By the time you are reading through this March newsletter the season of Lent will be underway. Lent begins on Ash Wednesday which this year was the 26th of February. Lent is a forty day period [not counting Sundays] from Ash Wednesday to Easter. The forty day period is to bring to mind the period Jesus spent in the wilderness following his baptism. Traditionally it is a time for spiritual reflection as Christians prepare to celebrate Christ’s resurrection.
Our Congregational Church tradition has downplayed the significance of Lent, but some people still give up something during this period as an exercise in self-discipline. A more recent suggestion for Lent is, rather than giving something up, doing something positive everyday, such as contacting someone who might be lonely.
One of my favourite author’s Frederick Buechner makes the following suggestion for a Lenten exercise:
“After being baptised by John in the river Jordan, Jesus went off alone into the wilderness where he spent forty days asking himself the question what it meant to be Jesus. During Lent, Christians are supposed to ask one way or another what it means to be themselves.
If you had to bet everything you have on whether there is a God or whether there isn't, which side would get your money and why?
When you look at your face in the mirror, what do you see in it that you most like and what do you see in it that you most deplore?
If you had only one last message to leave to the handful of people who are most important to you, what would it be in twenty-five words or less?
Of all the things you have done in your life, which is the one you would most like to undo? Which is the one that makes you happiest to remember?
Is there any person in the world, or any cause, that, if circumstances called for it, you would be willing to die for?
If this were the last day of your life, what would you do with it?
To hear yourself try to answer questions like these is to begin to hear something not only of who you are but of both what you are becoming and what you are failing to become. It can be a pretty depressing business all in all, but if sack-cloth and ashes are at the start of it, something like Easter may be at the end.”
I hope that part of your Lenten journey will be to join us in worship during the Sundays of Lent. We will journey with Christ to the cross and be prepared for a joyful Easter resurrection day. However you choose to observe the season of Lent I pray that it will help you deepen your faith and draw you closer to God.