Church of England Diocese of Guildford Dunsfold

ARCHDEACON PAUL'S SHROVE TUESDAY MESSAGE

16 Feb 2021, 6 p.m.
Lent

My oldest war wound is now barely visible on the underside of my left arm. It was inflicted by Steven Stubbs in our village school when I was 5 years old. On this particular morning, he’d really wound me up (not, of course, in any way provoked). It culminated in him leaning across the table and stabbing me with his HB pencil. We both ended up in front of Mrs Ferguson’s desk. He was told never to do this again. I was told ‘forget it; don’t think about it anymore’.

During Lent this year, we’ll be taking as our theme ‘See, I am doing a new thing’ (Isaiah 43:19). It seems appropriate that, before we begin that journey tomorrow, we might today consider the previous verse: ‘Forget the former things, do not dwell on the past’ (Isaiah 43:18).

Of course, we recognise that ‘remembering’ is at the heart of the Christian Gospel. Indeed, if we go back a few more verses, Israel is told to look to the past by remembering the great things that God did for them at the Red Sea (Isaiah 43:16). But following this, Israel is also told that there is a sense in which they must forsake and forget the past with all its discouragement and defeat and move on to what God has in store for the future (Isaiah 43:18).

There’s a challenge for us here both individually and collectively. Shrove Tuesday comes from the word ‘shrive’ which means to obtain absolution for sins through confession. What will you and I confess this day and seek not to dwell on any longer? And equally importantly, what is God calling us as a church to forget and not dwell on any longer; to leave behind? I wonder whether this would be a good question for the agenda of a Lent PCC?

For the most time, I have now forgotten and don’t dwell on the episode with Steven Stubbs. But I still struggle with the words of Mrs Ferguson (inspired perhaps by Isaiah): ‘forget it; don’t think about it anymore’. Lord, help me to do this, that I may look forward and see that you are indeed doing a new thing and are calling us to join in.

Enjoy your pancakes!

Archdeacon Paul Davies