Today is Shrove Tuesday and tomorrow, Ash Wednesday, marks the start of Lent.
The way we mark Lent has changed since the Reformation – our Orthodox sisters and brothers still mark Lent by a vegan diet as a way of preparing for the celebrations of Easter and identifying with Jesus’ days of fasting in the Wilderness. Shrove Tuesday, in pre-Reformation Europe was when all meat and dairy products were eaten up – a shadow of this is seen today in the consumption of Pancakes. In the Western Church we may give something up in Lent (as a contemporary form of fasting) or we may take something up. All these – from fasting to taking things up – are ways in which faithful Christians seek to live out their discipleship.
For Lent we continue our Daily Devotions but are doing so in a different way. Instead of a team of writers looking at a book we have invited the Rev’d Dr Janet Tollington to write 28 reflections on the Book of Job. Janet was, for many years, a lecturer in the Old Testament at our Westminster College and now, in retirement, continues to supervise undergraduate and PhD students for Cambridge University.. She is a member of Emmanuel Church in Cambridge and continues to serve widely in the URC. We hope these reflections help us understand Job better – it’s not a book which is read very often these days though you may be surprised at how some of the words from Job have entered into common language and the Church’s liturgy.
On Sundays we will continue to work though the Sing Psalms Psalter from the Free Church of Scotland and, in the final two weeks of Lent, we will be reflecting on Jesus’ journey to Calvary using art as a focus.
Please do encourage folk you know – church folk or those who are exploring spiritually, to sign up to receive these Devotions. Often the message “they are good, I’m using them, you should give them a try” is all the encouragement someone needs. Simply direct people to our website – devotions.urc.org.uk and they can sign up from there.
with every good wish
Andy Braunston Coordinator, Daily Devotions from the URC Project
O God, in this season of reflection, help me to find the people who are calling me to change my ways and to search my heart. As the Winter deepens, may my heart be stripped bare, so that when comes the Spring, I can rise renewed and flourish into life. Amen.
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