As I write to you in this edition of In Focus, we are in the early days of Lent, the road to the cross and the joy of Easter Day. Reflecting during Lent, I joked “well we have still got Lent!” As I said in the last edition: Christmas has been lost to the big red Coca Cola Santa and now I think Easter is in danger of being lost to the Easter chocolate egg or bunny! But firstly, who wants Lent? It seems it is just for giving things up – a spring diet – rather than a period of self reflection and spiritual renewal. Lent reminds us most of all about failure and forgiveness, which is after all the central message of the Gospel. So to answer my own question who wants Lent? I do! It reminds me that I don’t have to be content with my sins and failures, it reminds me that I am a child of God who was created for returning – returning in all my waywardness to an ever loving God! Lent is about forgiveness as well as failure.
One of the most beautiful Lenten parables is that of the prodigal Son found in St Luke 15: 11-31. It speaks of a son’s selfishness and greed – living it up with his inheritance and after blowing the lot on wild living – downcast returning to face the music! At home he comes in his broken state to his father, who gladly welcomes him! Many Bibles give this parable the title of “The Prodigal Son” but I like the other side of the coin it is a story about “The Welcoming Father”. Here in this story the “I did it my way” lad is met by a caring and all loving father who embraces the undeserving son.
The call goes out to you to ask as you read these words and perhaps lift your family Bible to read about the prodigal – what about me?
Could/should/will I return to an ever loving God? You might ask the question – will He want me?
I can only assure you that God turns no one away who comes to Him with an open heart. And so to Easter! I want to metaphorically shoot that Easter Bunny! Easter is the celebration of the risen, victorious Jesus who has conquered death and hell and in his train leads fallen human being to new life and living. Easter is far too important to be reduced to bunnies, eggs or daffodils! It is about Christ’s battle over death – for you and me! It gives meaning to all that is Lent, Good Friday – life and death! It is hope for living and dying. What an amazing reality “Christ died for our sins” is how St. Paul succinctly puts it. Could you journey from Lent to Easter Day, a journey of self surrender to Jesus is to find new life in Him. Please think of making that journey – the first step might be for you to cross the threshold of our Parish Church and come to worship. Here you can meet with others who have found forgiveness and life and so encounter your risen Saviour!
Wishing you and your families the joy and peace of our risen Saviour as Easter approaches.
Ian R Gamble