Yesterday I accompanied my children for their 12 month check up at the local dentist. Thankfully (and certainly not following their father’s record for oral hygiene in his teens) they received the all clear; a clean bill of health with no fillings or any other treatment required. They are all set until this time next year.
In a similar way, the church provides us with a means of assessing our spiritual health in the season of Lent, which started just over a week ago. In a service introducing the season, we find the following words;
I invite you, in the name of Christ, to observe a holy Lent by self-examination and repentance, by prayer, fasting, self denial, and giving to those in need, and by reading and meditating on the word of God.
However this year, rather than simply thinking about how we might approach Lent as individuals, I wonder whether we might give some thought as to how we can embrace it as a community? Certainly this aspect of Lent will feature in our Sunday services over the course of the month. We’re following a series looking at how, by intentional adopting some positive habits, we can influence for the good (and for the glory of God) those whom we encounter around us. Last Sunday, in our All Together service, we thought about “blessing”; both blessings we had received from God, and how we can then be a blessing to others. This themes was explored further in our Sunday evening Lent course (7- 8.15 p.m) which will continue throughout Lent (but not this coming Sunday evening!)
Lent might also be a time where we choose to invest in spending more time with one another… I was sharing with PCC last night how I believe that one of the great strengths we have as a congregation is one another. However we can only really utilise this strength if we are actually able to share in fellowship together. Perhaps as we seek to take things up rather than simply drop some, additional time spent with one another, both in and outside of Sunday worship, could be another of our Lenten disciplines.
To close, instead of my usual “God Bless”, a longer blessing for each one of us for the period of Lent, as prayed last Sunday morning;
May the Lord God Almighty, in his mercy obliterate every word, statement, experience, and invisible barrier you may have constructed that is keeping his blessing from reaching your heart. May the unrelenting love of God pursue you and surprise you with his compassion for you. May the forgiveness of Jesus Christ restore and renew your hearts. May the living waters of the Holy Spirit fill you and flow through you to a struggling and broken world. May God's peace rest upon you, and may the Lord fill you with his joy. May his joy become your strength. In the name of the Father and the Son and Holy Spirit, Amen.