March 2017

Getting ready for Spring

Lent. Funny word, isn’t it, for one of the holiest seasons of the year? In case any of you are interested where the word comes from - and I can’t imagine too many share my fascination with such matters - it comes from an Old English word meaning ‘springtime’. It celebrates the period when the days get longer and new life returns.

‘But, hang on a moment,’ I hear you say. ‘Isn’t Easter when we celebrate new life?’ It is certainly true that we seem to mark Easter with pagan symbols on new birth like eggs and bunnies and other things which mysteriously play no part in the gospel story. But what we celebrate at Easter is not new life in itself: it is the meaning of the new life that Easter offers. It is knowledge that the life, death and resurrection of Christ teaches us that life is eternal and love cannot die; that death is only an horizon, and an horizon is only the limit of our sight; it is above all that in the risen Christ, we know that we are all individually loved and forgiven. And in order to prepare ourselves for all that Easter brings to us, we need to prepare ourselves. We need to live our lives anew so that we can fully live in Christ’s resurrection light. And it is important that we do that, for otherwise Easter is just a jolly day where the celebrate the fact that we have lamb for lunch, not that we have new life in Christ.

I know I go on my annual rant about marking Lent, about what is important is not giving something up but rather about doing something different and special to prepare ourselves for the wonderful news of Easter. But there are few things in the Christian year more important than this, and idea of ‘preparation’ - so obviously ignored during the season of Advent - is one that is sadly lacking in a  society where celebrating now his more important that preparing yourself for proper celebration in the future. And the form that that preparation might take will differ from person to person, and it can only be the responsibility of each individual Christian to determine precisely what sort of preparation is right for him or her. I am offering one kind in the course we will be following building on the prayer course during Advent (details elsewhere in this Newsletter). But that won’t suit everybody, and I can just hope that other people will choose their own ways.

New life begins on Ash Wednesday, March 1st. For all of us, we must do all we can to make sure that the new life begun in us then grows enough to find full fruit come Easter Day.

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