Minister’s March Message
March 09, 2017
Since the earliest times of the Christian Church there is evidence of some kind of Lenten preparation for Easter. The
early church father, Irenaus of Lyons (c.130-c.200) wrote of this observance but back then it lasted only two or three
days, not the 40 observed today. It wasn’t until almost 150 years later that a 40-day Lenten season of fasting was
customary throughout the Church. How those 40 days were counted varied depending on location. In the East,
fasting took place only on week days. The western church’s Lent was one week shorter, but included Saturdays. In
both places, the observance was a time of very strict, in some cases almost complete abstinence. All merriment was
taboo. All rich foods were forbidden. Only the most simple, unseasoned food was allowed.
These days, total abstinence is a thing of the past although many people still commit to giving up certain luxuries
during Lent. As it had not been a practice carried out by the church I grew up in, I first became aware of the practice
of ‘giving up something for Lent’ when I was an adult. Although I have given up certain things for Lent, in years gone
by, for me Lent is more a time for reflection and consideration of faith in Jesus Christ. In this, I am helped this year, by
the Mission and Discipleship Council of the Church of Scotland which has prepared a course called ‘Sharing Faith’
designed to explore how we might best convey, the difference following Jesus makes to our lives.
Through four sessions, and through a combination of Bible study, group discussion, activities, and prayer – the course
explores practical issues to help share faith; through seeking to understand and unconditionally love people first;
through looking at how sharing faith can be a natural overflow of discipleship in Jesus; through preparing to explain
the difference faith in God makes in life; and through making sharing faith a natural habit – not just something for
special occasions. A quick glance through the booklet has shown me that there will be plenty of opportunity for
considering and reflecting how we might better aim ‘to live out our faith through our actions at the heart of the
The Lenten Book group will meet in Room A during Lent for one hour on Saturday mornings at 9am [8.45am for
breakfast refreshments] – on 4th and 18th of March and 1st and 15th April. For those who would like to take part, the
‘Sharing Faith’ books will be placed in the Centenary Chapel on Sunday mornings or can be obtained from the church
office during the week.
If you are thinking about ‘giving up’ something this Lent, perhaps you might consider giving up four hours of your
time to reflect on sharing your faith on Saturday mornings – for those ‘giving up’ something else for Lent, I wish you
well. I shall be with you in spirit if not in practice.
September 25, 2023
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