The Revd Christopher Golding reflects on preparing for Easter, discerning God’s direction and his hopes for this year’s Lenten journey.
When we think “Lent,” we may think “40 Days,” “preparing for Easter,” and perhaps, “giving up chocolate.” Yet, I wonder whether – inspired by the Sarx Lent Guide 2021 – we could think more expansively and creatively this time around.
I’m preaching to myself here! As a vegan, non-drinker, I don’t have the “luxury” of giving up meat on Mondays, or Fish on Fridays, (which are both awesome, easy options for those meat-eaters out there!) or perhaps giving up drinking during the week during the 40 Days of the Lenten Journey. So, each year, I struggle to discern what God is calling me to both give up and take on as I make my way to the cross and beyond.
One year, I gave up social media Monday-Saturday. Other year, I did give up chocolate, rather uncreatively sacrificing the fair-trade, rich, vegan, dark chocolate (which is harder to find in those combinations than one might think!) Another year (and my spouse will recall this particular attempt), I gave up coffee during the week. However, I discovered that the penitential aspects of me – uncaffeinated – in the morning, were more of a cross for my spouse and children to bear, than for me!
I mentioned the idea of taking on something in Lent, and that can be just as much a challenge as “giving up.” On one occasion (I’m pretty sure it was the chocolate-free-Lent year), I used the money I would have spent on those delicious cocoa beans and donated it to a global microloan program.
In 2021, I’m thankful to Sarx for putting together a Lent Guide to help me find my way. I’m planning to take up reading the Guide on a regular basis and am challenging myself to commend what I read to my prayers.
Taking on something new, like the Lent Guide, requires a bit of courage, I think. Afterall, I don’t know exactly how the content and God are going to get together to inspire change in me and my life. What this might look like, what I might be called to give up as a result of what I read and discern, all of that may lead to some challenging decisions – perhaps even some deep soul searching.
Whatever 2021 might bring, I continue to put my trust in the Risen Lord Christ who will be waiting at the end of that cross-shaped journey of Lent. That Christ, who eats breakfast with his friends, who tends the garden, who walks the road and breaks the bread – that Christ is the one I know I will be able to greet anew at the end of this year’s Lenten Journey.
So, yes, it might be the good ol’ “giving up chocolate” this year (I’m not going to attempt to go uncaffeinated but hats off to those who do!) But alongside that, I’m going to attempt a leap of faith – to read the Sarx Lent guide daily, to pray with it regularly, and to trust that the Holy Spirit of life and love will get involved in all of that somehow.
My hope, is that the 2021 Lenten journey will inspire me to let go of some unneeded baggage along the way, freeing up my energy for some new things in the process.
May whatever comes for you and me this year be life-giving, grace-filled, and creatively and expansively renewing – for us, and for all living beings.
Peace be with you.
The Rev. Christopher Golding is an Australian ex-pat and vegan priest and is currently discerning new full-time ministry opportunities with the Episcopal Church, U.S.A. Christopher has served on environmental commissions within the Anglican Church of Australia and the Episcopal Church, and, most recently, was the Associate Priest of St. Luke’s Church and School, Baton Rouge, Louisiana.