A quiet evening out, a conversation with our waiter in the restaurant and a mention of Lent.
“What on earth is that? I have never heard of Lent”, he exclaimed.
And that got me wondering how many of you know what it is, and if you do, do you observe it and does it have any relevance?
A brief description: from the earliest of days Christians observed with great devotion the time that led up to Jesus’ death on the cross and his resurrection.
They prepared for this, and still do, by a time (40 days) of penitence and fasting.
It is a time of prayer and study, of self denial, a time to express in a real way our sorrow for the wrong that we have done and to make amends.
We all, and I do mean all of us, celebrate the two great Christian festivals – Easter and Christmas. Both time of celebration, present giving, chocolate eating and overindulging.
They are special times when friends and family come together. But for many there is nothing to do with faith and belief, the time is detached from its origins.
The nativity stories are altered, expanded and even commercialised. It is wonderful, but sad too, something is missing.
I am not going to change the ways of the world – Christmas and Easter are here, in their present form, to stay.
But can I add to it? Can I get you to think about Lent and, if not celebrate it, commemorate it?
We all get things wrong, say the wrong thing, and hurt people. We are all capable of prejudice, all find it easy to find fault in others and condemn them.
And, yes, we are all capable of turning a blind eye to those who struggle in the world.
Lent is a time when we can think about such things. We can express our sorrow, make amends, deny ourselves, spend less if we can and give more.
What is Lent, the waiter asked. Well, now you know too and you have to admit the world might just be a better place for observing it.