WE ARE now into the season of Lent which began last week on Ash Wednesday.

I think of Lent as the season of three Ps – prayer, penitence and preparation, all in readiness for Easter.

In the past there used to be an emphasis on fasting and giving things up for Lent.

Now the accent is more on what can we do extra during Lent to deepen our faith and commitment to Christ.

In the Painswick area ecumenical house groups have been formed for Lent to study various aspects of the Christian faith as well as extending our knowledge and understanding of each other.

Five groups are meeting this year so that includes 50 to 60 people.

The subjects being studied include exploring poetry as the language of faith.

Another group is looking at aspects of Jesus’ character.

A third group is considering the mystery of God.

The fourth is looking at the meaning of the Cross and the Resurrection.

The fifth group are following the Diocesan Lent Course entitled “Seeking Shapes for Living”.

How we spend Lent is an individual choice but we ignore a very important part of the Christian year if we do not follow a particular discipline for this period.

Several of the bible reading societies such as the Bible Reading Fellowiship follow a Lent course of Bible readings with associated notes and prayers.

Some people who like reading choose a particular Christian book to read as a Lenten exercise.

If you are a doing person how about contributing regularly to a food bank or to Marah or visiting a sick or lonely person during Lent.

There are many charities doing good work in caring for others.

We cannot support them all but choosing one extra to contribute to during Lent is another option.

These are just a few ideas.

What will be your particular choice in observing Lent this year?

Revd David Newell

The Beacon Benefice, Painswick