Next Wednesday we mark the beginning of Lent, and in many Christian communities ashes are used as a visible mark of our commitment to the opportunities offered in these forty days of preparation for Easter.
The word Lent is actually derived from the Old English word meaning ‘spring’ – as in ‘lengthening of the days’.
In Aotearoa New Zealand we are nearing the end of Summer so its a bit odd to be thinking spring when autumn is just around the corner. But the insight into Lent as a time when we seek spring-like new growth is helpful for us.
Throughout this Lenten season Food For Faith will once again offer daily Lenten encouragements emailed to those who subscribe at the front page of this site at www.foodforfaith.org.nz.
If you received emails in Advent you are automatically on the distribution list unless you unsubscribe which you can do at the bottom of any of the daily FFF emails.
This Lent, as well as the daily emails, I invite you to connect with others who are open to the same commitment to growth in relationship with Jesus Christ. Some parish and school communities may have arranged Lenten reflection programmes. These will be ideal for many people. However if you have not found Lenten faith support that works easily for you, here’s a simple possibility you might like to take up:
Make a commitment to TAKE ONE hour each week to meet with one or two people you already know and a couple of others who might appreciate the opportunity to meet for an hour (in a cafe, bar, a home, or by Zoom or phone or anyhow else) and share together about your personal and practical experience of faith.
There is no given structure for these groups. The only focus is to try to stay focussed in your conversation on the stuff of your lives and the ways in which you experience Christ and desire to encounter Christ more intimately.
The stuff of your life is a great starting point for your TAKE ONE conversations. Other resources including passages of scripture, your experience of Jesus in prayer, or the daily FFF reflections might encourage you on this forty-day pilgrimage of growth.
An encouragement from Pope Francis: (Ash Wednesday 2020)
“Lent is not a time for useless sermons, but for recognising that our lowly ashes are loved by God. It is a time of grace, a time for letting God gaze upon us with love and in this way change our lives. We were put in this world to go from ashes to life. So let us not turn our hopes and God’s dream for us into powder and ashes. Let us not grow resigned. You may ask: “How can I trust? The world is falling to pieces, fear is growing, there is so much malice all around us, society is becoming less and less Christian…” Don’t you believe that God can transform our dust into glory?
Let us allow ourselves to be loved, so that we can give love in return. Let us allow ourselves to stand up and walk towards Easter. Then we will experience the joy of discovering how God raises us up from our ashes.”
SUPPORTING FOOD FOR FAITH
Ten years ago Food For Faith began as a blog and has developed into an online mission that reaches several thousand people across the globe every day, especially during Lent and Advent. We have worked to keep operating costs low, and your commitment to using the website and providing comments and prayer has kept us going and growing.
There are now over 2000 posts on the website covering a wide range of topics. Last week I heard from a teacher who regularly searches FFF to provide class resources.
This website is a part of my priestly mission for which I am already fully supported.
However we do need to pay technical staff, purchase resources and cover other costs associated with the maintenance and improvement of a digital mission. Some popular elements of the site are expensive to make for example a three minute video clip can cost several hundred dollars to produce.
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