Here we are right in the middle of Lent. So can I ask you, how is it going? Are you climbing the walls for the coffee that you gave up? Do you miss that chocolate biscuit with your cuppa? Are you unable to focus in the day without knowing what all your friends are up to on Facebook? Is the fast going well?
I know for some, Lent can bring with it a sense of dread as we put heavy expectations upon ourselves whilst we give up some of those things we love; alcohol, chocolate, even social media! However for others, it brings a real peace as we take time to enjoy a period of sacrifice and reflection.
I have to confess, I usually don’t give anything up for Lent! I’m not great at being so disciplined for 40 days. (I am working on this!) I may last a week, a few days or a few hours depending on what the indulgence was! Therefore, and more benefitting to my spiritual life, I prefer to take something up for Lent. Perhaps you do too.
This Lent I have been determined to carve out more time in the week to spend with God. I am trying to cultivate a habit of regular time with The Lord to enjoy His presence, listen to His voice, and pray for revival in Saltney, Lache, and Saltney Ferry. I am calling it ‘coffee with Jesus’, and it has been life giving!
Lent really is a fantastic time to be able to give up or take up, put down or pick up, resist or reflect, and remember Jesus’ temptation in the desert. That being said, Lent is not the be all and end all we sometimes think it is. Let me explain...
We of course remember Jesus in the wilderness and the struggles He faced in resisting temptation. However, He overcomes, relies whole heartedly on the word of God and leaves the desert to begin His public ministry in the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:14). But it is not so much the desert time that marks Jesus out for His followers, but what the desert time prepared Him for – His life and ministry.
The New Testament is packed full of the life and ministry of Jesus; the transformational teaching, the miracles, healings, His love and compassion for the lost and least in society. But most crucially, Jesus’ preparation was for his ultimate sacrifice for mankind – the giving of His life to pay for the sins of the world. Jesus’ preparation was vital for His life and his death. But the good news is JESUS IS ALIVE! His preparation was to reconcile God and man! He died, but is alive forever. Amen!
The preparation one undertakes is only important if it is preparation for something. So let’s ask ourselves, what is Jesus preparing us for? What is He saying to us? What is our sacrifice for? If it is just for us, can I suggest that it is not worth it! However, if it is for God then let’s ask Him what He wants us to do next? Let’s ask Him how we can serve Him and others in the church and community. Let’s ask Him for opportunities to minister His grace and power to those who need it. Let’s ask Him for opportunities to pray for people and to be a witness to Jesus Christ. Let’s ask Him for more of His Holy Spirit in our lives, and the life of St Mark’s.
We are coming to the end of our spring Alpha course where a number of us have had the privilege of sacrificing our Wednesday evenings to serve and bless those exploring the Christian faith. It has been an amazing couple of months getting to know new friends and introducing them to Jesus. It also reminds us that this thing called faith that we all have, is something to give away. We will be practicing this idea of giving away over the Easter season as we intentionally invite our colleagues, neighbours, friends, and families to one of our Easter services. Please do be praying about who you could invite along.
This Easter I hope you and all your family come and celebrate with us the incredible news that Jesus is alive. I hope you have fun breaking your fasts on Easter day, and enjoy a few Easter eggs! But I also hope and pray that this season of preparation allows us as a church to focus on what is coming next, for us individually, and for us as the family of God in St Marks. We have recently been preparing for where God is leading us as a church by listening to his voice, and discerning the next steps forward. As we begin to re-envision, I am reminded how good God is, and what an exciting time this is to be part of St Marks Church.