So, here I am, sat at my desk, ash cross on my forehead, non-alcohol beer to hand, writing a blog post for the first time in more than 10 months. And if you ignore posts written as sermons then far longer than that! I’ve just preached and presided at an Ash Wednesday Communion with the Imposition of Ashes. One of the things I mentioned in my sermon was that (and this is not original to me, I nicked it from the leader of a retreat last week, and they possibly nicked it from elsewhere) Lent is, at least in part, preparing ourselves to rise again. Lent isn’t about death, about self-punishment and killing ourselves, it’s about life. All that stuff we do about giving up stuff and taking on new things, that’s all great, if we do it from a position of “What it is it that will enable me, and us, to live, to rise again?” rather than from a position of “What shall I give up this year so I’ve given something up?” or “What’ll be really hard for me to give up so I really feel deprived?” For sure, we have to be in touch with our mortality (“Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return”) but we don’t do so as some threat hanging over us. Instead we do so because the reality is that without knowing our mortality we cannot truly grapple with and grasp hold of the Gospel hope of life in all its fullness (“Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ”).
And what’s all that got to do with this sitting at the computer lark? Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking recently about who I am, what brings me life, and who it is I need to be in order to be a minister (servant) of the one who brings life to others. This Lent I’m trying to put some of that into action. I’ve given up Facebook for Lent, not because it doesn’t give me life (it does), but because I worry that sometimes it also takes up too much of my life, and there other things I could be doing, and should be doing, for my own benefit and for others. I’ve also given up alcohol – not because I particularly drink a large amount, since I don’t, but because our President of Conference has asked us to and doing so is a reminder, for me, of our Connexionalism and interconnectedness as Methodist people. This in turn leads onto some of the things I hope to take up during Lent too. I can’t be so clear on these things, there’s no fixed programme of such things for me, but some of them relate to how I operate as a Presbyter with pastoral responsibility for Methodist Societies and their local communities, and some relate to how I ensure I live rather than simply “do”.
I’m hoping that one thing I’ll do is get back to more frequent blogging – because I enjoy it, because some people have commented I’m both good at it and it’s been helpful to them, because it has been helpful to me and I think it may be again. I’ve not made some commitment to blog every day, but I’m hoping to be here a bit more frequently in the coming days and weeks, on this journey of life and ministry that I’m currently on.
For now though, whether you’re observing Lent or not, travel well,