Quarterly Letter - March 2017
Easter being late, Lent is still three weeks away as I write this. It's always interesting to me that lots of non-churchgoers still give up something during Lent. No doubt the reasons for this are complex but there's at least a vestige of the ancient Christian practice of fasting. The idea there was to fast from whatever has a hold over you, for instance sweet things - chocolate, puddings; or alcohol. For those who 'do Facebook', or any other addictive social media, giving up that can be an interesting experience too (not that I'm about to do it!)
Jesus assumed that fasting would be a normal practice of his disciples. He said 'when you fast...' not 'if you fast'. But why do we give up things, really? For a religious person, the point of fasting is to see God more clearly; it is not an end in itself. In the West we are (with some distressing exceptions) so full of everything that we often need to give up stuff to make room for the spiritual. Our cupboards are full, our diaries are full and our heads are full of our busyness. Fasting creates space and reveals our hidden drives.
Another tradition in the Church over Lent is having a Lent Book. Study together can be very invigorating spiritually. The first disciples of Jesus followed him closely for three years, sharing life and modeling their lives on him. It's the same for 21st Century disciples of Jesus - we are life long learners, hence a focus on Lenten study. This year our book is Holy Habits, by Andrew Roberts. The book explores the ways we grow together as disciples - citing prayer, biblical teaching, fellowship, breaking of bread, giving, service, eating together, gladness and generosity, worship and the making of more disciples. We'll end with a meal at The Old Stables on April 5. Lent Group (Wednesday evenings from March 8) is open to all. If timing is tricky for you maybe you'd like to get the book anyway and read it at home.
So if you're someone who gives up something over Lent, consider give up time to read something that will feed your spiritual life too. And come and eat soup! Lent Lunches begin in The Old Stables on Tuesday March 7, at 12.15 - a simple lunch with donations to Christian Aid. All are welcome, and the soups are absolutely delicious.
Revd. Claire Alcock