Two of the most frequently asked questions in the shop over the past week have been one serious – ‘When are your Easter Cards going on sale’, and one slightly tongue in cheek – ‘What are you giving up for Lent?’. The former was easy to answer, this week hopefully, but the latter was a little more complicated. Do I go for the usual and give up chocolate? That would be OK but not a huge sacrifice as we don’t have chocolate that often and if we do it is usually on a Sunday which is exempt from the Lenten Fast anyway. Do I give up, as my Mum used to, cheese? Again, not a huge sacrifice as although I love it, we probably only have it a couple of times a week, saving our real enjoyment of it until we have a cheese platter at Christmas, Easter and birthdays.
So, what to give up? Well, this year I am giving up time. Giving up more of my time to God, to prayer and to bible reading. As well as using the Church of England Watch and Pray booklet at the start of my day, I have also bought ‘Mark in 40 Days’, a Lent Bible Study to inform and inspire my evening prayer and reflection time, and appropriate as we are in the Year of Mark. But on top of that I am going to set aside 15 minutes every day during Lent to pray for a particular cause, situation, or need. When I am in the shop I will go to the Lady Chapel in the Cathedral during my lunch break, and when I am in Parish, I will go into one of our churches, to make sure there are no distractions, no ‘I’ll do it when I finish this…’.
I haven’t finalised my ‘prayer rota’ yet, although places of conflict, people in need, and the sick and grieving are at the heart of it, but I have already decided on what my Friday Prayer time will be for. It will be for our fundraising and the future of our wonderful church buildings. Every Friday I will go to Singleton Church at 12 noon and spend 15 minutes in prayer. 15 minutes in grateful thanks for the lives of those who worship today, for those who have worshipped in our churches in the past, and those who will do so in the future, for those who have been married or baptised there, for those whose lives were celebrated in funeral or memorial services.
When I go to the Lady Chapel, I know there will be other people there, with their own prayers of thanksgiving, repentance and supplication, and it would be wonderful if some of you could join me on Fridays in Singleton, but I know that many of you work, have other important commitments at that time, or find the travel difficult. So if you can’t be with me in person, can I ask that you be with me in spirit, and take time to say a prayer for the success of the Standing the Test of Time appeal, and for our buildings to continue to be at the heart of our villages for generations to come.
God our Father, You are God of the impossible. When we pray in your Son’s name miracles happen and when we live by faith the incredible becomes the ordinary. Hear our prayer for these holy places and help us: we ask that you inspire and guide us that all will be provided to restore, rebuild, and recommit these churches to Thy Kingdom, not for us today, but for all those who are to come after, in memory of all those who have gone before, and for all those around us who do not yet know you. Even in this time of economic difficulty, we dare to pray for a miracle, because we ask in faith, and in the name of your Son, Our Saviour, Jesus Christ. Amen