Thursday, February 19, 2015

Lent Tool Kit


A Lent Sermon preached at Belaugh, St. Peter

Children are feeding Spring lambs at Wroxham Barns

Lent – it is the Old English word for Spring.  
Please when you hear the word Lent think Spring. Spring and the connotations of Spring – New Life, Spring Cleaning and Springing Forward
My prayer this Lent is for a new Spring time for the Church.

On this first Sunday of Lent I propose a Lent Toolkit. It contains 5 items:




1) Readiness to Change
The only person I can legitimately change is me. It would be so much nicer if only our loved ones, friends, neighbours, fellow Christians, all those others were nicer, kinder, more honest, more helpful... etc... Yes, that maybe true, but the only person you can change is you! The bride who at her church wedding vowed Aisle, Altar, Hymn was well out of order! We will do well if we try not follow her example!

2)  Mindfulness.
Mindfulness is a concept that is all the rage these days. The word is borrowed from Buddhist practice describing a state of mind that stands back from one’s self and observes what is going on – your thought patterns, your attitudes, how you behave. Mindfulness is the trendy word, but we have its equivalent in the Christian Tradition where it has been called Self-Examination. I prefer to use Mindfulness rather than Self- Examination because the word examination suggests passing and failing. Mindfulness is a tool to helps us get better at being Christians


3) A Handbook.
Its always good to have some written instructions and I think the handbook in your Tool Kit for Lent should set out some of the sources of help:
                        a) List of helpful books -  from the Bible to books like Bishop Graham’s the Lent Factor and, of course, do include novels. One can learn so much from novels. Maybe you will add some films and plays too!
                        b) The handbook should have a chapter about Serendipity. Many people who take Lent seriously speak about the Serendipity of books, how they seem to read the right thing at the right time, something unexpected that takes their understanding forward by leaps and bounds.
                        c) At the centre the handbook must have a section on the crucial importance of giving time and attention.  Without sufficient time and attention nothing at all will happen!  If and when you do you will notice that
                        d) God does and will provide
                        c) Finally, the handbook should remind you that you are not on your own. Others tread and have trod the same path. Lent groups can help, so to can formal arrangements with spiritual directors or a soul friend, then there’s chatting with friends on the way and, even, listening to sermons can help!

4) Help with Diagnosis
Consideration of 7 Deadly Sins  provide a way self diagnosis of the disease that afflicts the soul. Highlighting  what needs to be changed and how to make an honest confession.  Lastly, ,



5) Medication for the Ills of the Soul
Practice of the 7 Virtues can be an appropriate penance and a prescription to be used against the disease of the 7 Deadly Sins





So here is the proposed toolkit. It contains mindfulness, a willingness to change one’s self, a handbook, something for both self diagnosis and self medication.



Finally,  a thought about the Good Shepherd and Wroxham Barns. As I speak there will be a shed full of children and orphaned lambs to be fed. Ian Russell and his team are brilliant at what they do every one of the children in that shed will get to feed a lamb.  Think of those lambs and their enthusiasm to drink deep of  all that goodness and grow!  So it must be with you in Lent if there is to be a Springtime of the church. Holy Communion is an outward and visible sign of inward and spiritual grace. Let us drink in all that goodness and grow.

Note - the above owes much to Kenneth Bailey and in particular his book "The Good Shepherd" IVP 2014. It is in the form of a chiasm that goes:


Lent/Spring /lambs
        
         1) Readiness to change
         2) Mindfullnes/How am I behaving (inside and out)?/Diagnosis
       
                                                             a)resources/
                                                             b)  serendipity
                HANDBOOK                           Central Point - Make time/give attention
                                                              b) God will provide/serendipity
                                                              a) resources/others/not on our own
        2)Diagnosis/7 Deadly Sins
        1) Help to change

Lent/Spring /lambs

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