By the time you read this magazine, we will be in Lent, a period of just over 6 weeks which starts on Ash Wednesday, 26th February. For Christians, it is a time of preparation for Easter, traditionally when candidates for baptism or confirmation prepared for baptism and confirmation services at Easter. But for those who have already been baptised and confirmed, it is a time when we are expected to devote more time to study of the bible and prayer in order to get closer to God, and for many Christians it is a time of fasting, perhaps originally with the aim of clearing our minds to better enable us to get closer to God.

I still give up chocolate every Lent, perhaps not the greatest sacrifice but quite significant for a chocoholic like me. However, I know that what is more important is devoting extra time to study and prayer, and I always do that too: certainly, more time than I would have spent eating chocolate, and it is always more worthwhile.

The Ash Wednesday services at 9.30am in Epwell and 7.00pm in Sibford force us to think about where we have gone wrong over the past year: what we have done that we should not have done, and what we have failed to do. The words are thought provoking: ‘From sloth, worldliness and love of money, from hardness of heart and contempt for your word and your laws, Good Lord deliver us’…and then as the priest makes a sign of the cross on each forehead he or she says: Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ. I always find these words deeply thought provoking, even when I am the one putting the ash on people’s foreheads!

In the Wykeham Benefice, we organise Lent Lunches in different villages each week: these are meant to be austerity lunches, part of the fasting bit, to which people contribute what they would have spent on a full lunch and the money is devoted to charity. Do try to come to one or all of them.  This year's dates are on the back of the March Wykeham Benefice News.

But please also try to spend time getting closer to God through study, perhaps attending extra services such as the Morning Prayer sessions held in different churches each day, or reading the bible at home and praying quietly. I can provide bible study guides if you want one. We are also planning a study group on the meaning of the Lord’s Prayer: please let me know if you would be interested in joining this. Details can be found on page 5 of the March Wykeham Benefice News. You will find whatever that you do or whatever you give up worthwhile.

John Tattersall
07711 733978

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John Tattersall