St Mary's Uttoxeter

Let's embark on a journey

1 Feb 2024 • From the Vicar

As I write this we are still in the season of Epiphany, but during February our season in the church changes to Lent. Lent is very early this year, starting with Ash Wednesday on 14th February. Early Christians took their faith so seriously that they spent much of Lent fasting. Because they abstained from meat, eggs, and dairy produce, the store cupboards were cleared of such foodstuffs on the day before Ash Wednesday and made pancakes from the ingredients.  Shrove Tuesday was a memorable day for another reason. This was the day when all the catechumens, or converts and enquirers, enrolled for the compulsory pre-Baptism classes. Every day during the weeks leading up to Easter, these young Christians would receive instruction in the form of Bible teaching and personal prayer ministry so that by Easter Sunday, the day of their Baptism, they would be ready to take their vows: to promise to turn to Christ and to live their lives for him. It was on Shrove Tuesday, too, that more mature Christians resolved to review their life and commitment to Christ to embark again on the journey from winter to spring, from death to life. 

While enthusiasm for pancake tossing, pancake parties and pancake races seems never to have died, interest in Lent has waxed and waned with the years. Recently, according to national reports, the number of people expressing a desire to take Lent seriously seems to have increased. Individuals set aside extra time to pray and reflect on certain Bible stories and small groups form for the purpose of reflecting together.

This year, I would like to suggest that we embark on a journey. If we start on Pancake Day, Shrove Tuesday and aim to reach our destination on Easter Sunday. I have made this particular journey on several occasions. Each time it has brought a spring-like renewal: new understanding and new love, new strength and new purpose, new sorrow, new repentance and new healing, new life and fresh cleansing, a new song which rises from a ‘new’ heart, a new vision for the future and a fresh awareness of God.

I like to make this journey during Lent but I have made it at other times also. Whether we set on our journey in spring, summer, autumn or winter, it is important to be aware, too, that there is no need to make elaborate preparations. We come just as we are, but we do not travel alone. Take the journey slowly – one step at a time. I encourage you to use the weekly reading sheets and choose one for the readings or the Psalm. And

 Pray as you can, don’t try to pray as you can’t

 Set aside a regular time each day if at all possible to read the bible verses

 Take time to personally reflect on something that is new

 Pray the following prayer asking God if there is any way in which he would like you to change this Lent

Breathe on me, breath of God, fill me with life anew.

That I may love what thou dost love, and do what thou wouldst do.

Breathe on me, breath of God, till I am wholly thine,

until this earthly part of me glows with thy fire divine.

I invite you in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.



Rev’d Margaret Sherwin, Area Rector UAP.