Living to Please God During Lent

St. Michael’s Vicarage

Dear People of Alnwick,

I find it quite astonishing just how often what seems to be a chance reading of an article – or a debate apparently accidentally heard on the radio – can set off a train of thought which helps to consolidate or clarify my own thinking on a subject.

Each day, after Morning Prayer, Gerard and I share a reflection on one or other of the Bible readings set for the day. Today the reflection, by Steven Croft, the Bishop of Oxford, was on the opening verses of Paul’s letter to the Galatians and posed this question: “Am I living to please other people or living to please God?

What a splendid question for each of us to ask ourselves at the beginning of Lent! Indeed, it is a question that we might like to ask ourselves each morning of Lent as we wake up ready to face another day.

The Covenant Service, originally the sole province of the Methodist Church, but now also an established element of Common Worship in the Church of England states the following:

Christ has many services to be done:
some are easy, others are difficult;
some bring honour, others bring reproach;
some are suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both;
in some we may please Christ and please ourselves;
in others we cannot please Christ except by denying ourselves.
Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.

As we journey through Lent 2020 at St. Michael’s there is a wide variety of activities on offer – all aimed at helping us to grow in grace and holiness. There are things to suit all manner of temperaments and tastes: quiet, early morning celebrations of Holy Communion; a Lent Course delving into the significance of the film ‘Chocolat’ and a sermon series on Climate Change. In addition the opportunity for weekly contemplative prayer continues as well as our regular round of worship and fellowship.

Just as the Covenant Service reminds us, some of what is on offer is suitable to our natural inclinations and material interests, others are contrary to both…..

But, just because they are contrary, it doesn’t mean we should decide immediately that they’re not for us!

Indeed, the question posed by Bishop Croft could be amended to read: “Am I living to please myself or living to please God?” During Lent, especially, we should try to live to please God. So perhaps we might like to join in with something which is slightly inconvenient to us (e.g. getting up early) or something which is extra (e.g. coming to a midweek service or Evensong as well as Sunday morning).
None of us really like to be inconvenienced in the (usually cosy) way of life that we’ve established for ourselves; but living to please God – and grow closer to him – is as good a Lenten way of life than any other I can think of.

Why not resolve to be inconvenienced over the next six weeks: it might be an added facet which you come to value greatly!

With every blessing,


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