Our Minister with Pastoral Care, Rev’d Pat Billsborrow, sends the following Message for the month of February 2020 ….
The Wednesday of the first week of March this year sees us move into the season in which we walk with Jesus towards Holy Week and the events of Good Friday. This leads me to consider what such a season means to we who would consider that we have heard Jesus say to us, “Follow me”, and also whether we have ever fully understood the implications of giving over our lives to the journey that walking in his footsteps might require.
Let’s think first of what Jesus was giving up when he started his ministry at his Baptism by his cousin John, a conventional home life, the support of the local synagogue in which he had been brought up, and to some extent the alienation of the people who had known him and his parents as he grew to maturity. The journey he began that day transformed the lives of those who met him, the fishermen, the women who began to support and follow him, the outcasts and those rejected by the society he had known, but of course, we who know the story also lead inevitably to his death on the cross. Why? Because his life was so different, what he expected of his followers was alien to the Temple Officials and others, they began to feel threatened and so he had to go, and the rest is history so to speak. But what does it mean for us in our own generation if we say we are followers of Jesus, well of courses he spells it out for us very clearly in the Commandments we are given by him.
Firstly that we should love God with all our hearts and minds and strength, and then that we should love our Neighbours as we love ourselves. In these three short phrases we have a tick list for our faith lives if we consider it carefully, and it can give us an excise to consider as we go through this period of repentance leading up to the sacrifice and then the joy of Easter Day.
1. To do our best to strengthen our prayer life as we go through these weeks, perhaps in a group of friends or even in our own homes, setting aside a time each day to walk with God and hear him speak in our hearts.
2. To love our neighbours, well I can hear you say I do love my neighbour, well those I like at any rate, others well as far as possible I ignore them or do not see the need to interact with them. They are not like me, they have not got the same values as I was brought up with, they don’t follow the same lifestyle or faith, so ……………….but Jesus said “love your neighbours” and he did not differentiate between friends and others and told the story of the Good Samaritan, an enemy of the Jews who became the salvation of the man in trouble. Perhaps we need to consider whether it is we who are sometimes the aliens the odd ones out if we hold back from trying to understand the neighbours we do not yet know.
3. As we love ourselves, this is perhaps the hardest part of the Commandments, for how many of us go through a period of self-analysis looking back in our lives and seeing what the influences have been which have made us the people we are and the attitudes we hold. Do we indeed love ourselves, look at ourselves as if we were someone outside looking in, and do we learn from that experience to look at the world with different eyes, I wonder.
And so as we move into Lent this month, can I suggest that we truly use the season as a time of reflection so that when it comes to that day, 12th April this year, we can truly cry out “He is risen, He is risen indeed, Alleluia” and move on as new people in our faith.