Thought for the Month (March 2015)
This letter will probably reach you on the first Sunday in Lent. This is a low time in the Calendar year and a difficult period of the Christian year also. There is longing as we wait for Winter to turn into Spring and, for the Christian, there is the long journey from the promise of Christmas through the sorrow of Holy week to the eventual joy of Easter.
In a pre-industrial world this time of the year was a time of hardship. All the fresh food was gone and it would be a long hungry time to the next harvest. How wise of the Church to proclaim Lent to be a period of "abstinence and fasting"!
There is historical evidence that the birth of Christ did happen in winter. Easter is tied to the Hebrew Passover, known to be in Spring, so our founding fathers arranged the timing of Christmas and Easter, at least for us in the Northern Hemisphere, at the right time of the year. Those in the Southern Hemisphere, celebrating Christmas in mid-summer and Easter in the Autumn at the same time as Harvest Festivals, do have a problem.
So Jesus "turns his face to Jerusalem" and the suffering he must endure in Holy week, and we look to the period of Lent to accompany Him on His journey and prepare for the joy of Easter. That is what Lent is all about and this is why we should use this time of year for honest reflection on our spiritual situation, and hopefully use it for spiritual growth.
How can we do this? Apart from personal prayer and meditation, as a group of Churches we have Home Groups, Bible Study Groups, Prayer Groups and special Lent courses available. We should use them – details are available from your Church Secretary or elsewhere in this magazine. Just as the seasons – despite appearances – cannot stand still, so we should not be content to remain where we are in our relationship with our Lord, but to move on closer to Him. That is the purpose of this season of Lent, may we all make fruitful use this time of year.
Bob Webb (Church Secretary & Elder, Tunbridge Wells URC)
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