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Valentine's day and Lent

Lent begins on Wednesday 14 February. It's going to be a slightly difficult day for some Christians who will be torn between the desire to keep the tradition of Lent as a time of giving up things, and the almost equal tradition of marking Valentine's Day with food and chocolate!

So let me offer you an alternative. Rather than giving up something for Lent this year, why not try a different kind of discipline: doing something good or kind for someone else, every day? There are 40 days of Lent, ending on Good Friday, 30 March. So over the seven weeks you could help over 40 people if you did something kind each day. I must confess this isn't my idea. There's a website devoted to helping people do exactly this, www.40acts.org.uk

Here's an example of an idea from last year:
We've come to expect bargains. And we love a 'two for one' or a 'buy one get one free'. But how often do we use them as an opportunity to share with others?
Choose how you'll complete today's act:
Head to the supermarket, stock up on BOGOFs, and start handing them out to everyone you see: 'Hey, I just got this for free and I don't need it – want it?' A bar of chocolate, a bottle of water, a newspaper, a concert ticket, gift vouchers for the cinema – take your pick.
Don't wait for the offer; buy it yourself. Get the next person in line a coffee/sandwich/pint along with your order. Or, pay for a bus ticket for the person behind you.

It does us good sometimes to give up something we've come to rely on – whether that's coffee, or chocolate, or alcohol – but sometimes what will help us grow isn't giving up things, it's doing something new. What I keep coming back to is this thought:
God has been generous to me, all that I have comes from his kindness. What am I giving to other people? How do I reflect the kindness I see in God through Jesus?

Richard Tretheway

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