February 2013Dear Friends,
is Lent for? As i growing up I would wonder what Lent was all about. Church taught me about the 40 days that Jesus spent
in the wilderness being tempted by Satan. That idea of self-denial seemed to fit with the ideas of giving things up for
Lent that were all around me. Have you ever given something up for lent?
Have you ever thought of the alternative and taken something on?
Perhaps lent is something more than giving up. It is a time of preparation. In the first few hundred years of
the church, when it was still a growing movement, the 40 days before Easter became a time of instruction and preparation
for Baptism and acceptance into the church - often whold families were baptised. Each day for at least 3 hours, those
wanting to be baptised had to receive teaching on the meanings of the sacraments (for the Methodist church we have 2 sacraments
The lord's supper and baptism). Some of them even lived in the church, shutting themselves off from the outside world
whilst they drew close to the mystery of the death and resurrection. Can you imagine that? Let’s perhaps be thankful
that that’s not what the church expects nowadays!
we shouldn’t reject out of hand the idea that Lent is a time for contemplation and for learning - that is why our
study groups are so important and the home groups that will commence from our lent groups will be an important part of our
church life - why not join one?
Lent is not just a time for giving-up things that we like (cake, chocolate etc etc), but also a time to make good
any relationships that are going wrong in preparedness for the great celebration of Easter. This is traditionally done
through prayer (relationship with God), fasting (relationship with self) and through charitable giving (relationship with
neighbour). I think it’s a real shame that parts of the church and society in general has forgotten the first and
the last of these practices and that Lenten discipline has become focussed on self-denial. The primary purpose of Lent
is not to deny ourselves the things we enjoy but to redress the balance of our lives.
On Maundy Thursday you are invited to Bold Street at 7.30pm in the hall for a service on hand washing and communion
and our Good Friday service at Latchford at 10.45am for a service of reflection and contemplation. Please do come along
to these services.
So I pray that you will find time this Lent to fix your eyes upon the cross and journey into a deeper relationship
with God and the world around you.