Rev Gary's Lent message
Lent is one of the most important seasons in the church's calendar. How it’s been observed has changed over the years. To date, I haven’t seen any reference to it in the media so far this month. Just because Piers Morgan , Jack Whitehall or Olivia Coleman aren’t tweeting about it, doesn’t mean we shouldn’t consider Lent and what that means to us. Over the years. Lent has had a wide variety of customs associated with it. Part of the richness of the season is this huge variety of different emphases, and so long as we do not ever restrict ourselves to just any one of these, it can be a hugely enriching period for us to engage with.
Originally a season of preparation and prayer for those who were to be baptised on Easter Sunday, it has always had a sense of getting ourselves prepared for the great feast of Easter. The idea of 40 days of fasting came through later Greek and Latin influences and helps us focus on a time of penance ( saying sorry for things we know we have done wrong) , and sometimes fasting (or giving up something intentionally – such as food), as part of our preparation for Easter. But it is the meaning of the English word 'Lent' which always inspires me most - "Spring". Spring is the season of new growth and preparation for fruitfulness. A season for optimism and new life. With the weather we had over half term, I am sure we all felt optimistic. And so we should throughout Lent.
I am writing this on Shrove Tuesday. Again, where has that gone from our public consciousness? Maybe next year I will introduce a school pancake race - for staff. After clearing out the cupboards of the fat and sweet things, Lent starts tomorrow Ash Wednesday (6th March) with our ashing service at Callow End Church at 7.00pm.
Rather than giving up something for Lent, why not do something different instead? Donate to Comic Relief (15th March – oh, isn’t that interesting how that charity fundraiser falls in Lent?) by all means and wear your red nose with pride , but why not donate some cash into the Vicar’s Red Bucket for Mission Morogoro- a small local charity that supports our wider church links with Morogoro in Tanzania. This year, I am supporting a church rebuilding project in Tunguli- and I will tell you all about it over the next 40 days.
Fast if you want, but I won’t be doing that. Yes, I’ve tried giving up chocolate – it doesn’t work for me - but I will give something else up: carrier bags and other pieces of pointless plastic we get given by shops. The church locally is being instrumental in organising or badgering our parish councils to do a litter pick over Lent. You could get involved with that as well.
Don’t forget Mothering Sunday falls in the middle of Lent (31st March). There are church services in all four churches with flowers for every mum or mother figure that comes. If there are any daffodils left after Madresfield’s Daffodil Sunday of course (24th March)!
There are so many other opportunities to give or give up or learn something about this Lenten season– so please do consider how you can engage with this important time of year.