As we enter Lent, Marketors’ Chaplain Canon Dr Alison Joyce revealed in her 21 February sermon that throughout lockdown, she’d joined a Zoom group studying St Mark’s Gospel.
She saw parallels with the Genesis story of Adam and Eve. They were driven out of the Garden of Eden where they were wholly supported by God. Having given into temptation, there was no way back – the tree of life was guarded.
St Mark though, saw Christ’s experience in reverse. Jesus was driven into the Wilderness and faced with temptation - but wholly supported by God, rejected it.
Both stories, said Alison, helped to explain why we are weak and falible and why the world is the way it is. St Mark’s account though also shows that Christ’s 40 days in the Wilderness were not the end of the story – it was preparation for ministry leading to sacrificial death and glorious resurrection which made hope of restoration real and accessible to us all.
Alison felt she was far from perfect, but didn’t have to be perfect to be acceptable to God – Christ has already walked the path before us and opened the door to everlasting life.
So Lent isn’t a competition to sort saints from sinners or test our moral fibre. It actually gives us opportunity to do our best to realign our lives with Christ and to live a little more like Him. To lead us back to God and discover who we really are.
A prayer from Cistercian Thomas Merton might help us on the road through Lent.