The Church I grew up in was a fantastic place to be inspired and nurtured in the Christian faith, but it did not make a big deal about the season of Lent. So since becoming part of the Methodist Church a few years ago I have come to really appreciate the opportunity Lent offers to anyone who wishes to develop personally and spiritually.
By the time this Newsletter comes out, those who are observing Lent will be halfway through.
If we have given something up, do we now feel that we have beaten our reliance on it? Or is it getting harder and harder? If we have taken on something new, does it feel like it is benefiting our lives or those around us? Or is it proving to be a real struggle? If we have recommitted to prayer or other spiritual disciplines are we feeling encouraged in our efforts? Or are we coming up against obstacles and discouragement?
Some of us might beat ourselves up when we ‘fail’ at these sorts of resolutions. We can feel guilty and bogged down if we don’t live up to our Lent commitments. And the danger is that these feelings can overwhelm us and lead us to say “well, I’m already failing so I might as well give up completely’.
In these sorts of moments I would remind us all (myself included!) that this is not a journey we undertake alone. As well as our fellow travellers in the church, in our community and perhaps in
our homes, it is important that we do not lose sight of the person for whom and with whom we ultimately travel: it is Jesus who led the way with his own time of prayer and fasting in the desert; it is Jesus who dwells with us and accompanies us on our own spiritual journeys; it is Jesus who knows our darkest thoughts and failings as well as our best self and our successes; it is Jesus who reaches out in forgiveness and compassion when our Lent isn’t going quite as we might have hoped, always encouraging us with second chance after second chance, and with the encouragement to keep going.
My prayer for those of us who are participating in Lent (and those for whom Lent is not a meaningful part of our spiritual life), is that we would know that encouragement day by day over the weeks to come.
And as Lent draws to a close towards the end of March, and we enter into Holy Week, the intensity of the Passion and the celebration of Jesus’ resurrection there will be opportunities to come together to worship, with our own Maundy Thursday service, a joint walk of witness with the other Histon churches on Good Friday and our Easter Sunday Holy Communion…
And, of course, the journey of faith doesn’t end there…