Lent 1

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Readings

Matthew 4:1-11

Text

As Lent begins and we once again hear readings about the temptations of Jesus, and prepare to begin a season of self-discipline, fasting and repentance, as we have so often before, I wonder what will mark out this Lent, Lent 2020 as different.Because if we are growing as disciples, each yearly observation should go deeper, as our relationship with God matures.Healthy disciples are those who are being gradually transformed into the likeness of Christ, which means living our lives differently.

Coming to this gospel passage afresh this Lent, I was struck particularly by the temptation put before Jesus to worship the devil and be given in reward ‘all the kingdoms of the world and their splendour’.Jesus responded of course ‘Away with you, Satan! for it is written, “Worship the Lord your God, and serve only him.’

As children of God, kingdom people, we have in fact been given this world in all its splendour to steward and care for, as part of our worship of God the creator. We need always to ensure, like Jesus, that the beauty of the earth prompts worship of our God, and not the created order itself, but we do need to take our responsibilities as stewards of the earth seriously.

Statistics suggest that we not many generations away from extinction due to our abuse of the world.The climate emergency is real, very real – the created order is in bondage to decay through the actions of humans who were called to care for it, but haven’t..

I was recently representing the diocese at the General Synod session where we debated the hard reality of global warming and the extinction of both animal and plant species. We responded with bold (some would say reckless) ambition - a target of net-zero carbon emissions by 2030 (not 2045 as originally proposed). We listened to the campaigners and lobbyists and recognised lots of good work already being done, and, although the vote was close, we declared our belief that the emergency is real, and the need for further action urgent.

We have yet to work out what reaching the target set by Synod will look like in this diocese, but change will have to come in how we heat our churches and homes, reducing our reliance on single-use plastic and so on. If you haven’t already explored how to become an eco-church, now would be a good time to do it.

One way you could get involved right now is by joining in with #LiveLent: Care for God’s Creation, the Church of England's Lent Campaign for 2020. With weekly themes shaped around the first Genesis account of creation, it explores the urgent need for humans to value and protect the abundance God has created. This year’s #LiveLent challenge offers 40 short reflections and suggested actions to help you, your family and your church live in greater harmony with God, neighbour and nature. It’s easy to order the booklet online, or it’s available as a web version

In their intro, the Archbishops of Canterbury and York write:

This Lent, we hope both adults and children might engage in God’s plea for us to “Care for Creation”. It is an opportunity for us to rebuild our relationship with our planet, and in turn with the God who is Lord of everything. During this time, we hope you might engage in prayer, learn more about the remarkable world we have been given and build habits that last beyond the season to protect and honour the earth.

This Lent let’s resist the temptation to do nothing about the environment and leave the climate emergency for others to worry about and sort out.Let’s choose to face the challenges that lie before us with hope filled action, informed, realistic and radical.Let’s ask God to equip us through his Spirit to live out kingdom values of love, compassion, justice and freedom as we care for God’s creation.

Questions:

  1. How can I play my part in caring for God’s creation?
  2. What Lenten discipline will help me grow as a disciple of Jesus?

 


Page last updated: 4th May 2020 1:59 PM
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