This week we begin the Journey of Lent, a journey of 40 days through the Wilderness with Jesus Christ towards Easter. We will discover that Wilderness is a much more positive experience than we might imagine and we pray that we will be drawn into a deeper relationship with Jesus.
Why keep Lent? by J.John
Also at the end of the Blog today is an article by J.John about why we should keep Lent.
Let’s Pray For Philip Whelton (Irish mission worker, Arklow)
Pray effective and creative ways will continue to be found to maintain contact with the children and families who attended weekly activities before Covid restrictions. Pray that if it is God’s will, Arklow will be able to run a holiday Bible Club this summer in some format.
Carrigart and Dunfanaghy
Pray for these linked congregations in north Donegal which are vacant. Pray for the kirk sessions and members as they seek God’s guidance and for Rev Brian Brown, vacancy convener.
Today Christian Aid Ireland have featured our own Wilma on their facebook page as a #lockdownhero
Today Matt What are Evangelicals trying to do?
“Reading Between The Lines” a series working through the bible looking at the well known phrases.
What Is Ash Wednesday All About (10 minute audio)
Have you ever wondered what Ash Wednesday is all about? Presenter Vicky spoke to Reverend Sally Hitchiner, Associate Vicar for Ministry at St Martin-in-the-Fields, to find out more! Listen now on UCB Player.
The Evangelical Alliance Podcast - An episode on church versus community with Peter Lynas and Jo Frost.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.” (Psalm 63:3)
Some truths are so rich, so wonderful and expansive, they call for a special word. Take the covenant love of God for his people. Throughout Scripture, God reveals himself as slow to anger, full of mercy, and faithful in steadfast affection to those he has redeemed. The King James Version uses a beautiful word to translate this idea, one that still resonates deeply today: lovingkindness.
In this new hymn by Matt Redman, Matt Boswell, and Matt Papa, we celebrate the never-failing, awe-inspiring, undeserved lovingkindness of God. Combining an upbeat energy with truths worth singing over and over again, this song was written to help us wonder at the character of God: “How great your lovingkindness, O God of goodness, our joy forever to sing the glad refrain!”
Evangelism In A Crisis
Rev David Thompson, Secretary of the Council of Congregational Life and Witness, introduces a forthcoming church wide initiative to share Jesus in the storm of the Covid-19 pandemic
With God Through The Mess (30 minute audio)
How do we grow with God through the MESS of difficult seasons? Author Lizzie Lowrie shares more as Presenter Chloe covers 'This is My Story' on #UCB2. Listen now on UCB Player!
Lent, the forty days before Easter (not counting Sundays), is a somewhat curious period in the church’s calendar. Most events in the church’s year are festivals and we happily talk about celebrating them. Lent is very different: it is a minor-key period which is never ‘celebrated’ but only ‘kept’. Some churches and Christians treat Lent very seriously, while others ignore it entirely.
Even among those who keep Lent, there is no agreement on how it should be kept. Many Christians try to give up something: for instance, chocolate, social media or television. It’s even become a period for us to try to break bad habits, almost as if Lent gives us another opportunity to retake those New Year’s resolutions!
Now what exactly is Lent about?
Lent is about three ‘preparations’.
Lent is a preparation for Easter. Easter, with its message of Christ destroying sin and death through his death and resurrection, is the most exciting moment in the church’s year. Yet we can undercut this note of victory by being so occupied that, amid the frantic busyness of our lives, we carelessly stumble upon Easter. Lent provides us with forty days’ build-up to Good Friday and Easter Sunday that forces us to prayerfully ponder the death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. As the best way to appreciate a sunrise is to be there in the darkness before dawn, so the only way to appreciate Easter is to have come to it through Lent. We as Christians are, of course, an Easter people living in a Good Friday world.
Secondly, Lent is a preparation for Existence. A fatal flaw in our culture today is that people do not know how to say ‘no’ to bad things. It is now almost a virtue to give in to every desire that comes upon us. Yet a great element in Christian morality is to be able to say ‘no’to wrong desires. Paul, in Titus 2:11–12 (NIV), says, ‘For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives.’ Lent gives us the opportunity to practise resisting harmful and hurtful desires that will continue for life. Trivial as it may appear, a battle won over chocolate, coffee or cake at Lent may help us win a battle over lust, lying or laziness shortly afterwards.
Finally, Lent is a preparation for Eternity. If you take Lent seriously, then these forty days can seem to be a long and often wearying season in which we never get our own way. Here, for a time, pleasures are put to one side and joys are postponed. But Lent doesn’t last. The darkness is broken by the joyful light of the glorious triumph of Easter Day. Here there is a splendid parallel with our lives. For many of us, much of our life seems to take place in what we might call ‘Lent mode’: things do not go as we hope, we do not get what we want and our joys are absentor at best short-lived. Yet, for the Christian, there is that wonderful and certain hope that however deep and hard the darkness is in our lives, it will ultimately be lifted and replaced by an indestructible joy. For those who love Christ, life’s long Lent will end one day in an eternal Easter in which death and sin are destroyed for ever. Whether or not you keep Lent (which starts on Wednesday 17th February), and in what way you keep it, is your choice. But to keep Lent, thoughtfully and prayerfully, is to come into a rich and lasting inheritance.
Be blessed this Lent and bless others.