Outlook Issue 16 Spring 2012
News and Views from St. Mary's Woodbridge
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From the Rector
From the Rector “In Lent she ate onion soup and gave up drink but otherwise she must have drunk the maximum compatible with survival and sanity.” Daily Telegraph obituary of the television cook, Jennifer Paterson, 11th August 1999 I am amazed at what children are willing to give up in Lent. I had assumed that this required a deep religious fervour but it seems this is not necessarily so. I asked a large group of children if they were giving something up this Lent and hands went up everywhere. The enthusiasm was disarming. Chocolate, sweets in general and being rude to siblings were high on the agenda. “Why are you giving something up?” I asked. “Because Jesus did in the desert.” A standard reply I thought. “Because I want to be a better person.” Not so standard! Then a barrage of life-changing, positive resolutions followed. I was taken aback and therefore quite hesitant in response. I had not expected such profound resolutions or the gripping willingness to take a step towards what they perceived as a better person. Of course, something of religious influence was at play. But young people often jump at the chance of taking greater control of their lives and Lent is a safe playground for testing the strength of personal resolve and determination. Successfully giving up something is not negative when it enhances self-esteem and worth. There is no harm in a good pat on the back and a feeling of a job well done after forty long days of abstinence. As with Jennifer Paterson, so it can be with us. Reining in an excess, whatever it is, and however difficult to do, can redress the feeling that we have lost control of our lives. The sense of achievement gained increases self-esteem and gives value to personal discipline. We feel a better person. For Christian people, the Lenten fast points toward Easter. If Jesus did rise from the dead, if his love absorbed death and generated a platform from which we can dive into a new dimension of loving, then Lent gives space to rethink our priorities, if our aim is to own that dimension of loving. But we cannot do that, unless we have taken control of the direction in which we need to go. Lent is opportunity; it is playground space for a redirection of thought and behaviour. Giving something up ought to trigger a demand to reassess the value of love and recognise that love is to be found deeply within ourselves. It certainly demands we own it and for me, the Easter story gives permission for permanent ownership. What a fabulous story it is! The Reverend Canon Kevan S. McCormack