February’s Parish Letter

Dear Friends,

I cannot recall the last time St. Valentine’s Day fell on the same

day as Ash Wednesday. This year they both fall on Wednesday,

February 14th. I mentioned that fact to my wife, Jennie. Her

instant response was that no doubt I would use that as an

excuse not to buy her any chocolates that day!

As the first day of Lent approaches, it is traditionally the time to

think about giving something up. Going without something we

enjoy throughout Lent is a regular part of many people’s lives,

whether Christian or not. Denying oneself chocolate, or crisps, or

curries or whatever is good discipline. Alcohol is often considered

too but of course those who have just endured a ‘dry January’

may feel Lent comes a little too soon to give that up – again!

The forty days of Lent remind us of the forty days Jesus spent in

the wilderness. Here he ‘fasted for forty days and forty nights

and afterwards he was famished’. Our churches take on a barren

look throughout Lent with no flowers or decoration, reflecting the

wilderness that Jesus endured for those forty days. The mood of

our worship tends to copy that. But in Matthew’s gospel we are

encouraged to ‘put oil on your head and wash your face’ when

you fast so that others will not know you are fasting, only your

heavenly Father in secret.

Only you will know what will do you good to go without for those

long weeks of Lent, so quietly determine to discipline yourself

and deprive yourself – in secret.

Perhaps I shall still need to buy those chocolates for Valentine’s

Day after all.

Your Friend in Christ,

Ian Friars