St Helens Methodist Church, Hastings
Ministers Letter – March 2021
When I was a child our family moved from London to Harlow in Essex. As I grew up we made frequent journeys back to London to visit grandparents and other relatives. These journeys always took us through Blackwall Tunnel and as we went through the tunnel we competed to see who would be first to say “I can see the daylight!”
Now that the Government has given us a roadmap for coming out of the lockdown we can all say that at last we are beginning to see the light at the end of the tunnel. We see the light and hope of a new beginning. The vaccine rollout is progressing well and we have hope of reduced lockdown restrictions on the way. We are also experiencing better weather, longer daylight hours and spring flowers and other signs of springtime.
The word Lent comes from the Anglo-Saxon word ‘Spring’. So one of the ways that we can think about Lent is that it is God’s Spring-time, a time of new life and spiritual growth. The Christian writer Joyce Huggett says that ‘Just as a bulb cannot be ready for spring unless it has lived through winter, so Christians cannot be ready for Easter unless they have observed Lent: God’s springtime.’
Lent has become a time associated with ‘giving up’ but this may not be so appropriate this year as we have already had several months of being denied many of the things that we enjoy. Perhaps it might be better to focus on Lent as a time of inner growth and renewal through self-examination, repentance, forgiveness and re-commitment to following Christ and to use this time as an opportunity to enter afresh into the passion and suffering of Christ. In so doing we might discover a new and deeper understanding of the kind of love that Jesus showed in dying for us on the cross. It was love that demanded nothing in return, was unconditional and entirely free. A love that was express above all else in giving.
When Jesus was nailed to the cross on the day we now call Good Friday it seemed that the forces of evil had won. The gospel accounts tell us that as Jesus died the world was covered in darkness: the darkness of separation from God. But the world in its rejection of God was not rejected by God. He loved the world, even the world that had ‘loved darkness rather than light.’ So God sent his Son to be the light of the world and to shine in the darkness. As the evangelist John declares the light shines in the darkness and cannot be put out.
So it is that we can approach Easter Day and prepare to rejoice once more, that God raised Jesus from the dead and in so doing has delivered us from the power of darkness and brought us into his wonderful light. Fred Pratt Green sums up this joy in one of his hymns: “After darkness, light; after winter, spring; after dying, life: Alleluia!”
Every blessing to you all.