The Third Sunday in Lent, Sunday 7 March 2021
Catharine Beck reads a Lenten Collect, and the Epistle and Gospel for the day. These are followed by the organ playing the tune for the hymn below. Do sing along! The Reverend John Penman’s Reflection follows.
1 Take up thy cross, the Saviour said,
if thou wouldst my disciple be;
deny thyself, the world forsake
and humbly follow after me.”
2 Take up thy cross; let not its weight
fill thy weak spirit with alarm;
His strength shall bear thy spirit up
and brace thy heart and nerve thine arm.
3 Take up your cross, nor heed the shame,
nor let thy foolish pride rebel;
the Lord for thee the cross endured
to save thy soul from death and hell
4 Take up your cross, then, in his strength,
and calmly every danger brave:
it guides you to abundant life
and leads to victory o’er the grave.
The Reverend John Penman’s Reflection:
“Be ye followers of God as dear children, and walk in love” Ephesians 5:1
Lent is a season that is all about following. Following Jesus’s example better, following a Lent course, following the readings set by the lectionary week by week. But it’s interesting that in this Sunday’s epistle the emphasis is on following God rather than on being one of Jesus’s friends.
It interests me, because I recently took part in a ‘webinar ‘ about the Pastoral care of and inclusion in Church of adults with autism. One of the things that struck me was the comment made by the leader, a young female theologian who is herself autistic, that she found language that speaks of a relationship with Jesus baffling but could relate far more comfortably to “following Christ “.
My suspicion is that a lot more of us feel that way than is let on. The idea of having a relationship with someone who isn’t physically present in a concrete way is odd to many of us. Oddly, the current situation with Covid has pushed all of us into working out new ways of relating to each other via Zoom or Skype or even rediscovering the telephone call rather than the email. Or even the old fashioned letter. The same applies to God.
Deprived for a season of a physically gathered Church, we have rediscovered old approaches which work, as well as new ones. Attendance at Prayer Book services has risen massively in recent months according to the Church of England, in no small part because many are now online and easier to access in comfort from home, rather than than in a chilly church at 8am. Our following of Christ has been enabled by new and unfamiliar technologies and techniques.
But underneath all the new methods is the same reality, the same God. A holy God who calls us to holiness and to turn away from the ways of sin, anger and selfishness which continually plague our efforts to be followers of God. A loving God who calls us to walk in love, just as Christ who so loved the world that he gave his life so that the whole world, including us, might live, walked. May God give us grace to rouse ourselves through prayer and Thanksgiving for Christ’s great love this Lent that all of us may share in that glorious Christ light which breaks forth at Easter and may know the joy of life in Christ our Saviour and Redeemer.
Catharine Beck is a member of St Vincent’s congregation. The Reverend John Penman is well known to the congregation.