Friday, 19 February 2010

Lenten Reflection Week 1

This is the start of some weekly "Lenten reflections". By way of beginning this, I wanted to mention what I am using through lent for myself. It is not strictly speaking a “lent” book, but I have found the thoughts in, “Reflections for Ragamuffins – daily devotions from the writings of Brennan Manning” (Published by Harper San Francisco, 1998) thoughtful, gracious and inspiring. Turing to the reading for Wednesday 17th February, I read this, under the subject of “Tender Judgement”,

“Jesus Christ taught prophetically, in the power of the Spirit, that Christian giving and forgiving should copy God’s giving and forgiving. Acceptance is absolute, without inquiry into the past, without special conditions, so that the liberated sinner can live again, accept himself, forgive himself, love himself.”

This is not woolly, liberal thinking – this gets right to the heart of God’s gracious mercy – at work in Jesus Christ. The key message on Ash Wednesday, along with the fact that we are from dust – and to dust we will return, is that as we “turn to Christ”, he will make all things new. We gaze, from what can seem like a long way off at the cross – Easter, Holy Week is the other side of lent, weeks to go . . . yet we can know God’s compassions, they are “new every morning” (Lamentations 3 verses 22-23). What I love about scripture is the interplay between passages - In my own life, I can only consider this passage that is in the context of lament if I also look at what Paul writes in Philippians, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.” Struggling to forget what is behind is one of reasons I think we struggle to get ahead! Paul, who calls himself “the worst of sinners” (1 Timothy 1 verses 15) also says, “follow me as I follow Christ” (1 Corinthians 11 verse 1). That gives me a real sense of hope in this Lenten season, reading those two statements from Paul, side by side, it is as I hear him saying, “look Ali, if I can follow Christ, so can you.”

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