Each year the Church invites us to enter again the period called Lent as we individually and collectively prepare for Holy Week and Easter. Lent is that 5-week period, modelled on Jesus’ “40 days” in the wilderness. For Jesus that was a defining period in His life. It was the period when he did battle with himself, and the devil, and came out, at the end of that period with great clarity about his father’s call upon his life and his priorities of ministry.
For Jesus it was a period of significant transformation and that is the invitation to us, again this year, that we might use this period to wrestle with our faith; to be challenged in our faith; to learn; to grow; to be transformed.
Lent is the season in the year where it is expected that we be uncomfortable and disturbed. We have no flowers in the cathedral. We sing no alleluias. In our worship we sing the psalms and our music is often unaccompanied and “stripped back”.
In practice this may mean that you will choose to read one of the Lent books available from our bookshop and come to the series of three Wednesday evening Lent courses. I know one person who has already said that they plan to attend Sunday Evensong each week in Lent as they don’t usually. I know someone else who is planning to attend Morning Prayer once a week who does not usually. These are all possibilities to additional disciplines to take on for the season.
For others, Lent this year may be an opportunity to do less and be more. To spend more time in reflection and less time in busyness – to write letters? to write a prayer journal? to contemplate? to re-evaluate?
Lent is an important annual gift to us which I invite to grasp with enthusiasm and commitment. Whether you choose to take on something new and extra, or choose to stop doing something or to do less, may Lent be for you a time of growth, renewal and realignment with God. God who is eternally compassionate and loving towards us and desires nothing more than we enjoy “life in all its fullness” and be agents of God’s justice and reconciliation in the world.
The Revd Canon Paul Maybury
Precentor, Bradford Cathedral