Lent is not a project or a programme.
Lent is a season when we focus not on ourselves and on our efforts but on Jesus Christ. For this reason, and in this way (in the words of the First Preface of Lent), Lent is a season of great joy.
I was raised to use Lent as a time of giving up and doing more in an attempt to bring more discipline and reward to my faith. As a child I sometimes chose to give up a sweets. As a young adult one year I gave up deserts and occasionally I have gone 40 days without alcohol. All of these were projects that I chose and I have no doubt that Jesus appreciated the sincerity of my efforts at self-denial.
Then I became aware that even the most ambitious of my projects and disciplines is achievable if only I have enough will-power and encouragement.
The down-side might be that my chosen pursuit might be an avoidance of a deeper calling that is not simply Lenten but life-time, and is found in living the ups and downs of each day in relationship with Jesus who is God-with-us.
Perhaps Jesus allows the circumstances we are living in (personally and communally) for a reason?
On the global stage this week war is a deep concern for all who seek peace.
In the lives of those I have spent time with in recent days health stresses, separation and grief, financial insecurity and pandemic fears abound, with many more secret struggles occupying minds and hearts.
We know that our loving God does not cause suffering, but why does he allow us his friends to carry such unwanted and unwarranted burdens?
Perhaps it is because God understands that our greatest human desire is not to be free from suffering but to experience the friendship and intimacy of those who also carry their own crosses and share the burdens of friends and strangers as we journey beyond suffering and death to an eternity of ultimate friendship and intimacy.
Our personal cross is not an artificial or arbitrary personally-chosen discipline but an engagement with life as it imposes itself on us. We cannot escape this turmoil, and the healthiest part of ourselves recognises these circumstances as the reality of life and the often hostile environment wherein the grace of God abounds.
So perhaps this is the Lenten invitation for the one who seeks greater maturity in relationship with Jesus and with others: to realise that while Lenten disciplines are important, these disciplines must be at the service of our desire to be more sensitive to Jesus in whatever circumstances we find ourselves.
On the Homepage of this FFF website www.foodforfaith.org.nz you will find several browsing options including:
- Prayer Requests – an opportunity to list your own requests for prayer and to let others know that you are praying for them and their intentions
- Event Calendar – where you can suggest a time and place for a cafe or bar gathering inviting others to join you.
Amen thank you Father John really appreciated your teachings during Lent God bless
Real life which includes the wonderful through to the most difficult times, is our path because we are on this journey together. The fact that Jesus took on our humanity, enjoying the wonders of friendship and support as well as the cross, enhances His credibility for us – we know He understands our humanity. We are not a people set apart, but all have challenges to overcome as we grow in strength and courage and faith and hope. May Food for Faith bring faith and challenges and re-assurance and comfort to all .
Dear John-, so very glad to see your emphasis on the circumstances of each of our lives, the life of our country and our struggling world as the unique ‘ way of the Cross’ towards towards personal and collective transformation. Blessings, Joy
I wonder if God allows his friends to carry such unwanted and unwarranted burdens so that faith is required to love God.
If God shielded his friends from these burdens, their would be no need of faith, as it would be obvious to all that those who loved God were favoured, and avoided all of life’s troubles.
We have a family member who often says we have picked the wrong religion because so many things seem to go wrong for us. But this only convinces us that we have made the right choice by faith.