Weekly Reflection – Something Fishy

08 February 2024

Did you know (I didn’t till I read an article about it this week) that Lent was abolished in many countries of the Reformation? Curiously, it survived in England. A 1547 law set aside every Friday and Saturday, several special days when new clergy were ordained, and the whole of Lent as times when everyone had to abstain from eating meat. Two reasons were stated for these rules. First came the more obviously spiritual one (so that people might focus on their spiritual lives and ‘increase in virtue’). Secondly came an intriguingly practical reason: eating fish rather than meat at these times would help the economy by improving the prospects for the fishing industry!

What this obscure bit of Tudor legislation helps us see is that lots of things have a twin purpose, both spiritual and practical. We come to church to worship God and grow in our faith – but also because it gives us community and companionship to support and encourage us. We put our hands together to pray because a change in posture helps us concentrate on a spiritual act – but also because it stops us fidgeting. In Lent we strip some of the words from our church services and don’t have flowers in the building to help us focus on the essentials of our faith. Speaking of the essentials of faith, there will be three sessions in March to help us explore different ways to pray.

Giving up meat for a bit serves this twin purpose too. Abstaining from something for a while helps us learn discipline and reminds us of what the Lord suffered on our behalf. But it also helps us with a balanced diet which keeps us healthier, and it helps the planet if we consume a bit less meat.

So Lent, which begins on Wednesday, is a good time to think about both the practical and the spiritual. What could you do which would help you think about both? Fish and chips, anyone?!

With prayers and best wishes,

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