Thoughts for mid-Lent
It is the end of March, the very moment when the United Kingdom should be leaving the European Union but isn’t quite doing so, and when international news has been focussed on the terrible attack on the mosque in Christchurch and devastation by natural disaster in southern Africa. The Church of England calls us to continuing prayer for the political life of the nation, and rightly so; I hold my brothers and sisters of the Islamic faith in love and prayer at this time, and particularly here on the Isle of Man; and I find it overwhelmingly difficult to understand the loss suffered by the people of Mozambique and Malawi and Zimbabwe. I pray for peace in Christ for the people who have been killed, for comfort for those who mourn, for healing for the injured and sick, and for restoration for the dispossessed.
In the light of these things, my own personal concerns become utterly trivial, worthy neither of mention nor of thought, and it may seem an impoverished response to say that I remain hopeful. But I do remain hopeful. I am hopeful because hope must always arise out of sadness if we have faith in God’s providence, and that is the lesson of much of scripture; hopeful, too, because the best of human nature is often to be seen alongside the worst; hopeful because I know that we can still make a difference through caring and praying and providing practical aid and financial support.
Most of all, I am hopeful because of the Gospel. On 25 March, we kept the Solemnity of the Annunciation, recalling Mary’s response to God’s call which marks the beginning of the New Covenant of salvation. And on Sunday 31 March, mid-Lent Sunday and also Mothering Sunday, we have that brief and powerful and most moving of passages from St John’s Gospel: ‘“Woman, behold your son! Then he said to the disciple “Behold your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home’ (St John 19: 26-27). This is the origin of our relationship as sisters and brothers of one another and of the Lord, a relationship forged and enabled by His death and inspired and enlivened by His resurrection. So it is that Christians are called, like Mary and John, to stand at the foot of the cross, and yet to have hope and confidence in the promises of Christ.