Listen to Him!

Dear Church Family,

This Sunday is the last Sunday before Lent begins on the 17th February. The Gospel reading for Sunday invites us to listen again to the Transfiguration story as told by St Mark. This is a passage that finds Jesus on top of a mountain with some of his disciples witnessing Jesus metamorphose into “something dazzling.” Moses and Elijah also turn up for the party as well as the audible voice of God the Father speaking. And what does The Father say?

This is my Son, the Beloved: listen to him!”

There’s so much we could explore with this extraordinary passage. In previous years I have focussed my teaching on this passage around height, light, and worship. These three visible elements in the story all have deeper meanings both literally and metaphorically. Passages like this are a reminder that we are all spiritual beings – mystics if you will – longing to connect with the divine in some way or another. It’s little wonder, in other versions of the story, Peter wants the moment to last even longer as he offers to build shelters for everyone. Who wouldn’t want to stay in such a heavenly and holy place?

I’d like us to think about a fourth element this week as we begin the season of Lent together and yet still separated by isolation, sickness, and the other terrible consequences of the Coronavirus pandemic. The other element to this story is the Word. We hear the Father speaking over The Son, much as he does at the baptism of Jesus. The idea of a voice in this mystical picture roots and grounds the story in the personal and the real. It is people who speak – we don’t descend from clouds and we don’t shine whiter than white, and we should not be objects of worship - but we do speak. And so, this voice reminds us that, although this is the voice of God, God is a person with a heart. That’s why this voice for the cloud is so important. In our own spiritual experiences, we might not hear the audible voice, but we do often get a sense of God speaking – in times of prayer, it is common to have words for other people without prior knowledge of a situation. This is the Holy Spirit is at work.

So how might we use this to approach Lent in 2021? May I suggest three things?

1. Let Jesus lead you up a mountain in the next 6 weeks. Spend a little extra time every day praying quietly and reading your Bible. Let the Word speak to you as you dwell with Him.

2. Listen to Him. Reading scripture is great but it should also be discussed. Why not join in with 9am Morning Prayer on Facebook? You could also join in with the Lent Course each Wednesday evening as we read and pray together

3. Engage with worship. This year has been exceptionally difficult as we have not been able to gather in our church buildings regularly. However, you are permitted to worship anywhere else though! At home, in the garden, on your daily walk, and whilst popping to the shops. Listen to some worship music, join in with our live-streamed Sunday service on Facebook, or simply just make some space in your week to pray (and maybe sing).

Lent Collection 2021

We have a long tradition of collecting for a specific charity each year during Lent. This year we are supporting the work of the Church Mission Society (CMS) and their 2021 Lent Appeal: Lead us not into Temptation. The project is focused on helping to rehabilitate children and young people who have had no choice but to get involved with gangs in places like Honduras. You can find out more by visiting the CMS website.