Lent Reflections Week 6

 

 

Bible reading - Acts 17.32-34

When they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some scoffed; but others said, ‘We will hear you again about this.’ At that point Paul left them. But some of them joined him and became believers, including Dionysius the Areopagite and a woman named Damaris, and others with them.

Reflection

Hannah Steele writes: “In Athens, Paul sought to connect the good news of Jesus with the world around him. He engaged in imaginative evangelism. Paul sought to build bridges between people’s current experience with his claim that Jesus, the judge of the world, is risen from the dead. There has never been a more urgent time for us to deploy this kind of creativity and responsiveness in our evangelism since we find ourselves in a culture which has largely forgotten its need of God and in which the Christian narrative holds little or no relevance for people. The world around us is full of ‘clues’ which point to the gospel story at the heart of the universe. Our task as witnesses is to look for those clues in everyday life and to draw attention to them, arousing curiosity and intrigue in conversations.”

Prayer

Lord, help me to spot the clues which point to the Gospel story and so be able to help the people I know to take steps towards you. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, think about a book or a film or a TV programme that you have engaged with recently. How does it try to address these four big questions? How would you answer them?

Bible reading - 1 Corinthians 15.21-24

So you see, just as death came into the world through a man, now the resurrection from the dead has begun through another man. Just as everyone dies because we all belong to Adam, everyone who belongs to Christ will be given new life. But there is an order to this resurrection: Christ was raised as the first of the harvest; then all who belong to Christ will be raised when he comes back. After that the end will come, when he will turn the Kingdom over to God the Father, having destroyed every ruler and authority and power.

Reflection

I write these reflections during the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, when all of us are even more aware than usual of the certainty of death for all of us, and the possibility that our death will come sooner than we expect. Some people have thought that this knowledge renders even the best parts of life futile and meaningless. Christians have always believed that the resurrection of Jesus means not just that Jesus is raised but that we too will be raised to life after death. In fact, in some sense we are already raised to life if we belong to Christ. So we live our ordinary, temporal life and our resurrected, eternal life both at the same time.This is a key aspect of the message of Easter, when we get there. And it is good news indeed for all who believe it.

Prayer

Almighty God, you have offered us the assurance of resurrection to new life. Help us to live in the hope that this brings us, and to share that hope with others. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, think about a book or a film or a TV programme that you have engaged with recently. How does it try to address these four big questions? How would you answer them?

Bible reading - John 12.31-33

Now is the judgement of this world; now the ruler of this world will be driven out. And I, when I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all people to myself.’ He said this to indicate the kind of death he was to die.

Reflection

Yesterday’s reflection might have left us slightly despairing about the state of the world we live in, and if it didn’t then possibly today’s news bulletin will do the job. Thankfully it isn’t the end of the story. The Gospels show how in Jesus God becomes human, entering fully into this world with so much sin and darkness. Jesus experiences everything that we do – heartache and rejection, hunger and tiredness, as well as love and friendship and joy. The darkness does its worst to him on the cross, and he dies. But because he is God as well as man, death cannot hold him. In his resurrection, Jesus lights up the darkness and defeats death and sin. It is now possible for each of us, weak and flawed as we are, to know God and God’s love for us. That’s good news!

Prayer

Thank you, God, that in Jesus you came to us, revealing your love and purpose for each of us, dying for us on the cross. Help me to share your love with everyone I meet. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, think about a book or a film or a TV programme that you have engaged with recently. How does it try to address these four big questions? How would you answer them?

Bible reading - Romans 8.19, 22-23

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God; We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labour pains until now; and not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly while we wait for adoption, the redemption of our bodies.

Reflection

C.S. Lewis, in his book Mere Christianity writes this: “Enemy-occupied territory—that is what this world is. Christianity is the story of how the rightful king has landed, you might say landed in disguise, and is calling us all to take part in a great campaign of sabotage.” The Gospel story doesn’t merely talk about individual human sin and weakness, difficult enough although those things are. It goes on to claim that because of our collective selfishness and distance from God the whole creation has somehow been infected, and fallen under the influence of darkness. This is why our best individual efforts to do better, to be better, tend not to come to very much. Paul portrays this as a creation which groans like a woman giving birth, longing for freedom, longing for new life. Both Paul and C.S. Lewis would agree that Christians are called to work and pray for that new creation to be born.

Prayer

Gracious God, I know that things are not the way they should be in the world, or even in me. Please forgive us when we go wrong, and help us to work for your kingdom of justice and peace. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, think about a book or a film or a TV programme that you have engaged with recently. How does it try to address these four big questions? How would you answer them?