Thought for the week, 7th March; More than giving up chocolate
I’m still going on about Lent… I do that, because it is a period that, in the churches calendar, lasts for 6 weeks and so we are in the middle of it. I’m also going on about it because I think it says something important to us, perhaps particularly in this period of lock-down and lives on-hold.</span>
Outside church circles, Lent is mainly associated with the idea of giving things up. Even within the church, it can be sold mainly for its health or environmental benefits; give up chocolate/sweets/alcohol for your health; embrace veganism/walking/cycling to save the planet. It’s true that changing our life style can bring benefits to ourselves and others, but that is rather to miss an important point; Lent is not just a 40 day fix and then back to where we were. The whole point of giving up material things is so that we can focus on the spiritual, however you understand that; the things that underlie us and really matter. In the Bible, Jesus went into the wilderness, a quiet and remote place in Lent to pray and think, not to diet. Lent reminds us that we can also set aside periods in our lives to do as Jesus did; to think and pray, or contemplate and reflect if that is language that you prefer. You may or may not wish to mark that by giving something material up like chocolate but that is secondary to thinking about the deepest issues around our lives and that determines what we will be when we exit the “desert”. This year we are still in the wilderness of Covid, but we will come out of that in a few months, about the same time that Lent ends. We have the time now to decide what the “new normal” will look like for us when we get there.