Overdose at Christmas, give it up for Lent? Minister’s reflection 25/2/24

“Overdose at Christmas and give it up for lent!”. So sang Robbie Williams in his 1998 hit song ‘Millenium’, which, I admit, I used to sing to loudly while alone in my car – until someone stole my car CD collection! The words from the song that I’ve just quoted always stuck in my head, and I often remember them when lent comes around because we often hear much talk about what we are “giving up”. This year I am also again reminded of Pope Francis’ words that are in our image because there is great power in giving up (or fasting from) some of the ways that impact our relationships with our fellow humans, but also in thinking in lent about what we are picking up, whether it be compassion, or pray, or a deeper trust in God.

This year I’m not “giving up” anything in particular, but I am trying to take some time to work out what it means to have endurance, not least because there is a lot of endurance needed to live in the world today.

One of the myths of faith in God is that it makes life work out OK for those who believe. This is, as I say, a myth. Faith in God does not make life work out OK for those who believe, but it gives us a grounding to stand on that can help us endure the pain and struggles of life. Faith teaches us that God is the Ground in which we grow and on which we stand. As someone said to me, many many years ago: when we reach rock bottom, God is the rock we have reached. My time this lent will be spent remembering how trust in the rock will help me live in the world today. It will not make the pain and struggle go away, but it will remind me that we do not struggle in the world alone, and that God remains, and when God remains there is love and hope.

Lent is, as Robbie Williams sang, a time to make good for the things we do overdose on, whether that be social media, or chocolate or alcohol or something else. Because of that it is also a time for us to think about what we are attached to – the things we believe we cannot live without. Our mobile phone, our money… I recently read a story from Buddhism that helped me think about this: One day the Buddha was sitting with his disciples and a farmer came past looking very distressed. He turned to the Buddha and asked if he had seen his cows. The Buddha was filled with compassion and said to the farmer that he was sorry, but he had not seen his cows, and the farmer sadly went on his way looking for them. The Buddha turned to his disciples and asked them if they knew why they were happy. The disciples replied that they did not know, and the Buddha said, “it is because we have no cows.” The secret to happiness if to let go of our cows and call the cows we have by their true names.

I pray you will have a blessed lent, whether you give something up, take something up, take a bit for time to reflect on what really matters or something else that helps sustain your soul. Use this time to wonder about what you really need to live in the world today.

Rev Anne.

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