For the last few years, the March magazine has been published as we begin Lent. Once again we have an opportunity to use this month as a preparation for the great festival of Easter.
Lent can be seen as a time for growth. Not just growth for the sake of it, but growth into the likeness of Christ. It is all too easy to become complacent and stuck in our ways, so often we need some sort of jolt to change. This can make growth uncomfortable even painful.
Traditionally, Lent has been a time of giving things up, and that can be helpful. The act of self discipline is helpful in itself. The idea of growth is a very positive one, particularly as it is also Spring time when we are beginning to see signs of growth around us. While this growth happens spontaneously in nature, we can do things in our garden to help. Cutting back plants is a way of encouraging growth, as is digging out weeds and spreading fertiliser. In our spiritual life there are many ways of applying these principles. Cutting back can give us a positive reason for giving things up. It is all too easy to fill our lives with business. Jesus was particularly good at spending time in prayer so he knew what to say no to. So maybe giving up a TV programme could be helpful if we used the time to enrich ourselves in other ways.
This could take a number of forms: taking time to read the Bible and pray; deciding to spend time with neighbours or friends; or choosing to care for someone perhaps with a phone call or writing a letter. The digging up of weeds can also be a picture of cutting out things in our life that are not helpful. This means taking time to discern the areas of our lives that leave us more desolate or diminished. This might be just stopping things or it could lead to the whole area of confession. Confession then becomes a positive experience as the fault is faced up to and dealt with by decisively turning away from it. By God’s grace we are then set free from the consequences.
Let this Lent be a time for growth, as we ask the Holy Spirit to make us restless till we change, and prepare for the glorious celebration of Easter.
Rev Bill Henderson