Dear Friends,

                      How good are you at following directions? Perhaps you are good at reading maps, or at remembering directions, or at giving directions (which can be even more challenging!)… or perhaps not. In truth even those of us who are good at finding our way about will struggle once in a while. Directions are only good if they are precise and in order (and if we have listened when they are given verbally!); a map is only useful if the information is relevant and up to date, and satnavs are only as good as the information that is programmed in – if a road has been closed or is unsuitable for the vehicle that we are driving then there are going to be problems!

     So it is with life also. At times we like to think we know where we are going and what to do next, at times we are left perplexed. At times we find ourselves subject to outside influences beyond our control: illness, bereavement, the loss of a job etc. It can be difficult to find the way forwards, or can be difficult to accept that the way ahead is not taking the path we had assumed that it would. As we once again approach Easter, it is important to remember that whatever happens there is one who shows us the Way, and who gives direction to our lives. In John 14, verse 6 Jesus tells his disciples “I am the Way, the Truth and the Life”. No doubts, deviations or wrong turns there then!

     More than that Jesus shows us how to follow. During Lent the lectionary readings take us through episodes in Jesus’ life, of which the following are a selection. In Mark 1, verses 9 to 15 there is his baptism, where Jesus identifies with us; the period in the wilderness, which is not just about resisting temptation but also about prayer and preparation, and then the commencement of telling people the Good News. And these cannot be divorced from one another: just as we might like to get on with things, it is also necessary to prepare and consider first.

     In Mark 8, 31-38 Jesus begins to prepare his disciples for his own suffering and death, which will challenge and redirect their life expectations. God’s Way is not what we might expect. Then in John 2, verses 13 – 22, Jesus evicts the money changers and traders, reminding us that our ways are often not those of God, and how easily we can deviate from these even in organised religion (the authorities condoned the trading activities as they benefited financially). When in the same reading he speaks about rebuilding the temple (his body) we are reminded that buildings are not the first matter of importance: people are. 

So, Lent provides us with an opportunity to consider once again what the Way forward means for us, and when we encounter the joy of Easter again, to see how that Way is, in the words of one of our hymns, “turning the World upside down”.