I was a bit surprised to hear someone say that what you give up for Lent ought to be a secret. This really is not true, because Lent is not just an individual thing but a time for Christians to support one another as we strive to be more and more open to God. Of course, we certainly should not boast about what we decide to do, or make a big show of it, but telling others can often encourage them to have a go at something.
Some things we try to give up need to be private however. I may announce that I am giving up cakes or watching too much TV, but I may well try to give up some other more private thing that keeps me from being as close to God as I could be. We may well try to give up things like this in the hope that we will never do them again, like giving up getting angry with a particular person, or even with all the other drivers on the roads. We may not succeed, but it is worth trying!
Our Archbishop (of Birmingham) has described Lent as a threshold, and to illustrate this on Sunday, I spoke of the old romantic custom of the bridegroom carrying his bride over the threshold of their new home. Here is an image of a new life, a new start, which is certainly what every Lent and Easter is about, and is certainly something we need to do every year… well at least I do. Christianity is never about regretting the past, it is always about looking to the future and the new things God may be getting us to do if we are open to him.