Lent has launched.
This past Wednesday (yesterday) was Ash Wednesday, and millions of Christians around the world have now begun a fast; not as a way to get God’s attention, but as a way for Him to get ours. Fasting serves to sharpen our focus and our attentiveness. It can quicken our spiritual sensitivity.
But this year, I’m planning something different…a progressive fast. I saw the idea recently (thanks Laura Anderson) and thought it sounded creative and helpful, perhaps especially for those of us who have engaged in Lent for many years and would find motivation in something fresh.
Here’s how it works. It’s ever so simple.
Start with something simple right now (e.g. Diet Coke; snacks; pre-work social media), then next week (or in two weeks) add something else, then the following week (or two weeks later still) add another item. By the time we get to Holy Week — the week before Easter — we’re at our full fast. I love the idea.
The “progressive fast” saves those of us who tend to start too big and find that we can’t go the seven-week distance. It lets us build up. You could “up the ante” every week (that would be ambitious), or just every other week, or just plan a single upgrade at the halfway point. Whatever suits you best. I’m opting for just two “escalations.” 🙂
Note that this is not a replacement plan, but an addition plan. In a progressive fast we don’t drop or exchange our first item of fasting; we add to it.
If you didn’t get started yesterday (Ash Wednesday), you could start tomorrow, no problem. There’s nothing magical about 40 days. Better to catch some of the fast than none of the fast. In fact, it might be a valuable part of the discipline (for perfectionists) to not get in all 40 days. That will stretch you.
If you like this idea and want to give it a shot, post “I’m in” in the comments. Perhaps we can compare notes and encourage each other as we face the transition points. Here’s a mantra for the season: Start simple; finish strong.
I’d love to hear your stories along the way of how you’re experiencing the Presence and work of Christ in your life.
By the way, thanks to the many of you who have purchased copies of my Lenten devotional Reflections Through Romans. That’s very kind of you, and I hope you find it a helpful companion during this season.
If you’re just thinking about joining the Lenten community right now — we’ve only just begun — you can still get a copy of the 40-day guide here. Blessings.