Peter Coster on the First Sunday in Lent

105 CV          Thought for the Day – the First Sunday of Lent

                                             by Didymus


As we approach the first Lenten Sunday, it is difficult to concentrate on the pilgrimage to Easter while a deluded liar is wreaking havoc in Ukraine with dreams of recreating the “Greater Russia”.  Su and I join everyone in prayer entreating God to take him to his Nemesis.  He surely will, but it cannot come too soon for us.

Lent is the time for courses.  I have been tempted to have a try at writing one, but I doubt my skill and knowledge.  They are usually written by bishops and eminent scholars and I am neither by some considerable distance.  Dear old Bishop Bill once remarked to me that the problem with being a bishop was that one was expected to speak at length, but without saying anything significant.  So here is my humble effort.  Many years ago – too many – I was told to read John.  Wonderful advice.  Let’s read John.

The fourth Gospel, like the other three, is beyond value to all Christians.  It was the last written, about twenty years later, and is quite different in its format.  It appears to assume a knowledge of the other three.  After the Prologue, John gives seven signs of Jesus’ divinity, the first of which was at the Wedding at Cana and the last was the Raising of Lazarus, neither of which appear in the Synoptics (The first three).  There are then four chapters, known as the Farewell Discourse, dealing with Jesus’ teaching at the Last Supper, followed by the Passion and the events following the Crucifixion.  Much of this is unique to John

The miracles are related of course, but between there is some quite amazing teaching.  Read Ch.3, as part 1 of this course, in any translation, and enjoy it.  Nicodemus, a member of the Sanhedrin, visited Jesus in secret after dark.  The Sanhedrin was a sort of General Synod for Judaism, and they were opposed to Jesus.  Hence the secrecy.  In any case walking around unlit streets littered with rubbish and worse was to risk robbery.

I like Nicodemus.  His puzzled responses remind me of RI classes at school long ago.  The lesson Jesus taught him is one of the most important of all to the Christian.  The importance of the spirit.  To us, 2000 years later, the spiritual dimension to life is absolutely fundamental.  We are body, mind and spirit. 

Think of a car.  Any car.  It is a shed on wheels, essentially (Sorry, Formula One aficionados).  Without an engine it remains a shed.  With an engine, it can move, carry, pull, and so on.  But until a driver starts the engine, it will remain a shed with a dead engine inside.  The driver enters the car, and brings it to life. 

Our bodies are of no use without a mind to operate them, but it is the spirit, or soul, which animates us.  We can recognise people sometimes by their appearance, less commonly by their mind, but certainly by their spirit for it is who they are. 

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