First Sunday of Lent
Sunday 21st February 2021
As public worship has again been suspended because of the pandemic the service was recorded and made available online. That can be found here.
Dr Ken Scott
“And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.“
I wonder if when I started today by telling you that it was the first Sunday in Lent your heart leapt for joy!
Maybe you had a thought , after the year we have been through since the last time , not more privation. If you think lent is just about giving things up then that is perfectly understandable. We have given up freedom , holidays, eating out, seeing our families, meeting friends, worshipping in church together; what more can we give up. Somehow after all that, the odd bar of chocolate or glass of wine seems pretty insignificant.
Well Lent is about more than just giving a few things up for a few weeks.
The model is Jesus testing time in the wilderness that we read about in Mark chapter 1. He tells the story with typical Mark brevity in two sentences. After He is baptised Jesus immediately goes into the wilderness for 40 days and there he is tested. Mark does not give us the types of test the other gospel writers do but he tells us what he had to contend with and who helped him.
Wild beasts for 40 days, not much fun. You could say we have had wild beasts of our own for 12 months. A pandemic that has killed over 100,000 people in our country alone, lives cut short, young and old, a devastated economy, lost jobs, education seriously damaged for our young people, to name a few beasts. We have all been tested, to varying degrees and in different ways.
Who did Jesus have to help? Angels. Now when you think of angels you may have a picture of beautiful airy creatures with wings flying about the skies.
Not an image that helps us at all. Here is what it says in Hebrews 13, “Let mutual love continue, Do not neglect to show hospitality to strangers, for by doing so some have entertained angels without knowing it”
So there have been lots of angels about through this horror year. The nurses that cared beyond belief. We have heard from Tracey the cost of that. The scientists who produced vaccines in record time . The people who volunteered to deliver and inject them. They are some of the obvious ones. But many people have shown hospitality to strangers in numerous acts of kindness small and large. That is being an angel. As Christians we are specially called on to show this kind of love for our fellow men and women.
So for this lent then don’t get too concerned about what you are giving up, why not add something instead. What can you do personally to be an angel in your community, what can we do as a church to help those in need who live in our own parish. We cannot worship in church at present but we can still exercise our Christian ministry in the world we live in day by day, and people see it and hopefully it speaks to them of the Jesus whom we follow.
Remember he said “ just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me”
So for Lent here is a challenge for us all. How am I going to be – how are you going to be – an angel and cope with the wild beasts?