Monthly Archives: February 2018

Saturday 17th February

Psalm 38:18  I confess my iniquity; I am sorry for my sin

Repentance, admitting to our failings, saying sorry,
and making changes is the way we begin to deal with the shadow side of our lives,
and with the chaos that it often causes.
Lent is a season for repentance,
for admitting to and owning the destructive part of our nature.
Some find it helpful to make confession to a priest;
telling someone about this part of ourselves is a good way of owning it.
It can also help us to put it into perspective
so that we understand that it is not the only part of who we are.
It also provides a means of saying sorry
and discovering ways of dealing positively with this part of our make-up,
and any damage it may have caused to ourselves and others.
The beginning of lent emphasises our need to repent and say sorry,
and to help clear the ground for our true self to begin to shine through.

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It is important to remember
that God does not need us to say sorry in order to forgive us,
God forgives – full stop.
It is God’s nature to forgive.
Our repentance is a response to the forgiveness, mercy and love.
It is how we receive and embrace the forgiveness that is already there.
God does need our repentance, but we do;
it opens us to receive all that God longs to give.
God gives freely, generously, and fully of his love,
we simply have to choose to embrace it.

Friday 16th February

Jeremiah 33:8   I will cleanse them from all the guilt of their sin

The season of Lent is also traditionally a time for facing our sin.
The church has often gone to extremes with its teaching on sin;
from us all being made to feel like a miserable sinner,
to not mentioning the “S” word at all
because we do not want people thinking we are obsessed with sin!
While it is not very helpful labelling ourselves a sinner,
there is no doubt that sin plays a part in all our lives
and often makes our lives less than they can be.
We all mess up, sometimes big time,
and how we deal with that is vitally important to the richness of our lives,
and those we share our lives with.
Lent gives us an opportunity to look honestly at ourselves,
without beating ourselves up or sweeping our shadow under the carpet.
An honest look at our lives can be a very healing process.

……………………….

Regina Sara Ryan

God wants our sins:
Our pride, our vanity, our greed, our anger
are gifts of interest and attractiveness to the Divine.
Such substance is usable to God.
Life is healed when these foods are left at the altar of sacrifice.

 

Thursday 15th February

Genesis 2:7 God breathed into his nostrils the breath of life

We began our Lenten journey by being reminded
that we were formed from the dust of the earth.
But the creation story in Genesis goes on to tell us
that our life-breath is the very breath of God.
In some traditions it is thought that the soul resides in the breath,
and that our very breathing is a continuous interaction
between our soul and God.
As we were reminded with our anointing on Ash Wednesday,
we have a dual heritage, we are of both earth and heaven.
There are times when we are well aware of our mortality,
but this holy season reminds us
that we are as close to God as the breath we breathe;
and that the breath we breathe is the very breath of God

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The Franciscan priest Richard Rohr
Tells us about the Jewish word for God, YHWH, not being spoken.
He writes in his book “The Naked Now”:

“Formerly the word was not spoken at all, but breathed!
Many are convinced that its correct pronunciation
is an attempt to replicate and imitate the very sound of inhalation and exhalation.
The one thing we do every moment of our lives therefore
is to speak the word of God.
This makes it our first and last word as we enter and leave the world.”

I find that a beautiful concept.
Be aware today of your intimate connection with God with every breath.

Sermon for Ash Wednesday

I read a while back about a so called, self-made, successful business man
who prided himself on his hard work, his abilities, and his intuitive action.
He was a popular speaker at conferences, talking about his rise from rags to riches,
giving motivating speeches on how to make the most of your ability and opportunities.
Then at one conference he was asked a question that changed his life.
He was asked how much of his success was really down to him
and how much of it was down to others, and their generous contributions to his life.

At the conference he acknowledged that others may have played a part,
but emphasised that most of it was down to his own hard work
and making the most of his talents.
But later that evening he began to think more about that question
and it nagged away at the back of his mind.

He began to think about the people who had contributed towards his success,
and a few people came instantly to mind.
Over the next few days more and more people began to appear on that list.
He was shocked and began to write their names down.
He began to realise that he was not such a self-made man after all,
and that he owed the talents, gifts and generosity of others far more than he realised.

He also realised that he had never acknowledged their contribution to his life,
so he took a year out to track each of them down and thank them for what they did.
If possible in person, or if not by writing them a letter.
He also apologised for not acknowledging their contributions and support earlier.
His talks at conferences now are very different,
and he contributes a lot of his wealth into helping others as he himself was helped.

Through a chance question at that conference his life changed.
He learned about humility, and the importance of recognising his own limitations,
and his dependence upon the contribution, generosity and gifts of others.

Ash Wednesday is all about this kind of humility.
It is about recognising our need of others and our dependence upon God.
Humility is a vital component in the spiritual life;
It helps us recognise our limitations and our need of God and others.

The Franciscan Friar Richard Rohr writes
that Ego is an acronym for Edging God Out.
We Edge God Out when we put too much emphasis
upon our own ability, goodness, and strength.
The anointing of Ash is an act of humility, a ritual that recognises our limitations,
that recognises our need of God and our need of each other.
It once again begins the process of Edging God In.

As we receive this anointing this evening may we recognise our own limitations,
offer them to God,
and allow God to use them to draw us closer to each other and closer to Him.

Ash Wednesday 2018

Genesis 2:7 God formed man from the dust of the ground

The Lenten journey begins with the anointing of ash.
We are reminded of our vulnerability as human beings
and our dependence upon God’s presence, love, and grace in our life.
In the creation story in the book of Genesis
we are told that humankind was created from the dust of the earth.
The anointing of ash on this day reminds us of our origins;
and that our life is a gift of God
lovingly crafted from the dust of the earth.
The ash is also mixed with holy oil as a reminder of our divine heritage.
We are more than mere mortals,
Not only are we mortal, we are children of the Living God.
We may well be fallible, vulnerable, human beings
but we are also filled with the very essence of our Creator.
The anointing on Ash Wednesday reminds us of both
and it is a very fitting way to begin this holy Lenten journey.

The Ash Wednesday sermon will appear later

Lent 2018

Lent begins with our Ash Wednesday worship on February 14th.
There will be a Eucharist at both 10am and 8pm.
Also a children’s Eucharist at 6.30pm
All will include the Anointing of Ash.

Christians traditionally begin this holy season with the Anointing of ash
which symbolises the vulnerable side of our human nature.
The anointing acknowledges our need of God
and God’s great love for us.
By being anointed with ash we humbly place ourselves in God’s hands,
confidant of God’s love and mercy.
We admit that we often get it wrong and say sorry,
and open ourselves to receive the forgiveness that God so freely gives.
The ash is also mixed with holy oil which symbolises
that not only are we vulnerable but also beautiful in God’s sight.
While we are so readily aware of our vulnerability
and our ability to mess up,
we are reminded that God sees beyond that
to the person he created us to be.
So Lent begins in a positive way with God reaching out,
picking us up, and saying:
“You are my son, you are my daughter, in you I am delighted.”

Our Lent course this year is entitled:
“The Journey to Holy Week and Easter”

There will be reflections each day on  a Lenten theme and, as Lent moves on,
the reflections will be on our worship during Holy Week and Easter.
The reflections will begin on Ash Wednesday.