Message from the chaplain: 21 February 2020

Claudia Coustas

You desire truth in the inward being;
therefore teach me wisdom in my secret heart.
Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
Let me hear joy and gladness;
let the bones that you have crushed rejoice.
Hide your face from my sins,
and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God,
and put a new and right spirit within me.

- Psalm 51:6-10 (NRSV)

Ash Wednesday falls on 26 February 2020 and marks the beginning of the 40-day season of Lent, preceding Easter. On Tuesday 25 February, girls and staff will be able to celebrate Shrove Tuesday with pancakes. Shrove Tuesday came about in order to facilitate utilising all the ingredients for sweet, baked goods that one might not eat during a period of fasting over Lent.

On Ash Wednesday, girls and staff will have the opportunity to be ‘ashed’ in chapel services – to receive a small cross of ash gently rubbed onto our foreheads, to the words, “turn away from sin, and believe the Good News”. This is because the attitude of Lent is penitential: it is about prayerfully identifying that which we allow to get in the way of our drawing closer to Christ, of committing to a different way of living such that these obstacles are overcome.

Thus, what we choose to give up during Lent is not necessarily a food type. Fasting is not dieting. It is facilitating our spending more time in prayer each day, such that God can “create in [us] a clean heart”, as per the Psalm cited above. It could be a way of living that we do not take up again, after Lent. Importantly, Lent is also about remembering that Christ calls us to look after the poor, the weak and the lonely. Therefore Lent could be about living more simply such that we can give more, or it could be about giving up the time we spend on an activity to help those in need.

Revd Claudia Coustas

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