The church where I participate, First Presbyterian Church in Mount Pleasant, has introduced a program for Lent called “Lighten Up For Lent.” This is a team-challenge program where teams of six compete against each other to earn points. Points can be earned by doing things like drinking more water, getting enough sleep, exercising and/or counting steps, and encouraging one another. Yes, you also get a weekly bonus point for attending church! (We’re also competing against the Methodists across town… .)

The goal of this program is to encourage people to be more aware of their daily practices – how they treat their bodies, how they treat each other – during the 40 days of Lent. Oh, and by the way, if you drop a couple pounds – bonus!

So here’s what I’ve noticed after observing two full weeks of Lighten Up For Lent:

  • Coffee hour is a lot more lively – people are talking to each other, people are talking to people they haven’t talked to before. Team members are checking in with one another not only on Sundays but throughout the week.
  • Competitiveness has been friendly and engaging – I went out to lunch with someone last week and we were fighting over holding the door for each other (because that particular day the “Encouragement Point” was to hold the door for someone or let someone go ahead of you in line.)
  • There is a lot of good being done. Every Saturday morning participants have the opportunity to earn a bonus point for the Saturday morning walking group. Yes, we get exercise. But even more so we’re walking next to a new friend, learning about them, and fellowshipping with one another. On Saturdays the “Encouragement Point” is picking up litter. So not only are we walking and talking we are doing a good thing for our community and the environment.

We are lightening up – yes, hopefully some pounds are lost and some habitual practices are improved – but perhaps even more exciting is that spirits and moods are lightened.

It has been my prayer that this could be a time of lightening up – spiritually, physically, and emotionally – so that as we face our daily tasks we can feel encouraged, loved, and supported. It is my prayer for this Presbytery as well that we can lighten up! As you face the coming weeks of Lent know that you are being prayed for and lifted up in your journey.