What, if anything, will you be giving up for Lent?
It's a popular question today on Ash Wednesday, the start of a 40-day period of fasting and prayer (excluding Sundays) that leads to Easter. Plenty of people weigh in, before and after services today, as well as online and in the news. It seems we love to talk about our sacrifices.
Which is nice, because as a reporter, I admit that I'm at least curious. I'm fascinated with friends abandoning Facebook for the whole 40 days, or others who won't head out to restaurants this month.
I wonder, though, if in talking about our sacrifices, we're prone to wear them as badges of honor. When the heart of Lent is the stripping away of our own, often selfish, desires, what sort of impact does it have to start comparing sacrifices?
At Lent, what do we make of the instructions in Matthew 6?
"When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you fast, put oil on your head and wash your face, so that it will not be obvious to men that you are fasting, but only to your Father, who is unseen; and your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you."
When you're asked about Lent, will you say what you're giving up this year? Should we say?
Does it even matter?