Let me say a few things about the season of Lent and how it might be important for us as individuals and a community this year.
The first thing to say is that Lent is a gift.
Every season is a gift from God. Things do not all happen at once – thankfully. We, unlike God are time-bound. Life happens one moment, followed by another and then another. It is, for us linear. For God it is not – and it is good that we remember that we are not God, we are limited. We have 24 hours in each day 7 days in each week and God says that is good. It is the right amount for us. There is always enough time.
So perhaps this Lent we might like to consider the gift that is time and season. What time is it for you, or what season are you in right now? Can you stay here? Or do you need to accept that there is change in the wind and a new season is coming? Can you accept the gift of Lent as a time to live a bit more simply? To examine habits that trick us into believing there is not enough time and that rush is our only option.So Lent is a gift – enjoy the simplicity of it.
Secondly, Lent is a tool.
In our garden we have planted a number of plants; clematis, jasmine, roses, passion flowers, wisteria that all need trellises or wires to help them grow up and flourish. The wire, the trellis is not the thing we want to look at. The trellis is not the fragrant, fresh life that we are hoping to see as spring returns. The trellis is a tool. It is an important part of the background, but it is not the life of the plant. The trellis helps the plants to grow up and out, and to be all they can be. The trellis is useful, but it is not life itself.
A Lenten season of fasting, self-examination, repentance, prayer, study and giving is a wonderful trellis to help our lives grow up and out, towards God and neighbour. It can and should help us to form holy habits that in turn form us. But is it not life itself. Lent is a tool, that can help us grow in faith, hope and love, but we are deceived if we begin to think that any rules are the life themselves. And oh friends, how easily and often we begin to show off our inanimate tool shed rather than abide in the life of the garden.
So what is the real life? Who is the gift from? What is the tool for? Who or what is in the garden that seeks our attention?
Simply God who is our father. Our father who loves us beyond measure. Our father who knows what we need before we ask, who sees us in the secret places of both our shame and our pride, and loves us still. Our Father who gives us a place in His family by withholding nothing from us. Our father who forgives and forgives and forgives. Our father who is love in the relationship of Trinity and invites our love to join in with theirs, that we might take our place at a divine table. Our Father, in heaven whose name is holy, whose provision is perfect, whose forgiveness is fulsome, whose rescue is ready, and whose life is love.
Lent the gift, Lent the tool, a season to help us grow towards The Father, our father, of love.