Traditionally, churches mark Lent as a penetential season in the lead up to Easter. Taking the story of Jesus as its model, the church uses the forty days before Easter as a time of reflection and prayer. The gospel story tells of how Jesus spent forty days in the wilderness pondering and praying over the challenge of the ministry he was about to launch. For Jesus, the key issue was not the purpose of his life, nor the way in which he would have to live out the Kingdom he believed in at great cost to himself. The primary issue for Jesus was how to achieve his vision without compromising himself. In other words, how he could be authentic to his calling without making morally dubious shortcuts. To put it another way, he had to live out his gospel calling and purpose and to do so in a way that was gospel shaped. In essence, Jesus knew that he couldn't live his life in the purpose of the gospel if in doing so he lived a lie. Being visionary and intentional, to use the contemporary language of leadership, was not going to be sufficient if he was going to live an inauthentic life. So in the wilderness Jesus had to look deep inside himself and ensure that he had his intentions and aims fully integrated into his prayer life with his father without any grey areas being allowed to undermine him.
This Lent, we are again running Lent Groups in the church on Wednesday evenings, starting at 7.30pm. For this Lent we are using the new Pilgrim course, a semi official Church of Engand nurture course. Much of this course has been written by our own Bishop of Sheffield. We have chosen to use the Lord's Prayer module and we hope that this will deepen and enrich our prayer life. However, ultimately the value of a Lent will be the same as that of Jesus. We hope that through this season of prayer and reflection we will be able to discern the grey areas of our lives and move to a point in which our relationship to God is strong and deep enough for us to be far more authentic and honest in our discipleship.
The course starts tonight. All our welcome.