Lent and overweight pets
It is an amazing fact that you can buy a whole variety of dog food that is specially formulated to help dogs that are overweight. We know that we are sometimes too generous with our pets with their food and treats - but the fact that not only some of us have to diet from time to time but also our pets need diets shows us that we are prone to eat and share more than is good for us.
Talk of dieting shows that some of us have too much food. At the same time we have in our local towns, such as Kidderminster, food banks that are there for people who cannot afford basic food. Some have too much and some too little. The growing inequality between people is a great concern. This inequality seems to have grown in our own country but is also a global issue. I read that the richest 85 people in the world are as wealthy as the poorest half of the world. Those 85 people are as wealthy as the total wealth of poorest 3.5 billion of the world's people.
You can see why charities which deal with helping the poor, and also many church communities, are really concerned about issues such as this. So churches will be concerned not just about ‘spiritual' things, but about politics too. Mrs Thatcher famously said that the Church should give up politics for Lent - but actually our faith is concerned with the whole of life - including politics.
Considering again these dieting dogs, I'm the sort of person who might need to diet if I'm not careful. Whether I can manage this during Lent may depend on how often I go to the fabulous Lent Lunches at Far Forest Baptist Church on Tuesdays! I'm sure you will hear more about this elsewhere in this edition - but the soups and sweets are wonderful and all of us who attend them marvel at the lovely food and great friendship.
Lent is the season of preparation before Easter. It is linked to the image of Jesus fasting in the wilderness for forty days. In the past the emphasis was often on prayer, fasting and spiritual discipline. It is still a very important season for Christians. Often people try and study and reflect more, perhaps give more time to prayer. Discipline is still important, but often there is the thought about how self-discipline can lead to good. People might have a simple meal and give the money that was saved to a good cause.
So Lent is not a miserable season - it is like spring. It is a time to think in a new way about Christ and faith. A time when we can remember God's wonderful love for us and what he has done for humankind and all creation in Christ.
I find that I can drink less and less alcohol these days. But one thing I have done during Lent is drink very little alcohol. I have found that I feel better for it, that it is good for my diet, and it is a really positive thing to do. There may be similar things that you could do to bring new colour and freedom to your life.
There are various events planned for Lent in our local churches. I've mentioned that Lent lunches at Far Forest Baptist Church on Tuesdays. On for four Mondays in Lent (10, 17, 24 31 March) there will be a simple soup lunch at Callow Hill Methodist Church at 12.30pm followed by a study session on ‘Christ in the Countryside'. The study will begin around 1.15pm. There will also be study evenings at Far Forest Baptist Church on Wednesday evenings at 7.30pm.
I think that my weight is reasonably under control. The same applies to our dog Holly. One reason for this is that we go out for regular walks together. It has been a wet and muddy business in the recent weather - but it is good for both of us. Holly reminds me if I forget - so like most dog walkers this walking takes place whatever the weather day by day. You can use such a time to pray and reflect. In my case I tend to do that at other times. I hope as the spring comes, and the season of Lent is upon us, you can find some self-discipline that is rewarding and good.