A new Spring is struggling to come to birth here in the British Isles despite the hugely fluctuating weather conditions - from relatively mild to freezing in 24 hours! The Ewell stream is flowing faster than at any time in the past ten years, reflecting an unusually large rainfall during the last few months.
Christians are also at this time occupied with that 'springing to life' which is called Lent! Generally, today, in most churches, the season has lost its somewhat negative outlook of 'giving things up' and become an opportunity to allow the life of the Spirit to reach into our innermost hearts and minds. There is something to be said for times of greater zeal for the gospel, although that sounds a contradiction in terms. Can the gospel ever be said to grow cold in the heart that once has responded to Christ's call to be with him always? But there is another consideration. It is all right if Lent is regarded as a personal refreshing of the mind and spirit. But if the worship of the church is to be affected in terms of becoming gloomy - about sin, for instance - then perhaps something has gone wrong. In the sixth century the Rule of Benedict reflects the developments of the fourth century onwards when the singing of Alleluia in worship was rectricted to the fifty days of Easter. Today that has been repeated in modern liturgical renewal without considering that Christian worship must always reflect the Easter faith of Christ's disciples. How can we not be joyful in our worship always, even in Lent? As Paul writes to the Corinthians:
For the love of Christ controls us, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. Therefore, if any one is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, behold, the new has come.
Have a good Lent - and here is the ultimate paradox - for it is always Easter! Alleluia!