Monthly newsletter

Dear Friends,

As I write this letter, a number of recent conversations are in my mind, all of them concerned about what might happen during the month of February.  One concerned whether children would return to school; another was concerned about returning to ‘normal’ life; a third was related to how quickly the Covid-19 vaccines will get to people.  It is amazing just how much of what people are concerned about relates to the virus pandemic, and with the seriousness of the situation this is natural and understandable when life is far from what we are used to.

At the same time we should not allow ourselves to be side-tracked from what is so important in life, and that is seeking and nurturing our relationship with God in Jesus.  During this month, as Christians we shall be entering an important period in our spiritual lives – Lent. This is a period of time when we are invited to prepare for Easter as we reflect on Jesus’s life, ministry, and personal sacrifice, and remembering what this led to at Easter, we are invited to judge our own relationship with God and God’s will in our lives and find ways of exercising penitence for those ways in which our lives fall so short of Christ’s.

One of the things we hear at this time is from others saying that they intend to give things up for Lent – chocolate, smoking or some other vice or habit.  One creative thinker I spoke to said she was giving up going to the cinema or spending so much on eating out.  I thought that was a good idea until I remembered that we are all in lockdown and can’t go to cinemas or restaurants at present – so however good it might be to have a rest from these popular activities, there is no sacrifice involved in giving up something that we can’t choose to do anyway.

What is a sacrifice and what will nurture our relationship with the Lord and our love of God is committing ourselves to something we can choose. The simple sacrifice of an extra time each day in Lent to read through one of the Gospels or sacrificing a special time outside of our usual routine to pray through a theme such as families in your street or for different needs of people in the world is the kind of sacrifice that enables us to feel closer to God and the ministry of Jesus. Just as Jesussacrificed all for the love and saving of us, so a way of growing closer to Jesus is by disciplining ourselves to be more engaged with the kind of life and ministry he lived.

I wish us all the news that the pandemic is finally abating and life will resume many of the freedoms and opportunities we are missing, but much more than that, I wish us all a special and spiritually beneficial Lent that enables us all to remember what it cost Jesus to give us Easter, and what we can be and do to make Easter more meaningful for ourselves and for those who need to know of God’s wonderful love for them.

With my prayers and best wishes for Lent,