Trinity is a joint URC / Methodist church. It is an active member of the Church in Abingdon.
Perhaps the most famous date in February is February the 14th –
Valentine’s Day. Famous for celebrating love and romance or the sending
of unsigned cards and of course the importance of that red rose – one or
a dozen I can never remember!
It is fitting in a way, that this year Lent begins on this day. The traditional services of marking people on the forehead with the sign of the cross, made from the ashes of last year’s palm crosses, may not be something
we do that often today. But nevertheless, it is a service that reminds us of
the journey of Lent and the gift of God’s love for us in Jesus and all that
he was about to bear for us.
God’s love is at the very heart of the Good News we have for all the world,
so to begin the Lenten journey this year on such a day seems oddly right.
What would you prefer, a romantic meal out or a service using the words,
‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from
sin and be faithful to Christ.’? Being faithful to Christ is for me what is
at the very heart of Lent, for Lent is a time when we intentionally spend
time reading and studying the Bible and drawing closer to God in prayer,
learning of the extent of his love for us and for all people. The desire to
be faithful to Christ in the Ash Wednesday service is to return again to the
Covenant we make and renew each year in January.
Sometimes being faithful to God means that we carry on as normal. There
are some things which will not change, and yet there are others that will,
or perhaps our attitude towards them may change. For Tabitha and I, we
realise that our faithfulness to God will lead us in the summer to move from
Abingdon to Chepstow for a new period of ministry, and here at Trinity you
will be welcoming Revd Georgina (all of course, subject to Conference!).
Faithfulness to God can and does at times involve challenge and change,
but God is also steadfastly faithful to us. His love for us does not lessen
whatever we may do. Gently, calmly God invites us to come close and live
as part of his family.
For this reason, we live as a confident people because our confidence is
in God, not just in what we can or cannot do. Lent becomes less a period
of self-sacrifice of things we might try and give up, but more a time of enrichment, encouragement and joy as we seek to pay attention to the
gifts and graces that God has given us, gifts and graces to use as freely
as they were given to us.
So let us join in with those other famous words from Philippians 4:4 “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” as we come closer to the God who loves us beyond anything we can measure