As I write it’s snowing. Some excitement there for many children - though I’m not sure there’ll be as much as they might want for tobogganing, snowball fights and the creation of snowmen/women/creatures. But I’m feeling cold - and wondering if I will get the car out of the Vicarage drive and down Church Bank so I can take this to the printer…
January is perhaps the most difficult month for many people - short, dark days and long nights drag on… the cold… leaving Christmas behind. But for me there’s the prospect of moving on. February itself isn’t exactly enticing - it might be even colder and more wintry! But in the middle of February we start Lent - and that’s a season not exactly to enjoy, but one which helps us find our feet and restore a sense of equilibrium.
The celebration of New Year on 1st January is a relatively recent innovation in our country. Until the 18th century our country started the New Year on 25th March, the Feast of the Annunciation of the Birth of Our Lord - that’s a real new start in terms of God’s relationship with his people! Other cultures and religions have their own New Year - in the North-East quite a lot gets made of Chinese New Year for example. And of course the Church’s New Year is actually Advent Sunday. But by now that’s the wrong side of Christmas!
So I’m glad that the beginning of Lent gives us another opportunity to make a fresh start. Traditionally it’s a time of discipline, rather than simply “giving things up.” Listen to our bodies, treat them with the respect they deserve - find the benefit in our souls. How do we waste our time? Is there a better way to spend it? Now we can make another attempt to deepen our spirituality by prayer, study, learning together. It’s a useful time-frame of just over six weeks in which to do it. It’s a reminder of those 40 days in the wilderness which Jesus spent listening to the voice of God.
What do we hear? Look for the opportunities you can share at St. Cuthbert’s in worship, time for prayer and study. In thinking about a Lent Course we can use, I’ve finally opted for one from Us, the mission agency we support. There’s a free study booklet, there’ll be meetings in which to join. There’s the opportunity to learn from Scripture, and also from the lives and work of people round the world - and to ask questions about our own call, the requirements of justice, and our hopes for the Church’s contribution and growth. And may Easter find us with hearts which are warmed by the redeeming love of Christ!
From the February issue of our Parish Magazine - click and find it!