Sunday 21 February Lent 1

This Sunday we will be meeting on Zoom at 10am for a service of Morning Praise and Worship – join us any time from 9.50am!

Bring a candle in a holder and a lighter.

To find out how to join, sign up for our e-newsletter on this page, check our Facebook page or contact us.

Collect for Lent 1

Almighty God,
whose Son Jesus Christ fasted forty days in the wilderness,
and was tempted as we are, yet without sin:
give us grace to discipline ourselves in
obedience to your Spirit;
and, as you know our weakness,
so may we know your power to save;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever. Amen

Readings for the 1st Sunday of Lent

Genesis 9: 8 – 17

Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, ‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10 and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark.
11 I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ 12 God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13 I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14 When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16 When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ 17 God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

Psalm 25

To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.
O my God, in you I trust;
    do not let me be put to shame;
    do not let my enemies exult over me.
Do not let those who wait for you be put to shame;
    let them be ashamed who are wantonly treacherous.

Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
    teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
    for you are the God of my salvation;
    for you I wait all day long.

Be mindful of your mercy, O Lord, and of your steadfast love,
    for they have been from of old.
Do not remember the sins of my youth or my transgressions;
    according to your steadfast love remember me,
    for your goodness’ sake, O Lord!

Good and upright is the Lord;
    therefore he instructs sinners in the way.
He leads the humble in what is right,
    and teaches the humble his way.
10 All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness,
    for those who keep his covenant and his decrees.

11 For your name’s sake, O Lord,
    pardon my guilt, for it is great.
12 Who are they that fear the Lord?
    He will teach them the way that they should choose.

13 They will abide in prosperity,
    and their children shall possess the land.
14 The friendship of the Lord is for those who fear him,
    and he makes his covenant known to them.
15 My eyes are ever towards the Lord,
    for he will pluck my feet out of the net.

16 Turn to me and be gracious to me,
    for I am lonely and afflicted.
17 Relieve the troubles of my heart,
    and bring me out of my distress.
18 Consider my affliction and my trouble,
    and forgive all my sins.

19 Consider how many are my foes,
    and with what violent hatred they hate me.
20 O guard my life, and deliver me;
    do not let me be put to shame, for I take refuge in you.
21 May integrity and uprightness preserve me,
    for I wait for you.

22 Redeem Israel, O God,
    out of all its troubles.

1 Peter 3: 18 – end

18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19 in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20 who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. 21 And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Mark 1: 9 – 15

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11 And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15 and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicised Edition, copyright © 1989, 1995 the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Meditation on Mark’s Gospel

Meditation 1

Today we are going to listen to a little bit of Marks Gospel. Here is what one of my commentaries has to say about Mark.

“God has given us a wonderful treasure with the Gospel of Mark!

Mark unveils the Lord Jesus before our eyes as the true servant of God, holy and merciful. As God’s servant we find Jesus very busy in this gospel healing, teaching, and working wonders. You will fall in love with Jesus Christ as you read this inspired account of his life.”

The Gospel of Mark is the shortest Gospel, it’s a snappy read, Jesus was on a mission, there was no time to lose. You can imagine the pleasure, the discomfort and the wonder of the disciples as they travelled through life with Jesus as their leader. As Disciples of Christ this is the life that we too are invited in to. If you have never read the whole of a Gospel I would encourage you to start with Mark!

In this part of the story right near the beginning of Mark we learn of Jesus’ baptism, and his exile into the desert.

As I read the story, there will be pauses, there will be things to ponder, it will take the shape of a guided meditation. If you find that this time is too short and you would like to have another go, please email me and I’ll send you my notes.

Try and make yourself comfortable…not so comfortable you end up going to sleep!

Close your eyes and take some deep breaths, really fill your lower abdomen as you breathe in, and then push it all out, nice and slowly, do this a few times, then let your breath return to normal….

Loving God …

We come to you with open hearts as we meditate.

We want to be confident of your love, but sometimes our doubt undermines our total trust.

We pray today that you will deepen our faith so that we may rely on you more completely.

We pray that your kingdom will unfold in our lives.

That your kingdom may become real

And that we too may be real.

Meditation 2

Mark 1: 9-15 ESV

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10 And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. 11 And a voice came from heaven, “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.”

With your eyes closed, I want you to
Take a slow journey.
Travel to a place where you can be all alone.
Where no one else would venture to intrude.
A place where there are no distractions…nothing fancy…a place where you can think…and be still…

With your eyes closed…see the emptiness around you…like a void.
Feel the loneliness.

Know how vulnerable you are…how unprotected…you are alone with nothing else around you
And now with your eyes closed…look inside yourself and search for some kind of trust.

In your solitude…can you find any kind of trust within you?
Is there someone you trust in?
What kind of trust is it?
Who or what have you placed your trust in?
What will protect you?

Be aware that there is someone else nearby and that you are not alone.
You look around…but you see no one…you are sure that someone is near…someone you can’t see…yet you feel safe.
So just rest and relax a moment and trust your feelings.

Feel the presence of the other person.
Feel their goodness and gentleness.
Feel the presence of this person’s incredible understanding and forgiveness.
Feel the gentle softness of this love.

This feeling is like drawing near to God.
Know that God is with you…that Jesus is with you…even though you don’t see him.

