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“What are you giving up for Lent?”

As the church begins the 40-day journey of the season, this question will be repeated in many a coffee-hour conversation. The question reflects some of the central themes of Lent: self-sacrifice, repentance and humility.

It is an austere season of self-reflection on sin, death and fallibility. Sandwiched between the bright lights of Christmas and the glowing pastels of Easter, Lent is a somber reminder of the distance yet remaining between the world as it is and the world as we know, by faith, that it one day will be. That may be why it seems odd for this year’s 40 Days of Giving theme to be “Hope.” Lent, certainly, is a season for reflection on temptation, sin and loss. But it is also a season for reflecting on hope. What else but God-given hope could have sustained the spirits of the ancient Hebrews wandering in the wilderness? What else but hope could have nourished Jesus’ resistance to temptation and sustained him on his march to the cross? The invitation to reflect this Lent is not “What will you give up in repentance for your past?” but “What will you take on in hope for our future?” We invite you to join us throughout the season in reflection, prayer and action. Find ideas for each day in our devotional calendar, and use the weekly study as your guide. In this weekly email, you’ll find an excerpt from the study and accompanying story, as well as a quote from a participant or leader from an ELCA World Hunger-supported program around the world.

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