Live Lent Reflections: Week 1

 

 

 

Bible reading - Luke 14.16-24

Jesus replied with this story: “A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’

 

“The servant returned and told his master what they had said. His master was furious and said, ‘Go quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and invite the poor, the crippled, the blind, and the lame.’ After the servant had done this, he reported, ‘There is still room for more.’ So his master said, ‘Go out into the country lanes and behind the hedges and urge anyone you find to come, so that the house will be full. For none of those I first invited will get even the smallest taste of my banquet.’”

Reflection

In this parable a wealthy man has planned a wonderful party and invited all the great and the good of that area. But in the event, all the important invited guests have other things to do. So the host flings wide the doors, sending out a messenger to invite literally everybody, whoever they might be.

We get a picture of God who is not content to include just the powerful or wealthy or even religious people, but who flings open the doors of the heavenly party and sends out to invite everyone in, whoever they may be and wherever they may come from. But don’t forget the vital role of the messenger.

Without him going into the streets and giving the message that the banquet is here and the doors are open wide, nobody would have known to come. This sharing of God’s invitation is what the Church calls “evangelism.”

Prayer

Loving God, thank you that you invite everyone into your great feast. Please help all those whom you invite to hear your invitation and receive it with joy. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, take time to read one of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke) and reflect on the love that Jesus shows there. You might like to use a journal or notebook to record your observations.

 

Bible reading - Matthew 13.34-35

Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable. So was fulfilled what was spoken through the prophet: “I will open my mouth in parables,   I will utter things hidden since the creation of the world.”

Reflection

Jesus was a master storyteller. In the synoptic Gospels he is recorded as telling 35 stories, called ‘parables’. Many of these – the Good Samaritan, the Prodigal Son - are still well known by many people who otherwise have little knowledge of Christianity. But why did Jesus choose to communicate through parables? Perhaps because the Christian message is not so much a series of propositions to receive in the mind, important though that is, but a new story to be engaged in the imagination. As Hannah Steele writes in Living His Story: “If evangelism is first and foremost an invitation to enter into God’s story then the parables can help us picture what it means to enter into and receive this new kingdom. Parables can provide us with a precious window into this alternative way of being in the world, revealing the extraordinary through the ordinary.” We will look at some of these parables this week.

Prayer

Dear Jesus, thank you for the parables which open up our imaginations to the wonders of your kingdom. Please help me to live out your kingdom story today. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, take time to read one of the synoptic Gospels (Matthew, Mark or Luke) and reflect on the love that Jesus shows there. You might like to use a journal or notebook to record your observations.

Bible reading - John 1.45-47

Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found him about whom Moses in the law and also the prophets wrote, Jesus son of Joseph from Nazareth.’ Nathanael said to him, ‘Can anything good come out of Nazareth?’ Philip said to him, ‘Come and see.’ When Jesus saw Nathanael coming towards him, he said of him, ‘Here is truly an Israelite in whom there is no deceit!’

Reflection

Yesterday we saw how accepting Jesus’ invitation into his story always entails inviting others into that story as well. Today we see this in action. Frequently in the Gospels we see ordinary people drawn to Jesus. Tax collectors and beggars by the roadside find themselves irresistibly pulled towards him. They find themselves welcomed and loved when others had rejected them.

Hannah Steele, in Living His Story says: “This kind of invitation can happen anywhere – on a bus or a plane, by the water fountain at work, outside the school gates, by the bedside of a sick friend or to the child on your knee during a bedtime story. And it can happen in so many different ways; through acts of love, through the creative arts, through sharing our experience with others, through pointing to the hidden echoes of the story of Jesus in our world today, through prayer and through healing.” All of these can be means to extend that invitation to others: come and see!

Prayer

Gracious God, your Son Jesus drew all kinds of people to himself, and so to you. Help me to reflect your love so that others may see something of you in me. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, take time to reflect on how your own story of faith began. How did God become real to you? You might like to get a journal or notebook and write this down

 

Bible reading - Matthew 4.18-20

As he walked by the Sea of Galilee, he saw two brothers, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. And he said to them, ‘Follow me, and I will make you fish for people.’ Immediately they left their nets and followed him.

