Lent 2008

A long-standing dilemma for those who are serious about marking the season of Lent is whether to give something up (booze, chocolate, church meetings or whatever) or take something extra on (commitment to a cause serving other people, or justice and peace, or the environment, or making time for concerts and exhibitions, or additional church activities). Or maybe a bit of both?

The traditional disciplines of fasting and self-denial are unfashionable, but remain important – and are well-understood by our Muslim neighbours, to whom we need to bear a convincing witness. We do these things, not for their own sake, still less to demonstrate our piety (do them in secret, says Jesus), but in order to simplify cluttered lives and focus on essentials, as laid out in the gospels. (Which is a good reason not to have unnecessary church meetings.) Lent needs its own feel – sombre and serious – but should not be joyless!

Some of you already picked up one or more extra commitments at the ‘action stations’ tables in our service for the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, and Lent is a good time to work on them. And making it a priority to attend not only the Sunday service, but a midweek one too, with opportunity for fellowship and discussion, is particularly appropriate too.

So what we propose at St George’s is a Lenten – and very Anglican! – balance between ‘less’ and ‘more’. To start the process, and set the tone, we have a pancake party on Shrove Tuesday, at 7pm in the Rectory. (We can’t use the crypt because it is NTMTC night – but have future plans for events there!) Pancakes will be provided, but please bring food to share. Children are especially welcome, and you can come and go as you wish. On Ash Wednesday, St Paul’s School will come into church at 9.30am (for which we need last year’s palm crosses for burning – please bring them to church the previous Sunday), and the eucharist will be celebrated at 1pm and 7.30pm, with the imposition of ashes at both services.

On subsequent Wednesdays, the 1pm service will be followed by a simple lunch of bread and soup (bring your own sandwiches and/or fruit), with discussion, for those who can stay. And there will be an additional event each Thursday from 7.30-9pm, in the panelled room, beginning with a short eucharist and leading into a study session. Rather than use one of the published Lent courses we have opted to produce our own sessions, reflecting the issues and concerns of our congregation: a mix of biblical, liturgical and ethical themes.

We are committed to sharing Lent and Holy Week with St Mary’s. Although we will have separate events on Thursday evenings (their service and study group is at 7pm), some of us plan to be with them on Saturday mornings at the 10am eucharist followed by a time of silence, and some of them hope to be with us on Wednesday lunchtimes. This also gives a wider range of options for those who cannot get to servcies at their own church.

More on Holy Week next time, but note that 2 March is Mothering Sunday and will be a special all-age service. Plan to be present, so that those who are going on to visit their mums can take them the church’s blessing. This service will also focus on the diocesan Lent Appeal…..

.which is part of our ‘something more’. Leaflets will be available in church, and Gift Aid envelopes, so that we can play our part in helping the Diocese of London to build three schools, at a cost of £25,000 each, to serve just a few of the 2 million children in our partner dioceses in Angola and Mozambique who have no access to education. Our other Lent appeal – running throughout the season by inviting you to save your ‘spare’ change – is for WaterAid, which does basic but brilliant work in bringing safe, clean water to communities in the developing world. Both are practical corollaries of our faith: of our baptism through the water of life, and of growth and nurture ‘into the full stature of Christ’.


Just before the start of Lent, there is an opportunity to get in the mood with a Quiet Day at the Royal Foundation of St Katharine on Saturday 2 February, from 10am to 4pm. ‘Benedict for Today’ will explore the wisdom of that saint, and his tradition, and will be led by Fr Dermot Trudget, a leading Benedictine scholar and monk. The way of Benedict profoundly shaped the civilisation of the western world – in agriculture, education and health care as well as in patterns of prayer and hospitality – and has much to teach us all about the balance between prayer, work and daily life. Booking is essential, and the cost (including lunch) is £15.


As part of their monthly concert programme, baritone Matthew Sprange will be singing at Christ Church Spitalfields on Thursday 7 February, from 1.10pm to 2pm: further details on 020 7377 6793. 

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