Why are we returning to Living Lent?

Wednesday 26th February – Ash Wednesday

Each year, on Ash Wednesday we are called once again as individuals and communities to confession. We are called to recognise our humanity, and with it the stumbling, turning against and ignorance by which we often falter, living lives which fail to show God’s love to creation. As Jesus did, stepping into the barrenness of desert, we are challenged to see our own limitations as human beings.

And yet, as we are brought into confrontation with our shortcomings, we are greeted by God’s promise of Grace. In solemnity, as we call to mind our sins and are reminded of how undeserving we are, we are marked with the cross – the sign of God’s limitless faithfulness to humanity. Stepping into a time of wilderness, we fix our eyes on the great declaration of forgiveness that lies ahead. It is in this tension we are invited into Lent. 

As people of faith, confronting the climate crisis brings us into this tension too. As we watch our changing climate force people from their homes and alter the earth beyond recognition, we are challenged by our own complicity in the degradation of creation. As we hold up the prosperity of those fortunate to flourish against those denied the basic conditions to live, the stark disparity we see is a far cry from God’s promise of life to the full for all of creation.

And yet, as we are challenged by this very present reality, the clarity of God’s promises does not falter. 

“Do not remember the former things,
    or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
    now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
    and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honour me,
    the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
    rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.”

(Isaiah 43: 18-21)

How do we hold together the reality of our own our sin with God’s clear offer of forgiveness? How might we accept fully the promise of renewal God offers, without leaving behind the unsettling of our consciences neccessarry for change? 

This is the invitation of Lent. That, in the knowledge of God’s promise of new life, we might not abandon awareness of our own sin but live in the tension between brokenness and redemption. And that, in doing so, we might be unsettled, provoked into seeking the renewal of weary life and the healing of wounds, to bring forward the hope of God’s kingdom.

This Lent, we have committed together to confronting the challenges the climate crisis brings starkly into reality. As we go on this journey, we will dig both into the brokenness of climate injustice and the radical offer of hope present in God’s promises. In doing so, we hope that we might be strengthened to trust that new life awaits.

Today’s blog was written by Hannah Brown. Hannah is Campaigns and Church Engagement Officer for The Joint Public Issues Team. This is her second Living Lent. She will be committing to not buying anything new.

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