Sunday 4th February: 2nd Sunday before Lent: John 1: 1-14
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him all things were made, and without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of men. The Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. There came a man who was sent from God. His name was John. He came as a witness to testify about the Light, so that through him everyone might believe. He himself was not the Light, but he came to testify about the Light. The true Light who gives light to every man was coming into the world. He was in the world, and though the world was made through Him, the world did not recognize Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But to all who did receive Him, to those who believed in His name, He gave the right to become children of God— children born not of blood, nor of the desire or will of man, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the one and only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.
This well-known passage from the Bible, read at all Carol Services at Christmas, is telling us about the birth of Jesus, described here as “the light”, and the birth of his cousin John who was sent to tell people about Jesus’ coming as “the light”. We too are here to share the good news of Jesus coming into the world to get rid of the darkness of sin, and bring light – love, joy, peace – to all people.
How can we this week show people that Jesus still comes to each one of us, lightening the darkness, however bad circumstances may seem to be? He can still be that “light” in your life.
Sunday 11th February: Sunday before Lent: Mark 9 2-9
After six days Jesus took with Him Peter, James, and John, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There He was transfigured before them. His clothes became radiantly white, brighter than any launderer on earth could bleach them. And Elijah and Moses appeared before them, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for You, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” For they were all so terrified that Peter did not know what else to say. Then a cloud appeared and enveloped them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is My beloved Son. Listen to Him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they saw no one with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus admonished them not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. So they kept this matter to themselves, discussing what it meant to rise from the dead
For the fishermen disciples this must have been absolutely terrifying as a walk with Jesus turned into a blinding display when Jesus was ‘transfigured’ into a shining figure. It was God’s way of affirming him, reassuring him that he was God’s son, and encouraging the disciples to listen and take note of what he would be teaching them.
Sometimes we too need to know again that we need to listen to Jesus – listen to that inner small voice which often nudges us to small or large acts of love on his behalf. To call or text a friend we know is anxious, pop in to see a lonely neighbour, smile at people we meet. Could this be this week’s challenge – to listen and respond to those nudges?
Sunday 18th February: 1st Sunday of Lent: Mark 1 9-15
In those days Jesus came from Nazareth in Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. As soon as Jesus came up out of the water, He saw the heavens breaking open and the Spirit descending on Him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased.” At once the Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness, and He was there for forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and the angels ministered to Him. After the arrest of John, Jesus went into Galilee and proclaimed the gospel of God. “The time is fulfilled,” He said, “and the kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe in the gospel!”
Jesus was baptised, just as any other Jewish boy would be, and this was the start of his ministry on earth. He began preaching to the people, encouraging them to be aware of and say sorry for the things they had done wrong, and to believe in the good news he had come to share with them. Today is the first Sunday in Lent, a time when we try to think about God’s great gift to us of his son Jesus who died so that each one of us can be forgiven.
This is a time for really thinking about our life, our attitudes to other people, and the way we treat them. How can we make this Lent really special and meaningful? – we can make a real difference if we take time to listen to Jesus as he tries to guide us.
Sunday 25th February: Lent 2: Mark 8 31-38
Then He began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests, and scribes, and that He must be killed and after three days rise again. He spoke this message quite frankly, and Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him. But Jesus, turning and looking at His disciples, rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind Me, Satan! For you do not have in mind the things of God, but the things of men.” Then Jesus called the crowd to Him along with His disciples, and He told them, “If anyone wants to come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and for the gospel will save it. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? anyone is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will also be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.”
Jesus was trying to get the disciples and the crowds to understand that gaining things – money, fame, the praise of others – is worth nothing compared to the sort of life he wants us to lead. Today the whole world seems bent on acquiring “stuff” and “prestige”, “fame” and “fortune”. Yet at the end of it, lives can be empty and meaningless. Making sure that we think of others before ourselves, that we accept the people we meet, even if their lives are different to ours, that we try and do our best to live as Jesus would want us to – this is what can bring a deep-down peace and can help us cope with the problems we meet along the way.
Can we make an effort this week to think about how we react to the people we meet – can we show them God’s love – with a smile? Prepared to listen if they want to talk? Realising that other people have problems as well as us? Jesus is there to help if we ask him.