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A Different Sort of Lent 

40 DAYS OF LENT28th February 2021

Rev Rosie Bunn
Rector of All Saints Church, Belton
and
St Peter & St Paul Church, Burgh Castle

Did you enjoy pancakes on Shrove Tuesday? It seems quite a long while ago now, and if you are someone who gives up something for Lent, this year it may seem even longer than usual. We all have given up on so much this last year; going without things in our lives that are so important to us and have a powerful influence on our wellbeing. It may be that some of us will need to go back to watching what we eat and drink a bit more, once the lockdown pressures have begun to ease, but there are some aspects of life that we have worked harder on because of the situation we find ourselves in
 
Social media is one part of life that many of my friends have been known to give up for Lent. The ability to be able to be in virtual contact via the various Apps and platforms at this time is so, so important, especially for those who live on their own, and for friends and family members who we have not been able to meet up with for weeks, months, or even a year. I haven’t heard of one person wanting to lay aside social media this year, and I am not surprised
 
So Lent 2021 seems to be a good opportunity to do something extra; new or different. A challenge sheet (or two) originally intended for the children and young people at All Saints Belton has actually been something that we can all join in with. Both came from the Muddy Church organisation, to whom we are grateful. Suggestions on the 40 Moments sheet include help someone, be silent, paint a picture for a window, plant some seeds, as well as some fun activities like go for a walk backwards, giggle for a minute, and jumping in puddles; actions and pursuits that we adults might not naturally choose to respond to, but might find surprising pleasure in if we take up the challenge
 
My parents always taught me to be generous; that it is better to give than to receive. Actually, I think to be well-rounded human beings we have to be able to do both, graciously! The second Lent challenge is called 40 Bags! Participants are asked to give a bag, perhaps containing some sweets, fruit, baking, flowers or goodies, to bless someone, or fill a bag of items to recycle for a charity shop (when they can open once again) or a bag of supplies for the Pantry, the local foodbank. Obviously giving bags away needs to be done with care and following current coronavirus restrictions, but doing something for others is a really positive way to get through these difficult times
 
Even if you didn’t start doing something extra for Lent at the beginning of Lent, you can always start now! Lent is the period of six weeks preparation leading up to the celebration of Easter Day, which this year is Sunday 4th April. It is a season for unwinding and stripping back the layers with which we surround ourselves, helping us to discover again what is at the heart of God’s love for his people. For me, and for many, it is a time of prayerful discovery by reading God’s word, through his creation, and being with other people on that journey. It is of finding ways to express the love and care we receive, sharing that with others
 
Life these past twelve months has felt rather like a rollercoaster ride, with all the ups and downs, twists and turns and scary bits. The last days of Jesus’ life on earth were a bit like that. On Palm Sunday, 28th March, the churches will remember Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem riding a donkey, and all the cheering and celebrations that ensued. A real high! In the following few days there were highs and lows for Jesus as he faced people trying to do him harm, and Judas planning to betray him, as well as meals and gatherings with friends, all culminating with his arrest late on the Thursday evening, his rushed trial and subsequent crucifixion on Good Friday (2nd April). This year, as always, I will be reading through the gospel accounts of Jesus last days, with all the emotions that are stirred by those events, but with the hope of Jesus, the light of life and his resurrection promises as my foundation
 
There is light at the end of the tunnel! Easter Day is a glorious day of celebration of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. As Christians, we believe Jesus opens the way to our Heavenly Father and the promises of eternal life given to us through his teaching. Churches full of flowers and music; people worshipping and receiving Holy Communion; children enjoying all the excitement of an Easter egg hunt, and even getting up before dawn to see the sunrise and celebrate with others. All these things that were not possible last year, and may not be possible this year…… but there is light at the end of the tunnel, and God, as always, there to lead us through
 
God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my defence; he has become my salvation. (Isaiah 12: 2-3)