What is the Lent Challenge 2018? Ideas for 40 days of acts of kindness and charitable donations
You may be thinking about giving up chocolate or booze (or both!) but did you know there's also a Lent Challenge?
LENT is fast approaching and while many of us will looking forward to our pre-Lent pancakes and sweet fillings, the start of Lent can be a marker for much more.
You may be thinking about giving up treats like chocolate, booze or sweets – but did you know there's also a Lent Challenge? Here is the lowdown.
What is the Lent Challenge?
While most people associate Lent with fasting or abstaining from certain treats, others believe that giving up something can help to purify their bodies.
Other ways to recognise lent include donating money to a good cause, donating to a charity or volunteering.
This year, the Christian Nightlife Initiatives Network is once again promoting the #Do1NiceThing challenge - which they say is about loving the person in front of you as well as serving the wider community to make life better for the people around us - and yourself in the process.
What is Lent and how long does it last?
Lent is a 40-day fast, so will run up until the Thursday before Easter Sunday, March 29, which is known as Holy Thursday.
It originated as a mirroring of Jesus Christ's 40 days fasting in the desert, where, according to the gospels, he endured temptation by Satan.
Beginning on Ash Wednesday, the practice actually begins 46 days before Easter Sunday – the six Sundays in between are not counted, as they are not days of fast.
People follow Jesus’ example and give up vices in a bid to grow closer to God as Easter approaches.
Shrove Tuesday or Pancake Day occurs the day before Lent begins, symbolising when Christians would eat up foods such as milk and eggs before fasting.
What can I do for the 40 days of acts of kindness and reflection?
According to Loveyourstreets.org.uk, there are numerous things people can do as part of the challenge.
They even have a downloadable list of set things people can use as a guide - the ideas are generally very simple and require not much thought or pre-planning and can easily be swapped for something else.
Ideas for the 40 days:
Valentine's Day February 14 - Engage in conversation with the people who serve you (e.g. shopkeepers
February 15 - Say thank you to someone as they work and say how much you appreciate them
February 16 - Call in on an elderly neighbour - take some cake, have a cup of tea and a chat
February 17 - Shop locally and support local farmers, local veg growers and local shops
February 18 - Show some love to your neighbourhood and pick up litter or see if there is anything more you can recycle at home
February 19 - Hold doors open for those behind you
February 20 - Smile at people
February 21 - Be a nice driver - spread road-calm!
February 22 - Email / write to a local charity you think does a great work and thank them and those who volunteer
February 23 - Take time to pray for your neighbours
February 24 - Spread the niceness on Facebook and Twitter - compliment some of your friends
February 25 - Set up a Blessing Bag - a bag of items you keep in your car that can be used to bless other people or a Blessing Box outside your church building - place in it a few items that will bless others
February 26 - Write a letter (or use social media) to a local emergency service and thank them for the work they do
February 27 - Say hello to people
February 28 - Look at joining or setting up a Neighbourhood Watch scheme
March 1 - Spot ways of helping people and do it
March 2 - Go on a thankful walk - see all the positive things you can be thankful for in your neighbourhood
March 3 - Buy Fairtrade where you can today
March 4 - Take a single person (elderly person, single mum...) out for Sunday lunch
March 5 - Consider investing some time volunteering - could you give 24 hours over the next year?
March 6 - Commit to collect used stamps for The Leprosy Mission or other charity
March 7 - Catch a bus and say thank you to the bus driver
March 8 - Give a drink to a homeless person or take part in “Suspended Coffee”
March 9 - Email / write to your MP and say thank you for representing you and that you are praying for them
March 10 - Take a prayer walk around your neighbourhood and pray for needs
Mothering Sunday, March 11 - Take some flowers to mothers and grandmas on your street
March 12 - Buy seeds ready to create a wildlife garden (or tub or window box!)
March 13 - Look for ways to volunteer one hour of your time for someone else
March 14 - E-Mail your local councillors and say thank you for what they do and offer to pray for them
March 15 - Take time to discover some new tourist attraction in your area (eg wildlife park, play area, etc)
March 16 - Give away a book you think is worth reading
March 17 - Pay for the drink of the person behind you in a coffee shop
March 18 - Write some inspirational messages on Post-It notes and randomly leave for people to find
March 19 - Help someone down the stairs or hold open a door for someone with a pram
March 20 - Look out for a stranger you can chat to
March 21 - Offer your skills to someone else for free
March 22 - Write a letter to the boss of someone who has given excellent customer service to tell them so
March 23 - Clear out unwanted items and give to a charity shop
March 24 - Organise a free car wash for your community
Palm Sunday, March 25 - Thank people for the virtues they have
March 26 - Send flowers to a friend as a thank you for your friendship
March 27 - Give a New Testament or inspirational book to someone you don't know
March 28 - Take a box of chocolates to work and say thank you to your colleagues
Maundy Thursday, March 29 - Serve someone
Good Friday, March 30 - Put spare change in a charity box
March 31 - Visit a local shop you have not visited before or in a while (support locally!)
Easter Sunday, April 1 - Get together with others to organise a community or church Easter Egg hunt