The Reader's Rumblings - March 2017

We have a new Rector.  I met our new Rector, Andrew, at his interview over a cup of tea and a slice of cake.  It was the way in which he successfully managed to cut the cake in to six equal pieces that won him over for me :).

Before Andrew arrives in May we have the great celebration of Easter but before then, Lent.

The day before Lent is Shrove Tuesday and after tucking away a few pancakes, I always suggest to my wife that we should have pancakes more often, but we never do. Shrove Tuesday gets its name from the ritual of ‘shriving’, when a person would confess their sins and receive absolution for them.  It’s a day of celebration as well as penitence. Lent is a time for giving things up; so Shrove Tuesday is the last chance to indulge yourself, and to use up the food that isn’t allowed in Lent.

Ash Wednesday, when Lent commences, is on the 1 March in 2017. At our evening service we will be marked on the forehead with a cross of ashes, made from burning palm crosses; and thus very symbolic.

Lent is the season of preparation for Easter, when many Christians observe a period of fasting, repentance, moderation, self-denial and spiritual discipline. Time can be set aside for reflection on Jesus Christ, His suffering and sacrifice, His life, death, burial, and resurrection.

Christians observing Lent typically make a commitment to fast, or to give up something - a habit, such as watching TV so regularly, or a food or drink, such as chocolate or coffee. I once gave up chocolate and my Parish Priest gave up red wine. We would tempt each other. Once when I entered the pulpit to preach, there was a bar of chocolate waiting for me on a shelf. The following week I left a bottle of wine in the Vicar’s pew. Neither of us succumbed.

But instead of giving something up for Lent you could take something on – support for a charity, Bible study, join a Lent group or attend a Lent course run by a local Church, or take time out of your busy lives on a regular basis for contemplation, to consider the more important things in life, to focus on God.

When visiting your Church you will notice the colour purple on the front of the altar and other places. Purple is used for two reasons: firstly because it is associated with mourning and so anticipates the pain and suffering of the crucifixion; and secondly because purple is the colour associated with royalty, and celebrates Christ's sovereignty.

When counting the 40 days of Lent the Western Church excludes Sundays, which are celebrated as the day of Jesus’ resurrection. 

Lent is an opportunity for us to walk in Jesus’ footsteps; and although the journey, like any life journey may at times have its moments of darkness and difficulty, there is a light at the end of it – the promise of Easter and what that brings for us all.

A reminder, should you need one, that the fifth Sunday in Lent is Mothering Sunday – not Mother’s Day which is a modern American invention.  This year it falls on the 26th March when the clocks change. 

However you choose to walk with Christ this Lenten season, there is an abundance of resources available to you and events to help you on your journey.

Martin Brown
Reader, St John the Baptist Church, Westbourne

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