The Bishop of Fulham in his letter to the clergy reminded us that “the primary purpose of every Lent [is] to prepare ourselves for the Paschal feast. Lent begins with Ash Wednesday and the reminder of our mortality: ‘Dust thou art, and to dust thou shalt return.’ “ This pandemic has reminded us all of our mortality and of those who we love in a very real and sometimes brutal way. It makes it even more imperative that we do all we can to keep each other safe: remembering to wear a mask, keep our distance and to wash our hands. We may have personal fears about the vaccine. It is part of our responsibility to each other to receive the vaccine and is another way to keep each other safe. Last week we heard the Gospel of the healing of the Leper. I reflected in my sermon on the remarkable discovery of a cure for leprosy. The recent discoveries about Covid are no less remarkable.
I said in my sermon: “We see something of God’s healing compassion and grace in the work of the National Health Service and the sacrificial work of the many people on the front-line at this time of crisis. We see this same compassionate grace of God and his ever-present creative power in the work of scientists who discover in the complexity of the world the way the Covid virus works and that we can contain it with a vaccine. Some may know that this all comes from God and others might never acknowledge directly God’s grace. However God’s love is so complete and extensive that it can work through their care, compassion and through their creative minds. We must never limit the power and creativity of God.”
Lent is an opportunity to reflect on how we, in our sinfulness and lack of vision, can limit the power and creativity of God in own lives. In the isolation of the wilderness Jesus was confronted with temptations by the devil which could have led him away from his loving relationship with God his Father. He resisted and came out of wilderness with his relationship to his Father fully intact and strengthened for his mission. Our own sinfulness can break our relationship with God, with neighbour and with our inner self. Think of the seven deadly sins: pride, greed, anger, envy, lust, gluttony, sloth. Those sins are all about us, putting us in the centre of our world, dividing ourselves from God and our neighbour.
Lent is a season grounded in hope, that looks forward at all times to the great Paschal mystery of Good Friday and Easter. It ends in the Lord’s victory, in which we share by virtue of our baptism, over death, suffering, and sin. It is a season in which we set aside time to consider our relationship with God, and try to strengthen it. I hope some of the extra devotions – Lenten Devotions before the Blessed Sacrament on Sundays, Stations of the Cross on Fridays, and Lenten Study on Saturdays will be a help.
Bishop Jonathan says “May every day of this coming Lent be one of grace and blessing, so that our hope in the risen Lord may sustain and strengthen us as we journey towards Holy Week and Easter.”