On Wednesday, March 6, we begin the solemn and yet hopeful season of Lent, the 40 days which lead up to Good Friday when we commemorate Jesus’ death on the cross, and then celebrate the miracle of the Resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Lent can be an opportunity to reflect on life and faith and every year the church offers resources to encourage this. There will be Lent groups in the parish in which we will study material looking at the environment – contact Hannah for details – and a series of Lent services entitled ‘The Prophetic Voice’ will be at St. Mark’s on Fridays at noon from March 8 until April 12 with a light lunch served afterwards (if you would like to stay for lunch, please contact us by clicking here).
There are ideas too for those who prefer private study. The Bishop of Guildford’s Lent Challenge enables you to receive a daily email following a series of themes designed to encourage us to become becoming more prayerful and confident Christian disciples in daily life. There are leaflets in church and you can sign up here:
The Archbishop of Canterbury recommends a Lent book each year and this year it is Reconciliation by Muthuraj Swamy.
Reconciliation is desperately needed at the moment, both in the church and the wider world and in this book there are 40 Bible studies which teach lessons about reconciliation — its foundation, its impediments, its risks, and its heart as represented in the recurring phrase “radical openness to others”, which Swamy believes summarises “the whole essence of Christianity”.
The Church Times describes the book as requiring: “quite a lot of daily application” and as suitable for those used to serious Bible-reading. The reviewer adds: “Swamy has valuable things to say about rival groups’ claiming victimhood; the roots of prejudice and stereotyping in naming and generalisation; the need for someone to take the initiative if reconciliation is to begin; and learning to see God on the other side. But the focus of his attention is the Bible interpreted in relation to his theme.”
Another suggestion is Pilgrim Journeys: 40 Days of Reflections on the Beatitudes. This book by Steven Croft, Bishop of Oxford, is two sets of 40-day bite-size reflections: one for Lent on eight Beatitudes and the other for Easter on eight petitions in the Lord’s Prayer. Each Beatitude and petition has a five-day cycle, with a daily Bible reading, brief reflection, prayers, and a challenging outcome (during Lent) or pause (during Eastertide). The reflections are described by the Church Times as having “the air of being written by someone whose soul is soaked in the scriptures”.
May this Lent be one of reconciliation and reflection.