Monday, February 16, 2009

Just round the corner

Readings for Sunday 22nd February. 2009: 2 Ki 2:1-12; Ps 50:1-6; 2 Cor 4:3-12; Mark 9:2-9. The Last Sunday After Epiphany - The Transfiguration of Jesus

Well we have got to that point
where Lent is just around the corner
almost, but not quite, as late as it could be.
For most of the world, of course,
Lent means little or nothing.
Although in some ways like the great Moslem fast of Ramadan
Lent is probably less well known.
It is for Christians a time when we get our act together
There are many traditional ways of doing this
and they are not without merit
But let me draw yoiu attention to three of the more obvious ways
for Christians to "get their act together".
At the heart of any Christian's life
is our relationship with God
so we will want during these 40 days
to try and strengthen that relationship .
like any relationship it is strengthened
through quality time.
If we want our relationship to get better then we need to commit to it.
Lent gives us a focus time...less than 6 weeks
so it is not a long commitment
and we find each year that it is worth it.
I suggest...three E's
Each day-make a commitment to pray at least once each day
The Lord's Prayer, a time of quiet or a short time to pray for someone special
Each week- as part of our commitment to build up each other
let's endeavour to make each of the Sundays in Lent
a time when we will be there
I do not think prayer is about volume or length of time
It is about "quality" time not "quantity"
So what I need to give during Lent
is extra quality.
This might mean making sure that we give proper attention and not pray on the run
It might mean keeping a little Lenten journal
or setting aside a deliberate time each week to just be together with God.

The one thing people often do know about Lent is "giving things up"
this giving things up...lollies, alcohol, meat, bread or what ever
breeds a little space and a little discipline.
It allows us to be more conscious of those who have not
and also to redirect some of our resources through giving

Certain 'traditional' support has often been highlighted

and they are worthy of our consideration.

Not so much 'what takes your fancy' as where do I feel the Spirit challenges me to be generous and give

  • Charity

  • The Poor

  • Mission

  • Jerusalem

  • The Church

What appeals to you? Make it a special 6 week project.

Our relationship with God is fostered through our care and service of others
Lest we think that Lent is a narrowly religious exercise
or even that Christianity is "narrowly religious"
we balance our spiritual exercises with our service and ministry.
This is the mistake that Peter makes on the mountain today
Seeing Jesus for who he really is ...the glorified one of God....
he doesn't know what to do.
We could think of a thousand things
let's tell others
let's inspire each other
let's commit to follow him to the end
But Peter says "No!! Let's build a shrine"
And Jesus has to say No!
There is suffering to be shared
there is work to be done.
So where will you serve this Lent.
I suggest that the words we need to guide us are these:

& Unconditional

We need to respond in such a way that we are caring for a real person
and not an idea, or a bureaucracy
It will in a practical sense involve us with another person.
We need to be responding to real needs
That is doing what God want us to do
and not what we think we should do.
So often what we choose to do
serves our own needs
instead of those of others,
we do what makes us look good and successful
instead of what attends to the needs of another.
Finally our service should be unconditional.
We help a sick person go the doctor
so that they might get well
Not so that they might come to church.
We take food round to the family who have lost their father
because they need food
not so that they will do it to us in return.

Prayer Giving and Service.
Do not think you can do everything or the impossible.
Have a think about what you can do,
write it down
so you can promise yourself
and promise God

Do not be deceived into thinking Lent

is a pious few weeks, rather accept it as a challenge

to become mroe deply in love with God.

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