Vicar’s February Letter

Dear friends,

I am writing this in mid-January and still feel that I am recovering from an extraordinarily busy period that included Christmas and extended into the New Year with our Confirmation service in early January. After thinking for a while about my topic for the February magazine, I decided to write about Lent (which I have done before, but not for a couple of years). Ash Wednesday is about a month away and I have been thinking about Lent. Lent is a time of preparation as we look forward to Easter and is often a time when people ‘give things up’, often chocolate or cakes or sweets but sometimes something different like watching television. The idea of giving something up for Lent comes from the Christian tradition of Lent being a time of fasting as we remember Jesus fasting in the wilderness for 40 days as well as part of our preparation for Easter. We generally think of Lent as 40 days, but the period from Ash Wednesday to Holy Saturday (the day before Easter Sunday, sometimes known as Easter Eve) is actually 46 days. This is because there are 6 Sundays during that period and in the early Church it was felt to be completely inappropriate to fast on a Sunday as Sunday is the day when we celebrate Jesus’ resurrection. This means that if you are giving up something for Lent, you get a break each Sunday as the Sundays between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday are not really part of Lent! Enjoy!

But I don’t really want to think about giving things up for Lent, although if you decide to do this you have my admiration and best wishes – let me know what your plans are! I wanted to encourage you to think about doing something positive in Lent. I would encourage you to share with others around our churches in reading our Lent book – Tom Wright’s Lent for Everyone, Year B – Mark. This is similar to the book on Matthew which we read last year and which so many people found useful. This is available in standard or giant print for £7.00 (publisher price £8.99). Please contact me asap if you would like one. Alternatively, you may have a book on your shelf that you have been intending to read for some time: this might be a really good time to commit to read that book. Have a think about it. Or, you could decide to read the Bible on a daily basis through Lent – I would be happy to make some suggestions if that would help.

Or you might decide to make a point of undertaking some visiting – perhaps visiting someone each week during Lent who you wouldn’t normally see, or making a phone call to someone each week who you haven’t spoken to for a while. Taking this on in a thoughtful way could make a huge difference to folks who are lonely.

Or you could decide to try something new from Fairtrade. Fairtrade goods are increasingly available in supermarkets and always available from the Fairtrade stall at St Stephen’s. Are you a regular user of Fairtrade tea, coffee and sugar? Fairtrade cleaning products? Fairtrade cookies or chocolate? Using Fairtrade products changes peoples lives and makes a statement about working towards a more just society.

Let me know your plans.

Whatever you decide to do or not do during Lent, I hope it is a useful time for you as you think about your relationship with God and prepare for Easter.

God Bless,

Mike

 

 

 

 

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