Lent seems to be in fashion again.
A few years ago it would have been easy to think that it would die out and be forgotten about. But it seems to be back – it seems really common for people to give up chocolate, alcohol, or Facebook for the 40 days, whether they have any connection with Jesus or not.
And on one level that can be no bad thing at all. Far too many of us eat too much, spend too much time in front of square screens, or drink too much. But there is a subtle danger in it all – for Christians and those who don’t know him.
This is the danger: Lent can be a time of personal development.
For Christians we use the time to get closer to God; non-Christians use it to sort out their waist lines. But for all of us it can simply be another time of year when we are thinking about ourselves – again.
Lent is the part of the church year that reflected on Jesus battling the devil in the wilderness for the sake of the world. So in our series of sermons during Lent, structured around Matthew 6, we want to think about some of the core disciplines that are fundamental to our faith – praying, giving, fasting – and reminding ourselves that being a follower of Jesus involves actually doing these things, but – and this is the important part – doing these things for the sake of others.
We will pray for the sake of others; learn to be generous to others; fast for the sake of others.
If we feel better at the end of the process; well, that will be a bonus. But it’s not the aim.
We are reflecting on these things because we are following in the footsteps of the master – the one who came to give his life as a ransom for many.