Vicar's Letter March 2020

By the time you read this article we will be into the beginning of Lent.  By now any of us who have given up something for Lent might be struggling - those chocolate biscuits may even have begun speaking to you - ‘Please eat me - it wont do any harm!’  For those of us who have taken something up for Lent then our new routine may by now have grown tiresome.  Our strength to resist giving up our Lenten discipline may well be waning.

To give something up or to take something on for Lent is a question that is hard to answer.  Perhaps a clue for our best course of action can be found in the origins of Lent.

The forty days of Lent is an echo of Christ’s time of fasting in the wilderness.  But Christ never commanded his followers to fast, although he did assume it as common practice (in Matthew 6:16 Jesus teaches about ’when you fast‘, rather than ’if’).  So why do we struggle over what we should give up for Lent?   Where did this practice come from?

Christ’s fast in the wilderness had a purpose - it was a time of preparation - a prelude to a major life change.  It prepared him to follow God’s way rather than his own - a way that was to change the world.  Christ’s fast enabled him to feast more fully upon the love, the power, and the presence of God in his life.  It was only after such a feast that Christ was ready for what lay ahead.

In the early church Lent was kept by those who were being prepared for baptism on Easter day - the only time of year at which people were baptized.  It was a time of fasting and feasting upon prayer, penitence, and scripture in order that their lives might be radically changed. 

And that is what Lent should be for us - a time of preparation for changing our lives.  Such a change will involve us coming to have a greater desire to do things God’s way.  Lent is therefore a time when we pause to consider those things that we should give up which come between us and God.  It is also a time when we consider those things we should take up that would draw us closer to God.  Lent should therefore be both a fast and a feast - a time of giving up and a time of taking on.

May be these ideas will help in deciding exactly what we should fast and feast upon so that our lives might be radically changed.

 

            Fast from Judging others;                                      Fast from words that pollute;

            Feast on Christ dwelling in them.                           Feast on scripture.

 

            Fast from discontent;                                              Fast from anger;

            Feast on gratitude.                                                  Feast on patience.

 

            Fast from worry;                                                      Fast from unrelenting pressures;

            Feast on God’s providence.                                   Feast on unceasing prayer.

 

            Fast from bitterness;                                               Fast from self-concern;

            Feast on forgiveness.                                             Feast on compassion for others.

 

May God continue to strengthen you in your Lenten fast and feast so that your life would continue to change into one reflecting more of Christ to this world.

 

Yours in Christ

 

 

Simon