We are already heading into Lent and I bring my message for Lent…. similar to every Lent message for the last 13 years; do not worry about giving something up, instead take on a new challenge or a new way of doing things that gives a positive message.
The church can do the Lenten “I am a miserable sinner” thing really well, the ash cross as a sign of repentance on Ash Wednesday, no flowers in our churches, dark or purple vestments and going without the things we like best…the traditional fasting/penitence message during Lent.
But we all must change; our traditions must reform to be in keeping with our lives now.
Having witnessed the long-winded debates about allowing women to be ordained, to become priests, even Bishops now, I am reminded that tradition in our churches goes through a very slow process of change and provision always must be made for those who cannot deal with such change.
The same can be said about the debates about sexuality and premarital relationships, the remarriage of divorcees, debated over many years and provisions made for those who cannot accept these changes.
Now (or since 1991) the same-sex discussions excite the media, divide the church universal, and took 9 hours of debate in the General Synod (I watched it all) to finally vote to bless people who have been married or entered a civil partnership who are of the same gender. For some it is a step too far, whilst for others this does not go far enough, but it is a start! I am delighted that I can now offer such blessings and look forward to repairing some very damaged relationships between the church and members of the LGBTQI+ community. Provision is of course being made for those who cannot accept these changes.
As Christians our hope is that after this time of sombre preparation we may once again greet Easter Day, the day of Christs resurrection, with Joy and hope.
Meanwhile the people of this planet face much bigger changes, war, natural disaster, hunger, lack of clean water and sanitation, many can only see a hopeless future. This Lent let us rejoice at the small changes for the good of all people and pray for those we want so much to help, let us find new ways to help those in need today, take on a new challenge so that no one else gives up hope this Lent.