Giving up chocolate

What does Lent mean to you? Giving up chocolate or alcohol
perhaps? Or is it taking up something – chartiable work, a Lent
course or spiritual reading? Personnally I aim to do a mixture of
those things, but whatever personal approach we take during Lent
it is at the very least a time for reflection.
The church views Lent as a penitential time, a time to
contemplate on our lives, our faith and the state of the world; but
it needn’t be all doom and gloom. There is at this time of year a
wonderful juxtaposition between the dark and cold and the
wonders that are all around us seen in new growth and new life.
So in the season of Lent it would seem a good time to ask
oursleves, “Do I look forward with hope or fear, with anticipation
or dread?”
Our faith constantly takes a battering as we experience great
personal sadnesses or we despair at what we see happening in the
world. We may feel a bit like the exiled people in the Old
Testament who were forced to leave their own land for another
strange land that they didn’t understand. One of the difficulties for
the exiled people was their inability to see outside of themselves, to
imagine what it might be like beyond this time of grieving to a
time of newness. They couldn’t worship God in a strange land, all
they could do was sit by the rivers of Babylon and weep.
There are times when we too can feel like an exiled people,
suffering a similar internalisation of despair, as we witness the
problems the world faces or experience difficulties in our own lives.
The church’s call and our personal call is to permit newness,
and it must start with us allowing ourselves, in humility before
God, to be renewed in the spirit so that we can offer our witness
to the world of hope and the promise of God’s kingdom. The
hope God gives us is a confidence in the future based upon our
present experience of his love. We do not know the precise details
of what that future holds, nor do we need to know, but we do
have the assurance that God is at work in our lives, and that one
day his purpose will be fulfilled.
We begin Lent with the wonderfully contemplative Ash
Wednesday services and over the following 6 weeks there are
various Lent events on offer to sustain us and help us grow
spiritually. So we should take time for reflection this Lent and
allow God to enter into our lives.
Giving up chocolate is good – offering up hope is life-sustaining.

Yours in Christ

Rev'd Jean Saddington,     Team Vicar, The Winterbornes and Compton Valence