A friend asked me the question, “Do Lutherans give up something for Lent?”
My answer was well, somewhat vague, a classic, “No…well, yes…well, it depends.”
“I have decided upon a different approach this year. I am making Lent a season of giving.”
From the perspective of the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod, “giving something up for Lent” is entirely a matter of Christian freedom. The church makes no law requiring any some of deprivation in the pre-Easter season, and yet, many Christians choose to withhold from particular behaviors (such as consuming chocolate, fast food or beer) as a way of remembering and personalizing the great sacrifice that Christ made on the cross for our sins.
After several years of completely failing in my sinful efforts to give up complaining for Lent, I have decided upon a different approach this year. I am making Lent a season of giving.
I have decided that during the time between Ash Wednesday and the Easter celebration of Christ’s glorious resurrection, I will give a little more of the time, talents and treasure with which the Lord has blessed me.
It’s not like these gifts are really mine anyway.
We read it in the Bible…
“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights…” James 1:17
We sing it in the hymns…
“All that I have is Thine alone, a trust, O Lord from Thee.” We Give the But Thine Own, Lutheran Service Book #781
We know it in our hearts…
Our homes, our children, our “daily bread” – they are blessings from God, for which we daily thank Him.
So maybe, each week during my season of giving, I will help out at church in a new way – sign up to greet before service, help clean up after Bible class, bake a treat, shovel a sidewalk, say hello to someone I don’t know, take out the overflowing trash…whatever is in need of doing.
I will add a few dollars to my regular tithes and offerings, and maybe I will check in at the church office to see if there is a task that needs doing with which I can help.
A church takes many members, and many little tasks go into the business of preparing for worship, Bible classes and seasonal activities. And perhaps, in pitching in to help, you may find that God blesses you through the doing and the giving. Your season of giving might be the first step in living a daily life committed to giving.
We may spend the weeks of Lent giving up the Alleluias in our worship, but we can take this time to live them out in our actions. Those “giving” duties that begin out of penitential reverence for Christ’s suffering and death on our behalf become the celebration “activities” through which we rejoice in His life-giving Resurrection.
So, I invite you to join me this Lent, not in giving up, but in giving.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” John 3:16
Rejoice, Give Thanks, Give and Live!