Church of England Diocese of Exeter Lynton

Vicar's Newsletter for Ash Wednesday and Lent

16 Feb 2021, 2:15 p.m.
From_the_Vicar Lent
Dear friends, It was midway through Lent last year that we first experienced what we now call “lockdown”. As we reach Ash Wednesday this year, we can look back over almost a year or restrictions to the way we live that have a lot of the qualities of a very long Lent – giving things up for a greater purpose than our own satisfaction and sacrificing what we often have enjoyed for the wellbeing of others.

THis Lent then, our observance may be about giving that meaning to the daily life choices we currently make – offering to God and our neighbour the “not doing” that is necessary now. Traditionally there have been three main Lenten practices: almsgiving, fasting and prayer. This year, I suggest they remain a very good way to keep a holy Lent, and they have particular resonance in all that we are experiencing. After a year with a very limited number of services, restricted fundraising and no visitors’ gifts, but continued upkeep expenses, the finanancial situation of each of our churches is extremely stretched. Any extra “almsgiving” you are able to offer to your church this Lent will be essential to being able to continue the ministry that each parish church offers its community in the months to come. We are coming up to Fair Trade Fortnight (22nd February to 7th March) which is a good reminder to us to think about what we consume and the effects of our food choices on those who produce our food (both locally and abroad).

Might this year’s “fasting” be about limiting how we consume to products where producers are fully supported and our environment is honoured? As we await the return to worshipping in church together, our personal prayer is also one way of being united with one another in faith. As we pray for our world and our local community we offer what we can for the transformation of all that we are living through. In our Sunday reflections we pray generally for all who are in need rather than for individuals by name so as to maintain people’s privacy, but I would encourage each one of us to take time to pray by name for those who we each know need our prayers. I know that many people have used the extra time inside to deepen their own relationship with God in prayer, or found inspiration as they pray on a walk or in the garden – using Lent as a time to reconnect with these practices is a great opportunity. The reflection I have recorded is the liturgy offered by the Church of England for Ash Wednesday – it offers an opportunity to start Lent well, handing over to God all that gets in the way of God’s love, and opening our hearts to reconciliation and life.

May God bless you and guide your way through this Holy season