From the Clergy
I am writing this article on Shrove Tuesday (looking forward to the pancakes!) the day before the beginning of Lent on Ash Wednesday. Perhaps by the time you read this two or more weeks of Lent will already have passed. Lent is a time of spiritual preparation when Christians try to draw closer to God through prayer and Bible study. We follow our Lenten journey, remembering that Jesus travelled to Jerusalem and to Calvary.
It has been traditional to follow a Lenten fast - giving up something for Lent. This may be a fast of food, drink or activity. The British Heart Foundation are encouraging people to have a “Dechox” during March this year (visit www.bhf.org.uk/dechox). In recent years the idea of ‘doing something’ for Lent has taken a hold. Some Charities such as Christian Aid offer leaflets with ideas for each day with a short reflection on a topic or community and give a suggestion for helping those in that situation. Some days this involves giving a small money contribution. At the end of Lent the money collected can be sent to the Charity. There are even ideas for children to follow. The Christian Charity Stewardship has a programme of 40 Acts of Generosity with the aim of making Lent “a time of radical generosity as well as spiritual discipline” (visit stewardship.org.uk).
This year our Archbishops are encouraging us to think about light - to ask how we can receive God’s life more fully; and how we can live God’s life more generously, imaginatively and joyfully. The aim is that others will see and hear God’s life in us, leading them, in turn, to reflect on God’s love. Some of us are using the booklet #LIVELENT (visit churchofengland.org/Lent).
Whether we follow the Christian faith, another faith, or none, we can all make a difference in our homes, families, workplaces and communities by taking up some form of challenge over the coming month. For instance, if you listen to the Archers on Radio 4 you will know that this year the village residents have been invited to join in a Lenten Challenge which involves not complaining. Perhaps there is something you have been meaning to do for a long time, a friend or family member who would love to spend some time with you – over coffee, or an outing, or doing a chosen activity together. Perhaps you can leave your phone or other devices in another room when you eat a meal with others. If you give up something (like chocolate say) why not collect the money and give the total to charity at Easter. If you give up complaining, or swearing, say, decide on a fine to collect when you find yourself doing this.
We would love to hear about your Lenten challenge so please let us know what you did and how it went. It would be a great encouragement to one another if we were to share some stories in our Parish Magazines and provide more ideas for next year.
So, I hope you have a reflective Lent and make a difference to the world around you. Patricia
(We have a few Christian Aid leaflets available and the #LIVELENT Let Your Light Shine Booklets. Just contact the Vicarage if you would like one).