Ash Wednesday marked the start of the Lenten Fast. Lent is a season for penitence and introspection. Lent allows the person who is serious about Christian living the liturgical 'space' to prepare for the Passion of Christ, with all the wonderful and moving services, and the joyful Easter celebrations as we see the victorious Risen Saviour having defeated sin and the power of death.
In Lent, our churches take on a solemn look, with the colour purple signifying sorrow for sin and a deep attitude of penitence. Austerity as an outward appearance signifies the practice of self-discipline and abstinence in the life of the Christian man, woman or young person. True Anglican life seeks depth of being in the believer, and Lent becomes the time to explore prayer, fasting and other necessary spiritual disciplines.
Modern man has a fixation on temporary gratification – I suppose it has been the same throughout history, but perhaps we see more evidence of the superficial pursuits of man in our modern, technological age? As Western Christians, the life of plenty of the past 60 years has robbed us of any understanding of hardship or poverty; something our African brethren have experienced in plenty. Lent brings us all down to earth, and it helps simplify our modern existence and enables us to become aware that on occasions, we do allow our appetites to run away with us. The austerity and simplicity of Lent can be a real blessing to the modern person.
How do I respond as an individual? What is God expecting of me this Lent? Good questions; and only answerable in the context of your own personal experience. But, for all Christians, and certainly for all who are trying to live a truly Anglican life, God is expecting more acts of kindness, more discipline and holiness, and a deeper, richer sacramental experience of our Lord Jesus Christ in the Mass.
God bless you and guide you this Lenten Season.