Believe it or not, tomorrow is Shrove Tuesday – I hope you all enjoy making and eating pancakes with friends and family. Yes, Lent begins on Wednesday, Ash Wednesday, marking the beginning of 40 Days of fasting, until we celebrate Easter. The christian calendar offers us two major seasons, Advent and Lent, for self reflection, and re-ordering our lives once again, and they are times that have become very important to me in my journey of faith.
This practice of fasting, or denial of self, is a helpful way to recognise our greed, our addictions, and our lack of self discipline that so easily creeps into our lives. Maybe it’s chocolate, or alcohol, or Facebook, or computer games, or something else…Entering into this practice of observing Lent is like a health check, and for us as christians it’s a spiritual health check. But it’s not just so that we can polish our halos and feel more holy though. Far from it actually. The process of denying ourselves, causes us to become more aware of others, more aware of things which are out of kilter in our own lives and in the world, and is a time which invites us to change, and be changed, and make a positive difference to others. To observe Lent is a personal choice, not something that can be forced upon us.
So, this Lent, I invite you enter into this in some way. I invite you as colleagues and with students to enter into a simple act of denying self, and consequently serving others.
We’ll call it the Lent Challenge. You may have heard of the scheme of Toilet Twinning. if you haven’t, quite simply, we raise some cash, and fund the building of toilets in parts of the world where there aren’t any. I will send you more detail in an e mail with a link to a video that explains, which you could show to the students. I will supply you with 2 tubes of smarties for each tutor group, and basically, share the smarties between you, and during the course of Lent, refill the tube with 20p pieces. Encourage students to go without one fizzy drink, or one bar of chocolate a week. £60 buys one toilet. £240 buys a whole toilet block!
Let’s encourage generosity this Lent – it’s all about giving not getting! And in doing so, may we catch a glimpse of how the love of God can be expressed by everyone in a very practical way.