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From the Vicar - March 2023

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I’m writing this on the First Sunday of Lent (apologies to our editor!).

The sun is shining brightly.  The sky is blue. Birds are visiting our bird feeders and – in the churchyard of All Saints – the daffodils are beginning to bloom. Spring is in the air – though recent temperatures have been rather wintry again, over the last few days.

Lent is a season in which the days begin to lengthen – particularly once the clocks change – and the skies appear lighter.  But Lent is also the season in which we turn towards the cross, and prepare ourselves, spiritually, for Jesus’ death and resurrection.  The season begins, on Ash Wednesday, with a reminder of our mortality: we hear the words, “Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return.  Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ,” as we are marked, on our foreheads, with the sign of the cross, in ash and oil.  Then, on the first Sunday in Lent, we hear the story of Jesus’ temptation in the wilderness, or desert, where he fasted forty days and forty nights.  (It was wonderful, on Ash Wednesday and this morning, to listen to our choir singing for us the moving hymn, ‘Drop, drop slow tears,’ by Phineas Fletcher, as we begin to reflect upon Jesus’ journey to the cross, and our own journey through Lent.  Our choir usually sings on the fourth Sunday of the month and, occasionally, at other services too.  Do come along and experience how the choir is enhancing our worship – or speak to Ron Stern about joining the choir).

Jesus’ period in the wilderness forms the backdrop, or framework, for our own observance of Lent.  We fast, because Jesus fasted in the wilderness.  We seek to resist temptation, following the example of Jesus, who was tested as we are, but without sin.  The desert was, for Jesus, a place for struggle, adversity, and wrestling with evil.  Lent, for us, might be a time for struggle, adversity and wrestling with evil, too, as we seek to grow in faith, hope, love and our relationship with God.  

Perhaps you’ve given something up for Lent, perhaps you’ve started something new.  Whatever you’ve resolved to ‘do’ for Lent, I hope and pray that it will draw you closer to the loving heart of Jesus, who loves us so much that he died and rose again for us.  Our Lenten observations shouldn’t cause us guilt or shame, but should bring us freedom, confidence and gratitude, as we realise more clearly that God forgives our sins and offers us a clean slate, cleansing and purifying us, and enfolding us in unconditional, immeasurable, love.

The desert can be a dangerous place – but it can also be a place for growth, transformation and new life.  Jesus won for us, in the wilderness, and on the cross, victory over evil, sin and death.  In the scorching heat of the desert – during this season of Lent – dross can be refined, or burned away, and out of the fire and ash, new life can emerge, like a phoenix arising from the flames.  Christians believe that Jesus is the life-giving water, and his presence, with us, in the 40-day wilderness of Lent, can lead to transformation, like flowers which break forth in the desert after a fall of rain.

I hope and pray that Lent will be a season of growth and transformation for you, and that you will come to a deeper awareness and understanding of just how much Jesus loves you, just as you are.

God bless you, and your loved ones, this Lent and always.

Karen x