Know that God is with you in a special way right now.
And rest in this loving presence of God.
Rest and be at peace.

Peace.
And still…even though you can’t see the Lord…know that he is near.
Very near.
But in a strange way you are still alone

Meditation 3

The Temptation of Jesus

12 The Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13 And he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. And he was with the wild animals, and the angels were ministering to him.

Quietly reflect by yourself what your real needs are.

Think about what you really desire for yourself…not for anyone else….but something that you really crave and have decided that you want more than anything else.

In this quiet and lonely place…with your imagination…build a scene…like a movie…build a scene that represents how or when you are tempted to satisfy your own inner cravings and desires.

Know that the needs of others will become unimportant…because your desires are stronger than theirs.
Know that deep down…you want to have those cravings satisfied.

Imagine what you must do for yourself to satisfy those longings…to get whatever you are aching for…knowing that no one will ever know what you are fully feeling.

Perhaps it is as if you are controlled by your craving.
By what you ache for.
And now you can feel the Lord…Jesus puts his gentle hand on your shoulder.
The Lord whispers into your ear.And he tells you that he understands…he knows…because he is just as human as you.
And be at peace.
Is there anything you want to say to Jesus?
And now Jesus tells you that he can offer you something better…he can offer you something more important.

Be still and watch the picture that Jesus draws in your imagination…of something better that he can give…something better than what you crave.

If you can depend upon the Lord…if you can trust…
Jesus hands you a gift of hope…hope that will keep you strong.
And healthy.
Hope…it is now yours…part of you…forever.

Is there anything you want to say to Jesus? Anything you want to do?

Meditation 4

Jesus Begins His Ministry

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, 15 and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.”

And suddenly you are alone again…in that place of plainness.

And with your eyes closed…look inside yourself and find a time when you were unsure.

A time when you were fearful that things wouldn’t work out.
That something wouldn’t be right.
And with your eyes closed…paint that scene like in a movie…so that you stand in that situation again.
Frozen in time so you can see it again…and feel it again.
A time when you wanted to be sure that God would make everything perfect, but you had doubts.

You weren’t sure.
The doubts were too strong…you were tempted to give up…to despair.
Feel how strong those fears and doubts can be…pressuring you.
But they won’t crush you.
Because again you can feel the hand of Jesus on your shoulder.
A quiet and gentle whisper in your ear.
And he asks you to trust…because if you let him…he can do wondrous things.
And he stands in the mist of your scene…to show you…to give you just a brief glimpse of what could happen…how he would let it develop if he were given the chance.
Then he whispers in your ear how much he loves you and promises that in the end… something wonderful will happen if,
you can trust….if you can let him be God…if you have faith.

And then Jesus hands you another gift.
This is the gift of faith to keep you strong.
And to keep you close to God.
Close,
Even in times when you have doubts…or are unsure.
Faith to keep you strong….even when things are beyond your control.
Faith.
Is there anything you would like to say to the Lord?
Anything you would like to do?

Be at peace.
Return Once more… to that place where you are alone…with no distractions.
All Alone.
And with your eyes closed look inside yourself and find a feeling of weakness.
That sense of being inadequate and not capable.
That feeling you would never want anyone else to see.

And if you could mask…or hide it…you would cover it with power.
Just feel the need for power so that no one can ever see the weakness in you.
Feel how secure you would be with that incredible power.
But what kinds of power would you need?
Power over others? Power to do without the support and approval of others?
Power to get others’ attention?
Power to control?
Feel that power and what you could do with it.

Paint a scene like in a movie where you can watch yourself with all that power.
How does it feel?
Once again…you feel the Lord’s hand on your shoulder….that familiar whisper in your ear…the quiet and gentle voice of God that can bring your scene to its later stages.
And the Lord shows you how power can ultimately hurt and control others so they are no longer free and able to love.
And the possible darkness of power.
Power.
But Jesus wipes it away and whispers.
Listen to the Lord as he tells you how the Father glories in your weakness…how admitting your weakness is good and makes you more human.

How you can be more gentle.
How weakness is not threatening to others but invites them to be closer.
And how weakness and love work together to help each other to make our love strong.
To make God strong…and it becomes your strength…love can be your strength.
Loving strength.
And the Lord hands you another gift…a gift of love.
Squeeze that gift of love deeply to yourself so that it becomes part of you.
And you can feel the strength of that divine love from God.

And be at peace.
…. 
Know that you are filled with the gifts of God.
His gift of hope…his gift of faith…and his incredible gift of love…and feel the divine strength radiating from within you.

Giving you courage and giving you hope.
Is there anything you would like to say to the Lord?

Anything you would like to do?
Jesus promises you that he will always be with you…he will never leave you…even if you can’t see him…even if you can’t feel him.
He will Always be with you.
Be at peace.

Filled with faith, hope, and love from God…slowly return here…still filled with those gifts from God.
When you are ready you may open your eyes and reflect on all that you saw and felt…all that you have just experienced.
And know the gifts God has given to you.

And be at peace.
Peace.

Rev’d Caroline Husband

Meditation adapted from
https://www.avemariapress.com/engagingfaith/guided-meditation-temptation-desert
Accessed: 17.02. 21

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