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Forty Days of Opportunity

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The Rt Revd Kate Wilmot, Assistant Bishop of Perth

Welcome to Lent 2023 – how is your plan going?

This most serious time of the Christian year is also a time of great opportunity.

We have six weeks and a few days to deepen our Christian life and practice, to recall who we are before God and to reflect on the way we pursue our daily lives.

We have the chance to turn around - back to God and away from the things that are harmful in our lives and the lives of others.

If we’re honest, most of us are attracted to convenience, leisure, comfort and the timely gratification of our wants and needs.

Lent is a ready-made chance for us to be intentional about our Christian identity before we celebrate the great joys of Jesus’ resurrection and its life-changing effects.

It helps that many people in our wider community have some knowledge of Lent, or at least the idea of ‘giving something up’ for the season.

Lent is a season of seriousness, but that doesn’t make it a season of misery or ‘suffering for suffering’s sake’.

We want our Lenten observances to be ‘circuit breakers’ that cause us to be conscious of God’s presence in our lives and all that Jesus’ life and work (and death) means for us.

In case you’re stuck, here are some Lenten possibilities. A person marking Lent could choose to:

  • Deliberately put aside money each week for the work of a mission agency or charity.
  • Volunteer time for an Anglican agency or charity.
  • Make a point of attending an additional service of worship each week (perhaps midweek Communion or Sunday evening service).
  • Spend extra time in prayer, contemplation or meditation at home, or join with like-minded people at work for prayer and mutual support (Facetime or even Zoom may assist here).
  • Do some targeted learning (through a Lenten study, an online course or engage with a mind- stretching book of theology or spirituality).
  • Use a daily walk, run, cycle or swim as a time to commune with God.
  • Consciously give up something that is going to prompt us to remember the season (this could be as simple as giving up meat at one daily meal or choosing to go off social media for 40 days).
  • Engage daily with a repetitive task (weeding, cleaning tiles or grout, sweeping) that allows us to focus our mind on God.

Whatever we adopt as a Lenten practice needs to be achievable. Most of us cannot successfully ‘switch up’ to a high level of self-denial all at once, we may need to intensify or change our observance over several years.

Being a ‘practising Christian’ means we are also ‘practicing’ – if our Lenten discipline flags or fails, we get up, dust off and carry on, knowing that God is already aware of our human weakness and remains our God in our failures as well as our successes.

May your Lenten ‘run up’ to the great joys of Easter be full of new insights, new learning and surprising and deep encounters with the abundant generosity of God.

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