Lent 2019

Lent is traditionally a time for giving something up. In our preparations for celebrating Easter Christians have undertaken a ‘fast’ for forty days to focus ourselves on the enormity of those Easter events of 2000 years ago. In fasting we are reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice. A sacrifice which makes us right with God, and forgives our manifold sins.
Now, it may not have escaped your attention that forty days from Ash Wednesday (6th March) does not take you to Easter Sunday (21st April). So what of those extra six days??? Well, those days represent the Sundays in Lent which are traditionally ‘feast days’, when we celebrate God’s love for us, and enjoy the things we have given up.
So, in the past I have tried to give something up for Lent. I have tried giving up beer … but that wasn’t very effective, because I probably only drink 2-3 pints a month, so I never really noticed. I have tried giving up Coca Cola, but my poor wife had to suffer my grumpiness even more than usual. Of course Sunday was a feast day so I would then ride the sugar rush, and be even grumpier on Monday!
One year, whilst working in the IT department of a major aerospace company, I told my boss I was giving up computers for Lent. I thought I was being so clever!! I also said this was a religious observance, so he couldn’t stop me. He just smiled, gave me a mop and bucket, and told me I would be cleaning the factory floor for the next six weeks …
So, if like me you struggle in Lent to give something up, how about try something different? Instead of giving something up, take something on! Try spending a bit more time with God. Try reading a bible passage once a day. Try spending some time in prayer … pray for your friends and loved ones … or the people of your village … or those you see or read about in the news. The importance of this is to ‘be’ with God, something my wife has explored in her recent book ‘Forever Wrestling’.
However we live Lent this year, may we remember it is about focusing on God. It is about being reminded of Jesus’ sacrifice. It is about making ourselves right with the Creator of everything. It is not about catching up because we forgot Dry January, or because we want to slip into a dress size lower this summer. Lent is our chance to renew our faith in God and to celebrate the opportunity He has given us to have eternal life through the cross.
There are several Lent Groups running this year around the G7 Benefice, see elsewhere for details. Why not come along as we share God’s word and encourage each other in prayer and fellowship?
Rev Jack