March 2019

Sunday, 17 February 2019 10:53 Be the first to comment!

"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

Dear Friends,

The moment when we acknowledge the presence and reality of God – that he is the creator and we are his beloved creation – we open up a whole new set of questions: If God is God, then what does that mean for me? How do I live in relationship with God? What is God’s will for me? Of course, these are questions not easily answered.

A good number of years ago a friend of mine was wondering whether God might be calling him to ordained ministry, and asked me what I thought? My reply was twofold. Firstly, to pray for the idea to go away – if it was of God, then it wouldn’t go away, whereas if it was of him it would soon pass. Second, he that was too good a Christian to be wasted on ordained ministry – there would be much more important things for him to do for the Kingdom of God.

As it turned out, the idea went away and instead he went to the US to do post-graduate studies. Now he’s a professor of theology in a US university where he teaches hundreds of students each year to think about the God questions in the complexities of the modern world – a much more important role for the Kingdom of God than being a Vicar!

So what might the will of God be for you? for me? A couple of years ago we did a course called ‘Life on the Frontline’. The premise of the course was that everyone is on the frontline of the Kingdom of God, whether at home, down the pub, at work, with the children or grand-children, at the gym, with our friends, or wherever. First and foremost, where we are is where we’re called to be the Body of Christ, his presence in the world. Though it may change as we journey with God, where we are now is where God is calling us to be his people, on the frontline of the Kingdom of God – for now this is his will for us, each one of us.

It is tempting to put the idea of special ministries on a pedestal, vicars and the like, as something to be looked up to. The truth of the matter is that our first calling, above all others, is to be a Christian, a follower of Jesus. Living that out is always the will of god for us.

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