Here we are March already and we can finally look forward to the coming of Spring. Let us hope that the wind and the rain that have caused so much havoc in various parts of the country are behind us for the time being at least. The bushfires in Australia have ended – thank God. Likewise let us hope and pray that the Corona Virus outbreak is under control with the quarantine measures and other infection control procedures in place. Our thoughts and prayers go out to all those who have been caught up in these events.
As always there are many stories of how neighbours and communities have rallied round to help those forced from their homes and that’s good to hear. For some reason adversity seems to bring out the best in us, but let’s not wait until disaster strikes. Let’s do all we can now to be that good neighbour or that caring community.
As we begin the season of Lent it’s a good time to reflect on what we are doing to make the world a better place. The traditional Lenten disciplines of prayer, fasting and almsgiving give us a starting point for that reflection.
Perhaps there is something you feel strongly about? Something that needs to change for the better? It might be something personal or something local or national. How does your faith affect it?
For example, climate change is uppermost in people’s thoughts. Is there something more you could do? Using that first discipline of prayer we can ask God for clarity on the issues, guidance on the way forward and strength to do what is right.
Fasting? It could be that we need to give something up. Not just chocolate or alcohol, but something that will help us make the change we want. We might need to give up some time – 15 minutes a day to make a start, or read up about the issue, or write to our MP or take some other action.
Almsgiving? Most good causes have charitable status. It’s easy to put a few coins in a box. Do we give what is due to the organisations we belong to? Are we pulling our weight when it comes to fundraising efforts, or do we wait for someone else to take the initiative? What more can we do? And that’s where prayer comes in again to help us.
Jesus spent so much time in prayer to his father. He had a special mission – to change the hearts and minds of his people, to demonstrate God’s love in action. His time of fasting brought him closer to God as he worked out what his true priorities were. During his ministry everything he did showed his compassion for those in need, the lost and the sick, but he never lost sight of what God wanted him to do. The gospels tell us “He set his face towards Jerusalem.” He knew that he would be betrayed and crucified. He could have gone in the opposite direction – and where would we be if he had? God his Father was his strength and gave him the courage he needed.
If we want change we can’t sit back and wait for other people to sort it out. We have to take responsibility ourselves. This Lent, as part of your reflections in preparation for Easter, ask God to show you his purpose for you now and pray for his help in fulfilling it.
May you have a blessed and Holy Lent.