I am writing this on the first day of Lent, which begins this year on the 1st March, Ash Wednesday, which is also St David’s Day of course, the Patron Saint of Wales.
Unlike St George and St Andrew, St David was actually British. He was the son of a Welsh chieftain called Sant and his mother was another Welsh saint, St Non. He was consecrated as a bishop during a pilgrimage to Jerusalem, a very dangerous and long journey in the 6th century, and on his return to Wales founded no less than twelve monasteries. He died at the age of 100 (!)surrounded by the monks of the monastery at Menevia, now the delightful little city of St David’s in Pembrokeshire. His last words were ‘Keep the faith, be joyful, do the little things’.
From 1st March we have forty days and forty nights (excluding Sundays when we are spared the rigours of Lent!) to prepare for the death of Jesus on the cross on Good Friday and his resurrection on Easter Day. Why so long? Because Easter is the most important of all the Church’s festivals when we celebrate the extraordinary events that led to the beginning of the Church 2000 years ago; Jesus rising from the dead.
Traditionally people have given something up for Lent having gorged on Shrove Tuesday’s pancakes! Chocolate or smoking or perhaps alcohol are the modern choices. But you could try taking something up! It might be coming to Church more often. It might be calling on a neighbour who could do with some help. It might be something that you could carry on doing long after Lent 2017 is over, a little thing!
The really important thing about Lent is that it is a time when we share with Jesus in his journey towards the cross on Good Friday and then the joy of Easter Day when he rose from the dead. Whether you give something up or take something up, please don’t let Lent pass you by this year. You will understand Easter better and the eggs will taste even more delicious!
Above all take to heart those last words of our truly British Saint St David, ‘Keep the faith, be joyful, do the little things’ and you might just make this Lent truly memorable.
May God bless you all, John Townend
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