As I write on a bitterly cold day, I notice that in the orchard snowdrops are presenting themselves like a carpet of white, while the daffodils with bent heads not liking the cold, wait for the warmth from the sunshine to straighten them again, the green shoots from the crocus bulbs are peeping through and the primroses are showing their faces making us smile.
All this is a sure sign that spring is not far away. Signs of new life are all around us. Also, the season of Lent meaning spring began on Ash Wednesday when all who came to church were ashed with the sign of the cross although the vicar sparkled like star dust, and we took those crosses with us out into the community for all to see and question.
Over the past year we have found ourselves experiencing really challenging times which has knocked our equilibrium and many have felt insecure, lonely, anxious, stressed and unloved. The newspapers and television have brought us pictures of war, flood, famine violence, earthquake and disaster and following on from covid our minds just cannot process all these things, it is just too much. Since Christmas I have been challenged by those who are questioning “if your God is a God of love tell me why these terrible things are happening.”
For Christians, the Church’s holy seasons of Lent and Easter hold the key to an understanding of this. Holy Scripture, in the Book of Genesis, reminds us that we live in a fallen world, not a perfect one, as far as humanity is concerned. The world works via the mechanisms of physics, chemistry and biology and, therefore, Corona virus, cancer and other diseases routinely disfigure the natural world, as selfishness, cruelty and violence do so in members of the human race.
The point of the Incarnation of the Word made flesh is that Jesus, the chosen one of God, God himself, came to live and suffer among us as one of us to reveal what true unconditional love looks like in human shape and, to restore the beauty of the love, we name as God, in our lives and the lives of those around us. Those who can’t accept God, because of the presence of suffering in the world, are looking at the situation the wrong way round. God is love, and to follow the teachings and example of Jesus is for humanity to learn how to show compassion and unconditional love to one another in times of suffering and pain. That is why the cross makes most sense when it has a figure of the crucified Christ upon it: our salvation was wrought upon the cross, which is a powerful symbol of the outpouring of unconditional love for us all. That love touches our lives in the presence of Jesus as the body of Christ in the consecrated bread and wine of Holy Communion. That is the source of resurrection love, given freely for us – which begins to heal the pain and suffering of the world and makes the broken whole, as we open our hearts to receive God’s grace in our lives.
As we follow the road of the cross this Lent with Jesus, let us find ourselves coming ever deeper into his presence, Remember, “Lent” comes from the old English word from which we get “lengthen”, it means to grow. Lent is the Springtime of the soul; a time when, this year, we need to be kind to ourselves and prune away, through prayer, all that which has caused us to suffer and be anxious and afraid, that we might grow strong and flourish in the light of God’s healing love – given to us by Jesus Christ.
I pray that we have a good Lent together,
With every blessing,