Christmas, the celebration of Jesus' birth, is now a fading memory. The next big events in the church calendar are Good Friday and Easter, the festivals which recall the events at the centre of the Christian faith, the death and resurrection of Jesus. But before we get to them, first we must pass through Lent.
Lent is when we prepare ourselves for Good Friday and Easter. It's a time we spend in reflection. We recognise that God willed Jesus to live a life focused on self-giving and grace, and that he paid a heavy price for it. We recognise that God wills us to live that same way, and that we fail. We look to find ways in which we become better people, better disciples.
To reinforce that self examination we often give up something - not a luxury we can easily manage without, but something basic to our lives. For me that might be coffee. And sometimes we take something up - perhaps we attend a study course, offer our services to something. Whatever we do it is about reflection and discipline - about making ourselves focus on and live more in accordance with God's will.
It sounds hard doesn't it ... and it can be! But it's worth it. It's far better to live a life of self-giving and grace, even in a small way, than to simply follow the crowd. So what will give up, or take up, this Lent ... and will you see it through?