Thought for the Week March 7th 2021 (3rd Sunday in Lent)

Psalm 51:10-12

Create in me a clean heart, oh God,

and put a new and right spirit within me.

Lent is a time to reflect on our lives and our walk with God.  It prompts the thoughts, what have we done? Where do we want to be?

We seek forgiveness for our wrong doings, in order to greet Easter with a clean heart and renewed faith in God.

I have really missed our services in the chapel, and will especially miss our services leading up to Easter, but it has been a really great alternative to have our video services led by Steve, so a big thank you to him and his readers.

What does Lent mean to you? To me it is a feeling of expectation.  A time to think about where I am in my Christian journey, to reflect on what things in my life I could have done better. A friend of mine once said “if we all followed the 10 commandments, the world would be a better place” how true, but how hard! We don’t set out to fail but life gets in the way.

For me personally, when I look back I think I must have failed from an early age. Take the 8th commandment for instance thou shalt not steal. I remember when living in Handforth in Cheshire (no I didn’t know Jackie Wheeler from the parish council) my friends and I went on what we thought was a mercy mission and tried to steal what we assumed was a scruffy neglected old donkey that had been tethered up to a post in our village pub car-park, in the hope of giving it a better life – clearly not thought out. Needless to say the donkey had other plans and was true to his reputation, stubborn!  he wouldn’t budge an inch. Come to think of it, that probably comes under number 10 as well, Thou should not covet thy neighbours Ox or his Donkey. Two in one, that’s impressive, NOT!

I won’t go into how many more I can tick on my list.

I saw it written once that it would be easier if the 10 commandments were like an exam paper in which we only have to attempt any three of them. The Old Testament reading (James 2:10) says if we break any part of the law then we are guilty of breaking all of it. Looking back over my lifetime so far, I have indeed given our Lord and Teacher so much to work on. Oh dear, 100 lines (again), I must try harder!

But all is not lost because we have Jesus and the Easter message.

We do reflect at this time of Lent about Christ’s journey to the cross, how he felt in the desert, fasting for 40 days and nights just living off locusts ….  Can we really begin to imagine?

I suppose those who do fast for Lent, may have a slight inkling of how it felt, and of course it is a heartfelt gesture that perhaps gives people a sense of unity with Christ, but we have to remember, we still have the comfort of our home, water on tap, a comfy bed, friends and family support and in some cases, Sunday off from fasting.

Unfortunately there was no let up for Jesus, all the time being tested by the devil. We mustn’t forget that Jesus was human and felt the same pain and suffering as we would. It must have been so tempting to give up, especially as time went on and the more his thirst and hunger grabbed a hold of him, but his faith kept strong and true. What a lesson to us mere mortals. Could we ever be so strong? Do we need to be? Does God expect us to be?

As I mentioned above, for me the Lent season is an expectation, although this season has the terrible sadness of Jesus being beaten, humiliated and then crucified on the cross, it ends with the glory of the risen Christ.

I take heart that Easter is coming and that we as a church change from singing those beautiful laments and move on to the joyous celebratory hymns that talk of the wonderful news that “he is risen”. We know that Jesus had to suffer for our transgressions! But we also know that he rose from the dead; he said that he will never leave us again. What a comforting statement that is.

It is right and proper to go through this time of reflection but we should also look forward to the expectation of Easter. What a celebration we will have.

I always try to remember that after Good Friday, Sunday will soon be here. After St Peters pie (I hear my family groan as I have been making this for the last 30 years!) the symbolic lamb is eaten reminding us of new life and rebirth. After Jesus is crucified the Lamb of God is raised and we can believe that he will never leave us and will be with us to the end of time…

But for now, we can reflect and pray and know that there is happiness and joy to come.

Whatever path your Lent journey takes you on, I hope that you keep safe and well and feel that much brighter in the hope that we haven’t got long before we can all be together again.