Opinion: This Lent make a true spiritual sacrifice

PUBLISHED: 15:51 04 March 2020 | UPDATED: 15:51 04 March 2020

Rev Janet Buchan of St Paul's Vicarage is observing Lent.

Rev Janet Buchan of St Paul's Vicarage is observing Lent.

Chris Hoyle 2016

We are in the Christian season of Lent – a time of preparation for the observance of Jesus’ suffering and death, and for the celebration of his resurrection.

Traditionally, during Lent, Christians take time for self-examination, repentance and prayer and practise self-denial by "giving something up", in recent times often alcohol or chocolate - a bigger sacrifice for some than others!

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The problem with this kind of "self-denial" is that it can become just ritualistic, or even self-serving. If it's more about losing weight than focusing on God, then is it really a spiritual discipline?

One of the Bible readings for Ash Wednesday comes from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah (Isaiah chapter 58, verses 1-12), in which God tells the people that if their religious observance is to be genuine it needs to be accompanied by justice, mercy and generosity.

Entirely fittingly, this year, the beginning of Lent falls in Fairtrade Fortnight. Fairtrade is about ensuring fair terms of trade for farmers and workers in the developing world. It is about making sure that those who produce food and other goods for our consumption have decent working conditions and fair remuneration. It is about those of us in the rich west paying the true cost of what we consume.

Perhaps this would be a really positive Lenten observance? To start a habit of buying Fairtrade goods wherever possible. It might cost us a little more, but it could make all the difference to some of the poorest people in the world, acknowledging their value to God. A true spiritual discipline.

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