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How's lent going?

How's Lent going? Many of us will have spent the past few weeks trying to resist the temptation of the confectionary shelves in the shops, or perhaps loosening the ties of the caffeine addiction, doing without the pint of beer or glass of wine or even giving Facebook a miss. You won't be surprised, given earlier comments of mine, that I haven't given up coffee this year!

Giving something up can be tough, even when you know there will be clear benefits – stopping smoking, cutting back calories, these things are hard to do, there's a sacrifice to make – but what can keep us going is the thought of the clearer lungs, slimmer waist, that will result.

But what if there are no obvious upsides? Why would you give up something you love, something you value, if there's no reward? Well, sometimes the gain isn't our own, but goes to someone else. Last weekend, when I missed the England-Scotland rugby match, it was so I could go for a walk with someone who isn't a rugby fan but loves getting the fresh air. The sacrifice we make so that someone else benefits. Why would we do this? Normally because of love.

During Lent we make small sacrifices, often for our own sake, sometimes for other people's, which act as a small reminder of the great love shown by Jesus, who at Easter gave up his life not for his own benefit at all, but entirely for ours. As he himself said: Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one's life for one's friends. That's what we can be as a result, his friends.

St Peter's Church

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