Friday, 15 February 2013

+London on Lent, simplicity and "growth without end"

We live in a world however which aspires to perpetual carnival with no ensuing Lent.

Even the modest vestiges of Lent which survive are sometimes softened to accommodate our hectic lifestyles. The United Methodist Church in Michigan US is advertising this year "drive thru ashes 7.30-9 – no need to exit the car." Thank you for coming to St Paul's instead to give the matter a little more consideration ...

Ash Wednesday is itself a mixture of light and shade. It is the beginning of what the holy fathers called the "sad springtime of the Christian year" ...

Blessed Lent, the sad springtime of the Church's year is the time when we support each other as believers in simplifying our lives; removing fuel from the fires of rage and fear; facing a little more of the shadow world within by laying aside some of our usual comforters that we use to deaden the pain ...

[A] break from other forms of mental overstimulation may be even more appropriate. These are matters which you should discuss with your soul friend but let's take Lent seriously as an antidote to the indigestion which follows the attempt to live according to the modern recipe of growth without limit with no end in view beyond the process itself ...

This is the way that we enter most profoundly into the truth that God is, "gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and plenteous in mercy". And that he intends us to find not gloom or fear but delight and fulfillment as we live in harmony with one another and the deep structure of the world he has made.

From +London's 2013 Ash Wednesday sermon in St Paul's Cathedral, London.

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