This is a copy of my article for the FEBRUARY 2013 edition of the Billericay ‘Around Town Magazine’

Ash Wednesday is celebrated on 13th February this year. It falls 40 Days before Good Friday and commemorates Jesus’ forty days in the wilderness when he the shaped the vision for his ministry and mission through prayer and fasting. It became the practise on the day before, now known as Shrove, or pancake, Tuesday, to ‘use up’ some of the more flamboyant ingredients in the kitchen before beginning a period of frugal living.

The word Lent in Latin means ‘spring’ – the season of new life and of growth out of the darkness and dormancy of winter. Lent, for some, is a time for ‘navel gazing’ and truthful honesty about the state of their lives – both morally and ethically. Lent, for others, provides a welcome opportunity to nurture their spiritual lives. And still, for others, Lent provides a focus to practice some form of abstinence (you know: chocolate, alcohol, TV etc.) or a less indulgent lifestyle – especially after the excesses of the Christmas season.

Jesus’ Lenten focus was the transformation of the world and, given the constant stream of depressing stories of political unrest, violence and sectarianism on our news programmes and in our newspapers, I’m sure you’d agree that the world is need of transformation.  And, whilst not one of us would ever lay claim to transforming the world, each of us can transform the world in which we live by both Fasting AND Feasting, for example:

Fast From                                                  Feast On

Judging others                                            Loving others

Discontentment                                         Gratitude

Words that pollute                                    Words that cleanse

Anger                                                             Patience

Pessimism                                                    Optimism

Worry                                                             Divine providence

Complaining                                                Appreciation

Negative thoughts                                     Positive thoughts

Idle gossip                                                    Prayerful silence

Bitterness                                                     Forgiveness

Self concern                                                 Compassion for others

Discouragement                                         Hope

And so I could go on – make up your own list!  May your feasting on good things this Lent lead you to transform the world in which you live and the lives of those around you – just as Jesus did for us 2000 years ago.