March brings anticipation of Easter's new beginning by this season's lengthening days, so named Lent. Today's consumer society knows little of preparation when everything can be sourced from your local convenience store, yet ensuring this daily 24/7 supply still requires planning and preparation. With ‘disposable incomes’ still in evidence amidst our high streets, clearly the thought of doing without so that everyone may share all the more in the feast day to come, is counter cultural.
Even the Church in her Lenten preparation for the Easter Festival to come, prefers these days the more culturally normative ‘taking up’ of some personal challenge. Giving up our indulgences to make room for that truly personal journey of finding value in our faith is often dismissed, and so we lose something of promoting community life in bearing the suffering of the life in whom is our faith, our Christ. Our Christ called us to follow, in discipline, discipleship, putting aside all things by which we fall short of the mark, another counter-cultural term - sin. By acknowledging our falling short, our sin, we are able to turn our lives around, being penitent, to follow the one who bore the marks of suffering for our new start, our redemption.
None of us enjoys confessing our falling short, this is a society all about proclaiming our strengths, we are selective even to the extent of a few ‘alternative facts’ about our job histories and careers, after all who will employ someone who talks about their mistakes.
Well the Easter story is all about the love of our heavenly Father, to call out to us again and again, and when we find strength to speak of our mistakes, will speak to us in the living Word of His Son, that we in Him may live anew. The heavenly Father's forgiveness is 24/7, prepared and planned in the story of Jesus' "forty day" wilderness journey against this world's temptations. However unfashionable or even unfathomable to the modern ear is our calling to deny ourselves, take up our cross, and follow the course of our own forty days. No flowers then decorate the church, chocolate, alcohol, sweets, indulgences set aside, fast days – Ash Wednesday, Fridays, Good Friday - study, good works taken on. So as winter's bare field, as the plough may turn the soil, we turn our lives bare, that the Son's lengthening days may warm our hearts, to share the good of this life with all people, as is our loving Father's purpose in creation, fullness of life.
Yours in Christ
Rev'd Brin Singleton