Letter from the Curate. March 2021.“
I know I’ve written previously about how strange the passing of time has felt this year. As we find ourselves once again in the season of Lent this feeling is all the more acute. How did we get here again? What are we to make of this season in the current circumstances?
For many, Lent is synonymous with giving things up. The ‘fasting’ side of the season of Lent seems to have stuck in the mind of both church and wider society. Be it chocolate, alcohol or even social media, depriving ourselves of something we might usually enjoy is a common way of approaching this season.
This year, though, there’s something about this idea which feels more burdensome than ever. In many ways, it seems like we have already been fasting for a whole year. Mercifully there has been no national chocolate shortage but, as we’re often reminded, our lives have been limited in more ways than most of us have ever experienced before. Must we really spend 40 days giving up yet more of the things we usually enjoy?
Well, not necessarily. Lent, after all, is designed to stand out in some way from the rest of the year. We give things up not just to be healthier or to prove to ourselves that we can, but as a way of focusing our minds and our hearts on God and allowing ourselves to ponder more deeply the sacrifice that Jesus made for us. Fasting, traditionally, is just one of the three things that the church encourages us to do during Lent: the other two are praying and giving. In essence, this season is a journey designed to bring us into a healthier relationship with ourselves, the world around us and the God who loves us. It invites us to recognise our flaws and the places where we go wrong and to allow them to be transformed into something far more life-giving. If we think of ‘penitence’ as being simply about piling on the guilt, we’re only getting half of the story.
So this year, why don’t we think about doing something for
Lent that will help us get rid of our unnecessary burdens rather than making
life more burdensome. What might you do to help unlock more of that freeing and
life-giving relationship with God? Perhaps you could try doing something
creative every day – even if just for 10 minutes. Commit to spending just a bit
more time outside enjoying nature if you’re able to. Give time to praying for
your friends and then giving them a ring to see how they are. Allow time to
laugh. If you’re able, think about a charity or project you could put money
aside for throughout the season.
If you’ve not done it for a while, why not join us for church worship this Lent? If technology is holding you back then please do not hesitate to be in touch to ask for help.
However you spend the next 40 days, I hope and pray that you
will find it peaceful, hopeful, live-giving and full of the love of God. I’ll
leave you with this prayer by Dick Williams:
As the days lengthen and the earth spends longer in the light of day, grant that I may spend longer in the light of your presence, O Lord, and may those seeds of your Word, which have been long-buried within me, grow, like everything around us, into love for you, and love for people; to become a visible declaration of your Lordship in my life. Grant, Father, that this Lent there may be a springtime for my life in Christ.
With every blessing, Liz