What is Lent all about?

Lent this year commenced with Ash Wednesday on March 1st and concludes with Easter Sunday on April 16th. 40 days and 40 nights. The arithmetically astute will have worked out that that period is actually 46 days! That is because EVERY Sunday is considered to be a special FEAST day when we remember the Resurrection of Jesus.

40 days and 40 nights, like 40 days when it rained at the Great Flood when Noah built his Ark, like 40 years when the Chosen People trekked through the Wilderness to the Promised Land, is a way of saying “a very long time”. It was the length of time Jesus spent on his own in the Wilderness immediately after he was Baptised. As he was Baptised in the River Jordan by John the Baptist, God sent His Holy Spirit upon Jesus and proclaimed Jesus to be “My beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”. Straightaway Jesus was led up into the wilderness by that same Spirit and had to be alone, think and wrestle with the demons which all human beings wrestle with – Pride, Greed, and Arrogance.

Christians used to be prepared to be Baptised during Lent, and would actually be washed in water during the night before Easter Day. Nowadays we try to use it as a time of self-denial, thought, and prayer.

Here are some suggestions for things you might like to give up this Lent:

  • Gossip - don’t talk about anyone behind their back; if you wouldn’t say it to their face then don’t say it.
  • Complaining - try not to find fault with anyone – even Donald Trump! And certainly not people you actually meet. Try a smile rather than a scowl.
  • Selfishness - going without something, or sharing with others something we’d rather keep to ourselves, could be good. Why not buy a few extra tins each time you go shopping and put them in the Food Bank or Polly boxes in church?
  • Negativity - try to be a glass half full person, look at all the blessings you enjoy every day, and Thank God, look for the best in other people and praise them.

And what about taking on:

  • A phone call or a visit, to a neighbour or relative who is elderly or infirm.
  • Support for a charity; every day we are bombarded with pleas for help for people in need; maybe you could manage £1 a day or £1 a week?
  • Exercise and Loving Yourself; we’re all usually trying to be good people; so don’t beat yourself up when you make mistakes, and love yourself by eating healthily and going for a thoughtful, prayerful walk.
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