Letter from the Church Council

Someone I know (an adult) recently dropped out of a staff camping trip because, for them, it wasn’t ok to have fun during lent. Then I met the person again a few days after Easter Sunday and they told me they would join the next camping trip because lent was over. And whilst nobody would suggest, I think, that camping trips are innately evil or sinful, I do find this attitude very interesting for a variety of reasons. I find it fascinating that simply ‘giving something up’ is considered to be of inherent value in itself. And I am fascinated that, even if we do accept the value of this, many of us only make these sacrifices for a short time, during Lent, and that we then revert back to life as it was before.

I think people get confused here sometimes in terms of what is actually important. And the very idea of giving something up ends up becoming more important than grasping the opportunity to spend more time praying and reading God’s word which is presented by having more time. One brilliant article I read recently by Kelsey Pelzer summarized this succinctly in the following words: “Craving that snack you gave up? That’s a great reminder to pray! Battling boredom without using social media? Open up your Bible!” How many of us actually did this during Lent?

I recently spent time around people who were fasting and I noticed that everything evolved around food for them. The entire day seemed to evolve around people’s discomfort and looking forward to the breaking of the fast in the evening. I was reminded of Matthew 6:16 “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show others they are fasting.” Christ’s sacrifice for us was so much greater than our often superficial ‘fasting’ from food and things and I believe we do him a big disservice by getting our priorities so muddled up.

There are a wide variety of things which people stop doing during Lent. Chocolates, alcohol, social media usage, food, computer games, are all examples of things in which we might over indulge at times, and which we may wish to scale back or eliminate during Lent. But I believe there are two key principles we need to abide by in order to make this worthwhile. The first, as mentioned above, is that we must use the time gained from giving things up to further develop our relationship with God. And the second is to use the opportunity for self-reflection during lent to begin the journey of giving up the things which get in the way of our relationship with God for the long term. For me, some of my greatest victories in conquering sin have been achieved during Lent. But it was not because I abstained from things for 40 days. It was because I followed through and gave these things up permanently, replacing them with more time with God. Although I do still have a long way to go!

So, as we move forward after the Lenten season, refreshed once again by Christ’s resurrection, let us look deep into our hearts and answer a simple question: did Lent 2022 bring about a lasting change in us?

– Michael Murray, ACC Council Chair