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Dear Friends,

In a year when Easter is relatively early, with Easter Sunday on 31st March, Lent starts with Ash Wednesday on 14th February. This is the time when Christians all over the world will be preparing for Easter and is traditionally a time of fasting and prayer, a time when many people choose to give up things to help them to prepare and to focus more fully on the sacrifice Jesus made for us all

As we look around us today, at a world so full of conflict and at our own society where so many are struggling, it is hard to ask people to give up things when they have already had to sacrifice so much. In a society and a world where the divisions between those who have so much and those who have so little seem to get wider every day it is not easy to look beyond our immediate worries and concerns and look to the message that Easter brings. But it is just when things are difficult that the message of hope that Jesus brings is so important. Lent is a time of preparation which leads to Easter, that time of great joy when we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus and the promise of redemption that is open to us all.

I remember, growing up, that whenever I complained about something my mother would tell me to stop moaning and remember that there are always other people who are worse off, that there are plenty of people in this world who really have something to moan about. As a small child I think I probably found this really irritating but there is surely a lot of truth in it. As we look around the world today we know that each of us can think of people in a worse position than us. People who face starvation, those facing the real impact of climate change, those living in the midst of war and conflict, those whose daily lives are a continual struggle to survive. Life can be very difficult for us all but things could always be worse and there are always things we can find to be thankful for.

So rather than focussing on what I can give up this Lent I intend to focus on being thankful. I plan to choose something new each day to say thank you to God for, whether that be the food on my table, the beauty of the natural world around me, my family and my home, or one of the many other things God has given to us all. Saying thank you each day will then prepare me for the biggest thank you of all when I joyfully say thank you to God for the gift Jesus gave us at Easter.

So this Lent, I invite you to also find something each day to thank God for, to acknowledge the gifts our loving God has given to us all, a God who loves us so much that he gave us his own Son who was crucified and died for us all and then gloriously rose from the dead to bring new hope to the whole world.

I pray that during this Lent your homes may be filled with the love and hope that only Jesus can bring and be blessed with his presence in your lives.

Revd Lawrence Gittins.
Priest in Charge.