A Message for Lent from Paul Lawlor the Town Centre Chaplain and Vicar at St Stephen’s
LENT 2021 – I looked back to how Lent started back in 2020. Things were still quite normal – if placing a cross in ash on people’s forehead is normal. I recall a meeting with a nun, a residential with other clergy and then we came to Mothering Sunday. There was no service in church that Sunday, March 22, 2020!
We are now in a time when we can see things improving.
We hope we will be able to worship in person this Easter Sunday, even if still in limited numbers.
However, whatever happens the future will be different from the past we left 12 months ago.
Change, growth and development are the way of world, I look to a creator God, who keeps on creating.
So how does all this feed into Lent? Normally it is a time when we think of giving something up or picking up something new.
In the church, we focus on God walking with us in Jesus and reflecting on our failings, we think of Lent as a penitential time.
This year it may feel as if we had forgotten to leave Lent back in 2020 and have been stuck there ever since!
So how can we travel towards Easter this year?
If you can, imagine what Jesus did when He spent 40 days in the wilderness before embarking on His public ministry, 2000 years ago.
See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=O5bfxGNMY9c or search ’40 Jesus in the desert’.
Can I suggest three things which come out of this for me:
Playfulness – can we look to the joys we’ve found or are finding during this time? The wonders of nature in the large things and the small and simply time to breath.
Support – that is knowing we are not alone. Can we acknowledge that God has been and will be with us in this journey we are on? This may be revealed through those around us or there can be a strength that seems to come from nowhere.
Hope – at the conclusion of Jesus’s time in the wilderness he embarked on three years of ministry which changed the world forever.
As we approach the joy of Easter, of Jesus defeating death, we first need to confront the horror of the cross, of Jesus being tortured and killed.
If you feel you are in darkness now, let us hold to God. Let us find the moments of playfulness and joy, let us be people of hope.
Over the weeks to come we will create a changing scene in the porch of St Stephen’s Church in the town centre.
As we work on the building, we also continue to look to what God has for us.
Come and share that journey with us or with the other churches of our town.
What will you find this Lent?