Lent is a time when we traditionally take a deeper look at ourselves and our relationship with God and others. We confess that we’re not the people that God made us to be and that we need God’s help to be different. Judith, a member of St Godwald’s congregation, recently sent me one of her reflections that ‘hit the mark’ for me and I share it here hoping that it will do the same for you. She writes -
‘At our Monday evening prayer group we say the Lord’s Prayer, but have a short silent moment in between each line to reflect on the words we have spoken.“Forgive us our sins, as we forgive those who sin against us” is one line which always gives me food for thought.
I don’t think I commit any great sins if I think of sin as violation of the Ten Commandments. But the meaning of the word sin in the bible is “to miss the mark”, the mark being the standard of perfection established by God. And I know I miss the mark many times. On two occasions recently I have experienced almost “missing the mark.
I was hurrying through Bromsgrove one Morning when I saw coming towards me one of Bromsgrove’s “Characters”. I almost missed the mark that day as I didn’t really have time to speak to her other than a quick hello. However she was having none of it. Waving a library card at me she said “Can I still use this?“ I said, “of course you can”, and she told me that no-one else would bother to tell her. I asked how she was, and she replied, “Not too well. I had a fall recently and hit my head.” And then she said “people keep bumping into me, but they don’t see me. So I’ve bought myself this,” pointing to the High Viz jacket she was wearing. We all miss the mark when we don’t appreciate someone who longs to be noticed and loved.
The second occasion was a few days later when I was having lunch with a friend and we were talking about a crowd of us who worked together a few years ago. My friend asked, “Do you ever see Chris now?” I replied, “I do, but she doesn’t really speak to me anymore”. Four years ago ago when we were selling our house and she was selling hers, Dave and I put an
offer in on her house which she accepted. We then changed our mind which upset her and her husband greatly. This bad feeling had festered for years and I did think how foolish it all was and how I wish I had an opportunity to put it right. The next day Dave and I went for a walk on Kinver Edge. We parked by the Old Rock Houses and had a lovely walk along the ridge not meeting many people at all. On the way back to the car we saw a couple coming toward us with a dog all wrapped up against the cold..........you’ve guessed who it was - my old friend Chris and her husband. We talked as if all the bad feeling between us had been lifted. We had both “missed the mark” a few years ago but this chance encounter enabled us to put things right’.
We think of the many ways we ‘miss the mark’ as we fail to love and respect God, others and ourselves. When we miss the target it’s not just others who get hurt. We hurt ourselves. Good Friday holds before us the appalling image of Jesus tortured and crucified by human failings. We see God’s love, hope, peace and justice destroyed because of our ‘sin’.
Easter Sunday tells us that all is not lost. Love and goodness are not, ultimately defeated. New life is possible in the power and strength of the Spirit of God. But we have to face our ‘fallen’ selves in the horror of Good Friday. We need to hear Jesus’ words of forgiveness from the cross and forgive ourselves and embrace the joy of resurrection.
May this Easter be a time of great blessing to you; a time when you enter deeply into the Easter story and become changed by it.
And if you would value some ‘one to one’ help in deepening your relationship with God through every day all through the year, can I encourage you to read the article about Spiritual Direction that Margaret Woodgates has written for the magazine this month