Lent 2021 – Resilience in a time of pandemic
We are already just into Lent as you receive this magazine. I am grateful to all those who worked to ensure it continued in the midst of the pandemic, when other parishes around did not. Village life is resilient at its best: As Sir Winston Churchill once said: ‘if you are going through Hell, keep going!’
As the vaccine rolls out we can only pray that folk are sensible and life returns to some sort of normal. It has and still is a strange time – either empty for those isolating, when is each is much the same, or much harder for those key workers or those in any kind of need, financial or mental health-wise.
Lent is a time of reflection, and whether busy or not, a stock-take of how you actually are, is always helpful – negative often, but also provides us with a chance to be positive. Lent comes early in the year deliberately so that we can consider our standing before God and each other. It is not just about saying sorry for the wrong we do but about building a healthy spiritual as well as physical lifestyle. Temptations to hurry come in all forms – to take short-cuts when lengthier and more considered options may be better. We do not have to do everything now. Lent reflects Jesus’ temptation in the desert before the start of his ministry and those temptations always included a ‘quick fix’ which rarely works.
For Jesus it meant following the way to the cross, but few wanted to follow his way of seeking his Father God. In the last days of Lent before Easter the Christian church remembers the events of that first Good Friday. It recalls not only the events, but also the meaning behind those events. It celebrates a man who did not call on a vast army of angels to get him out of a certain and excruciating death, in a ‘quick fix’ but someone who went to the Cross to show an alternative way of giving to the human one of aggression and self-seeking. If it were only a heroic act we wouldn't remember it, let alone worship this man Jesus. He would be a great teacher, but little more.
But that first Easter Day saw a unique event - one that the Bible writers and millions of Christians since testify too - that this man crucified and dead did not stay dead but was alive again and could be our friend, and Saviour. God raised his Son from the dead so that the hope of resurrection for all, and reconciliation with God is possible though Jesus Christ. This is the why? of the events we remember, celebrate and are awed by.
Awe is always an optional extra in life, but one that is all too easy to miss out on in a busy and unhealthy lifestyle. The dismissal of the Resurrection as mass hallucination or mix-up is a too easy opt-out. After all, if faith were certain it would hardly be faith. But it is one I hope you do not miss out on because Easter brings hope and new life in Christ to a hopeless world and peace where there is often little to celebrate. As for the emerging beauty of spring and summer, let yourself be awed for once. Change your lifestyle for the better.
In this vein there are services and a Church of England personal Lent course* as a chance to take stock and to get right with God as Easter approaches, and get life back into a healthier and a right perspective that we all long for.
Stay safe, springtime is coming!
Yours in Christ,
*Lent Course and Daily reflection App see