Dear Friends,

We were beginning to wonder whether the winter would ever end! The one good thing to say about the snow and cold is that we certainly met our neighbours and had opportunity to help each other out. Many folk, though, were pretty much housebound for weeks, and even those of us who could get out were longing for some sunshine and warmth.

And now at last the days are growing longer, there is warmth in the sun, aconites, snowdrops and even daffodils are beginning to show.

The season of Lent has been overlaid with different meanings throughout the years. One thing it refers to is ‘lengthening’, the longer hours of daylight with the coming of Spring. It also refers to our longing for new life, and our season of preparation for it. In the church we do this by hearing again the story of God’s longing for his people and their yearning for God. We think about the things that keep us from being at peace with ourselves, with each other and with God – and we hear again what God has done in Jesus to reconcile us. We look towards Easter, our great celebration of the new life that is possible for all of us because God raised Jesus from death. God showed that his light in the world cannot be overcome by any of the destructive darkness that threatens us – the forces of fear, jealousy, betrayal, violence that crucified Jesus.

You are welcome to join any of the worship in our churches over Lent as we tell again the great story of God’s love for the world.

The psalmist speaks in Psalm 107 of various groups of people who came to know their need of God during particular difficulties. ‘Some wandered in desert wastes, finding no way to a city to dwell in, hungry and thirsty’ – ‘Some sat in darkness and gloom, prisoners in affliction.. they cried to the Lord in their trouble’ – ‘Some became fools through their rebellious ways and suffered sickness so they could not eat..’. In each case, God saves them in just the way they long for:

For the wanderers: ‘He led them by a straight way to a city where they could settle’

For the prisoners: ‘He brought them out of darkness .. and broke away their chains’

For the sick: ‘He sent forth his word and healed them’

Our prayer in Lent is that God will meet us at our point of deepest need, that we will be blessed with the fullness of life that Jesus came to bring, and by his grace, share that good news with all who long to hear it.