Each Sunday in Lent we are sharing a short reflection written by leading Christian authors. This week's is by writer and Chaplain of Jesus College in Oxford, Megan Daffern
What does Lent mean to you?
Every year, Lent will be different. Our lives change, our contexts change – even within Lent as well as from one year to the next. So each day and week of this Lent, I will be trying to ask myself how God is calling me to draw closer to him.
In my life as a University Chaplain, Lent often falls at a busy time in the second half of a term, when I’m getting even busier and – to be honest – a bit tired. So I am realistic: I know it’s often not helpful to my ministry to start being too hard on myself (although my spiritual director might chuckle at that). If I feel I need coffee, I drink coffee – and give thanks to God for it, aware that it’s something I could have given up. If I feel I need something sweet to keep me going, I eat something sweet – and I give thanks to God for it, aware that too is something I could otherwise have denied myself. It’s not about giving things up (or taking things on) for the sake of giving something up (or even losing a few pounds). Making healthy lifestyle choices for the sake of our wellbeing (physical or spiritual) can happen at any time of year.
What Lent does is help us remember again and again to prepare for the profundity of Christ’s journey to the Cross, and beyond death to new life the other side. So much of our lives can be about going through things: going through tough times, getting through big events. Jesus as a human went through suffering and death, and went beyond it. So when I think about how God is calling me to draw closer to him, that’s also about how God is calling me to go through things: how God is calling me to go through today, this week, this Lent, my whole life.
My hope then is this: that if I practise going through each day of Lent as God calls me to go through it, I will better go through not only tough times as God calls me to go through them, but even to go through death as God calls me to go through it. So I can, with Christ, go beyond death; so I can, every day, draw closer to God.
Lent can be a helpful time to focus on reflections like these. I do a lot of reading: so I often take up a Lent book to read. Right now I’ve got Stephen Cottrell “The Things He Did” on my desk: taking a few minutes each week to focus on the events of Holy Week throughout Lent will help me have a sense of direction towards the Cross, through Christ’s death and beyond, to the new life of Easter.
But two years ago, I decided my Lenten discipline would be writing. I like to pray, to reflect through writing. It was a blessed and revitalising Lent. Little did I realise then that this would be the birth of my own future Lent book. I pray that the blessings I received in writing “Songs of the Spirit” would bless its readers too.
Megan I. J. Daffern is Chaplain of Jesus College, Oxford. She also assists in parish ministry as a priest in the diocese of Oxford and lectures in Old Testament at Oxford University.
Her Lent devotional book Songs Of The Spirit is published by SPCK and is avaliable to order today.
February 25th, 2018 - Posted & Written by The Editor