Lent One – Year B

Sermon Title: LENT ONE-YEAR B

Date: 22nd February 2015

Preacher: Rev’d Susanne Chambers

Church Calendar Date: First Sunday in Lent

Lectionary Reading: Genesis 9:8-17, Ps 25:1-10, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Mark 1:9-15

Last Wednesday was Ash Wednesday the beginning of Lent. In some parishes around the world they do ‘ashes to go’ where clergy go to railways stations or shopping centres and invite people to have the imposition of ashes on their foreheads.  Many people just walk past the clergy but some do stop and are grateful to have the ash in the form of a cross, marked on their foreheads and hear the words ‘remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return’.

The ashes are a reminder that life is transient. That we will not be here for ever and so what are we going to do about it!

Last year we were blessed to have Bishop Barbara here on Ash Wednesday and through Holy Week and Easter.  Who would have thought Barb would have a massive stroke and die? It’s quite sobering to remember that our lives are really fleeting.

The ancient practices through Lent are fasting, almsgiving and prayer. And we heard Bishop John speak about these practices on Wednesday.

The call to fast makes us focus on the affairs of the spirit rather than of the body.  What are you fasting from? Maybe it’s comfort food? Or fasting by not going beyond what’s on your shopping list-not being tempted to buy that tim tam or something else you think you might like?  Some of my friends are fasting from facebook.  The idea is to focus on the spirit and to be a aware of how easy it is to be trapped, caught up by the many distractions of our lives.

The call to almsgiving makes us more alert to my neighbours’ needs. Do we really know what our neighbours needs are? Next door neighbours, the folk living around this church? The kindergarten families? What about ‘neighbours’ who live in poverty, here in Australia and in many places in our world. And many who are displaced and fearful for their lives?

The call to prayer nourishes our bond with God, especially with Jesus in his Passion.  I wonder if you feel that your time is wasted in prayer and that you could be better used in reading a holy book or doing good somewhere.  We can so easily give up on prayer if this is what we think.  Remember that it is the Holy Spirit, not yourself, who is the main person in your prayer and is at work in you when you pray. The time you spend in prayer is time for emptiness before God, being available to God. Listening for that still small voice who is calling you to live fully alive, and fully human!

Lent is about opening ourselves, opening our hearts one more time to the Word of God in the hope that, this time, hearing it anew, we might allow ourselves to become new as a result of it.

Throughout Lent this year as we are in our season of discernment for our lives together in this parish, remembering ‘parish’ is not just who comes to church.  I will be inviting a number of parishioners to speak to us of their impressions of St Paul’s and what they are discerning as a result of our listening together for seeds of hope.

Our first speaker is: Andrew Flint: people’s warden

Questions:

  • What were your first impressions of St Paul’s
  • What have you found helpful?
  • What has surprised you?
  • Have you found anything unhelpful?
  • As we are in this time of discernment, what are you discerning so far?

 

Some words I have written are taken from Joan Chittister ‘The Liturgical Year’ and from Sacred Space weekly reflections.