40acts

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Today is Ash Wednesday*, the first day of Lent. A day when traditionally Christians give something up for the entire period up to Easter. Over the last few years instead of giving something up I have been joining in the 40acts challenge to do something generous each day of Lent. It is fun, challenging and very rewarding.

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What is 40acts?

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40acts is the generosity challenge for Lent created by the UK Christian charity Stewardship, who have a vision for the world to encounter Jesus through the generosity of His church. They challenge and inspire Christians to give generously and sacrificially. 40acts is one of the many resources they create to encourage generosity.

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How does it work?

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After signing up for the challenge via their website, a daily email is delivered throughout Lent (but not Sundays), with a generosity challenge (which they call an ‘act’ – hence 40 acts) and short Bible based blog from a Christian writer. Each act has three challenge levels or three different ways to might complete it.

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Today’s act was a pledge:

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GREEN OPTION:
Set a reminder for each of the next 40 days to prompt you into that day’s act.

YELLOW OPTION:
Get an accountability partner who’ll keep you to your word (and your acts).

RED OPTION:
Write a post on social media for each day’s act. Alternatively, start a daily diary or blog. Invite others to join in.

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As you can see, I went for the red option. Let’s see if I can keep it up throughout Lent. It’s going to be a challenge that’s for sure – especially as each act is a daily surprise and I can’t prepare in advance.

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What is Lent?

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Lent is the six week period leading up to Easter. It’s one of the most important times of year for many Christians.  The exact date of Lent falls changes each year with Easter but begins on Ash Wednesday which is always held 46 days (40 fasting days and 6 Sundays) before Easter Sunday.

Historically, Lent has been seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation for the celebration of the death and resurrection of Jesus. It has been a traditional time for fasting, giving something up or abstinence. It’s a time to prepare ourselves to remember Jesus’ life, death and resurrection; studying the Bible and praying more.

Christians around the world observe Lent differently with abstinence of meat, fish, eggs and fats until Easter Sunday being the most common.

Today though Christians usually choose to give up just one thing for Lent such as chocolate, fizzy drinks or alcohol. It is also becoming increasingly common for people to give up other things in order to refocus their faith during this time. Our daughter gave up using her iPad last year – she’s not suggested that this year!

Sundays during Lent are very important as it is a celebration symbolic of Christ’s resurrection. Instead of fasting, Christians hold feasts in remembrance of Christ’s sacrifice. The fourth and sixth Sundays are particularly important in the UK – the fourth because it is Mothering Sunday (Mother’s Day) and the sixth because it’s Palm Sunday.

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More information

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Want to join in the fun? You can sign up at 40acts.org.uk

You can find out more about Stewardship and the ways that they can help you to be generous at stewardship.org.uk

Thank you to them for the great website which has helped enormously in creating this blog.

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*Ash Wednesday begins Lent. The day gets its name from the traditional blessing of the ashes taken after the burning of Palm branches (or crosses made from Palm leaves) from the previous year’s Palm Sunday celebrations.