"A Lenten Battle ....."
March takes us into Lent, beginning with Ash Wednesday on 6th. It’s a period we can approach from a variety of directions, the most common of which is a period of penitential reflection as we ponder the 40 days Jesus spent in the wilderness following his baptism; and as we focus our minds towards his passion, Holy Week and Easter, and our part in it.
Sin, our rebellion against God, has always been a significant element in such reflection. But sin is a word which has rather gone out of fashion in the modern world. When I talk with parents who want a child baptised, exploring the question of sin and how that relates to a baby is always interesting, after all, how can a baby sin not knowing right from wrong? Yet we baptise them for the forgiveness of sin among other things.
But then a new born baby is 100% pure ego. From the moment of their first cry, babies have their parents wrapped around their little fingers, dancing to their tune. Babies make their world revolve around them; and for them it is essential, it is what they need to survive. Of course, if they haven’t learnt to control their egos by the time they become adults, cute little babies will have grown into monsters.
The trouble with the battle to control my ego is that it is never won. I suspect that all of us have that little 2 year old in our heads which, when things don’t go our way, wants to go on the rampage – and would if we didn’t keep our egos on the leash. I know I do. It is another way of describing original sin – that on-going desire (and actions) to usurp the place of God in the world. Jesus certainly knew the battle with his ego. When you read the temptations in the wilderness, or in the Garden of Gethsemane, you see Jesus tempted to use his power for his own benefit – to make stones bread – to grab political power – to usurp religious power – to run away and keep himself safe – temptations to do it his way!
Jesus’ choice was to set aside his ego; to do things God’s way. How does my life reflect that pattern? Now there’s something to ponder in Lent.
God Bless,Revd Stephen Cooper