Hello everyone! It was pouring with rain as I walked to church this morning but it was lovely and sunny as I walked back. It is a lovely bright sunny afternoon now. Now it is the first week of Lent we started the service with some special readings, which are setting the scene for our Lenten journey. Our minister started the service with a meditation which reminded us that we had come together for renewal and having greeted each other we were then having a time of reflection and stillness. He said, ‘Close your eyes. Be still. Listen. We are entering a holy time. The Lenten candles have been lit, but over the next six weeks the light will slowly fade into darkness, for we are retelling the story of Jesus’ betrayal and suffering and death. We do not do this because we are morbid, but because in the story of Jesus’ death and resurrection, God is revealed – in the amazing transformation of death into life….’ He explained that Jesus, in his pain and suffering, speaks to every pain and loss we have endured and offers the promise of transformation. Trevor and our deacon David had adapted the words developed by Jeanyne Slettom for the Lenten Candle Liturgy. We were then encouraged to listen in silence. Then he said these words:
‘As we extinguish this light, we acknowledge the darkness and pain of injustice in the world.
A candle is extinguished’
The Lenten candle liturgy ended with this prayer which we said together:
Loving God, as we journey through this holy season of Lent, give us strength and courage to make the changes that are needed in our lives. Open our hearts and minds to your steadfast presence and help us to put our trust in you. Amen.
The superintendant minister Mark Godfrey led our main worship. His theme was of course the temptations of Jesus. He brought pictures of some Mr Men for the children to describe; Mr Nosy, Mr Lazy, Mr Fussy, Mr Greedy, Mr Grumpy and Mr Mean. He asked what these particular ones had in common and one girl said that they were all negative. Mark agreed and said that behaviour like that would be a temptation to them and something to try and avoid doing in this time of Lent. We sang ‘Be thou my vision’ as we all knew it is only with Jesus as our vision and helper can we hope to live as Jesus did. In his sermon Mark explained how Jesus after his baptism needed time to pray and work out what his ministry would be. He was tempted to use his power in the wrong way to win people, but realised that was not God’s way. He chose not to bribe people to follow him, nor deliberately to risk his life or to compromise with evil to draw followers. He knew that was not the way to show God’s love and acceptance of people, being prepared to suffer and even die as he brought God’s message of love and forgiveness to the people. However that he chose this path of suffering means that he understands our struggles and conflicts as he has experienced the worst that can happen. This verse of this hymn which concluded our service expresses that sense of God speaking to us out of and through the suffering:
‘I, the Lord of snow and rain,
I have borne my people’s pain;
I have wept for love of them –
They turn away.
I will break their hearts of stone,
Give them hearts for love alone;
Whom shall I send?
Here I am, Lord.
Is it I Lord?
I have heard you calling in the night.
I will go, Lord,
If You lead me;
I will hold Your people in my heart.
This is the day that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.