Tuesday, 20 February 2024 11:00

Reflection: The First Sunday in Lent

On Mondays through Lent, +Malcolm and I are hosting online forums to reflect together on the gospel readings set for the principal service of the previous Sunday.

Yesterday we gathered for the first time to study and explore Mark 1. 9-15

We considered the wider context of the passage which is set between a concise introduction to ‘the good news about Jesus the Messiah, Son of God’ that condenses all of God’s work in salvation history into a few verses describing the vocation and ministry of John the Baptiser and a simple narrative of the calling of the first disciples.

We noted that, like all Mark’s gospel, this narrative is distilled into few words but replete with both a driving momentum and profound meaning.

We reflected on Jesus’ growing understanding of his own relationship with the One who calls him ‘Son’ as it is set so explicitly between the prophets and the disciples. And we reflected on his emerging vocation being shaped by that relationship.

We thought about how our individual relationships with God, and our subsequent vocations are transformed, or more fully understood and received, when set in context of relationship with God’s people, those who have gone before us and those who travel with us.

We thought about this passage being read during Lent and what we might learn from it to aid self-examination and penitence.

How does this passage help us to be honest with ourselves and with God?

What can this passage teach us about the times when we are in difficult, ‘wilderness’ places?

We read here that Jesus is called ‘beloved’ but then driven into wilderness. It was not failure or fault that led to wilderness; he was not being punished.

Maybe we are not to interpret such experiences with guilt expect them, and pray that when we do experience then that somehow ‘angels will be with us’ too.

We took comfort from this passage that we need not pretend before God when we find ourselves in places we might not choose to be.

We considered how Jesus met the grace of God in both the highs of the affirmation of his baptism and in the lows of temptation in the wilderness.

We recognised that in both our struggles and our successes the Kingdom of God may come near.

There were some specific phrases we wondered about: what does that mean that the ‘heavens were torn apart’?

What would it feel like to experience such a thing? Why are we told that Jesus was ‘with the wild beasts’?

Are they part of the threat of being tempted by Satan or part of succour of the angels who ‘waited on him’?

We concluded, as the passage itself does, with a yearning to discover and participate in the life of the Kingdom of God.

We returned to where we began our reflections, thankful for the opportunity again through Lent to re-examine the invitation to repent and believe and so share more fully in ‘the good news about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God’.“

First Sunday in Lent: Mark 1.9-15

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

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.

And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness.

He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

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

Last modified on Monday, 25 March 2024 10:21

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