The Roman Catholics were off to an early start this morning with cars streaming down the rough track to the Jebel Ali Church complex as I walked here to work. Our service isn’t until evening (7.30pm) so perhaps I could have another dose of pancakes in the mean time – does Lent start with the service or the dawn?
When I signed up for the Christian way of life I knew it wouldn’t be easy, though Lent was part of my spiritual heritage. I don’t think I thought I was entering on a great adventure in the style of sailing over obstacles like Jesus in the fridge magnet picture here (which fits our gospel in three weeks time – magnets for sale at the Bible Society Shop in the church next door to ours), nor did I think I was giving up such joyous life for miserable respectability (which is what had put me off for some years). I was making a serious decision about where my loyalties lie. I might have been a bit behind my youth group friends who had been praying for me for years, as I am behind those RC folks today, but once on the road, I was serious. Some of those youth group friends have lost their way but I’m still walking it – I wish so much that they were still in touch with God, still on the walk with him. I signed up in firm allegiance to the army of Christ, signing up in nervous anxiety about the consequences (initially embarrasment with non-christian friends, and even worse, Christian parents and sisters), signing up for a life-long walk with God.
Jesus tempted to jump from the temple in a demonstration of faith and glory is a far cry from where he ended up, in a way. But he emerged from the desert trials with an optimism that the time was fulfilled, the Kingdom of God had come near, and had found a positive motive to repent – that here was good news. I need that positive motive to entice me to repentance, and get back in line in the army of the Lord.
We will sign up again tonight.
Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin, and be faithful to Christ.