Martin Tarr

An idea for a Lenten discipline

Last year one of the resources I used was from Embrace the Middle East, and part of it was that you put 5p in a tub each time you had a drink, remembering those who don’t have clean water.

I’m thinking that, given the focus this year on washing our hands, a way to remember those who don’t have proper washing facilities even in the midst of Covid, could be putting 5p or 10p into a Lent Box each time we wash our hands.

It would be a way to both appreciate how fortunate we are, but also collect some money to give to a charity at the end of Lent.

If you’re not using money much just now – many payments are ‘hands free’ with your card or ‘online’ – then you could have a sheet where you keep a tally, then count up and make the payment to your charity at the end of Lent.

Jan Benvie

As Liz Crumlish says in her introduction to the booklet that we quote from in Take time to reflect: “A colleague posted on social media last year that Lent felt like the Lentiest Lent we’d ever Lented! Somehow, that is even truer this year, a full year and more into a global pandemic.” So you’ll find that we are not alone in suggesting that, instead of planning to give something up as a Lenten spiritual discipline, you should plan to take something up instead. There are lots of good things on offer –

Locally-based studies, at all of which you’ll be made most welcome. Click the links for further details:

Other ideas for reading and listening include:

  • Living through Lent, a booklet of daily reflections for Lent 2021 by Liz Crumlish that you can download at this link
  • The Church of England’s #LiveLent daily reflection emails, for which you can sign up at this link
  • Ecumenical daily readings and weekly talks for Lent on John’s Gospel at this link
  • CTBI’s “Lent study for these unorthodox and strange times” at this link
  • The Journey meditations offered by Taketime

And an action project – if you consider yourself part of the Church of the Future, the Diocese offer a challenge for you to share your ideas for a carbon-neutral church – details and an entry form at this link.

Please email other ideas for Lenten study to

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return …

(Genesis 3:19)

This Ash Wednesday,
When we cannot gather
to have ashes imposed.
When we may not participate
in the familiar liturgy,
hearing the words that remind us
of our mortality
It becomes all the more important
to take time, with God,
reflecting on the nature
of our shared humanity
– our relationship
with one another
and with the divine creator
who has placed within us
wisdom and knowledge
love and compassion
connectedness and reliance
on each other
and on this
weird and wonderful world
in which we live
Perhaps in our forced isolation
and in our departure
from normal routine
in the strangeness of restrictions and lockdowns
closed borders
and forced quarantine
and amidst loss
that continues to mount up
we might finally confront our frailty and consider the question
of our purpose …
What is the nature of the footprint that we will leave as we journey through our life
How will we carry others
And when will we allow others
to carry us?
And how will we bear witness
to the God of the Universe
who walks alongside
bearing us up in infinite love
providing all that we need
as we accompany others
along the road of life

Thank you to Liz Crumlish for sharing this Ash Wednesday thought, which comes from Living through Lent, a booklet of daily reflections for Lent 2021 that you can download at this link.

The conference steering committee are proud to announce that ‘Responding to the Sacred: Gender & Liturgy in Conversation’ will take place this spring as a free online event. Each day from 12-16 April a new discussion video will be released, with space for our audience to comment during the livestream. On 17 April we’ll host a live plenary session from St Mary’s Cathedral, Edinburgh (God-willing or, in the language of these interesting times, Covid-restrictions-allowing).

Aside from going online, our conference aims and roster of speakers remains the same. Taking in a wide range of perspectives we’ll discuss issues in the field of gender and liturgy, in the context of liturgical reform beginning within the Scottish Episcopal Church. Our speakers include: Merete Thommassen (University of Oslo), Bill Paterson (MindfulnessFife), Bishop Ian Paton (SEC), Leon van Ommen (SEC, University of Aberdeen), Bridget Nichols (Church of Ireland Theological Institute, Dublin), David Jasper (SEC, University of Glasgow), Lisa Isherwood (University of Winchester), Beverly Clack (Oxford Brookes University).

The main event will be in April but preliminary material is already online. Sign up via the Facebook event page (, or simply email us at

Today is 2 February: a day when the Scottish football transfer window has just closed with a flurry of last-minute signings; a day when even the hardiest of Christmas revellers pack away the remains of their decorations; a day to reflect on the time when Christ was presented in the Temple as an infant as recorded in Luke 2:22–40.

The “Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple” marks the day that the old man Simeon took the baby in his arms and recognised him as “A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel”, words used each day as part of Evening Prayer.

On 2 February it became the custom to bring a lighted candle to the altar to represent the Christ-light, and to bless all the ‘lights’ or candles in the church, praying that all who saw the outward and visible light would remember also and be blessed by the inner light of Christ “who lightens everyone who comes into the world.”

With similar prayers for blessing in our hearts we’ve been asked to light candles at 7:00pm each Sunday to pray together with other Christians in Scotland, using the prayer specially written by the Scottish Church Leaders Forum which is linked to our Home page. And this month, in their #PrayerfortheNation initiative, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York are asking us  to pause and pray every day at 6.00pm for those impacted by the pandemic, with the suggestion that we might light a candle as a prompt to pray.

But our prayers don’t need to be complex or theological in tone. This prayer by Ruth Burgess is suitable for even the youngest:

I light a candle.
A sign that
I know
that God loves me.

I light a candle.
A sign that
I want to walk
with Jesus today.

I light a candle.
A sign that
I want the Holy Spirit
to breathe in me.

I light a candle
and I ask that
God’s love
and God’s glory
may shine through me.

So, go and light that candle!

More poetry on Malcolm Guite’s blog, from which part of this post was adapted, and in Prayers for Lighting Candles by Ruth Burgess, from which the prayer was taken.

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Coming up …
  • 25 February 2021
    10:15 am Streamed from Holy Trinity
  • 25 February 2021
    2:00 pm Lent Bible Study
  • 28 February 2021
    9:45 am Methodist Zoom Worship
  • 28 February 2021
    11:00 am Streamed from Holy Trinity

More details at this link


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