As we come into March, we find ourselves once again in the season of Lent. Focused as it is on introspection, self-examination, penitence, self-denial, study, and a preparation for Holy week, Lent remains the time in the Christian calendar that is perhaps the least effected by commercialisation, but is perhaps it’s opposite. It reminds us of course, of the journey taken by Jesus through the wilderness, before commencing his public ministry. Likewise, it too becomes for us something of a journey. Pope Benedict wrote how ‘Lent stimulates us to let the Word of God penetrate our life and in this way to know the fundamental truth, who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take’. It is then, a time of preparation and discovery as we approach the darkness and the light of Easter, and a continuation of a life long journey towards the divine. To help to equip us for that journey, our Lent course this year focuses on the essential elements needed along the way. Through the five weeks, we will need a Compass – to find direction, Nourishment – To sustain us along the way, Light – To Gain Wisdom, Shelter – To find security, and Water – To Enjoy refreshment.

The journey is of course a journey of purpose, for Jesus it marked the start of his public ministry, of a time in which these questions of fundamental truth, of who we are, where we come from, where we must go, what path we must take, were both being asked, answers were given, and the path started to be made known. Rather than a time of restriction, of giving things up, Lent is perhaps better spent as a time of immersing ourselves in the source of these answers, of allowing the Word of God penetrate our lives, of finding afresh the path being made known to us, and to equip us, both individually and collectively for what is to come, for Easter and beyond.

I’ll end with these words from Mother Teresa, ‘As Lent is the time for greater love, listen to Jesus’ thirst. Repent and believe, Jesus tells us. What are we to repent? Our indifference, our hardness of heart. What are we to believe? Jesus thirsts even now, in your heart and in the poor. He knows your weakness. He wants only your love, wants only the chance to love you.

Revd Matt Grove

Curate at Christ Church Portsdown
And St John’s Purbrook