First Sunday of Lent

God’s Covenant with his people never to flood the whole land again is the message of our first reading this week.

And haven’t rainbows featured large in lockdown, there are still rainbows in peoples windows and on their fences placed there as a sign of unity and thankfulness for the NHS and all working on the frontline of helping those suffering from Corona virus. The rainbow has been used as a sign of peace throughtout the years a place of non conflict and protest peacefully. It has been used as a symbol for the Gay Pride movement  on rallies since 1978. We hear people talk about their pet having gone over the rainbow when they pass away.

Rainbows are a sign to gladden our hearts when we see it in the sky and as a symbol around us. And who can forget the colorful rainbow jumper of Nick Aston on the Time Team programmes. I have just received a bag of rainbow colours in the post to make two rainbow jumpers for our little Granchildren who love to see them in the sky.

Rainbows cheer and encourage us when it rains and the sunshines through, that all is not lost that God has placed it to remind us that he watches over us, and who doesn’t love a double one.

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, we came before God to ask for forgiveness where we have carried on in our own sweet ways, to have the opportunity to reflect in these 40 days of wilderness time, on the challenges that lie in each of our lives, the things that obsess us, or take us away from God. A chance to do something different that can re-align our focus back to the path. We used the symbol of ash rather than receiving it upon ourselves directly. We are encouraged to take something up rather than just lying down.

Be inspired if you can, in ways that interest you and that you can engage with.

We are going to come together as community to look at Jesus the light of the world in our Lent Course, which is on Monday mornings 10.30. Can I encourage you to come, as we share ideas together and look at scripture, even if you can’t make every week, do what you can. If you are reading this and thinking I can’t come because I don’t have a computer or do zoom, come in on the telephone, it costs no more than a local call and you can fully participate.

In fact maybe the challenge for you could be to come to the Lent Course especially if you have never been to one before, make this the new thing for this year.

In Mark, he wants us to see that God’s love was being shown on the day Jesus went down into the water of Baptism in the Jordan, John protesting, Jesus insisting, (not in Mark though) and the Holy Spirit coming upon him to equip him for the ministry, but first the challenge of the temptation in the wilderness.

The place where the Spirit leads him where there is conflict and tempation to be faced.

Charles Royden writes:  “Jesus is shown tempted, surrounded by wild beast and angels. Many people will be able to look inside their own souls and understand the imagery of beasts and angels, the good and the bad at war within our own spiritual nature. In placing Jesus with wild beasts in the wilderness, Mark is making an important point. Protection from wild beasts was considered a sign of God’s blessing, remember Daniel and the lions? Yet there is more than this, the episode has the message of paradise restored. Where Adam had failed, Jesus was now setting things right. The peaceful existence with wild animals, the service of angels, overcoming Satan, all form part of the new order which Jesus brings. No wonder Jesus is shown to speak the words ‘ The time has come,” he said. “The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news!”

We are told that he is also “with the wild beasts.” What is meant by this reference to wild beasts ? People in the first century might have identified the “wild beasts” with those spoken of by the prophet Daniel: “I, Daniel, saw in my vision by night the four winds of heaven stirring up the great sea, and four great beasts came up out of the sea, different from one another (7:2).” The “great beasts” of Daniel have been identified as the political powers of the world, Babylon, Persia, Greece, and Rome.

Mark might therefore be proposing this confrontation: Satan and worldly political powers on the one side versus Jesus and the angels on the other. This theme will continue throughout Mark, for we are reminded that the worldly political powers are continuing to assert their influence. Immediately after Jesus’ encounter in the wilderness, Mark tells us that John the Baptist has just been arrested by those same powers. Throughout the Gospel, Mark delivers a devastating political commentary. He is saying that the powers of the world–the Jerusalem establishment and Rome–are in league with Satan. Jesus’ struggle with these demonic powers takes place in the political realm, i.e. this world, but Mark also wants his readers to understand that that struggle is also a spiritual, i.e. cosmic, battle.”

Yes that battle goes on still today. Be equipped and armoured in the Holy Spirit to face the struggles of each day, but also to receive the wonders of God’s love for you as we begin this Lentern journey into the wilderness

Be Blessed

Rev’d Georgina