Thought for the Month (March 2017)

This year all of March falls in Lent, as it begins on 1st March and ends on Easter Holy Saturday Easter in April. Beginning with Ash Wednesday, it is a season of preparation for the celebration of Easter. It is a time when Christians often set aside time to reflect on whether they are living the sort of lives God wants, when they ask for God's forgiveness for when they mess up (as we all do!) and for strength and guidance to live in the way He wishes.

It is a time when many Christians reflect more deeply on the life and ministry of Jesus, and especially on His sacrifice on the cross, how He overcame sin and death by rising on that first Easter Day, and crucially what this really means in our lives today. What difference does this mean as we go out about shopping, being with family, or in our contribution to wider society? Lent is a time when we can set aside time to pray and consider and then take action.

It is also a time when some Christians think about the 40 days and nights Jesus spent in the wilderness enduring temptation (Matthew 4:1-11/Luke 4:113). We too often face temptation, and we can take courage and inspiration from Jesus.

Some Christians set aside time for fasting alongside prayer, an age-old tradition that many have found helpful down the ages; though many more simply try and give up certain foods (e.g. chocolate). Behind this is the aim to lift our thoughts away from our own concerns to focus upon Jesus, it is not just giving up certain foods that is the aim.

Some Christians also try and achieve this consecration to Jesus by doing something positive – attending a Lent course, going to the prayer and Bible studies when they normally don't, setting aside time to read the Bible more thoroughly or engaging in the wider world more actively, as Jesus did, to share His abundant love and grace.

Whatever you decide to do this Lent, remember that God's love for us could not be greater than it is, whatever we do we not earn more of God's love. Yet Lent is one of the times in the year when we might be challenged to consider our own response to that love, in preparation of the celebration of Easter.

"But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: while we were still sinners, Christ died for us." Romans 5:8 NIVUK

Rev. Helen Warmington

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Tunbridge Wells United Reformed Church