We have now entered the long season of Lent, which will culminate with Holy Week beginning with Palm Sunday on 14th April and ending with the greatest date in the Christian calendar, Easter Sunday 20th April. “Dreich” is a wonderful word we use in Scotland to describe the weather especially when it is cold, wintery, dark, and miserable. There is no exact English equivalent. For many people it sums up their feelings about Lent. A time of dark dreaded penance. For many years Eastern Orthodox Christians would not eat until after 3pm; and no, they could not lie in bed until lunch-time, often rising at 5am to begin a hard day’s labour. By the time the 13th century came around, flagellation became popular, especially amongst the many who lived as monks or in the wider monastic communities (which often encompassed entire villages).
It was only as late as the 1960’s that all this began to change. Of course by this time in the West especially, two world wars and declining faith questioned much of the accepted norm . Something good happened too ; does it all have to be gloom and doom ? “ Love” got a whole new lease of life; not just “ flower power” and weird and wonderful hairstyles, but the very sound idea that, as the Beatles sang, All you need is love. Could any Christian argue with that?
This has meant that in recent church thinking Lent is now less about “giving up” say chocolate or alcohol and more about deepening our general spiritual awareness. Or even just praying at all. It never ceases to amaze me that many people who claim to be Christian simply never pray. Substituting a bar of chocolate or a Guinness for a simple prayer that may change your life forever seems like a good way to have a meaningful Lent.
During Lent there are lots of extra services and study groups, connected with both churches, to help us.
Stephen Hazlett, Rector