in the narthex.  Outreach chair Corrie West will have ERD mite boxes for you this Sunday.

Pay special attention to the March newsletter.  You’ll find details about a Lenten Quiet Morning with The Rev. Terri Brice, a movie night (the movie is The Book Thief), and two outreach opportunities: The Hunger Walk on February 25 and providing dinner for Holy Comforter Church during Holy Week.

And of course, we worship here every Sunday.  Let’s not forget that.  Maybe this Lent you should commit yourself to be here for worship every Sunday. 

I’ve told you what I’m taking on for Lent 2018.  I’m exploring simplicity, balance and creativity.  So, what am I giving up?  Actually I haven’t decided yet.  But I can guarantee you one thing. It won’t be French fries


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