Lent is now well underway with the light of Easter just over the horizon. Whilst the hedgerows and gardens are full of daffodils and other spring flowers, the church remains devoid of Services and flowers. Lack of Services in church is a COVID issue, but it does sum up the general view of this season of Lent; “miserable”. This is exemplified by people giving up some of the luxuries in their lives, chocolate and alcohol etc. Why so miserable, when the greatest day in the Christian calendar is so near?
Good question! Indeed, we should not be miserable at all. That is not the point of giving something up for Lent. This tradition started as a means of simplifying our lives to allow a little time for reflection. Human kind has always had a tendency to be busy, too busy. We fill every moment of our lives with something. Even with all the contraptions modern life offers to ease our burdens and aid our leisure, we are still busy; even if it is catching up with the latest Box Sets. So if you want to make some room in your life to allow some reflection – preparation for the great events of Easter Day - you might like to give something up. If your chosen sacrifice is chocolate, which will not save much time, use it as a reminder of your decision to prioritise reflection. Every time you reach for chocolate, remember the choice you have made.
>And what are we to reflect upon, when we have some time? Try thinking about Easter and what the promise of new life, life beyond death, means to the way we have chosen to live our lives. Maybe it will highlight something in your life that you want to do more of. Perhaps it will suggest some things that you would want to give up in order to prioritise something else. Think of Lent as a spiritual spring-clean, getting ready for Easter.
Your church, Christ Church, has been doing exactly that. Without Services in church to worry about over the past year we have been able to focus on our care for the community. This has comprised mainly ‘Little acts of kindness’. Nonetheless, these are important, for they demonstrate what our church community is all about; loving God through showing love for our neighbour. We have always done this, but perhaps it has been obscured on occasion by the demands of looking after our building. When Services in church resume, we will be careful to ensure we are continuing to keep our ‘neighbour’, whether in Redhill or Africa, as our priority.
My prayer is that, in our isolation, each may know the love and care of our neighbour, and of God
Rev’d Andrew Hemming, Priest for Redhill