A message from the Rev’d Roger Whatley, Service Chaplain

Posted by Admin on Friday, 27th February 2015, 00:33

When I was a young lad in the late 1950s I always looked forward to the month of March. The local church I attended in Southsea was of a very low evangelical tradition and we basically carried on the way we had the rest of the year. One of the exciting things was the extra weddings which required the choir. I think there must have been a tax incentive at that time as my Saturdays were taken up with wedding after wedding. As a trained choir boy I was paid the grand sum of two shillings per wedding and that to me was a fortune! The evenings were beginning to draw out so we could stay out longer and in March my mother and I paid our first trip of the year to the Isle of Wight. At that age the season of Lent made little impact on my life and if I was asked what I was giving up I always said ‘Gooseberries‘, a fruit I hated.
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All of March this year falls in the season of lent which runs from Ash Wednesday until Holy [Easter] Saturday. This period was decreed by the early Church as a season of strict fasting, personal denial and looking pious. Meat, eggs, cooking fat and cheese were all banned as were marriage ceremonies [and sex] until Easter Day. What a happy time for everyone that must have been. Lent was abolished for about 25 years in the mid-1600s and when reinstated never regained its former popularity. Today in the twenty-first century in Britain only really devout Christians take any real notice of Lent and even they are expected to do little more than give something up for the season.
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I’ve had friends in the Church who have given up meat, wine, cakes and of course the inevitable chocolates. I have never done this and having hit the age of retirement will not be starting at this late stage. What I’ve tried to do is to take on a small project or study. I try to do something that does not require attending a group or hours of preparation. Last year I compared the Easter narratives in the Gospels and all I needed was a Bible, a notebook and a pen. Simple, portable and for me, interesting. This year as I will be assisting at the IoW Music Festival during Lent I hope to study some of the Easter music.
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A Lent project doesn’t have to be religious. Why not take the opportunity of a slightly better climate to look at the nature which surrounds us, take part in a new sport or activity or give the dog the occasional extra walk. Let us use Lent as a positive experience as we ease into spring. For those with a Christian faith there are Lenten Study groups in both Northwood and Gurnard and March is the ideal time to prepare for Easter. Lent can be a positive experience for everyone and if you do give up chocolates for the forty days and want to get rid of them I can re-house them for you.

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Roger Whatley, Service Chaplain.

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