February 17, 2023

What Should I “Give Up” for Lent?

A Lenten Message from Fr. Lonnie Lacy

Lent is the 40-day season of fasting and prayer leading to Easter. The word “Lent” comes from the Old English “lencten,” referring to Spring and the “lengthening” of days that occurs at this time of year. Why 40 days? Because that’s how long our Lord fasted and prayed in the wilderness after his baptism. During this season, our worship adopts a uniquely reflective and penitential tone. In place of our typically festive approach to worship, these changes allow us to experience a different side of the Christian life as we journey with Christ to the cross.

We look forward to seeing you on Ash Wednesday, the official start to the holy season of Lent and one of the two major fast days of the Church year. The Church rightly expects all practicing and able-bodied Christians to participate in the solemn Mass and Imposition of Ashes on this sacred day. For your convenience, St. John’s offers three services on February 22 (7 AM, 12:10 PM, or 6:30 PM).


This time of year, you often hear Episcopalians declare, “I’m giving up __ for Lent.” Sometimes it’s a favorite food like chocolate or pizza. Other times it’s a leisure activity like watching television. Those who are truly austere may go so far as to refrain from eating altogether on certain days such as Fridays, though that is always best done in consultation with a physician.

Giving something up for Lent is intended to be a continual 40-day mini-fast, a denial of something unnecessary in order to create new space for God in your life. Whatever you give up, be sure it’s for the right reasons. It is well and good to refrain from eating cheeseburgers during Lent, but your motivation should have less to do with watching calories and more to do with pursuing God. Lent is about sacrifice and prayer; don’t cheapen it by giving up that which is trivial.

Here are some suggestions on things you could give up during Lent:

  • Give up dining out and use the money saved to buy food for Second Harvest of the Big Bend.
  • Give up Netflix, Hulu, TV, movies, or other media and use the time for prayer, spiritual ready, or meaningful time with your loved ones.
  • Give up Facebook, Instagram, or other time-consuming social media and use the time to visit (in person) with friends or to write real cards, letters, and thank-you notes to loved ones.
  • Give up sleeping in on weekends and offer your time to organizations that need it.


Instead of giving something up, some people elect instead to “take something on,” adding a discipline to their lives that will deepen their spirits. This is a great practice for those who don’t know what to give up.

Some suggestions for added disciplines:

  • Commit to a Bible study. St. John’s offers a variety of Christian education all year long. One easy option is to join me at “Bible Stories for Grownups” on Wednesday evenings at 6 PM. I explore a different story each Wednesday. We also have two Thursday groups (Men’s Bible Study at 7 AM and The Good Book at 12 PM) that discuss weekly Scripture readings.
  • Commit to weekly worship. If you’re not already in the habit of regular weekly worship, Lent is a fine time to recommit. Sundays at 8 and 10 AM are primary, but many people also find our 12:10 PM Wednesday Eucharist to be a mid-week boost to the soul.
  • Take a prayer walk every morning to clear your mind, invigorate your body, and spend time with God. Walk in your own neighborhood, or visit one of our area labyrinths.
  • Pray with others. There are lots of good ways to do this. One good one is our weekly Centering Prayer group that gathers online on Mondays at 7 PM. Or, come learn a new form of prayer at our Prayer Beads Workshop with Marcy Muldrow Sanders (details below).

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Join us for a special workshop, offered by the Front Porch and led by parishioner Marcy Muldrow Sanders. Participants will make their own set of Anglican Prayer Beads to use while praying during Lent. These beads, or rosaries, can help us think about, and be mindful of, praying and being in the presence of God. Register online by March 1.

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