By the time February arrives we are usually beginning to sense that spring might not be too far away. The days begin to feel a little longer at both ends and the first bulbs are bursting into bloom. The birds also seem to wake up and cheer us with their song each morning and evening although following such a mild autumn and winter the bulbs are well advanced and the birds are singing cheerfully already despite it still being only mid-January.
However it often seems that just as nature is doing all it can to cheer us up, the church is intent on plunging us all into misery! Lent can too often seem to be a season when we hear little but “thou shalt not” – eat chocolate, cake and sweets; drink wine, beer and spirits; enjoy one-self!
Of course this is a caricature and Lent is supposed to have a much more positive image as a time when we take up new things and strive to improve our standards of Christian living with the help of a loving, supportive and amazingly patient God. Perhaps our problem is that because we can’t think of new things to take on, or simply shy away from all things new, we end up turning to the old, negative forms of self-discipline or simply do not bother.
This year there is an alternative! It will save us money and help us all make a very positive contribution to the environment. It is called the “Carbon Fast” and has the support of the Bishop of Liverpool, The Right Reverend James Jones together with other Church of England Bishops and the Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change, Chris Huhne, MP. TV personality and adventurer, Bear Grylls also supports the Carbon Fast. It is promoted by the Christian relief and development agency Tearfund. Christians in Australia, The Netherlands, Brazil and the USA are also joining in.
So what is the Carbon Fast all about? It is a set of simple actions and prayers we can use daily throughout Lent designed to help protect poor people from the changing climate. Here in the UK we are not yet impacted by climate change but many around the world are. Famine and flood destroy their crops thanks to our excessive use of the world’s natural resources but there are simple actions we can take to reduce our carbon consumption, cut down energy bills and even improve our fitness!
Examples of things we can do are removing light bulbs – how many light fittings now have space for 3 or 4 bulbs but we can remove one and still manage very well! Fill the kettle with only as much water as we need for a cup of tea or coffee – there is no need to boil a whole kettle! Before going somewhere ask if we really need the car – could we walk or cycle? It will save costly fuel and help the environment. Register to stop junk mail which we hate and which wastes paper, energy and time! Consider if you live where solar panels or wind power are an option on your home. The list is endless!
Log in to www.tearfund.org/carbonfast or phone 0845 355 8355 to order your guide of what to do. We will also and provide ideas in our weekly notice sheets throughout Lent. Try something positive this Lent!