UNITED REFORMED CHURCH
News from St Andrew’s
Craig’s letter of 18 February
Revd Craig Bowman
I’m writing this on Ash Wednesday which means we have now entered Lent and have begun our journey with Jesus to the cross and beyond. As is usual the Gospel reading for this coming Sunday, the first in Lent, includes the temptation of Jesus but as we are reading Mark this year the temptations are not detailed. In fact Mark deals with Jesus’ Baptism, his temptation and the start of his ministry in just 6 verses. It is part of the hectic nature of this particular Gospel, which is filled with immediacy and activity. This can seem a little at odds with the encouragement that I, and so many other ministers, give to people to be reflective in this time, however even Mark records Jesus seeking out space for reflection and prayer. Since relatively early in the life of the Church this season of Lent has been observed as a time to consider how we can more closely follow Jesus. Lent was the final period of preparation for new Christians who would be Baptised at Easter and become full members of the church after 3 years of preparation.
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This week I received an email from a retired URC minister which included a passage that particularly struck me. I was going to quote it anonymously but then realised that many of you will know of the author, even if you don’t know him, because Martin Camroux’s last ministry was at Sutton. He wrote:
‘This is going to be the oddest Lent I’ve ever known because essentially we have been in Lent since last March! Nothing I can think of to voluntarily give up is going to match the things I have had to give up and desperately miss. So, this year I am going to put out the flags for Lent. It means Easter is not far away. Thank God that Lent will soon lead on to Holy Week and Good Friday and Easter. Once again we’ll rehearse the drama we know so well. Peaceful kindness and gracious compassion will again confront the world of power and violent authority. We will again remember that Jesus confronted the political, economic, and social authorities and that in five short days he was arrested and executed. Hopelessness and despair seem in order.
‘And yet Easter comes. We believe that although bullies, thugs, and murderers seem to be winning, peace and justice will prevail at the end of the day. We dare to believe that the long arc of history, as Martin Luther King Jr. reminded us, is toward freedom, equality, kindness, justice, and love.’
We are now on that journey and perhaps you have chosen to give something up, or take on something, perhaps the daily prayer pattern that was included with the February magazine. Whatever it is, as we walk with Jesus towards Jerusalem we will witness the worst that human beings can do but we will also experience the best that God can be.
In the valleys may we remember the mountain top, in our loneliness may we know the companionship of Jesus, in our fear may we experience the peace of God and in our despair let us remember where this journey ends.
Posted on 18 Feb 2021