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I don’t know about you, but Lent feels different this year. I marked it in the usual way with pancakes on Shrove Tuesday, and was able to attend the livestreamed Communion service on Ash Wednesday from St John the Evangelist in Bromley. I’m even trying to observe the Lenten Fast, by giving up the cakes and puddings that I usually enjoy, though perhaps, like many people, with the ulterior motive of losing a little weight.
Lent is a time for penitence, for giving things
up, as we journey through the wilderness with Jesus, walking with him to the
cross, before the joy and celebration of Easter resurrection. And yet, this year, eleven months into
Covid-19, and with everyone already giving up so much, it somehow seems
insignificant. How much more can we give
up? How much longer can we wait for
normality to return, for us to be able to gather to worship God together?
You could say that we have been in a period of Lent for the last eleven months. Or even more significantly, in the liminal period of Holy Saturday – the time between the tragedy of Good Friday and the joy of Easter Sunday, when the world waits for the resurrection and what is going to come next.
Jesus went into the wilderness to prepare for his ministry, to grow closer to God, as he prepared for the task ahead. It wouldn’t have been an easy time. 40 days with no food or water, only prayer to sustain him and his faith to help him overcome the temptations of Satan. How does giving up chocolate or alcohol compare to this?
It seems to me that prayer and faith may be the keys to this period of Lent – using the time to grow closer to God, as Jesus did, to encounter him in new ways, to recognise that we are loved and blessed by God, our heavenly Father.
As we journey towards Easter, there is a real sense of hope, that the joy of resurrection may be just around the corner – not only the resurrection that we celebrate at Easter, but also the resurrection of our everyday lives, as Covid cases fall and millions of people are vaccinated.
I would, therefore, encourage you to use the remainder of Lent as a time of blessing. A time to read Scripture, to
reflect on the Good News of God’s love, God's grace and God’s mercy. And as you do, imagine yourself held in the palm of God’s hand, feeling the warmth of the love that will never let us go.
With love and blessings,