Dear Friends Lent begins right on 1st March this year. Lent reflects events that happened at the beginning as well as the end of Jesus’ ministry. The season lasts for forty days because that is the amount of time the Jesus spent in the wilderness, after he had been baptised by John, and before he started teaching, preaching and healing. This was a time of spiritual preparation for Jesus, and it can be a time of spiritual renewal for us as well. Jesus fasted for those forty days, and because of that the Church developed the habit of fasting in Lent. I am just reading C J Sansom’s book, Revelation, set in Tudor times. At that time, no-one was allowed to eat meat in Lent, and butchers could be gaoled for selling it. It must have been a hard forty days for butchers! The Lenten fast has all but disappeared over the years, just leaving the custom of giving something up. Chocolate seems to be the front runner! However, it is not about what you give up, but why. Jesus’ fast in the wilderness brought him closer to God. At the end when the devil tries to tempt him with some pretty attractive offers – food, total world power and physical indestructability, Jesus has the spiritual strength to say no. No, I will not let evil have power over me, or God’s creation. If we give up chocolate, and each time we reach for a bar in the supermarket, we stop and think about the good things that God has given us, or say a little prayer for those who have no food, or put the cost of a bar of chocolate in a collecting box for a good cause, we will benefit spiritually from the fast. If we simply hop on the scales, we may just have missed the point! We may prefer to give up something in ourselves. Is there a habit that we are trying to break? Lent is the perfect time to give it a try. Writing this, my mind wandered off to think about what Donald Trump might usefully give up for Lent, or Vladimir Putin, or Bashar al-Assad, but that is idle speculation. What is important is what I do with this opportunity to grow spiritually, and come closer to God. Whatever you do with your Lent, I hope it is a good one.
With my love and prayers,