Church of England Diocese of Birmingham St. Matthew with St. Chad, Smethwick

1st Sunday in Lent

20 Feb 2021, midnight

Readings: Genesis 9.8-17; Psalm 25.1-9; 1 Peter 3.18-22; Mark 1.9-15

Let us pray: Almighty God, whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness, and was tempted as we are, yet without sin: give us grace to discipline ourselves in obedience to your Spirit; and, as you know our weakness, so may we know your power to save; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen

A word from Lucy: The gospel tells us that, after being baptised by his cousin John, that Jesus was taken by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness for 40 days and nights before beginning his proclamation of the good news. Mark tells us that during this time in the wilderness, Jesus was not only tempted but also ministered to by angels. Before the Pandemic, I would have said that the 40 days and nights of Lent seemed to be a long time during which to either give up something for God or do something extra for God. However, after the year we have had to date and living the restricted lives we have needed to do to stay alive, it now seems to me that Lent is not so very long after all. So this year I feel more content in accepting the invitation to take a journey of discovery with God, just as Jesus did, to find out what God wants me to discover about myself as well as to discern what His plans are for me. This year, I am encouraging you to join me in taking up something positive for Lent so that we can give thanks to God each day. I shall be using a rainbow to focus on as I give thanks because as we heard in the Genesis reading, God set a rainbow in the sky after the great flood ebbed away as a sign of His covenant with Noah. For God promised that He would never destroy the whole world in a flood ever again. God also said that every time we see a rainbow we are to call to mind this covenant. This makes me wonder, how many of us have recalled this promise when we have seen the rainbow that has become the sign for all those key, essential and NHS workers who have been there to serve us during the Pandemic? I have remembered because I know that that in and through these people, God has given us the help and hope we have needed during this Pandemic. For as the psalmist says, God is compassionate and loving and merciful; and God wants us to turn to Him for forgiveness and then to be guided as to how to live as God would have us do. Also, as Peter tells us: we can turn to God and ask to be saved because Jesus suffered for our sins and died to set us free from the prison of death. So, as I end my word to you this week, I hope that the Season of Lent will not seem too long for you this year and that you can find it within yourself to do something positive each day so that you will be able to give thanks to God who loves us beyond measure and sets the rainbow in the sky as a reminder to us of His promises.

Let us pray: Heavenly Father, your Son battled with the powers of darkness, and grew closer to you in the desert: help us to use these days to grow in wisdom and prayer. Holy God, our lives are laid open before you: rescue us from the chaos of sin and through the death of your Son bring us healing and make us whole that we may witness to your saving love in Jesus. Amen