By Philippa Mills
Did you have pancakes on Tuesday?
And then did you do anything to mark the start of Lent?
Giving something up for Lent has long been a Christian tradition. It helps us remember the 40 days Jesus spent fasting and praying in the desert before he started teaching and preaching. The discipline of going without something we enjoy is a discipline which helps some people to reflect on their lives and draw closer to God. In Whiteley for the past few years, instead of giving something up, some of us have taken something on. We’ve signed up for 40 days of generosity challenges through the 40acts project, on 40acts.org.uk. Each day we receive an email with an inspiring story, a short Bible quote and a challenge. It could be to pick up the litter we pass when we’re out. Or to smile at the people we meet. It might be to put money behind the counter at our local coffee shop so someone can be surprised with a free hot drink. Or it might be to leave a note of encouragement for somebody. Each day there are three levels of challenge and it’s up to the individual to decide what they can do. It’s not just the church in Whiteley that’s involved: both our primary schools use 40acts too. The challenges are a bit different and the children get involved in deciding how they are going to challenge each other to be generous. One of their favourites is being a ‘kindness ninja’. That’s secretly doing something kind for someone. One member of staff said: ‘I love it when we’re doing 40acts. There’s a change of atmosphere in the school.’ On Saturday, March 30, as one of our church acts of generosity, we’re going to have a ‘make something for mum’ stall at Whiteley Primary School’s Easter bunny run. I don’t yet know what all the challenges will be in this year’s 40acts, but that’s part of the excitement. It’s about having our eyes and ears open to the opportunities and needs around us, and our hearts open to God’s nudge to respond. If you want to join in it’s not too late to sign up. Why not do Lent differently this year?