Published by Tim Cockell on Tue, 10 Mar 2020 14:05

We are moving through the year at what seems an incredible pace. So much has happened since we were celebrating Christmas only a few short months ago. Now, Lent is very much upon us. Ash Wednesday was the 26th of February and this is the beginning of our special time of penitence in preparation for the celebration of Easter. 

To help us start this very special time of year we had two services on Ash Wednesday. They were at 10 am and 6 pm. Both of these services included the imposition of ashes, a sign of our need of God’s grace but also our need to recognise those times and those actions that are in need of his forgiveness.

Many, I am sure will have their own favourite ways of observing Lent. There will be some who will feel that denying themselves some small thing will help them to observe this time of year better. Many will want to perhaps spend more time reflecting and praying and giving more time to God. It has always struck me that giving up what may be a token in many ways does not really go far enough. Let me explain.

Let’s take the “old chestnut” of giving up chocolate biscuits for Lent. This is all very well and helps us to enter into some kind of sacrifice but it doesn’t really go that far. You see, if I just give up chocolate biscuits for Lent, but do not attach a spiritual emphasis or action to them it simply remains a means of eating fewer calories. But if I attach a spiritual significance to it and spend some time doing something instead of eating that chocolate biscuit that involves some element of sacrifice, then I am using that time more fruitfully. So instead of just giving up the biscuit, I might spend the time I would be eating the biscuit in praying, for example, for someone I know who is unwell or for some situation that I am aware of that is in need of my prayer. Or I might use that time to spend a few minutes reading my Bible or another spiritual book while I drink my morning coffee.

I’ve not really been much of a fan of giving up things for Lent because simply giving things up does not have enough element of sacrifice. Sacrifice by its very nature means doing something for someone else at my own cost, at detriment to myself. In other words to live a truly sacrificial life it has to be a life that is lived for others, even if that means we have to go without things ourselves. And I’m not sure giving up biscuits does quite that!

You will see from other articles in this issue of the magazine that we are following the Church of England’s campaign this Lent to live in a more sustainable and eco-friendly way. Here at St Mark’s we have been doing much in this area recently and we are encouraging all our readers and all those who come to church to think about “Going G Green for Lent.” This will mean that we have to do things differently in order to help the planet. We all know that we need to live differently in order to safeguard the future for ourselves and for those who follow us. This Lent, if we haven’t already begun so, we can join together and do something that can make a difference, however small.

So I invite you, to think about how you will observe this Lent and would encourage you to make the sacrifices that we all need to make in order to do good to our world and each other, and in so doing draw closer to the God and Father whose world this is.

Every blessing

Tim

Categories Word from the Clergy