Before I continue with my letter for March I have an important announcement to make. I have been offered and accepted the post of Team Rector (designate) of the soon to be formed ministry team of Kegworth with Hathern, Long Whatton and Diseworth with Belton and Osgathorpe in the Diocese of Leicester. This appointment will mean my leaving these parishes in May. I have very much valued and enjoyed ministering in these parishes and will miss all of you when I leave.
The 5th of March is Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent. Lent is a time for self-examination in preparation for entering once again the drama of Christ's death and resurrection. Lent is also generally misunderstood. Lent is not the time when God wants us to be miserable through giving up things like chocolate. Lent is a time when we remember that God is our loving Father and Mother, the one to whom we owe everything. With this in mind we take a long hard look at our lives so that we can be honest with God and with ourselves. Through this self-examination we find the things that are good about us so that we can join in God's celebration of our creation. This is a crucial part of self-examination because without it we can so easily slip into the sin of self-hatred. But self examination is about honesty, so we also bring to light those aspects of our lives that we are less proud of; our failures that mar Christ's image in us.
Armed with greater self-knowledge we then, guided by the Holy Spirit, use Lent as an opportunity for self-improvement. If at this point you discover that your attitude to food is making you unhealthy, through overeating for example, then your response may be to give up a favourite food so that with the help of the Spirit you can regain control of this area of your life. If you find that you are less generous or loving than you should be, then there is no point in you giving up chocolate or alcohol. The appropriate response for you will be to find practical ways to act in a more generous or loving way.
Lent is one of the most important times in the Christian year, please don't waste this opportunity by ignoring it or by trivialising it through just giving something up without thought for why.
Wishing you a blessed Lent,
Revd Nigel Tuffnell