The Rector writes: In my last parish, I inherited a lovely tradition of the ‘Candlemas Supper’. It was usually an excuse by one of our stalwart parishioners to get various people to stand up and perform and to twist the arms of the clergy into dressing up and performing musical hall acts. Not that I needed much coaxing! It was a last gasp of frivolity before the ‘rigours’ of Lent set in, and a sure fire way of breaking up the gloom of cold winter, with Christmas long gone and spring all too far away still.
It was also of course a way in which we would not let the Feast of the Presentation (aka Candlemas) totally pass us by. This month begins with Candlemas and then Lent begins only two weeks later. February is often a rather dreary glum sort of month and spring does indeed look a little bit further along the road. But Candlemas as a Celebration of Light is important to us at this time of the year. We need to be looking forward to warmer days and lighter nights. It is what keeps us going in the Northern Hemisphere. We long for the light to return for it gives hope and renewed energy.
The arrival of Lent does not always fill us with glee. It is of course a penitential season, a time for forsaking a few things so that we can better walk with Our Lord in the wilderness and all this may feel good for the soul if not for our sense of joie de vivre. So it comes perhaps as a surprise to read in one Lenten prayer, ‘Father… each year you give us this joyful season when we prepare to celebrate the paschal mystery with mind and heart renewed. You give us a spirit of loving reverence for you, our Father and of willing service to our neighbour’.
Far from being a gloomy time then, Lent (the very word reminding us after all of lengthening of days) prepares us for Easter, comes as we move steadily away from the cold and dark of winter, and gives us an opportunity to reflect upon our lives. As another prayer indeed says, ‘this great season of grace is God’s gift to us, to renew us in spirit and to teach us how to live in this passing world’.
So as we look forward to better weather and to spring eventually blossoming around us, let us in the meantime enjoy a fulfilling Lent.
There will be a Solemn Eucharist with Imposition of Ashes at 7pm at St Thomas’. Our Lent Course starts at St Richard’s on Thursday 26th running from 7pm till 8.30. Please contact the Rector for more details. 01797 226254