I have heard people say (jokingly, I hope!), “I think I’ll give up church for Lent.” But this year, we’re having to, and not just for Lent but for Easter as well.
I’m writing this on March 25th, the Feast of the Annunciation, the day when we celebrate Gabriel’s announcement to Mary that God has chosen her to be the mother of his Son. It’s nine months to Christmas Day, and we may well be wondering what the world will be like by then.
But today reminds us that this is God’s world, and the birth, life, death and resurrection of Jesus are at the centre of God’s great plan of salvation for us all. “You are to give him the name Jesus,” says the angel. (Jesus means Saviour.) “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1, 31-33 NIV)
Whatever happens we are never outside God’s loving care. For the time being we are deprived of the public celebration of the sacraments of Baptism and Holy Communion. These were ordained by Jesus himself, so I can’t go along with the Quakers who say the sacraments are not necessary because every washing is a baptism and every meal is Holy Communion. But we can learn from them, and think of the Lord’s Supper every time we eat, and think of our baptism every time we wash.
I am trying to follow the suggestion that we say the Lord’s Prayer once, rather than sing “Happy Birthday” twice, when washing our hands. But whoever said it takes more than 20 seconds to say the Lord’s Prayer must be saying it more slowly than me! Perhaps I need to slow down.
Perhaps we all need to slow down. Thank you, Lord, for giving us time to think of you and your great love revealed in Jesus; help us to receive that love, and to offer ourselves afresh for your service.
Rev David Newman.