THIS week sees the beginning of Lent, a season which is observed by Christians throughout the world.
A good many years ago I was asked the question, “what does Lent mean to you?” And at that time the temptation was to say “very little”, but the question made me start to think and seek to understand why it is so important to so many people. And if I were to be asked the same question today I would most certainly answer that the season offers the opportunity to stop and consider all that goes on around us, a time of reflection, challenge and prayer, a time to discover afresh what God’s Spirit is saying not only to the Church but also to the community enlarge.
When we open ourselves to God’s Spirit that is when we encounter its mysterious force. In the book of Psalms we read the following words: “I waited patiently for the Lord; he turned to me and heard my cry...He set my feet on a rock and gave me a firm place to stand”. Now, waiting patiently is not often a virtue many people possess, for we live in a world that seems to demand instant answers to every problem that presents itself.
One of the most interesting people I have had the pleasure of meeting is the Christian author Joan Puls who, in her book ‘Every Bush is Burning’ (a book which is never far from my reach), writes about the subject of taking time during Lent to encounter God’s Spirit.
This is what she says: “God’s Spirit does not force an entrance into our crowded lives and cluttered consciousness. God’s Spirit does not reward our searching with instant and spectacular results. Rather the Spirit waits for a vulnerable moment, a sign of recognition, a cracked rim on our closed hearts and slips in to prompt through a casual event a miracle of grace. The Spirit turns an empty space into a treasure trove and a searcher into a gleaner of secrets”.
For that to occur, we need to learn to watch and wait! To be patient!
Rev Graeme B. Bruce
Montrose and Ferryden United Free Churches