Vicar's Column - March 2019
St John the Baptist Parish Church
Lent looms – have you decided what you might be giving up/ taking on this year?
As well as a time for self-examination, penitence and self-denial, Lent is an opportunity to spend more time in prayer, bible study and other spiritual reading. There are always a range of specialist books on offer for Lent. Check out the church library, and Quench bookshop if you have not done so already. Books with daily readings can be a good anchor. The bishop of Oxford, Steven Croft, has producedPilgrim Journeys: 40 Days of reflections on the Beatitudesfor Lent. I’ve just ordered David Cole, Celtic Lent: 40 days of devotions – I liked the sound of it. There are also general books on prayer or lifestyle suitable for Lent. For the latter, I would suggest Eve Poole’s, Buying God: Consumerism & Theology, which challenges us to think more ethically about how we spend our money.
It is also encouraging to study and worship with others during Lent and there is a full CTC Lent programme this year to nourish the soul and intellect. Make a good start to Lent by attending one of the Ash Wednesday Eucharists at 10 am or 8 pm, which include “the imposition of ashes”. Ashes are an ancient sign of penitence; from the Middle Ages it became the custom to begin Lent by being marked in ash with the sign of the cross. Lent is a good opportunity for us to reflect upon our lives: What thoughts and actions are we sorry for? What have we failed to do, or not do, to live truly by Christ’s kingdom values? As St Paul urges, “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Romans 12:2)
The period of forty days reminds us of the forty days that Jesus spent being tested in the wilderness.
The calculation of the forty days of Lent has varied considerably over the years. It is now usual in the West to count them continuously to the end of Holy Week, so beginning Lent on the sixth Wednesday before Easter, Ash Wednesday. Churches are kept bare of flowers and decoration. The Gloria in Excelsis is not used. The fourth Sunday of Lent (traditionally “Refreshment Sunday”), now our “Mothering Sunday” is allowed as a day of relief from the rigour of Lent.
However, this year there may not be much relief experienced on Mothering Sunday, which falls two days after the Brexit cliff edge date of 29th March.
At the moment we do not know where we will at with Brexit then. This Lent is a particularly testing time for us as a nation. There is certainly cause for serious soul searching and repentance for the fear and division that has been bred through this whole process. We need to continue to pray for our government and our relationship with Europe even when, feeling frozen and voiceless, words fail us and prayer becomes a silent yearning.
Revd Dr Lisa Cornwell
Church Office (firstname.lastname@example.org )
- 01344 761521
Find St John the Baptist Parish Church
Waterloo Road, Crowthorne, Berkshire, RG45 7NT
There is ample parking along Waterloo Road, and around the back of the Church on the unmade road Church Street.