A View From The Vicarage, February 2018
The interesting feature of following a calendar that incorporates both the solar cycle alongside the lunar one is that it will occasionally throw up some intriguing combinations and 2018 is no exception to that rule.
This year Ash Wednesday is also St. Valentine’s Day, the Annunciation of Christ on 25th March is Palm Sunday and Easter Day is April 1st All Fool’s Day!! All of which means that with Valentine’s Day and Ash Wednesday both being 14th February as this magazine goes to press, we’re putting Christmas behind us and preparing for the start of Lent.
As I write this in the middle of January; I’m amazed that despite a fairly severe winter, the signs of spring are already to be seen piercing through the cold drabness of winter. The first snowdrops are beginning to appear, the jasmine outside my study window is in abundant flower and the azalea by the gate is covered in buds.
These harbingers of spring remind us that unlike in Narnia the long dreary days of winter won’t be with us for ever and that beyond the crispness of a winter morning the abundant new life of spring isn’t far behind.
Is it any wonder that Lent the word we use to describe the 40 days from Ash Wednesday to Easter Eve has nothing whatsoever to do with repentance and fasting but is simply the Anglo Saxon word for to lengthen describing how the days get progressively longer during these months.
It strikes me that that’s quite a good metaphor for what Lent is all about. As we look around our churches particularly in the chill of a cold February morning, it can be all to easy to feel as if not a great deal is happening. Our churches can, therefore, feel as if in true Narnia fashion “it is always winter”. But then if we look more closely we can observe those signs of real Christian witness of people as Malcolm Muggendge once memorably described it “doing something beautiful for God”.
Lent is about examining what we do, giving thanks for all that is good and positive and life affirming and asking God to help us with the rest. It’s about nurturing the growing plants while making the cold, hard soil of indifference into the friable soil in which the Holy Spirit can and will plant new seeds of hope and change.
As we prepare for our Lenten journey may you be encouraged, inspired and enriched and let’s not forget that Jesus is God’s Valentine to the whole of humanity!
Have a happy and blessed Lent.
With my love and prayers as ever,