This month.....

 

What are you doing for Lent this year? A question we often hear asked. Before any of us have to decide what we’re doing, or indeed, whether we’re going to do anything, it may be helpful to reflect on the meaning of Lent.

So, what is it? Lent begins on Ash Wednesday, the 26th February this year, and lasts for the period of forty days up until Easter. While Christians see Advent as a time of great anticipation, Lent is more often seen as a time of solemn observance and preparation; a season of reflection and preparation. We remember Jesus’ withdrawal into the desert after his baptism where he fasted for forty days.

What do we do in Lent? Well, for Christians it’s a time of prayer, some may fast, some people give up favourite foods, chocolate is a good example or alcohol, as a test of self discipline and a way of relating to Christ’s suffering during his time in the wilderness. Some may take time to engage in reading a Christian book or try a new way of praying.

During Lent 2018 there was a big campaign for a plastic less Lent which we as a family joined in with, to make changes that enabled us to use less plastic. Some changes were easier and more successful to implement than others. We started having our milk delivered in glass bottles, became part of a local fruit and veg delivery scheme, tried shampoo solid bars and I even tried to make our own yoghurt (that was a disaster, anyone with any tips?!). It was an interesting experience and one we have tried to continue and build on since. We are by no means a good example of how to live a plastic free life, but we are much more considered about what and how we use plastic.

It was back in 2017 that David Attenborough’s documentary Blue Planet II hit our tv screens. He highlighted the dangers that plastic pollution was having on our marine life and there was an outpouring of public shock when the footage of the seahorse with a plastic cotton bud in its tail was aired. Since then David Attenborough has been credited for seeing an increasing change in consumer habits, driving a notable reduction of our plastic consumption and a growing public awareness of environmental issues.

Climate change has very much been highlighted in recent months by the young activist Greta Thunberg, by groups like Extinction Rebellion and by watching the news and seeing the devastating Amazon Rainforest and, much more recently, the Australian bush fires.

For 2020, Archbishop Justin Welby’s Lent book is called Saying Yes to Life by Ruth Valero. Ruth was part of the huge social media campaign for plastic less Lent. She is currently a Global Advocacy and influencing director at Tearfund. In his foreword Archbishop Justin includes an observation made by one of his primates in Fiji ‘for you Europeans, climate change is a problem for the future. For us it is a problem of everyday survival.’ As Christians in the Anglican communion we are called to strive to safeguard the integrity of creation and sustain and renew the life of the earth. A calling that I am sure you share in whether you are someone with faith or no faith. We all have a responsibility to love and care for the beautiful world we have been given to be part of.

Archbishop Welby writes of the book it’s “perfect for individuals and groups to think, reflect, pray and be challenged together.” Bishop Nicholas of Salisbury (our Bishop) who is the lead Bishop on environmental affairs also advocates that this book is an excellent resource for our parishes to use this Lent. I too, commend this book to you. In different ways we will be looking at this book across the Benefice. Please keep your eyes out for further details that will become available soon, there will be study groups meeting in various villages which you will be welcome to join. You can find our contact details in this magazine or on the Cannings and Redhorn Team website.

Whatever you choose to do, I pray that for each one of you, Lent will be a period of meaningful reflection and rich blessing.

With love and prayers Revd Joanna