The Lentiest Lent (again)

Dear Church Family,

Lent is here – pitching up in the midst of half term and bringing some sort of liturgical structure to half term week at the Rectory! We met via Facebook on Ash Wednesday for Morning Prayer and again in the afternoon for a more participative service of Ashing and Remembrance, with the whole household involved. The readings from 1 Timothy 6:6-19 that day encouraged us to pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

We are starting Lent of 2021 just a few weeks shy of what will be the first anniversary of Lockdown #1. As someone remarked recently “this year will be the Lentiest of Lents!” It goes without saying of course, nearly 12 months in, that so much of our year has already been marked by huge sacrifices, in how we have been able to celebrate, gather, support, pray and communicate; across our Church community, within our neighbourhood and between our friends and families. In this wilderness of the pandemic, we have certainly found an incredible ability to endure, drawing on a strength we perhaps didn’t know we had.

I’ve found it easy to convince myself this year that I deserve an easier Lent – surely God wouldn’t want me to have an even harder time in this pandemic? I confess I haven’t set myself hugely difficult Lenten challenges (aiming for no snacking between meals and reading a chapter a day of Scripture), but I have been reminded in a few ways this week that, at its core, our Lenten challenge is not to give up or take up more ‘activities’ but it is a call to repentance.

Jim Wallis says this: “Lent is … a time of reflection, re-evaluation, and renewal in our lives, both for the community of faith and in our relationship to the world. But the “R” word that is most characteristic of Lent is “repentance” … the gospel call to turn around and go in a whole new direction.”

How do we go in a whole new direction when we have nowhere to go right now? That does feel like an impossible ask. But in Jesus’ time in the wilderness, he too turns in a whole new and unexpected direction. He emerges from the waters of baptism and steps out into the desert, led by the Spirit, spending 40 days and 40 nights at the mercy of the elements and the Devil.

Jesus knew that, in that place of wilderness AND refuge, he would face head-on the challenges of temptation, power and circumstance but that he would not face them alone. In being led by the Spirit this Lent, I believe we will find our ‘wilderness’ filled with righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness.

In this Lentiest of Lents, we are called to do as Jesus did and take a new direction: renewing our lives of prayer, by trying something new or praying more often; navigating our relationships with a faithful care, repenting when what we do or say does not enable God’s love to shine through us; considering our choices, our consumption, our patronage to see God’s justice and gentleness brought to bear across the whole world.

Eugene Peterson reminds us: “Repentance is not an emotion. It is not feeling sorry for your sins. It is a decision…Repentance is a realisation that what God wants from you and what you want from God are not going to be achieved by doing the same old things, thinking the same old thoughts. Repentance is a decision to follow Jesus Christ and become his pilgrim in the path of peace.”

Notice of 2021 Electoral Roll Revision If you feel that you belong to the Hutton Parish family and would like to be involved more in the life of the church, then please request a form from either the Parish Office or from Christine Bennett on 07402 846811.