A good time to make a real effort

Revd Steve Foster of Fyling Hall’s local parish church, St Stephen’s, Fylingdales, kindly shares his thoughts on Lent, which might be a good time to make a real effort.

The season of Lent begins this week on Wednesday, which we call “Ash Wednesday”.

The day before is a day most of us know and love – Shrove Tuesday – Pancake Day – not part of Lent but it gets us ready for the Lenten season.

Lent is a period of about six weeks before Easter. It is a time in which Christians are supposed to be quiet and thoughtful, preparing themselves for Easter. They are expected to pray a lot, read their Bibles more and give up some of the things they might otherwise do for pleasure.  

Lent is traditionally supposed to be forty days long. That is because the Bible says that Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness, preparing for his death and resurrection.

So what are you giving up for Lent? 

As a recent contributor, 

Last week on Radio 4’s “Thought for the Day”, writer Martin Ray said, “You might have thought that you have given up enough already this year!”  You might ask God “What more do you want?”

How true is that?

Think of all that we have had to give up during Lockdowns!

You all know the things that you cannot do – the things you miss – and can’t wait to get back to once this Pandemic ends.

So what could you give up?  Perhaps something that wouldn’t make life worse but something that just might make life better – for you and for the people you live, work and relax with.

Jesus tells a story, the Gospel writers call these stories Parables, and in it he tells us about 2 men who went up to the temple to pray. One was a Pharisee. The other was a tax collector.

“The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself. 

‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people,’ he said. ‘I am not like those who do evil things.  I am not even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week. And I give a tenth of all I earn, I am so much better than him.

The tax collector stood not very far away. He would not even look up to heaven. He beat his chest and simply said, ‘God, have mercy on me. I am a sinner.’

Jesus told those listening 

“I tell you, the tax collector went home accepted by God. But not the Pharisee. Everyone who lifts himself up will be brought down. And anyone who is brought down will be lifted up.”

Jesus was talking about bragging.  Believing and saying you are better that everyone else.  Looking down your nose at others, poking fun at them – as Jesus would say lacking humility, being self- righteous!

That might be a difficult thing for us to give up but if we all did it, wouldn’t it make for a far better world?

Perhaps there are other things – things that only you know about yourself – that ought to change!

This Lent might be a good time to make a real effort to give them up – you might be surprised and pleased if you succeed.

If you would like to hear more about a good time to make a real effort, Revd Foster’s “A Service of Holy Communion for the start of Lent from the Lady Chapel in St. Stephen’s Parish Church, Fylingdales” premiers on St Stephen’s Fylingdales Facebook page and is scheduled to go live on Wednesday 17th February @ 9.57.