From the Priest-In-Charge of Sarum St. Martin’s
3rd Sunday in OT 2020
Here’s another of those clichés we so readily use: ‘Doesn’t time fly when you’re having fun!’ I thought of this when I realised that today it is a month since Christmass, and it is a month to the beginning of Lent, Ash Wednesday. Get your fun in now it seems. Time has indeed flown by and so before we know it, it will be Ash Wednesday. Therefore at this midpoint as it were I thought that this morning we could do a lot worse than think about Lent and how we are to keep it, so that we could use the four weeks to make some decisions about the keeping of Lent, which will mean that Ash Wednesday will not creep up on us unawares.
So, here goes and there are four points for us all to consider.
The first point is that whatever we decide to do we must make it intentional. Now what does that mean? By being Intentional we will, under the grace of God carry out whatever Lenten discipline we decide upon, so that, again under the Grace of God something will change in our lives. We will be intentional with a smiling face: no doom and gloom, no telling of what we are doing; remember what the Lord said about the hypocrites who wear long faces etc, ‘They already have their reward.’ So number one, we must be intentional.
The second point is that we must fast. Yes fast, actually give up some food. Why? Simply because the Lord did for forty day and forty nights. We give up food, we fast, not because it is good for us, not because we will lose weight, but because we are imitating Christ in His fast. And the giving up must be substantial. The Lenten Fast is not about giving chocolate or wine, it is about giving up a substantial meal, perhaps lunch every day, perhaps everything after breakfast on a Friday. Whatever, our Lenten Fast may be we must feel that hunger that Christ felt, that we may grow into Him. There’s a month to go, plenty of time to think and prepare about our fast.
The third point is about penance: examining our lives, admitting our sin and asking forgiveness of God. Again, we have a month to think about this and prepare, but again, whatever we decide to do it must have a cost. A suggestion could well be that we set aside some quiet time once a week to really look at how we have lived our lives under God. Have we been as God in Christ would want us to be. If we are honest, the answer will be no we haven’t. So what do we do? We must confess those sins. The Book of Common Prayer uses these words about confessing sins, ‘If any cannot quiet his own conscience, but requireth further comfort or counsel he shall come to a discreet and learned minister of God's Word and open his grief, that by the ministry of God's holy Word he may receive the benefit of Absolution together with ghostly counsel and advice, to the quieting of his conscience and avoiding of all scruple and doubtfulness.’ Examine our conscience and then confess our sins. The third point of Lent.