Please find attached the Order of Service and, set out below, the notes for the Revd Alison Hardy`s Sermon about three of the mainstays of Lent - Giving, Prayer and Fasting with particular reference to Matthew Ch 6, verses 1-6 & 16-21.
Ash Wednesday Sermon Notes:
The introduction to Ash Wednesday reminds us of the nature of the season of Lent: one of abstinence, penitence, absolution and forgiveness, prayer and fasting, reading and meditating upon God’s holy word.
In our set reading from the sermon on the Mount (Matthew 6.1—6,16—21) three particular areas are mentioned, that of giving, of prayer, and of fasting.
Giving is a Christian discipline which marks out our faith all year round and not just at Lent. We are reminded that where our treasure is, there will our heart be. If our treasure is with Christ, then our hearts will be with him.
That treasure includes our regular weekly offering to God through his church, our tithe which we set aside as the first of our giving to God. During lockdown when we cannot have the services in person as usual, we may need to re-visit our giving and consider how we can continue to support our local church.
Our giving also includes our Lenten offering. Consider in your heart where and what you are being prompted to give this year. During lockdown either our bank balances have increased - due to less spent on social activities, eating out, visiting - or they have diminished through lack of work and increased needs and costs. Through the discipline of giving, those with surplus can help to meet those without in their hour of need.
Prayer is central in the passage and should be central in our Christian life. We are reminded that prayer is a private matter between ourselves and God. We do not pray to be seen praying. We pray in secret and God who sees us praying in secret rewards our prayer.
Prayer is a spiritual discipline. During Lent consider what your prayer life will look like: Morning and Evening Prayer, Noon prayer and Compline, prayer at 6pm each day for our nation.
Prayer is also something we can offer others. Pray with and for others. Even just two or three praying together can ask for God’s blessing on their community, their neighbours, their parish.
Prayer is part of our Lenten Bible Study Course: The Character Course. Each day between our Tuesday evening meetings, we apply a short time of daily prayer relevant to the week’s theme.
Fasting, like giving, can be challenging. Fasting is good for us. It is good to spend time with God. When I give up a meal to spend quality time with God, I find great blessing and contentment as I do so.
Fasting is also good for others. When we give up luxuries for a simpler diet or way of life, we gain a surplus. It is traditional to use this surplus during Lent to give to charity or use in a way that will benefit others.
Giving, prayer, fasting — how will you observe these disciplines this Lent? Consider well and make your commitment to God in your heart, who will hear your prayer and richly reward you.
With blessings in Christ,