Letter from the clergy - Friday 19 February 2021

First published on: 19th February 2021

Dear All,

I wonder if you have ever made a promise that you have regretted or that you find hard to keep. As a parent, I always try to follow through with the things I promise, whether they be good things or whether they are disciplines I have given to my children. However, over the years I have certainly found it difficult to always follow through with what I promise; it is usually when I make a statement like “if you do not do the thing you have been asked to do, then you cannot watch any TV or be on any screens ever again”. Of course, the child in question does not do what they ought to do, and I keep my word and ban them from technology…  But the problem comes that then they are hanging around under my feet, telling me how bored they are, bla bla bla… This is fine at first because it is the consequence of their lack of actions. However, like a lot of parents, I start to regret what I said because it would make things easier for me if they just watched TV whilst I cooked the food.

This is a silly example of how keeping promises can be difficult. Over the next few weeks the readings from the Old Testament highlight the promises that God made. And they point us to the fulfilment of them in Christ.

This week the reading is God making a covenant with Noah. The world was messed up and full of people doing evil instead of the good God wanted them to do. The Bible calls this sin and the account of the flood to wash the world clean with Noah, his family and the animals safe in the ark, tells us that God is not pleased with sin! But, when the flood recedes the problem of sin remains; Noah himself sins! However, God makes a promise that He will never flood the earth like that again, and the rainbow in the sky will be a sign of His promise. Sin was to be dealt with in a different way.

In the gospel reading, we have the account of Jesus’ baptism and Him being sent into the wilderness for forty days to be tempted. This is why we have the season of Lent and why many people will be giving up something or taking something up over the next few weeks. But the passage in Mark chapter 1, which will be read on Sunday, finishes with these words.

“The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent and believe in the good news”. 

In Jesus, the promise of sin being dealt with, without flooding the world again, comes true. We are encouraged to repent and believe this good news. Lent is a time of repentance and a time to refocus on the good news.   

Thank goodness we have a God that keeps His promises. 

God bless.

Gareth


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