Dear Friends
 
It’s coming to the end of February already and in the news this morning you would think the world has gone bonkers.  The tensions continue in the Middle East; the migrant crisis, tensions concerning the world economy with the confrontation over trade tariffs between China and the USA and, closer to home, the dreaded Brexit.
 
Should we be anxious or afraid?  Jesus said, “When you hear of wars and rumours of wars do not be afraid, these things must happen!”  Thinking about it, most of the tensions we read about or hear about through the media boil down to one thing and one thing only – the use and abuse of power!  Power over individuals, power over communities and nations, power over wealth and resources; it is essentially human sin and rebellion against God that causes these abuses whether international, national or personal, that is to say in our own lives and relationships too!  
 
In the few short weeks of Lent, marked by Shrove Tuesday (Pancake Day) and Ash Wednesday we have time to prepare for one of the great events of the Christian calendar, Palm Sunday.  This is the day that marks the beginning of the holiest of weeks in the Christian year.  Palm Sunday is the day we celebrate Jesus’ entry into Jerusalem at the beginning of the last week of his earthly life.  As Jesus and his followers approach Jerusalem crowds rush out to lay down a carpet of palm fronds (hence Palm Sunday) and cloaks as they welcome him with cries of “hosanna to the Son of David” sadly those cries all too quickly turn to shouts of “Crucify Him” It was the abuse of power that led to the events of that week.
 
Lent is the time of preparation.  It is not necessarily a time to give up something, but rather to deeply examine our hearts and lives and surrender to God those attitudes – things we think, say or do – that cause hurt to others, those abuses of power.  It is a difficult but worthwhile journey to make and has the power to change the direction of our lives.  It is not one we make alone!  Jesus promised his followers that he would be with them wherever they go and there is nowhere that Jesus has not been.  So no matter what situation you may think you are in, Jesus promises that it can be changed and that he will be with you on that journey.
 
I hope that this Lent, rather than giving something up you might consider taking something up! Perhaps you might take some time out to think about your life; your past, present and future and invite Jesus to shine his light into those places in your heart where you would rather not go and that you would allow him to forgive, to heal and to restore you. 
 
I pray that Lent and Easter will be a time of real blessing for you and your families.  Please do come along to any (or all) of our Easter Services, I can promise you’ll be most warmly welcomed.  
 
Your friend and vicar
Revd. Arthur
St Gabriel’s