A Time for Lent

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Kennet and Test Valley Methodist Circuit

The season of Lent begins this coming week on Ash Wednesday (March 2nd). The invitation to the service set for that day begins with these words:
"Since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord's passion, death and resurrection. It is the custom of the Church to prepare for this by a season of penitence and self-denial.

At first, this season of Lent was observed by those being prepared for Baptism at Easter and by those seeking restoration to the Church's fellowship. In the course of time, all Christians were invited to keep these days carefully, to take to heart the call to repentance, to receive the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the Gospel, and so to grow in faith and devotion to our Lord.

In the name of Christ, therefore, I invite you to observe this holy season of Lent, by prayer, self-denial and charitable giving; by self-examination and repentance; and by reading and meditating on God's word."

There are numerous resources available in books and online for us to use as aids to meditation and prayer during the weeks that lead up to Easter. There will also be four events organised by Churches Together in Whitchurch as follows:

  • March 2nd — 7:30 p.m. — Ash Wednesday service (with the imposition of Ashes) at All Hallows Parish Church, Whitchurch
  • March 16th — 7:30 p.m. — Reflections on Art in Lent (1) at Whitchurch Baptist Church
  • March 30th — 7:30 p.m. — Reflections on Art in Lent (2) at Whitchurch Baptist Church
  • April 14th — 7:30 p.m. — Maundy Thursday Tenebrae Service (with Holy Communion) at Whitchurch Methodist

There will be other events taking place across the Circuit during this period — do please check the local church websites for details.

If you would prefer to have a hymn to ponder and reflect on in this period, can I recommend this one to you, in particular the phrase about "mining a deeper seam of grace" — what might that look like in your context?

A time for Lent, a time to mine
A deeper seam of grace,
To leave the outer walls of faith
And seek the Saviour's face.

Full in His face such glory shines
As will all duty charm
And free the timid soul from fear
And every false alarm.

Within His gaze our wills take shape
No more with struggling grind
But with a joy that thrills the heart
And elevates the mind.

When Christ is very near within
And walks with you and me,
Then comes a dignity serene
In pure simplicity.

Arthur J Lewis (1914-1991) © Mary Lewis/Moravian Church British Province
Copied from HymnQuest: Copyright Licence Users' Edition HymnQuest ID: 72017

For those who like to follow a story, you may find that taking a verse a week of this second hymn and using it as a prayer or meditation will be helpful:

1 My song is love unknown,
my Saviour's love to me,
love to the loveless shown,
that they might lovely be.
O who am I,
that for my sake
my Lord should take
frail flesh, and die?

2 He came from his blest throne,
salvation to bestow;
but men made strange, and none
the longed-for Christ would know.
But O, my Friend,
my Friend indeed,
who at my need
his life did spend.

3 Sometimes they strew his way,
and his sweet praises sing;
resounding all the day
hosannas to their King.
Then 'Crucify!'
is all their breath,
and for his death
they thirst and cry.

4 Why, what hath my Lord done?
What makes this rage and spite?
He made the lame to run,
he gave the blind their sight.
Sweet injuries!
yet they at these
themselves displease,
and 'gainst him rise.

5 They rise, and needs will have
my dear Lord made away;
a murderer they save,
the Prince of Life they slay.
Yet patient he
to suffering goes,
that he his foes
from death might free.

6 In life, no house, no home
my Lord on earth might have;
in death, no friendly tomb
but what a stranger gave.
What may I say?
Heaven was his home;
but mine the tomb
wherein he lay.

7 Here might I stay and sing:
no story so divine;
never was love, dear King,
never was grief like thine!
This is my Friend,
in whose sweet praise
I all my days
could gladly spend.

Samuel Crossman (1624-1684NS)
Copied from HymnQuest: Copyright Licence Users' Edition HymnQuest ID: 58114

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