This year’s Bishops’ Lent challenge sounds straightforward: simply to have conversations with our friends, family, colleagues, or people we just bump into in our daily life.
How can that be a challenge?
Often the conversations we have are on the same topics (you can probably name them!) or they are about practicalities like who is going to get the tea. This challenge provides an excuse to grapple with some simple questions about life, death and everything in between.
In a society where loneliness is on the rise, it’s good to find ways of connecting with those around us and having meaningful conversations.
Are they all ‘Christian’ questions?
No! These are questions, big and small, on a variety of topics about life, the world and faith.
These are everyday questions that many of us wonder about, even if we wouldn’t usually have a conversation about them.
What happens if I don’t know the answers?
Don’t worry, this is about conversation, not about answers! The Challenge is two fold:
- · To listen to someone else’s viewpoint
- · To ask ourselves how our own answers connect to what we believe
How do I get started?
We’ve produced a pack of question cards, suitable for people of all ages. The question can be used in any way you want but in the pack there are some suggestions to get you started. You can even use the questions with a Lent Group or school class if you want to. We’ll share the questions each day from Ash Wednesday (26 February) on our Twitter and Facebook feeds with the hashtag #40questions. We’ll also share some very short videos of people of all ages having a go at some of the questions, just as a conversation starter!
‘A cold coming we had of it
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey…’
T.S. Eliot’s ‘Journey of the Magi’
How many of us are making journeys over the turning of this new year? Perhaps it has been an opportunity to catch up with family or friends we haven’t seen for a while. Perhaps for some of us, it’s been about fun and relaxation, (although skiing doesn’t appeal for either, for me!)
Perhaps some of those journeys have been disrupted by weather or illness. Or perhaps they’ve been punctuated by the plaintive cry, ‘Are we there yet?’ During winter months we are often seeing the journey as a ‘means to an end’ rather than something of value in itself. However travelling with others or meeting people on the way can make journeys so much richer.
On my windowsill at home sits a wooden cross with a shell attached. It’s made from the stick my son used to walk the Camino de Santiago, one of the most popular of pilgrim paths in Europe. I’m not sure I have the legs to do it! Two of my sons have walked it from France to the coast of Spain, each on their own, but meeting strangers along the way who have become friends.
2020 is being marked by our Cathedrals as a year of pilgrimage. You will be hearing more from our Cathedral here in Wells as they invite us to share in pilgrimage with them. Journeying together gives opportunity for us to discover something new as we share in others’ perspectives and experiences, not just our own. At this time of Epiphany we remember the journey of the wise men who travelled together to seek out something new. A star had appeared which indicated to them there was new learning to be had. And so they left the familiar and went to explore what was new.
So… what new thing might you wish to explore this year? Who might you travel with? And what might you do once you find it?
Wishing you a very special new year!
The Right Revd Ruth Worsley
Bishop of Taunton