Lenten Reflections Week 1

Wednesday 17th February 2021
Southampton East Pastorate
Ash Wednesday
Today is Ash Wednesday, it is the start of the Lenten season, it is the lead up to Easter; and a time to recognise and remember God. It is a time when Christians begin to look to the resurrection story, with hope, even as it takes us through life’s ashes. Although we are dust, through it all, imperfect as we are, Christ calls us to realise that we are enough. As we begin this time of Lent, we remember God’s love for us, and what it means for our lives. We focus on Jesus’ life, his sacrifice, and what it means to participate in the work of God in this world. 
Indeed, “we are ambassadors for Christ, since God is making his appeal through us; we entreat you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. As we work together with him, we urge you also not to accept the grace of God in vain. For he says, “At an acceptable time I have listened to you, and on a day of salvation I have helped you.” See, now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation! We are putting no obstacle in anyone’s way, so that no fault may be found with our ministry, but as servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance” (2 Corinthians 5:20-21; 6:1-4a).
Today’s Gospel calls us to get uncomfortable, it pushes us to grow in service, and drives us acutely towards God’s love. We are ambassadors for Christ, and the task that the author lays out before us in today’s Gospel is to represent God’s love and serve like Christ. We are challenged not to conceal our Christian faith but to be out and proud followers of Christ; people who call on God’s mercy and do everything for God’s glory and not for our own. In essence, we are called to live out our faith fully for the glory of God, and to love generously.
Still, it is human to fall short and seek our own praise, because our egos cause us to need recognition for the things that occupy our days – work, sport and so on. Yet, as followers of Christ, our aim is to live in the path of righteousness and love each other and ourselves as unconditionally as God loves us. But it comes down to motivation – it is about how and who we choose to serve. How do we want to live? Who do we want to serve? What and who are we committed to? 
Are we committed to self-love, self-service, impressing others, or, do we aim to serve God as selflessly as Christ did? Are we Christians everyday or only on Sundays? How do we transform our Sunday Christian-ness and redirect our hearts and motivation toward the glorification of God, as ambassadors, everyday?
Prayer – Let us pray
Creator God, create in us hearts full of love 
that we may love like you, see you in others, and others in you. 
Motivate us to share Christian love in honour of Christ 
who, despite being nailed to the cross, still chooses to love us. 
We struggle because of our imperfections. And we ask you God, 
to make new creatures of us, so we can start afresh. 
So go in peace and love! In Jesus name we pray ~ Amen.