Letter to parishioners, 26 February 2022

Saturday, 26 February 2022

Dear Friends in Christ,

On Wednesday we will begin our Lenten journey. We will enter that season of penitence, prayer and reflection which will lead us towards the crucifixion and then, through death, to the joy and victory of the resurrection.

For centuries it has been the custom of faithful Christians to mark the days of Lent with fasting and a greater devotion to spiritual discipline. In more recent times the concept of giving something up for Lent has been devalued as it has become associated with the ‘giving up’ of minor luxuries, a deprivation that is rooted in a self-serving desire for self-cleansing and weight loss! Our challenge, as we enter Lent 2022, is to look at how we can use this time to the best advantage of our communities and the world in which we live.

We are living through troubled times. Our news reports have moved from the probity, or otherwise, of our political leaders, to the far more serious threat of war. As we read our newspapers, listen to our radios and watch our televisions we come face to face with naked aggression and ruthless political ambition. For some, this serves of a chilling reminder of times past … times that we hoped would never come again. For others, it is all distant and not connected with the reality of our daily lives. But … that which confronts us on a daily basis is real … it is happening right now … we are seeing the lives of real, innocent people destroyed because of the militaristic ambitions of a few people who seem to  have turned their backs on the true message of Christ’s incarnation, crucifixion and resurrection.

The question which confronts us as we begin our Lenten journey is: ‘What can we do? What difference can we make?’

We can begin by renewing our commitment to prayer and worship. We are reminded in this week’s gospel (Luke 9:28-36) of the moment when, before his final entry into Jerusalem and the events of Holy Week and Easter, the divine glory of Jesus was revealed as he stood on the mountain in the company of Moses and Elijah. This moment of Transfiguration was also the time when the voice from heaven said: This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to him! The command of God is to listen to the teachings of Jesus, the Christ. The most effective way of obeying that command is a pattern of regular prayer … prayer in which we speak to God, and in which we listen to God.

Praying and listening is not the whole story, however. We are also called to bring the risen, ascended and living Christ into the lives of others. That is best achieved by recognizing the call to serve in Christ’s name. Lent is not just about self-serving self-sacrifice, it is also about adopting a new pattern of life which sees us shining the light of Christ into the darkest corners of this world.

It is my prayer that our Lenten journey in these challenging and dangerous times might be a journey of renewal, life and light … a journey that will show others just how much our faith really means to us; a journey that will be life-changing for all.

With every blessing to you all,

Revd Stephen