The shortest day of the year is far behind us and the Spring Equinox (20th March) is nearing by the day. Spring brings with it themes of renewal, rebirth and restoration that are central to our Christian faith and help build on our collective anticipation for Easter. However, the forty days of Lent that precede the most holiest of weeks must come first. Dark and slow, with its call to go deeper into faith, Lent not only invites a new appreciation of life, but also beckons us into a renewed relationship with God and strengthens the positive relationships we have with others.
Lent is so often trivialized with talk of giving up chocolate. And yet for 40 days, we have the opportunity to contend with something that so often gets pushed aside. Lent invites us to consider what it means to live.
Most days I will take my dogs on a long walk around Offwell. Now and then I will run the route with them. The circuit is a 2 1/2 mile loop. Rock Ln, N Combe Rd and then Ramsden Ln back to the Rectory. The dogs love it. The younger one is almost always out front, whilst the other is just beside me matching the pace. By the end we're all exhausted, and I wonder why I do it. It's painful, and at times hazardous. But despite the exhaustion and the perilous patches of slippery manure underfoot, I love it and I can see the dogs love it too.
The mix of struggle and exhilaration sums up Lent. The dark and deep reflective nature of the season, the look at life and faith through the lens of prayer, fasting and giving can bring to the surface some tough questions for us. But it is always lifegiving, fulfilling, and of course, will ultimately be good preparation for the joy of Easter.
This month's Link Newsletter is an invitation. Don't worry, I'm not suggesting you go running with my dogs! Instead, you might like to consider taking a walk with God.
Lent begins on Wednesday 22nd February. You are warmly welcome to join us for a special Ash Wednesday service at which ashes are imposed on the forehead of each person in the sign of the cross, including the person leading the service. This symbolizes our fragility and mortality (the ashes) as well as our salvation (the cross).
Revd Jeremy Putnam