Lent

LENT

2022

Living in Uncertain Times

The last two years have been, in many ways, the most challenging many of us have ever known.  Not only personally, but corporately, for society and institutions, which includes the church.  This year for our Lent reflection I drew on the Diocesan themes used in ‘On the Way’ of how as God’s people are we being fruitful and sustainable, both as individuals and  corporately.
Hopefully this leaflet will help you reflect on these themes through Lent.  I have also included, at the end, a form of daily prayer that you may like to use throughout Lent.  It is taken from the Morning Prayer Service used in the cluster during the week, recordings of which can be found on line on our website, https://www.atlanticcoastcluster.org.uk/media/ However you spend this Lent, I pray that you will be blessed and be a  blessing to others.

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Week 1                An Unexpected Jouney 
The pandemic was unexpected and has meant many of us have had to  undertake unexpected journeys. These could be physical, mental,  emotional, or spiritual, but we found that, for many reasons, we could not stay where we were and have had to move, to journey to another place.

Genesis 12:1-2

Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing.

Being called to move, to do something new, can be worrying and challenging as well as exciting and stimulating.

How do you think Abram felt?
Just when we think we know what we are doing and where we are going, things change, how does that make you feel?
How do you deal with change?  What is your initial reaction?
When we think we know what God is calling us to do and be, how does it feel to receive new directions?
How do we as a church deal with the changing and challenging situation we find ourselves in? 
Are there things we could do better?
What do you, we, need to ask God for?

A moment of prayer

Lord, help me to live out my life as a continual act of worship, pleasing and honouring to God and help me learn to live with change, as part of a life which honours you.  Amen

Being called to move, to do something new, can be worrying and challenging as well as  exciting and stimulating.

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Week 2                Generous Sowing

As a church, our journey stretches back to creation, through Christ and on to eternity.  This can be too big for us to   contemplate but it does mean we have the opportunity to look back and take stock, as well as looking  forward to making plans, within a much bigger picture.

Matthew 13:3-9

Jesus told them about many things in parables, saying: ‘Listen! A  Sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seeds fell on the path, and the birds came and ate them up. Other seeds fell on rocky ground, where they did not have much soil, and they sprang up quickly,  since they had no depth of soil. But when the sun rose, they were scorched; and since they had no root, they withered away. Other seeds fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up and choked them. Other seeds fell on good soil and brought forth grain, some a  hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. Let anyone with ears listen!’

The Sower could almost be called wild and extravagant, as he sows without considering what may become of the seed. 

Are we as extravagant with our sowing, if not why?

Where does the fear of failure feature in our thinking?

What sowings in our past are we proud and happy with? 

Are there things we would prefer to change and what can we learn from them?

What new seeds would you like to see within the church?
Can you anticipate any rocky ground, where do you sense rich soul?

A moment of prayer

Lord help us to see where we too can sow good seed, and how we can help to be part of your harvest, and help us to be willing to sow extravagantly, where you call us to. Amen

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Week 3                Being God’s People

The church of God, through Christ is a diverse gathering, and clearly we do not all see things in the same way, but we are united in the faith through Christ, that is both a tension and a joy.

1 Peter 2 9-10
You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s own  people, in order that you may proclaim the mighty acts of him who called you out of darkness into his marvellous light.  Once you were not a people, but now you are God’s people.

As Christians the bible tells us and we believe that we are God’s chosen people, called to tell others about God.

What does the phrase ‘God’s People’ bring to mind for you?

What does this mean to you as an individual?

What do you think that means for us as a church locally? Nationally?
Internationally?

What could we do better, both as individuals and corporately to show how we are all God’s people?

Are there any who we exclude, either intentionally or unintentionally?

A moment of prayer

Lord, show me how to help in building up your people, of strengthening  community ties, and supporting the wider church.  Amen

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Week 4 From Fear to Peace
Often our reactions happen because we are fearful.  The unknown scares us, we like security and a place of safely.  It is a basic human tendency, Christ knows this and meets us where we are, however, we do then need to act.

John 20:19-22

When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you.’ After he said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples rejoiced when they saw the Lord. Jesus said to them again, ‘Peace be with you. As the Father has sent me, so I send you.’ When he had said this, he breathed on them and said to them, ‘Receive the Holy Spirit.

It is not surprising that they were scared, it is an understandable reaction to something we do not understand or agree with, but sometimes we need to face our fears so we can deal with them.                                     What do we fear, personally and for the church?
What are we hiding from, personally and in the church?
Who or what gives you peace?
Where is Christ’s peace needed, within the church, community, society? Where do you see signs of the Jesus in the church, and world today? 
A moment of prayer
Lord, give me your peace and empower me with your Holy Spirit that I may be active in your world as an agent of peace. Amen

Week 5          God’s Reconciliation

As the church of Christ, we are called to work for  reconciliation in the world.

Ephesians 2 15-22

 He has abolished the law with its commandments and                     ordinances, that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile both groups to God in one body through the cross, thus putting to death that hostility through it. So, he came and proclaimed peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near; for through him both of us have access in one Spirit to the Father. So, then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are citizens with the saints and also members of the household of God, built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone. In him the whole structure is joined together and grows into a holy temple in the Lord; in whom you also are built together spiritually into a dwelling place for God.

Reconciliation starts between us and God, through Christ, but it then should have a                 widening of impact, like ripples on a pond it should radiate from the initial contact with God, to our families; our friends; our community; our   nation and in the end all of creation. 

What are the things within our church that need to be reconciled?

What are the things that we need to be reconciled in the world?

What are the things that need to be reconciled in your own life?

How do we as followers of Christ act as agents of reconciliation?

A Moment of Prayer

Lord, help me to be an agent of reconciliation, an agent of your peace and love in the world, today and always.  Amen 

Daily Prayer                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                            That this day and all my days may be full of God’s praise, I pray to you Lord with all my heart and mind.

Have a short time of silence to recall God’s presence with you

Almighty God, by whose grace alone I am accepted and called to service: strengthen me by your Holy Spirit and make me worthy of my calling;  through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen

Isaiah 43 (selected verses) God makes a Way for us

‘I am the Lord, your Holy One, the Creator of Israel, your King.’  Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea, a path in the mighty waters, ‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old.        ‘Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?   now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?    ‘I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people,  ‘The people whom I formed for myself, that they might declare my praise.’

Take time to give thanks to God,
to ask for help for those things that are weighing you down
conclude the time with the Lord’s Prayer

Our Father, who art in heaven,

hallowed be thy Name.                                                                                              

Thy kingdom come;

thy will be done;

on earth as it is in heaven.                                                                           

 Give us this day our daily bread

.And forgive us our trespasses,                                                                                              

as we forgive those who trespass against us.                                                                                                                       

 Lead us not into temptation

but deliver us from evil.                                                                                                              

For thine is the kingdom,

the power, and the glory,                                                                                                                    

 for ever and ever.   Amen.

A Prayer from the Northumbria Community for living in challenging times

Lord, You have always given bread for the coming day;  and though I am poor, today I believe.

Lord, You have always given strength for the coming day;  and though I am weak, today I believe.

Lord, You have always given peace for the coming day;  and though of anxious heart, today I believe.

Lord, You have always kept me safe in trials;  and now, tried as I am, today I believe.

Lord, You have always marked the road for the coming day; and though it may be hidden, today I believe.

Lord, You have always lightened this darkness of mine;  and though the night is here, today I believe.

Lord, You have always spoken when time was ripe;  and though you be silent now, today I believe.

 

The Lord bless me, and preserve me from all evil,  and lead me in the way of everlasting life.   Amen.