I was surprised to see this press release hit the wires this morning when the Church of England announced Lent had begun! The Love Life, Live Lent campaign began with a call to carry out action number one on day one – namely to make someone laugh.
Regular readers will know that I had some ‘back and forth‘ with the CofE’s Communications Unit a few weeks ago over the technicalities of their website and SMS service. Indeed, as part of it, I was challenged to ‘follow the daily suggestions’ by Ben Wilson from the Comms Unit so how can I do anything but pick up that challenge.
Indeed, I have made someone laugh today. Indeed, a couple of people. For a kick-off, there was the always fun chance to spend some time playing with my two year old daughter and tickling her – which is always guaranteed to make her laugh like a drane.
I also related to a couple of ordinand colleagues the story of how (the very funny) Dave Gorman tried to make the world a better place by carrying out actions suggested to him by members of the public. In one particularly memorable attempt, he broke the speed limit and received a Â£175 fine and then stood at Piccadilly Circus wearing a sign confessing his crime. Apparently one of his correspondents believed making criminals advertise their sins would make the world a better place. I remember from Dave’s account of the plan in his stand-up show that various tourists had photographed him and had thought it was really part of the British judicial system. Indeed, some of them thought it was a great idea that they wished they had at home. It made my colleagues laugh.
I guess you had to be there.
Anyway, quite apart from completing my first challenge successfully, I do have to ask the question of my colleagues in the Church of England Comms Unit and Publishing division as to when they think Lent actually starts? In the Western Church (which I thought the CofE was part of), Lent traditionally starts on Ash Wednesday (i.e. in a couple of days time). In the Eastern Church, it starts on the Monday of that week – I think it’s called Clean Monday so apparently, we are starting Lent according to the Eastern tradition (although I have no idea if they are even starting Lent this week as I think they also date Easter differently).
Anyway, quite happy to start my challenges two days early but it took me by surprise. Were the Liturgical Commission informed of this change of Lenten practice?
** update **
It seems Tom Allen over at BigBulkyAnglican is similarly mystified.