This Lent exploring something of the nature of fasting has been at the forefront of my mind. Fasting can so easily become about ourselves instead of the real objective of putting aside distractions and allow greater attention to be paid to attending to God. “I’ll give up beer and save myself some money,” or “it’s an opportunity to lose some weight,” are all too familiar comments. We often think we have to do something so we find ways of turning it to our personal gain and God becomes the excuse and not the motivation to fast.
It would seem to me that we are more acutely aware that our fasting this Lent has taken on greater significance than before. As an Ordinariate group we have collectively given much up on our journey through into the Catholic community. The welcome from St Agnes and Our Lady of Ransom has been exceptional in its warmth and generosity. However, we do have to acknowledge that in the process we have left behind another loving, warm community at Christ Church, up to this point a community of people who have been our travelling companions on our spiritual pilgrimage.
That leaving has been painful and meant putting to one side some of the securities and familiarities that have helped to shape our spiritual walk with God. Of course we miss the people but also the building itself, the morning office said together by a number of us, our roles within the community, the familiar music and in particular the sacrament of communion. The most difficult for me is the absence of presiding at the altar and breaking the word — it feels like the loss of a limb, a part of my being. Yet we each will have our particular pinch points as we travel into the unknown together.
Although angels are attending to us, the desert is a more tangible part of the experience of Lent this year. The desert is the place where things are stripped away and we are less able to avoid the encounter with ourselves in the presence of God — who am I? Things hidden or avoided come to light, forgiveness and healing are offered and a clearer vision of our vocation revealed. This journey of loss, finding, healing and sending is at the heart of what it means to be a Christian community.
Difficult though this journey is, maybe it is a gift from God. A gift and opportunity to better realise the mission that we as the people of God are called to. A mission that is sent, that is incarnational, for the purpose of finding, loving and healing in the name of our own saviour Christ the Lord.