This year as part of our With Fresh Eyes initiative we are encouraging people to use our theme discussion questions for March and April, In The Neighbourhood and Behold The Man, to meet together over Lent and Easter in local Connect Groups. The material is a starting point but you are encouraged to adapt it to suit the needs of your group. We have suggested meeting weekly for perhaps 90 minutes or so in small groups but it’s up to you how you want to do it. See Albert’s recent blog post for information of a pilot we are doing of producing some hard copy booklets of the discussion material.
Lent is a time of reflection and preparation for Easter beginning on Ash Wednesday (6 March this year). It’s a useful opportunity to engage in some personal contemplation, to settle our minds and hearts before God and to relive the drama of Jesus’ ministry, persecution, death and resurrection.
Many people ‘give something up’ for Lent. Sometimes this self-denial is done in order to make a commitment to focus on God by putting aside distractions. But it’s also become a popular way of detoxing from a physical or mental health stand point for its own sake. Christians are called to be sensitive to physical and mental health (see how Jesus reached out with tenderness to the hurting and lonely through the gospels) so there’s nothing wrong with making a commitment to detox from something if you feel it would benefit you or others - but the self-denial is not the point. God’s the point. God’s love. God’s wonder. God’s grace. If that involves eating less chocolate and more kale than so be it…
Rather than encouraging you to give things up over Lent we are inviting you to take something up over the season. There is a long tradition of people giving things up, but there’s also a long tradition of people undertaking regular habits or ‘disciplines’ to help them focus their minds over Lent. In past years we have run Lent challenges that invite you to seize the moment and do different quirky things each day. This year we are encouraging you to take part in a series of weekly Lent Disciplines that we will be putting out over the 7 weeks of Lent.
These Disciplines are inspired by our rich Christian heritage and offer simple, straightforward ways of settling the heart, stilling the mind, and focusing our thoughts. They invite you to to do one thing every day for each week, the idea being that the repetition allows you to build on the experience, noticing new things each day. If you forget or miss a day, don’t worry, you can just start again on the next day.
The Lent Disciplines for each week will be posted as part of our regular Daily Worship resource. Our hope is that by repeating the exercises you make space for rest, calm and new insights. Lent is an important time in the church calendar to slow down and make time to focus our minds on God and we hope that they will help you see your community, your neighbours, and God with fresh eyes.