Lent: Great, Holy and Joyful?

Lent: Great, Holy and Joyful?

Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again.  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all’.  (Philippians: 4:4)


Our hearts flutter and our stomachs rumble at the mention of a Great and Holy and Joyful Lent.  Ash Wednesday happens on St. Valentine’s Day this year, that’s why hearts flutter along with our feathered friends as they seek and find a mate.  The fast also begins and that’s where the stomachs come in!


Lent is time for a ‘making ready’, provisioning the vessel for the voyage through Holy Week and Easter.  Surplus cargo is jettisoned and only essential supplies taken on board; chart and compass to hand, the sails trimmed.


Lent begins as Great when on Ash Wednesday we are told, ‘From dust were you made and to dust you shall return’.  Dust reminds us of our God-Given morality for which we give great thanks. Dust is our essential mortal self, without which we would never have had any form.  Greatness lies in the dust for, as scientists tell us, at the point of the creation of the cosmos, a star exploded and dust scattered throughout the heavenly spheres.  All the essentials of life were in that dust; so remember, we are but star dust and are cosmically recycled.  Phoenix rises.


So it is that Lent is Great because the devotions of the forty days make us aware of our connectedness to all created beings, and our responsibilities to our planet.


Lent is Great as it calls forth a Holy response. A process of rejection and embrace begins.  Lent is Holy as it affirms the goodness of essential life and eschews the corruption, pollution and abuse of that life in all its forms; that kind of replacement therapy is the healing that comes from a Holy Lent.


Lent is Holy as it reminds us how all life is sacred, and how the world is a sacrament revealing the Love of God spilling over onto His Creation.  The essential fruits of that creation that we might taste are not forbidden, rather they are the accessible ‘Fruits of the Spirit’, ‘love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control’ (Galations: 5:22).  These are the fruits which carry the seeds of the kingdom of God which we pray and plant for.


Holiness then turns Lent into being Joyful; our saints constantly tell how Joyful it is to fast from being ego-centric and feast on being Christo-centric, namely when Christ is at the centre of our being.  We read of our model, our Suffering Servant, in the Book of Hebrews, ‘For the joy set before him Jesus endured the cross’ (Heb.12:12).  Joy is serious and how else can we approach Holy Week and Easter unless we are joyfully prepared.


Should we fast, we do so privately; should we feast we share with others; we joust and jest; either way.


Rejoice in the Lord, always. I will say it again.  Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all’.


Joyfully yours,


Revd. Paul Burkitt