6 March, of course, is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. Like ‘Easter’, the word ‘Lent’ does not appear in the Bible. They are both Anglo-Saxon words, ‘Lent’ referring to the lengthening of the days.
We thrive in the light, just as plants stretch towards it. It encourages life. Increased light and warmth cause the Spring plants to burst into life, and we ourselves feel so much better as we find the days growing longer and brighter. Not for nothing did Jesus call himself ‘the Light of the World’.
The Christian journey which we are all on is a movement from darkness into light. Indeed, Christians are defined as ‘children of the light’, people whom God has graciously called from ‘darkness into his marvellous light’ (1 Peter 2.9).
God has given us a revelation of a better time, a new heaven and a new earth when there will be no more tears or death or pain. We are reaching out to that glorious hope ‘as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts’ (2 Peter 1.19).
While returning to his brother Esau whom he had cheated years ago, Jacob was detained at the Jabbok river. That night, in very mysterious circumstances, he wrestled with God as he tried to cross the river to re-join his family who had gone on ahead. By the morning Jacob was exhausted and he noticed that in the struggle he had been injured in his hip. We read that as the sun arose on that new day, he now limped. Jacob, now called Israel, limped towards the dawn.
And is that not a bad description of us Christians? We claim no superiority. We are simply people limping towards the dawn. We have in various ways all been injured by life, but as Christians we are limping towards the light, the dawn of the new age begun in the risen Lord Jesus at Easter.
Use this Lent when the days lengthen to come nearer the light who is Jesus Christ.
Rev Brian Hunt