This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, which marks the beginning of Lent, the forty days before Easter. Observing Lent dates back to the early centuries of the church (at least the 4th century), and it was originally a time of fasting. It may have originated as a fast for those who were to be baptised at Easter time. The fast was gradually relaxed over the centuries. These days I suspect that few in our circles will be fasting, but I think that the idea of “giving up something for Lent”, as an exercise in discipline and as a reminder of the blessings we enjoy, is a good thing to do.
Lent also provides an opportunity to make a special effort to focus on our spiritual life for six weeks, and there are many resources to assist. I would like to encourage us this Lent to work on personal prayer. Our National Church Life Survey was that 53% of our members reported spending time in “prayer, meditation or Bible reading” every day or most days. This was an encouraging result (better than the average church!), but it is also something we can build on.
With this in mind, our Ash Wednesday seminar, to be led by Kat and me, will be on “Enriching your Prayer Life”. We are encouraging everyone to use a new book called Growing in Prayer by Stephen Shead, which will be available for sale along with some other resources. I hope you can make it to communion at 7 pm and the seminar at 7.30 pm (finishes at 8.30 pm).
Shrove Tuesday is the day when people would traditionally use up all the fatty foods in the house before the fast, hence the pancakes! You are invited to a Shrove Tuesday afternoon tea this week at 2.30 pm.
In brief, our Annual Vestry Meeting is coming up soon, on Sunday 15th March at 11.30 am. If you are leading a ministry, now is a good time to think about your report.