In only half an hour I will be sharing fun and eating pancakes with my friends. There will be a great sense of belonging and togetherness.
Tomorrow will be Ash Wednesday and Lent begins! I think this season could be a good opportunity not so much for giving up but taking up. Taking up and thinking of how to be good friends. Which of course might mean, not rushing around ‘doing’ all the time. In a sense more ‘being’, taking stock of who we are with God and who we are with each other. Lent is a time for self-examination and an opportunity to open ourselves up again to the love of God and sorting out our priorities.
I have just returned from London having been down to see the church where I was vicar for 13 years. It was a bittersweet experience. It was sweet to experience such love and warmth from many people who I have not seen these last three years. But bitter because although it was lovely to meet up with many good friends, we knew we had to leave them again to head back up North, realising it would be hard to maintain that depth of friendship over the distance. Having friends is so important, they keep us alive, keep us truthful, help us experience the warmth of God! We needs friends, we need to foster our relationships. Perhaps Lent can be a time where we can decide to see some friends, restore some relationships and deepen our love. Saint Irenaeus said, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive…” and having friends is a wonderful way of this becoming true. Our friendships help us embrace life and embrace God. As Irenaeus goes on to say “…and to be alive consists in beholding God.”
I am always staggered when I read John 15 that Jesus calls us his friends. Perhaps Lent is a time to deepen that friendship and love for him.