I have volunteered to join Floss in her Pause for Lent posts each week till Easter - Easter now that's a festival I feel I can really celebrate (many of you know my feelings about Christmas!). However as I am not a regular church goer these days I thought I should check out exactly what is meant by Lent before diving in with my thoughts! Apparently according to the BBC website here Lent is the period of 40 days which comes before Easter in the Christian calendar. Beginning on Ash Wednesday, Lent is a season of reflection and preparation before the celebrations of Easter. By observing the 40 days of Lent, Christians replicate Jesus Christ's sacrifice and withdrawal into the desert for 40 days. Lent is marked by fasting, both from food and festivities.
Catholics are being urged to give up meat for Lent by the leader of their church here in England and Wales according to the BBC here and I know many people decide to give up things like chocolate for the period of Lent but I wonder is that really going to make me a better person or more in tune with God? Might it not be better to think about what we eat and where it comes from and whether or not there are those who are being exploited in its production and to strive to alter the terrible waste of food that goes on, the damage to the planet that occurs by intensive farming, the people in other parts of the world who are starving so that land which might grow crops for them is being used to grow crops either to feed cattle or to provide out of season delicacies for us here in the West? Lent is indeed a time for reflection but giving up chocolate is probably not the answer and I guess that what is more important is to think WHY you are giving up whatever it is.
Easter in the Northern hemisphere comes in Springtime and so we can see it as a time of rebirth and renewal but what of those in the southern hemisphere for whom it comes in the Autumn at the same time as Harvest Festival?
Rev Laurie Campbell on the Methodist Church website suggests that giving up Lent might be appropriate occasionally - now there's a thought!
Refreshed by his experience of worship in New Zealand, the Revd Laurie Campbell suggests it would do us good to give Lent a miss once in a while. "In the Southern Hemisphere, the approach to Easter can hide itself under other church celebrations. In 2008, the first Sunday in Lent in St George’s Church, Auckland, was also Harvest Festival Sunday – quite a challenge for preacher and people. There was no hope of using new spring growth from the cold soil as a lead into the death and resurrection of Christ because it was early autumn and leaves were fading and dying. But I’m not personally a fan of celebrating Lent every year anyway. The repetition sometimes disables spirituality, especially if it is dominated by a tired liturgy or pious priests. Poor Jesus is rushed from childhood to death at speed every year! Let’s have a good Lent once every four years, and between time, let’s open up a wider range of readings from the biblical gospels between Epiphany and Easter." Do you agree?
I leave you with a prayer:
Do all the good you can,
by all the means you can,
in all the ways you can,
in all the places you can,
at all the times you can,
to all the people you can,
as longas ever you can.
PS - I have just discovered that I am ahead of myself here and this post should have been posted next week! Oh well - I did say I wasn't a regular church goer didn't I?!!