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From the Manger to the Cross

 

Mike Claridge - February 2013

Roundabout - February 2013

St Andrew's, West Bromwich

There’s snow falling as I write this and, with the Christmas decorations only just back up the attic, it seems strange to be turning our attention to ....... Lent!

Easter is fairly early this year, write it in your diary for 31st March if you haven’t already, and Ash Wednesday falls on 13th February. Just ten days before that, on Sunday 3rd February, we’ll be focussing on the last of the readings from the Gospel accounts of the first Christmas. That Sunday is called The Presentation of Christ in the Temple (or Candlemass). We’ll hear then of the infant Jesus being taken to the Jerusalem Temple by Mary and Joseph in thanksgiving for his birth. (Luke 2 .22 - 38). The reading contains the chilling prophecy of an old Holy Man, Simeon, who tells Mary:

“This child is destined for the falling and rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed - and a sword will pierce you own soul too”

(Luke 2 .34,35)

That passage reminds us that we can’t stay by the manger with all the cosy memories of Christmas, but that we need to turn our thoughts towards the starkness of the Cross and Jesus’ death and resurrection.

In his hauntingly beautiful carol “Born in the Night” the Methodist minister Geoffrey Ainger helps us to make this shift in focus. It’s a carol I like to use at the end of the Candlemass service as we turn our focus from Christmas towards Lent:

Truth of our life,

Mary’s child,

you tell us God is good;

prove it is true,

Mary’s child,

go to your cross of wood.

(Born in the Night, verse 3)

To help us make Lent a journey in our understanding of what God in Christ wants us to do as disciples we’ll once again be running Lent Study Groups. There’s a choice of session, morning or evening, and the former will lead in to a Lent Lunch. We won’t be starting straight away in Lent, instead waiting until after school half term. The dates will be:

Tuesdays at 11.00am followed by Lent Lunch at 12.15pm

26th February, 5th, 12th and 19th March.

Wednesdays at 7.30pm

27th February, 6th, 13th and 20th March

This year we’ll be focussing on some of the Parables. We looked at those about prayer a couple of years ago. This time we’ll be focussing on the subject Jesus spoke about most. What’s that? The answer’s money and it’s distribution.

Come along and join in.

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