WelCom February 2018:
“Lent is the season that calls us to account for our ambassadorial duties.”
Fr James Lyons
Ambassadors are not chosen lightly and they are very aware of their privileged responsibility. They do their best to serve well the country they represent.
The annual season of Lent opens with Ash Wednesday and the announcement of St Paul that we are ambassadors for Christ. The description has a stop and think reaction. Christians represent the power and the goodness of God. Not a temporary assignment like that of the diplomats, but a permanent commission.
Ash Wednesday, scorching the forehead with ash in the form of a cross, is a shock therapy to shatter any apathy or lack of enthusiasm for the role, re-booting the mission.
And the mission? To put no obstacle in anyone’s way so that no fault may be found with our ministry. Be reconciled to God!
We know how to do this because we know what a country expects of its representatives: people who are loyal and faithful; who have an unshakeable belief in what their country stands for and who show those values in the way they live their own lives. They need to speak the language of their host country and be part of the local environment, while also influencing that environment with the strengths of their own culture: patience, kindness, holiness of spirit, genuine love.
Be reconciled! This is not an appeal to be made to others, but to ourselves. We Christians are taken from the very world to which we are then sent, transformed into ambassadors to live peaceful, joyful lives, lives rich with thanksgiving and forgiveness. This makes us capable of showing another way to those whose lives are focussed differently, who see little value in compassion, who put self before all else, who equate happiness with pleasure.
Lent is the season that calls us to account for our ambassadorial duties. Its purpose is not to make us feel bad because of failure, but to encourage us to move on with confidence. Lent is especially the time to work together, to support one another and to gift something of our own treasure to help others enjoy life.
In other words, to live the difference.
“We are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.”
2 Corinthians 5:20
The cross of Jesus is a sign of contradiction, a tree of life. Signed with a cross made of ash, we are far from burnt out. We are enlivened by the Spirit and sent to represent the one in whom all things were made, to announce the day
Be reconciled! Let the ashes received open every Christian heart not just to the season of repentance, but to a way of life sparkling with joy that others will find irresistible.
Lent is indeed ‘the favourable time’.
Les Misérables – a Lenten call
The novel, Les Misérables, by Victor Hugo, first published in 1862, and now a film and stage show, has become the basis of a unique and inciteful Lenten Discussion programme. Developed by a British Anglican priest, Jonathan Meyer, it places the story in the context of the Lenten call to personal change and spiritual growth.
Anyone familiar with Les Misérables will easily recognise the links with sin, forgiveness, redemption and salvation. For instance, Fantine represents our fallen state. To reflect on her life we need to contemplate sin and what that might mean in ourselves but also in society.
Jonathan Meyer writes: God grant that as we walk with Christ through a broken and hurting world, we may journey on with compassion and grace…seeing our journeying as an opportunity to reach out to others in grace and love.
The Cathedral Parish is hosting weekly sessions of this programme this Lent – Thursday 15, 22 February and 1, 8 March – using the video production of Les Misérables. Anyone interested in participating please email: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the parish office on (04) 496-1700. There is no cost, but the sessions are limited to 10 participants.
“To Love or have loved, that is enough. Ask nothing further. There is no other pearl to be found in the dark folds of life.” – Les Misérables, Victor Hugo