Wim writes….

I don’t know about you but sometimes I think, “If only I had a few more hours in the day I could get a lot more done”. Or in other words, if I could lengthen the time, I would able to do all that I want to achieve. This can be desirable when we enjoy an activity or when we need to achieve something important. However the opposite is also true when it comes to an event or activity that we don’t enjoy and wish that it was over sooner rather than later. Many people I know wish that the dark hours during winter would be over soon. They can’t wait for more day light to appear. If you feel the same, good news is on the horizon: Lent is on its way! The word ‘Lent’ comes from the old Saxon word ‘lentin’, meaning long-days, referring to the increase of daylight in Spring. In Holland (where I come from) the Dutch word for Spring is ‘lente’ and has a very similar origin in meaning.

In the Christian calendar Lent is the period between Ash Wednesday and Easter known as the forty days of fasting before Easter, remembering Jesus’ 40 days of fasting in the desert. During this season many people (including those of no faith) use this period to ‘give up’ something, maybe abstaining from a luxury food (chocolate or alcohol) or activities such as reducing their hours spent on a screen (tv, phone use, or social media engagements).

Lent this year will start on 6th March which means Shrove Tuesday (better known as Pancake Day) is on Tuesday 5th. This day was traditionally the last opportunity to use up eggs and fat before embarking on the Lenten fast and pancakes are the perfect way of using up these ingredients. The following day is Ash Wednesday and St John’s will hold a service on that day at 10.30am. Ashes are meant to be a sign of repentance and a symbol of our mortality, reminding us that one day our bodies will return to dust or ashes.

When it comes to our earthly life, we all know deep down, that none of us are able to lengthen the days that are given to us and that worrying about what tomorrow brings is not going to change that. Jesus teaches us the following lesson: “Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to your life?” Life is a gift that is given to us. Christians believe that life eternal is also a gift, offered to us and not something that can be earned or accomplished by good behaviour. This is a gift that can be received by faith. In other words, none of us are able to lengthen our life from an eternal perspective but God is! If you’re interested in exploring more about what this may mean, why not come along to any of St John’s Church services or events during Lent (more information on page 6). Or you may prefer to visit the church for prayer or reflection. The church is open every day of the week and you are very welcome.

Have a blessed Lent,

Wim