Words from the Proper for Lent which hit me with a resounding force year by year as they remind me of how horribly easy it is to forget the point of being human...
Augustine wrote "Life is for love. Time is only that we might find God" - and I'm conscious as Lent begins that I don't generally use those priorities as every day guidelines.
Not in any way, shape or form.
I have (and I doubt if I'm alone in this) a terrible tendency to follow my own agenda, and simply invite God in to bless the good bits or mop up the rest.
And God, being God, carries on loving me.
But really, it won't do.
So, Lent by Lent, I try once again to engage with the process...to learn to be God's child, living each day in the light of God's love.
I fall over my feet repeatedly - sometimes because I'm not looking where I'm going, sometimes because I'm carrying so much rubbish that I can't see the way ahead at all...but when I do, God picks me up, sets me on track again and so I continue.
It was in this spirit that I created some prayer stations for OPEN, the 6.30 Cathedral service. I'm thankful that others seem to value these evenings of Breathing Space, because the experience of designing the stations, as much as engaging with them, nourishes me in so many ways. It would be heartbreaking if it turned out to be a wholly selfish activity.
However, the evidence suggests otherwise...and because a time of stillness before Lent began was itself such a gift, I'm sharing the substance of that journey.
Lent is a time of prayer, penance and sacrifice, a time for the entire family to be more attentive to the words of Jesus and to each other. It is a time to try harder to put Christ’s teachings into practice. It is a time of concentrated effort toward the springtime of spiritual growth, or rebirth and renewal. It is a time when the whole Church goes on retreat for 6 weeks. It is a 40-day journey with Jesus. Lent means doing something as well as giving up something.
For in these forty days you lead us into the desert of repentance that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline we may grow in grace and learn to be your people once again. Through fasting, prayer and acts of service you bring us back to your generous heart. Through study of your holy word you open our eyes to your presence in the world and free our hands to welcome others into the radiant splendour of your love.
So we are going to plan our pilgrimage...one step at a time.
That's what the footprint sheets are all about.
As you work round the prayer stations, jot down thoughts that come to you...Use the foot prints to create your own personal agenda for those 40 days of Lent, the balance of prayer and penitence, of fasting and feasting, that God tells you that you need here and now.
The 40 days of Lent are a gift....
Use tonight to help you prepare to receive it.
Around the cathedral are some things to help you with this...