Marching together – Lent ideas.

I’ve got a bunch of projects running through my head and heart. Some of these are on my list of 99 goals for the year. Some of them have cropped up since I made that list.  I’m realizing that I’m never going to get to all of them. Nor should I.

For the next few days, I’m going to describe some of these projects. I’m doing so to offer them to you. Maybe you want to help. Maybe you want to take the idea yourself. Maybe you’ll help me see that the project doesn’t matter.


Here’s the first one: Lent.

March 9 is Ash Wednesday. It’s the first day of the season of Lent.

Three years ago, a group of friends wrote a Lenten blog with me. It was a wonderful project. I have thought about writing for Lent again this year, but I don’t have the freedom to do it.

If I did, I would not talk about giving up food.

  • I would instead talk about giving up worry. For 40 days, intentionally surrendering the illusion of control which is reflected in worry.
  • I would talk about giving up self-aggrandizement.
  • I would talk about giving up the illusion of martyrdom which so often accompanies our service.
  • I would talk about giving up resignation, at least the kind that we do to make ourselves feel better, more in control, more humble than others.
  • I would talk about giving up self-righteousness, which is not a kind of righteousness that Jesus ever had any time for anyway.
  • I would ask you what you would be willing to give up for 40 days as an exercise in self-discipline.

But I’m not going to do any of those. I’m not sure why. I would be interested in reading about them if someone else wants to write them.

7 thoughts on “Marching together – Lent ideas.

  1. Matt Fagioli

    I love the one about giving up worry. I’ve done that one (for short seasons). The last time, I told God “I just refuse to worry for the next 30 days”. I think I did succeed for about 27 of them. As you might expect, things were in fact much better at the end of those 30 days. Since it’s the 1st of the month today, I think I’ll do it again. thanks (as always) for the thoughts here Jon


    1. Jon Swanson

      Thanks Matt. I love that you you say that you are telling God that you refuse to worry. That’s the perfect starting point, to talk with the person that you are trusting as the alternative to worrying.


  2. Rich Dixon

    I’m wondering if Lent has to be about “giving up” something. Is that just a tradition or is it part of the symbolism of sacrifice?

    What of a Lenten sacrifice involved doing more of something positive rather than giving up something?

    I’m also wondering if giving up something like self-righteousness is really a sacrifice, since it really benefits me? Is the basic notion one of sacrifice or self-discipline?

    I suppose I could figure this out myself, but since you’re not-writing about Lent …


    1. Jon Swanson

      i saw you on twitter, asking this question. It made me smile because that’s exactly what i’m trying to do, to start a bit of conversation around this topic rather than having to be the conversation. Historically, the idea is fasting, of giving up something that feeds us for the sake of better listening to God. Giving up a favorite food, for example, so that the appetite serves as a prompt to listen to God to meet our appetites.

      There is, of course, also the element of purification, of punishment almost.

      And you are right, Rich, by asking whether giving up something that is not healthy counts as sacrifice.

      But there is in Lent room for creativity, I think. And while giving up something we are addicted to isn’t actually giving up anything, I think that it still can be worthy of a lenten pursuit. Each time I think about worrying, for example if I go to God and say, “Well?” that is a sacrifice.

      And I just had to do that.


  3. Mimi Meredith

    I agree with all the things on your “to shed” list. I also agree with Rich…and his comments sometimes make me chuckle, so what’s not to like.

    I think to honor the season of Lent, we should pick up something. (A cross…or is that a stretch?) Take on a burden. Make ourselves uncomfortable on behalf of another (I write about that a lot…there has not been a ground swell of folks rushing out to get uncomfortable, but then I don’t have the flock you do Jon.) So maybe, you might think and write about what we could take on to honor Lent–a true sacrifice might be spending our precious time on behalf of something good. Maybe a Lenten blog is still a worthy goal-of-year, maybe you should just re-frame it to give yourself a new energy toward it.


    1. Jon Swanson

      ah Mimi, we almost never want to make ourselves uncomfortable. Unless there is something in it for us. It’s a human thing.

      And I’d be more than happy for you to pursue a lenten blog. I’ll come and read it. I promise.

      (And I just realized that in the writing I’m doing for the next few days, I AM giving up for lent. I’m giving up ideas and control).



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