Turning into Passiontide:Is this the ‘home run’ of Lent? It may be tempting to think of Passion Sunday as light at the end of the tunnel, at least in regard to Lenten discipline, or to feelings of guilt for having in some way fallen short of the mark, as if Lent were an endurance test qualifying us all for – what?
This is the moment when it is tempting to ask what all this giving up of things is about, whether it is simply an extended self improvement exercise, or whether it presages some kind of renewal, which we all desperately need but find it hard to name.
We are now well into the Netflix series, The Crown, a dramatisation of the life of Queen Elizabeth II.
It is compulsive viewing, not just because of its brilliant performances and direction but because, for me at any rate, it speaks of things relating to the idea of duty.
How dare it snow, and mess up our plans? What went wrong?
Okay, you and I know that nobody is to blame. No human, anyway. So why do we call it bad weather?
The photo is of me and one of my daughters in 1982. It was taken by a local newspaper, the Ashton Reporter. I had recently become a vicar for the first time, and I wrote in the parish magazine that when it snows there is nothing wrong with the weather. It may mess up our plans, but it isn’t the snow that’s at fault. Build a snowman.
Late last year I had the unusual experience of attending a book group where the group had been reading a book I wrote about 14 years ago; much of the book consisted of a series of Lent Lectures I gave at York Minster.
The clear challenge in the book, and which surfaced in the very civilised conversation we had in the book group, was about change and my insistence that change is not only inevitable, even in the Christian faith, but to be welcomed. Change is not everyone’s favourite word, as I’ve discovered to my cost, even if change is what God calls us to do.
Easter being early this year, there has been very little time to re-adjust from the post-Christmas season to the season of Lent.
Epiphanytide ended rather abruptly less than ten days ago, and Lent has suddenly arrived with the first snowdrops. The wilderness season is upon us wrapped into the season of gestation and first growth. In this particular wilderness season, the one which presages ultimate and eternal life, we are obliged to think about what must come first, which is death.