Clergy Letter   
from The Rev'd Graham Smith

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Disturbingly comforted

I have sometimes been asked to speak to youth groups about Lent, which means that often they are expecting some kind of talk about fasting and giving things up.  I have heard some really crazy versions of that kind of talk, and even had a friend who was a teacher who told his class he was giving up tea and coffee for Lent.  He replaced all his tea and coffee intake with luxurious hot chocolate instead!

Trouble is I must admit that I have never been one of those people who feel they must ‘give up something for Lent.’  I know that many others do though, and they find it very helpful.

But this I will say: there really isn’t much point if the ‘giving up’ is done unwillingly, or because ‘it’s the thing to do.’   In the Old Testament, when Samuel was choosing a new king for Israel, he followed God’s methods: ‘I do not judge as man judges. Man looks at the outward appearance but I look at the heart.’ We cannot fool God. He knows our reasons for doing something.

What a difference it would make to the way we live if we fully grasped that fact. As well as being rather disturbing, it can be very comforting too. Sometimes we do things for the best possible reasons only to be misunderstood by other people. But God says: ‘I do not judge as man judges. Man looks at the outward appearance but I look at the heart.’ Those are words we should consider very seriously as we begin to journey through Lent and approach Good Friday and Easter.

Jesus suffered death on the cross to take the punishment for our sins. He did it willingly, because he loves us, and so that we might have a fresh start altogether. Jesus is now waiting for us not just to give up something for Lent but to give ourselves up to him.  That means giving of our entire self to him, not just a mere show of ‘going through the motions’.

In other words we need to commit ourselves to a living faith in Jesus rather than a repetitious religiosity, for it is then that we shall find he will help us to live a life we won’t be ashamed to let God see. And we can do this at any time - not just in Lent.


May your Lent be filled with refreshed love and commitment to God.

 Your friend and parish priest

Graham




 









                                             

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A  VACANCY PRAYER 

Father God

During this vacancy,

guard and grow the people of this benefice as we serve you together

in this period without an incumbent.


Lord Jesus, teacher and friend

We know that you have plans for us

and that these plans are good.

We ask now that you will help us to share responsibility,

grow in faith, love one another, care for those in need,

reach out to others, and welcome newcomers.


Holy Spirit, gentle guide,

Please inspire those who are seeking the right person for us,

and those who are seeking the right place for their ministry,

That together we may discover your way for the future

and see your kingdom grow.

Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen