Devon Churches Have Got Lent 2021 in the Bag
Churches in Devon have come up with ingenious ways to mark Shrove Tuesday, Ash Wednesday and the start of Lent.
St Paul’s Church in Honiton distributed 100 bags to families containing ‘Shrove Tuesday’ kits made up of a lemon, chocolate spread, wooden spoon, pancake recipe, chef’s hat to make, and a book of activities for the 6 weeks of Lent.
Families were invited to a Shrove Tuesday morning Zoom session to mix up batter together and an afternoon one for everyone to try tossing their pancakes.
The initiative was led by the vicar, the Rev’d Sue Roberts.
In Barnstaple, the two St John the Baptist churches have been giving out dozens of “Lent in a Bag” kits aimed at adults and children.
They contain an ash cross painted on a pebble, a tea-light, a palm cross, a shell (to mark the pilgrimage journey of Lent), a wooden figure to encourage prayer for others and a leaflet with suggested prayers and songs for Lent, as well as a ‘Lent Calendar’ with activities for children.
The Reverend Cathy Schoffield, who leads the churches, said “We wanted to do something to help people feel connected and that they are doing something together.
“Everybody has got them and that makes us a community.
“We know there are a wide range of people who can’t go online.
“At the moment our pastoral contact is on the doorstep and people have loved it when we have dropped off the bags.
“It’s also a way of reaching families and making contact.”
The bags were prepared and distributed in a Covid-secure way.
Cathy said it was also important for people to have physical things to touch or look at to help them mark Lent “There is something about the sacramental nature of these objects.
“They are visual and practical.”
She said as well as Lent in a Bag, the churches broadcast an online service every week using songs recorded by their worship band and the A Church Near You website worship resources.
It is traditional on Ash Wednesday for people to go to church to receive ashes on their forehead in the shape of a cross. The priest will also say a prayer of blessing for them. This year, as it won’t be possible for some people to go to an Ash Wednesday service, the Bishop of Crediton, the Right Rev’d Jackie Searle, has filmed a virtual ashing ceremony and blessing instead.
Lent lasts for 40 days and runs until Easter Sunday on 5 April.
It is the time when Christians prepare for marking the death and resurrection of Jesus, often by giving something up, doing something new or taking part in a Lent Bible course.