Easter this year falls almost as late as it can possibly be in April, so in February we enjoy a brief lull between the festival seasons of Christmas and Epiphany and the penitential season of Lent. Our gospel readings during this period give us a chance to reflect on being called to be a disciple of Jesus Christ.
But as I write it is less than four weeks till Ash Wednesday. In the ‘Events’ section of this website, you will find details of possible Lent reading and a Lent course based on some of that reading being run by St Peter’s Burnham in which other local churches will be invited to participate.
But why do I encourage you to join a Lent course or take up some reading for Lent? Why is it important to enter fully into the season of Lent? Canon Jim Harris from the Anglican diocese of Cape Town sums up the value of Lent like this:
“Henri Nouwen suggests that Lent is a season of repentance, a season during which winter (darkness) and spring (light) struggle with each other for dominance …
Lent then is a season of preparation, reflection, repentance, restraint, and humility. In earlier times Lenten pilgrims fasted, some excessively, others less so. Some felt they were to emulate Moses, Elijah, and Jesus, in their fasts and spiritual disciplines. New believers were prepared for baptism; older followers often re-affirmed their vows in public testimony …
(but) Above all else, Lent calls us afresh to think anew about what we believe and how we follow Jesus …
There is a sense that once we have understood Lent’s purpose and objectives, we can enter the process with joy, a solemn joy perhaps, but nevertheless an awe-filled joy that is fragile during the journey then bursts forth in wonder on Resurrection Morning.”
Wise words. But of course, it isn’t only reading or Lent discussion groups that help us take the preparation of Lent seriously. Art and music also enable us to enter more fully into that season of repentance.
The painting on the front cover of this newsletter is Marc Chagall’s White Crucifixion (1938) which explores the sense and understanding of the cross becoming a universal symbol of the many forms of suffering for all people. The background is predominantly white signifying the oppression, persecution and displacement of his own Jewish communities in his homeland of White Russia.
And on Sunday March 17th we welcome visiting soloists to join our own choir in singing the Allegri Miserere during Parish Eucharist.
Whatever your natural tendency, create space and time in March to read, meet, discuss, gaze, and listen with a conscious intent to draw closer to God.