The season of Lent runs from Ash Wednesday (this year on the 14th February) to Holy week. It is a hugely important but little understood season in the Church calendar. We know we should give something up, but we aren’t really sure why.
Some background might help. Lent marks Jesus 40 days in the wilderness (the image above is the actual wilderness), at the start of his ministry. It follows immediately on from his baptism (and that is significant) he spends 40 days in prayer and fasting as preparation for his public ministry. It is profoundly important both for Jesus and for his mission – summed up in the dramatic temptation or testing that he undergoes.
And for centuries the people of God have reenacted this in their own lives and communities as preparation for Easter, as a way to walk more closely with God and reassess our own lives.
How to participate.
Love is the foundation. You are not participating in lent to earn God’s approval. Jesus baptism is a dramatic trinitarian moment when the heavens are opened, the spirit descends and the voice of the Father declares “This is my Son, the beloved, with him I am well pleased”. Remember this is before Jesus has done anything. His identity as beloved child of God is the foundation of all that is to follow. You too, if you are in Christ, are a beloved child, with you God is well pleased. Write that on your heart, desktop, door frame, or the wallpaper of your phone. Meditate on it, allow it to seep deep into your soul. It will set you free.
Enter the wilderness. It is an interesting question as to what that means in the middle of the city. And taking time out to walk in nature is always a good idea, even if that is simply one of the wonderful Parks in London. But each day we need to find some quiet and silence. All you need is a quiet room, a comfortable chair. God is there with you, his still small voice is speaking behind all the distractions and noise.
Fast. You might want to give up something that your are a bit dependent on, or try a day without food; it is an amazing experience of opening yourself up to God. But another option is a Digital Fast – you can read more about [Dis]connect here.
Join us in prayer. An order for Morning Prayer in Lent 2018.
If you would like a book to read during Lent I can heartily recommend ‘A liturgy of the Ordinary’. A very lovely book, simple yet profound, about making time for God in the midst of the everyday.
How are you planning to mark Lent? Comments and suggestions below please.
In years past people have made Lent pledges. You can read some of them in the comments here, and perhaps add yours below.
I pledge not to connect to the internet as the first thing I do each morning. I pledge to buy a proper alarm clock so that I can leave my smartphone switched off in another room as I sleep. I pledge to enjoy connecting to the piano more often. I pledge to learn a new song or piece of music on it and show someone I love what I’ve learnt. I pledge to exercise regularly so I can sleep better and give my eyes the rest that they need.