On the 23rd February the Church will keep Ash Wednesday, a sombre day that marks the start of Lent, and which asks us to remember that the context for all our lives is one of a journey from God back to God, and that mortality is in fact the human condition. Lent prepares the faithful for the celebration of Easter with its focus on the resurrection of Jesus, the promise that in God’s time the context for our lives is in fact one of eternity, redeemed and saved through the saving act of love on the Cross.
Christian are encouraged to reflect on the challenges of life, and of staying faithful to the teachings of Jesus in the journey of Lent. And one of those is the very real challenge to let our faith show “not only with our lips but in our lives, by giving up ourselves to your service”. There is so much in the present moment that is hard and challenging for so many people, those struggling to make ends meet, those fearing how to cope with debt, and fears over the NHS, covid and much more. We may live in a beautiful part of the world, and in many ways are so lucky, but our communities not without many for whom life is a constant struggle. A very useful rule of thumb in life and faith is to try to think less of oneself and more of those who we encounter, and I hope we can all find ways to express through practical and prayerful actions our concern for those whose lives are harder than our own. We who are loved unconditionally need to live as such, generously.
So if you are not drawn to give something up this Lent, then take up something practical, help those who are struggling in any way you can, and keep an eye out for any who are lonely or isolated. Little acts of kindness and thought, are the acorns from which great Oaks grow. Wishing you all a holy Lent. Fr Richard