Lent begins on Ash Wednesday with the focus on sorrow for our sins. It gradually moves to a focus on the cross of Christ. Throughout it is permeated by fasting and abstinence.
But alongside these rather downbeat themes are the positives. Sin and repentance brings forgiveness. The cross leads to the resurrection. And alongside making our own sacrifices, we have the opportunities to do something for others, whether we give that ‘chocolate money’ to a charitable cause or we find some positive acts of service to counter our acts of self-discipline.
One of the texts at Morning Prayer in the 1662 Prayer Book (350 years this year!) begins:
O God, who art the author of peace and lover of concord, in knowledge of whom standeth our eternal life, whose service is perfect freedom:
It reminds us that service of other people and of God is at the heart of our discipleship. The prayer below, for the fifth Sunday of Lent, shows us how the example of self-giving service is found in Jesus, and in his journey to the cross.
So we pray:
Lord Jesus Christ,
you have taught us
that what we do for the least of our brothers and sisters
we do also for you:
give us the will to be the servant of others
as you were the servant of all,
and gave up your life and died for us,
but are alive and reign, now and for ever. Amen.
Team Priest, Forest and Avon Team
This prayer is from Common Worship: Services and Prayers for the Church of England (2000), which is copyright © The Archbishops’ Council 2000.