From the Minister
From the Minister
The whole of March this year falls in the season of Lent. I wonder, have you given anything up for Lent this year? Traditionally it is a time of austerity, when we give up treats such as chocolate, biscuits or cake as we reflect on the time that Jesus spent in the wilderness and on the forthcoming journey to the cross at Passiontide.
Why give something up? It always seems strange at this time of year, when the world is waking up to Springtime that we in the church seem to take a step back; yet giving things up for Lent is not about punishing ourselves for our sinfulness or about showing how holy we can be by rejecting the things that we enjoy the most. Instead Lent is a time for transformation, a time for doing things differently and allowing God to awaken new life in us.
Paul in his letter to the Romans says: Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will. This seems to me to be the message and purpose of Lent; it is a radical time when we do things differently and in doing so allow ourselves and others to be transformed by God’s love. In order to do this we might give something up to clear away the clutter that stops us from hearing God or equally we might decide to take something up; extra discipline in bible reading or a few moments extra prayer for example. The Church of England this year is encouraging people to ‘Live Lent’, focusing on care for creation and the environment and encouraging practical action that changes the way we live. Alternatively the Stewardship organisation run an online scheme called 40 Acts, which sets a challenge of an act of kindness to complete each day of Lent. Both of these offer practical ways to be transformed and in doing so to transform the lives of others.
Whatever we do this Lent we do it first and foremost for God. Our fasting is not about shedding a few pounds, but clearing our minds to focus on God’s word and appreciating the goodness of his creation. It is also about recognising God’s call for justice and standing up against the injustice that means that we are able to live comfortable lives whilst others starve. Lent is a time for transforming ourselves spiritually as we grow closer to God, but also transforming the world as we tune ourselves to God’s creative potential.
Whatever you give up or take up this Lent may it be a time of transformation for you. May it be an opportunity to be gloriously rebellious against the things that hide God’s glory and may his love fill our lives with joy and new hope.
 Romans 12:2