Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Ash Wednesday - Lent begins

I'm always come to the beginning of Lent with a certain sort of relief - time for the annual clean-up. The church is now ready in Lent array - and children from a local school will be the first to see its new bareness when they visit in a few minutes' time. For myself I feel in need of the annual overhaul for body, mind and soul.

Our March issue of the Parish Magazine has just gone off to be printed. Click here to read the online edition.

This is the Vicar's letter from the front end of the maagazine, but there's a lot more worth reading inside...

Cracked Cisterns?

No, it’s not another fabric problem with crumbling loos and bathroom fittings… The reference is actually to words from the Prophet Jeremiah:

My people have committed two sins:
they have rejected me,
a source of living water,
and they have hewn out for themselves cisterns,
cracked cisterns which hold no water.
(Jeremiah 2.13)

It’s a two-fold reproach. First, that God’s people have lost sight of God himself: he’d led them from slavery in Egypt into a promised land, but they’ve forgotten that he is the source of their guidance - they just don’t pay attention to him any more. And secondly, having made themselves self-reliant, they’ve found their own resources to be an empty hope. It must be from Jeremiah that we get the phrase, “It just doesn’t hold water.” That’s what the Israelites find when they surrender the worship of God and a proper sense of their calling for false idols, materialism and neglect of the poor. And that’s what we find in our society today.

The recent “Atheist Bus Slogan” campaign has paid for buses to be emblazoned with the rather half-hearted half-thought: “There’s probably no God - so stop worrying and enjoy your life.” But will people stop worrying? Why shouldn’t you believe in God, and enjoy your life. And is enjoyment (hedonism) all there is to life? It’s not just the Recession that’s making people doubt this. In her chart-topping song, The Fear, Lily Allen sings:

I want to be rich and I want lots of money
I don’t care about clever I don’t care about funny
I want loads of clothes and I want a **** load of diamonds
I heard people die while they are trying to find them

It’s sad - and the chorus admits as much:

I don’t know what’s right and what’s real anymore
I don’t know how we’re meant to feel anymore
When do you think it will all become clear
‘Cause I’m being taken over by the Fear

So, is reality to be found just in what you can see, touch, get and grab? Let’s welcome Lent as the opportunity to attune ourselves once more to the true source of reality - God as we find him in Jesus Christ.

Martin Jackson

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