Monday, 14 March 2011

Starting Lent - the Garden and the Wilderness

Brothers and sisters in Christ, since early days Christians have observed with great devotion the time of our Lord’s passion and resurrection and prepared for this by a season of penitence and fasting.

By carefully keeping these days, Christians take to heart the call to repentance and the assurance of forgiveness proclaimed in the gospel, and so grow in faith and in devotion to our Lord.

I invite you, therefore, in the name of the Church, to the observance of a holy Lent, by self-examination and repentance; by prayer, fasting, and self-denial; and by reading and meditating on God’s holy word.

... So we began Lent in the Liturgy for Ash Wednesday. I'm always rather glad to get into Lent. This year it's taken much longer than usual due to the lateness of Easter - though it's questionable whether for all that I'm any more prepared. But - while it's good to hit the ground running - the point of Lent is not to have everything worked out perfectly from it start; it's to let those disciplines of Lent work in us to prepare us for Holy Week and Easter.

Our Reader, Rosie Junemann, took us into the contrast between the Garden of Eden where things go wrong for Adam and Eve and the Wilderness as Jesus prepares for his public ministry - read her sermon for the First Sunday of Lent here.

I followed the Sung Eucharist with a Baptism of three children (including twins) and approaching 200 guests in church - and in my brief homily (off the cuff so not online) reflected on the imperfect-ness of our world, all too conscious of the Japanese earthquake and tsunami. Questions of theodicy, our fallen nature, redemption and forgiveness are all in that Old Testament reading for yesterday (Genesis 2.15-17; 3.1-7). I'd wondered whether I'd get away with using it in such a context, but we had a great time, a largely responsive congregation and perfectly behaved children. Which in part makes me wonder why General Synod is getting so wound up about the Common Worship Baptism Service - isn't it more a matter of how you do it rather than its content that is the issue? Elements such as the "Commission" don't work off the page - but there's permission to use your own words in order to be more direct; why not use it, rather than asking for yet another text?

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