Reflection

Stories tell us who we are. They tell us where we belong. And they help us to decide who we want to be. When Jesus calls people, he doesn’t call them to an interpretation of the religious law, but into a story. The story into which Jesus invites us is the story of God’s loving engagement with the world. It’s the story which begins with God’s creation, continues through human wanderings towards and away from God, and reaches its dramatic peak in the coming of Jesus, the Word made flesh. The key word in Jesus’ invitation is “follow.” Walk in my footsteps, Jesus says, and make my story your story.

The invitation to Christian faith is always an invitation into the story of God, to make God’s story our own, and to live out of that story. And here, right at the beginning, Jesus makes clear that accepting this invitation will entail inviting others in as well. “I will show you how to fish for people.”

Prayer

Lord Jesus, thank you for the story of God into which you invite each of us. Help us to understand that story more fully this Lent, and to live it out each day. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, take time to reflect on how your own story of faith began. How did God become real to you? You might like to get a journal or notebook and write this down.

 

 

 

Bible reading - John 20.1-18

Early on the first day of the week, while it was still dark, Mary Magdalene came to the tomb and saw that the stone had been removed from the tomb. So she ran and went to Simon Peter and the other disciple, the one whom Jesus loved, and said to them, ‘They have taken the Lord out of the tomb, and we do not know where they have laid him.’ Then Peter and the other disciple set out and went towards the tomb. The two were running together, but the other disciple outran Peter and reached the tomb first. He bent down to look in and saw the linen wrappings lying there, but he did not go in. Then Simon Peter came, following him, and went into the tomb. He saw the linen wrappings lying there, and the cloth that had been on Jesus’ head, not lying with the linen wrappings but rolled up in a place by itself. Then the other disciple, who reached the tomb first, also went in, and he saw and believed; for as yet they did not understand the scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples returned to their homes.

But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb; and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping?’ She said to them, ‘They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.’ When she had said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, ‘Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?’ Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, ‘Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.’ Jesus said to her, ‘Mary!’ She turned and said to him in Hebrew, ‘Rabbouni!’ (which means Teacher). Jesus said to her, ‘Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, “I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.” ’ Mary Magdalene went and announced to the disciples, ‘I have seen the Lord’; and she told them that he had said these things to her.

Reflection: "Everybody loves a story.

We remember the stories we were told as children by those who cared for us with great affection.We watch films to be gripped by a story. And we find ourselves turning the light off to go to sleep later than we meant to because we were so engrossed in our bedtime reading. “Just one more chapter!”

The Gospel is not primarily a set of doctrinal propositions or metaphysical beliefs, but a story. It’s the story of God and God’s engagement with the world. It reaches its climax in the life of Jesus. And the story of Jesus hangs on this extraordinary plot twist, that the man who had died was alive again. Mary Magdalene was the first to experience this. And her immediate response? To share the story with others. “I have seen the Lord!”"

Prayer

Lord Jesus, I may not have ‘seen’ you, but I have experienced something of you in prayer, worship, the Bible, the Eucharist, other people. Thank you for those moments. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, take time to reflect on how your own story of faith began. How did God become real to you? You might like to get a journal or notebook and write

 

 

 

Bible reading - Romans 10.13-16

For, ‘Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.’  But how are they to call on one in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in one of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without someone to proclaim him? And how are they to proclaim him unless they are sent? As it is written, ‘How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!’ But not all have obeyed the good news; for Isaiah says, ‘Lord, who has believed our message?’

Reflection

Not many of us think about our feet as our loveliest feature. Clergy who include foot- washing in the liturgy of Maundy Thursday know how difficult it can be to find volunteers. Those who do agree to have their feet washed have probably already given their feet a pretty good wash before they came out! Yet Paul, quoting Isaiah, says that feet can be beautiful because of the news they bring. If you have ever waited for someone to come and tell you that the baby has been born safely, or the test result has come back clear, or that you got the job you longed for, you probably have a sense of what he means.

Today we begin a journey of discovery, a journey which takes us deep into good news for ourselves and those around us. Our prayer is that by the end of the journey we too might have “beautiful feet”!

Prayer

Thank you, God, for the people who have brought good news to me, especially those who helped me to understand the good news of your love. Please bless them today. Amen.

Action for the week

This week, take time to reflect on how your own story of faith began. How did God become real to you? You might like to get a journal or notebook and write this down.

 


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