The goodness of God leads to repentance.
Each year we spend 40 days reordering our lives. But that is something that we do daily in our Christian walk. Our Anglican Spirituality is built on repentance, prayer and Bible reading. So what makes Lent different from any other day? Our Seasons and celebration of special days are like taking one aspect of our Spirituality and putting it under a microscope, so that when we step back with a deeper understanding of that specific thing, we have a greater understanding of the whole. During Lent we put our temptations under a microscope, we put our desire to please our physical selves under the microscope and our need to rely on God as opposed to the things of the World.
This year I have heard a lot of talk about Lent being not just about “not doing something” but about “doing something different” the idea being don’t just miss a meal – feed someone else! Don’t just not be judgmental – show kindness. I think that there is merit in that. Lent is a time when we consider the three main temptations or power, fatalism and self will. It is when we face the temptation to use God’s love and provision for our own gain as opposed to the gain for all that it was given for. As people so influenced by Western thinking, we would do well to change our hearts around issues of community vs. individualism, benefit for all as opposed to self interest.
So my prayer for you is that this lent you will experience a “transformation of your mind!”
One area where we need great transformation as the Christian faith, is in the area of judgement vs. mercy. As a faith we have been inclined to seek God’s mercy for ourselves and God’s judgment for others. While this is part of the human condition and there are many examples even in the Bible that show great people of faith thinking and acting this way – it is sinful. Moses, the great prophets, and Jesus always sought mercy for others and accepted judgement upon themselves. The Cross is the ultimate act of reforming the sinful practice of desiring judgement on others and mercy for oneself.
Mercy is the outworking of compassion and compassion is the best way to translate the word love in the Bible. “For God had such compassion on the world that He sent His Only Son, so that whoever believed in Him would not perish but have eternal life.” Is that the kind of compassion that you have for others, such that they will feel your love for them and praise our God in heaven? The Pharisees demanded obedience to the Law – Jesus looked with compassion. This Lent let us deepen our understanding of what it means to be a community of compassion, a loving community.
May your “going hungry for a meal” feed someone.
May your “extra prayer” fill you with compassion for others.
May your “increased discipline” help you to gain the confidence in God’s love for you, so that you can share that love with others.
This Lent, may we walk with Jesus and grow in His ways and learn from Him so that we can do the will of the Father in this place as God requires of us.
Be assured of my Prayers.
Fr. Andrew Manning