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Take the time to reflect during Lent

Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo: Holly Jewell

For me, the season of Lent is about making space and time to reflect on my life with God.

In some ways this runs counter to the pace of life around us.

Most organisations have just resumed meeting after the long break over the summer holidays.

They are building momentum, working on the goals for the year, reviewing strategic plans and organising fundraising events.

Schools are in full swing, holding swimming carnivals and inducting school leaders.

As moderator I am representing our church at events marking the beginning of the university year.

The shops have shifted the merchandise for Australia Day and Valentine's Day and loaded the aisles with Easter eggs and hot cross buns.

Congregations have begun the regular program of activities.

Friday-night youth groups are up and running.

Sign-on day for Sunday School has been held and fellowship groups are planning for the World Day of Prayer (1 March).

Volunteers have picked up their new rosters so that they can be involved in outreach or community service.

The commitments made at covenant services are fresh in our minds and many will be holding their annual general meetings this month.

Some congregations will use the weeks leading up to Easter to prepare people who wish to be baptised or confirmed.

Sometimes we can think Lent is only about fasting and self-denial but that is not the purpose.

In some churches on Ash Wednesday when the ash is put on the forehead these words are said: "Remember you are dust and to dust you will return".

In our tradition we would expect to hear these words at a funeral and it is humbling to be reminded that one day our physical bodies will become compost.

Part of what it means to be human is to acknowledge our mortality.

According to Christian teaching another aspect of the human condition is that humans are sinful.

Most of us exist somewhere between the "made in the image of God" and what theologians refer to as the "total depravity of man".

Around the community you glimpse humans reflecting the creative, sustaining, empowering, compassionate qualities of God; but you can also see evidence of the cruel and calculating, manipulative, self-serving, rebellious, destructive tendencies and behaviours reflective of sinful humanity.

What is required is an honest assessment of ourselves.

So Lent need not be a time to beat ourselves up about our failures and falling into temptation, nor a time to congratulate ourselves for keeping a fast or following a particular spiritual discipline.

That would be making the fast the goal rather than a means for developing true humility and genuine repentance. The season of Lent provides space to explore our relationship with God and to remember that God's grace restores, redeems and renews.

Moderator's Diary;

March 3 Blessing and dedication of land at Forest Lake

March 8 Progressive Christianity dialogue International Women's Day Government House reception March 9 Mary Burnett Presbytery meeting

March 15 – 17 Assembly Standing Committee

March 21 Presbytery ministers meeting

Photo : Rev Kaye Ronalds. Photo: Holly Jewell