Daily Devotion 03 March 2021

Create a peaceful space to pause, and allow yourself to feel God’s presence alongside you, as near to you as your own breath. In following the reflection below, as a church we will draw closer to God and to one another as we grow in faith and deepen our sense of belonging to God.

Luke 6:38 ‘A Good Return?’

38 Give, and it will be given to you. A good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, will be put into your lap; for the measure you give will be the measure you get back.’

I have never been a great fan of self-denial during Lent – or any other time unless it was really necessary. It probably harks back to my childhood as we emerged from the deprivations of the Second World War. Times were hard then, with rationing and few if any luxuries. My mother often did without food to ensure my sister and I had a good breakfast. Things improved with the years and I am thankful for all the comforts of 21st Century living. If hard times present themselves now I will make the best of them but certainly not look to go without unnecessarily.

It created a dilemma for me when exhorted to embrace self-denial during Lent, until some years ago the Methodist Church suggested positive ways of preparing for the arrival of Easter. “Give a pint of blood, invite someone into your home to share a meal, write a few letters in support of a worthy cause or make a regular gift to a charity.”

To the Hebrew people of the Old Testament, blood symbolized ‘life’. Life is a gift from God, and to give blood is to give your life that others might have life. You can give it away and still have enough, because amazingly, in a short period of time the body has replenished its loss. Sadly, because of age, the Blood Transfusion Service no longer considers me a worthy donor, and during this pandemic I am no longer able to invite anyone for a meal or any of the other things the church suggested at the time.

However, I can still support the local Foodbank every time I visit the supermarket, and still write the occasional letter or make a telephone call to a neighbour. The Direct debits continue for the YMCA and Fair-trade Foundation and the coins still enter the Action for Children box every week. Jesus made it quite clear that self-denial does not require us to go around looking miserable but can be a quite positive experience, making a considerable difference to the lives of others.

However time consuming and demanding such activities may be, they can hardly be compared to the life that Jesus gave up for us as he journeyed along that road to Golgotha. If we have truly grasped what he has done for us, we will happily use the opportunities that Lent offers us to centre our thinking and activity on showing that same love for Him and for our neighbour in the many positive ways available to us.

Prayer:

Lord, you set the standard for loving our neighbour.
Help us to follow your example in every part of our lives;
focus our minds on your journey to Jerusalem,
so that, when we reach Easter we are truly ready to celebrate
your victory over death and the promise of eternal life. Amen.

Reflection and Prayer © 2021 Roger McAvoy.
Images freely available online.

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