Jews have the Days of Awe leading to Yom Kippur, Muslims have Ramadan, people of all faiths and none have detox periods like Dry January – and Christians have Lent.
I hate Lent! Why? Because it leaves me with no more excuses.
No excuse to ignore my bad attitudes, or the habits that are plain lazy, no excuse for the poor use of time, or avoiding difficult people or issues.
In other words, Lent makes me face up to all those things that really shouldn’t be there – and do something about them.
During this Lent, people all over Derbyshire and further afield will be reflecting on modern-day slavery, with a view to action.
Depriving people of basic human freedoms is a hidden scourge that needs to be brought right out into the open and done away with.
In the UK this goes all the way from exploitative employers to illegal cleaners, to au pairs paid a pittance because they are in fear of the authorities, to the sex trade where mostly women are forced to remain in prostitution because a pimp has control over their accommodation, travel, food – in fact, their lives.
Some years ago, I helped create an Anglican community in Turin in support of women from West Africa who had been brought to Italy, effectively owned by their pimps.
These people feared the loss of everything they had, even their lives, if they reclaimed their freedom.
That community is still setting women free and during this Lent I’d like to invite you to join in setting our own local slaves free.
So why do I still ‘do’ Lent, even though I hate it? Because I also need to be set free from habits and influences that control me – even those I’ve got quite accustomed to.
Lent began with Ash Wednesday on March 1 and runs up to Easter Day on April 16. A time to set yourself and others free. The Diocese of Derby is encouraging everyone to make 40 days of good choices for Lent this year. Follow us on Twitter and Facebook for ideas, and use the hashtags #LiveLent and #40GoodChoices.