Every year I try to approach Lent differently, as I invariably believe that I didn’t do so well the previous time. Sermons help of course and any reading that one can do oneself: I find that there is always something slightly different even though the main message is that Lent is a time of fasting, self-denial repentance, preparation and spiritual redirection. However, we all differ, have different commitments and have to try to focus our minds on this 40 day period of trying to get closer to God. I have not found it easy.
However, Deacon Roger’s sermon last week gave me some new perspectives as he likened Lent to a long retreat, an attempt to connect through prayer, remembering that ‘God is Love’ and does not forget us. He left us with a good message, ”Say no to temptation and worldly things – say yes to God.” This is indeed a very clear message which one can try to follow and I could imagine it outside some of the ‘trendy’ churches which try to attract people with slogans.
Then I read Fr. John’s message in the newsletter explaining that ‘Jesus fed on God’s word and found strength in doing his Father’s will.’ Well I think we can all do with being stronger and his further reference to God’s Spirit helping us in our weakness was something else which boosted me. After all, we do not have to endure harsh desert conditions to imitate the Lord Jesus: we have everything we need in the Western world. or is this why we do struggle to get closer to God, even if we can resist temptation?
Next I became distracted by the number 40 and its significance. It is clear that Christ endured a 40 day period of prayer and fasting to prepare for his ministry and that this is what we are trying to imitate in our own ways. Then I think back to the Bible stories of Moses and his 40 day period of fasting before he received the 10 Commandments and the 40 years he led the Israelites in the Egyptian Desert….. before I recollect that I am supposed to be praying. I really must concentrate!
Am I the only parishioner struggling a little?