Mat’s March Letter

Lent starts on Ash Wednesday 9th March: late this year isn’t it. At the service that evening there will be the opportunity for the ‘imposition of ashes’. Marking our foreheads with the sign of the cross in ash is a symbol of our desire to reflect on our lives, admit and repent of our faults, and commit to walking daily with Christ.

The use of ash is biblical. For example in Job 42:6Open Link in New Window, Job repents in dust and ashes when he recognises his un-holiness and un-worthiness to be in God’s presence.

So if and when you receive ash what will you repent of? I suspect it’s easy for most of us to think of actions we have taken or things we have looked on, said or thought that we want to repent of. Of course it is important to repent of all sins but I wonder if we should look wider than these obvious actions. Perhaps we should ask God what it is that he would like us to repent of.

Over the past few weeks God has been speaking to me about the sin of pride in my own abilities and reliance on my own competence; doing things in my strength if you like. Dave Mitchell reminded us in his sermon that God often works in power when we come to the end of ourselves. When we are willing to say ‘Lord I can’t do this without you’, then we see God act more powerfully than we ever can.

We are a church of competent people. That has at least two dangers. The first is that those who don’t feel they’re competent enough don’t offer themselves to serve as they don’t think they will do it ‘well enough’. The second is that those who consider themselves competent don’t ask God to help them and so do it relying on their own strength. Neither of these are God’s ways and we need to repent of them. Perhaps ‘competence’ is a form or idolatry, something we seek rather than trusting in God—something to reflect on?

So this Lent we could repent of our idolatry of human competence and offer ourselves afresh to God asking that through the power of the Holy Spirit he will use all of our talents fully for his glory. Happy Lent!


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