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Times and seasons

Times and seasons

Something to read

Ah, Ariel, Ariel, the city where David encamped! Add year to year; let the festivals run their round.

- Isaiah 29:1-2.

Something to think about

Since yesterday marked the official end of the festive season, we can rest in the comparative peace of ‘ordinary time’. That is, until Ash Wednesday arrives and Lent, Holy Week and Easter are upon us. It can feel that there’s hardly time to draw breath in the Church’s cycle of fasts and feasts. We see it in the rest of society too: there is barely a week of the year that supermarkets are not encouraging us to buy supplies for the next celebration, whether that’s ‘School’s Out’ in the summer, or ‘Spooky Season’ in the lead up to Halloween.

The prophet Isaiah reflects on the continuous cycle of festivals in Israel’s calendar, and seems to suggest that for the city of Jerusalem, where they are centred, they contribute to a sense of complacency. Jerusalem was a city proud of its heritage as King David’s city, and the nickname ‘Ariel’ might be translated ‘Lion of God’, a signifier of strength and prowess. Each passing feast time in each passing year gave a sense of spiritual security to the people, yet God’s perspective was decidedly different: ‘these people draw near with their mouths… while their hearts are far from me’ (Isaiah 29:13).

Something to do

Now you have a bit of distance from it, take time to reflect on the festive season gone by. Did it feel chaotic and busy, or uncomfortably quiet? Did you experience it as a time to connect with God? Is there anything you’d change for next time? Keep a note for yourself to come back to in Lent, or next Advent.

Something to pray

God of celebration, thank you for the seasons that you’ve woven into creation’s calendar, and for the other times of fasting and feasting with which we remember your story. Help me to truly draw near to you with my heart as well as my lips, in this and every season of life. Amen.

Today’s contributor is Rev Claire Jones