March 2021

 

 

Rev Scott writes…

Welcome to Lent. What does Lent mean to you?


Is it 6 weeks of sacrifice? An endlessly long penance of no chocolates, cakes, biscuits, alcohol, or anything else which you need an excuse to give up?


Or is it a prayerful time? A time when you steep yourself in word, prayer, silence and sacrament and try to draw close to God?
I always do the second, but there are Lents when I do both. And I find doing the second makes the first easier. There is something about self-denial that is deeply cleansing.


Describing Mother Teresa, David Scott in Catholic Exchange says: ‘we deny ourselves, struggle against our selfishness and fancies, in order to purify our vision, to give ourselves totally to God, and be joined to him in the most intimate embrace of love. We do not empty ourselves in order to be nothing, free of desire and need, but in order to be filled with divine life, to see and live with Jesus’.


Lent is an opportunity to join Christ in the wilderness. To experience temptation and discomfort, but also to know God’s solace and presence. Lent isn’t just about giving up those treats, it’s about taking on aspects of the spiritual life where God can be found.


God’s presence can be discovered in many different ways. Fasting is certainly one, good works is another. Some may find an extra session of daily prayer useful. I recommend Lectio Divina, or ‘divine reading’. You might recall I spoke about this in my Bible Sunday sermon. It involves taking a small passage of scripture and reading and re-reading it, until a key word or thought leaps out at you. Then you go away and let that one small thing ferment in the mind. Some describe it as chewing the cud: the longer you take over that morsel, the more you draw from it.


And it’s surprising what goodness comes from that one small morsel. Often, a long-held meaning of that passage can change and become something very different, more enlightening. You may even discover your whole view of, say, one of Jesus’ parables, or a favourite Old Testament story, may be turned completely on its head.


So Lent is a good time to practise this. But there are many techniques we can use to invite God into our lives. At the time of writing, I’m about to lead Gateways to God, an online Lent course that tackles something different each week. We’ll start with a painting that encapsulates the theme of the wilderness. I’ll email it out to people the week before, and ask everyone to pray and meditate over the image – a sort of pictorial version of Lectio Divina – and to bring their thoughts and impressions to our next session.


Now depending on when you read this, we cover our next theme on Tuesday 2 March. That theme is ‘self-denial’, so I thought I’d give you a ‘heads-up’ of that in this letter. This time, we’ll be mulling over a short piece of text.


Why not join us? It’s all done through Zoom, so if you fancy it, email me at revsrichardson@outlook.com and I’ll add you to our list. It’s completely informal and unstructured.


And I promise not to eat a single biscuit whilst you’re all watching me on camera


God bless,


Fr Scott

 


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