Everything has been a bit upside down lately, hasn’t it? We had daffodils out in December—a month which was warmer than last May—and in our garden at least the snow drops have only just come out. It’s hard to know whether you are coming or going!
But whatever the weather the church year rolls around like clockwork. Christmas followed by Epiphany followed by Lent followed by Easter followed by Pentecost followed (much later) by Christmas and it all starts again.
You may think it strange, perhaps even a little dull, that the church celebrates the same things year on year, but in a world which is so uncertain I think it’s a wonderful thing, particularly when the things we celebrate are so important.
Take Lent for instance – the season that begins on Ash Wednesday (or the day after Pancake Day!) Lent isn’t known as being a season of celebration. It’s traditionally a time when people give something up they usually enjoy as a form of spiritual discipline, but two things are worth noting.
Firstly, the 40 days of Lent don’t include Sundays because Sunday is a feast day when we gather as God’s family and celebrate God’s love and goodness.
Secondly, the purpose of Lent is make Easter much sweeter. Through fasting and prayer in Lent we consider all that Jesus suffered and gave up for us so that when we get to Easter we can really appreciate the staggering news that Jesus not only died on the cross for our sins, but rose again to prove that he had won the victory over sin and fear and death.
Back in the late 80s I was lucky enough to see the last ever concert Queen played live with Freddie Mercury. It was at Knebworth Park– perhaps you were there. In the build up to the concert I must have listened to their latest album dozens of times so I could sing along. By the time the day arrived I was ready to join in and make the most of the day—it was a day I’ll never forget.
But taking time to think over the things of God, who he is, why Jesus came and what difference it all makes, is worth doing all the more. Not simply because Easter Day is better, but because every day is better.
So as Lent approaches, let me encourage you to do something more than giving up chocolate or wine—and take up a Lent challenge to learn more about Jesus. Pop along to church and we’ll give you a free book to read and some help to make sense of it all. That way when Easter comes you’ll know what all the fuss has been about.