Rector's Blog

Message for Lent

The season in Lent, which begins on Ash Wednesday, the 17th February, is in many people’s minds linked in some way to campaigns like Dry January or Go Sober in October.  A few weeks when we give up something we are sure we eat or drink too much of – maybe alcohol or chocolate.  In more recent times there has been a movement to take something up during Lent rather than abstaining from something.  Maybe go a run each day or give a bit more to charity.

Neither of the above approaches is wrong. It certainly does me no harm at all to eat a bit less cake for a few weeks and it is never a bad thing to consider our charitable giving. But the real purpose of Lent is to focus on God and it is time for reflecting on our own life and faith. 

Lent is a penitential season.  It has traditionally been a period of abstinence in preparation for the celebration of Jesus’ triumph over death, His Resurrection and that has involved giving things up and making sacrifices.  In our society one of the biggest issues we face is that we live out of balance.  Treats are no longer treats because we can buy chocolate muffins every time we go to the shop. Easter eggs appear in the shops straight after Christmas and one needs an iron will to walk past cream eggs!  We no longer have 9 to 5 jobs because modern technology, which should in theory liberate us, enable us to be available for work from getting up to going to bed. We don’t concentrate on eating our meals because we either watch TV or look at our phones.

Lent gives us an opportunity to become a bit more balanced.  Part of this process is being easy with ourselves, admitting we are not perfect and setting gentle goals.

This year when we are in lockdown it gives us the ideal opportunity to slow down a little, become more mindful of our daily routines, care for ourselves, be that spending a bit more time planning and cooking our meals, or taking a bit more time to walk slowly and appreciate the world around us. We may be separated from friends and family but we might take up the rather forgotten habit of letter writing. A friend of mine sends a postcard every day in Lent to someone she hasn’t seen for a while.  Or rather than a letter maybe a phone call.

You may want to go further. Another friend of mine always fasts on Wednesdays and Fridays by not having lunch on those days and only eating modest meals.  She finds that helps her appreciate food more.  

It’s always good to find some more space in your life to spend a bit more time in quiet listening to God.  Many people enjoy reading a book during these weeks and either discussing it with friends or simply reflecting upon it themselves.  I’ve listed some titles at the end of this post.

Whatever you do though I would urge you do two things – one is definitely look to this season as a time to reflect, reappraise and rebalance but always in the joyful expectation of the joy of Easter day. Secondly, be kind to yourself.  Don’t set yourselves goals that make you feel inadequate or doom you to failure.  Don’t let Lent feel like an additional burden as you juggle all the other things we are facing with the pandemic.  

Paul wrote to the church in Corinth “Now the Lord is the Spirit and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom” (2 Corinthians 3:17). Our Lenten journeys with Jesus should give us greater freedom to live life more fully and to grow closer to Him.  We should never see Lent as a time of simply giving up things so life becomes more dull and difficult but a time that can show us new things about ourselves and about our relationship with God. 

Some suggested Lenten reading:

  • Living His Story by Hannah Steele 
  • Saying Yes to Life by Ruth Valerio
  • Looking Through the Cross by Graham Tomlin
  • Thy Will be Done Stephen Cherry
  • Candles in the Dark Rowan Williams

Rev’d Andrea Jones, Rector St Deiniol’s Church, Hawarden