Lent manages to take me by surprise every year. We get through Christmas, pack away the nativity figures and settle into Epiphany and the new year, and suddenly Lent appears on the horizon. For some people, the arrival of Lent means willpower time; giving up red wine or chocolate for as long as the strength holds out. This does have its place, even if only in getting our bodies back into shape after Christmas and summer holidays, but in the end the meaning and purpose of Lent as part of the cycle of the church year is much more complex. Lent is a time of preparation for Easter: forty days of preparation for fifty days of celebration. Lent means waiting: for the cross, the water and the fire. God does not need Lent, but we do. The rhythm of fast and feast taps into some deep, primal need, where denial creates longings to be satisfied so that we come to deeper appreciation of God’s great gifts.
As well as being a time for individual reflection and renewal, Lent is a holy time for community. It is a time to renew and strengthen the religious centre of gravity that holds us as community in our common search for God. Lenten study groups are designed to help us think together about faith, and draw meaning and hope for our own journey, so give some serious thought to coming along!
So, what then is Lent? Lent is about profound change at our inmost being, and about change at the heart of our community as we reflect together. It’s a time when we set out on the journey towards the cross with all its pain and loss, and pass through the pain and the ashes of our hopes, to the joy of Easter. May the Holy Spirit be with us in the coming weeks!
In peace, Mother Lynda
Gospel Reading: Luke 4:1-15