Lent 1 Sermon


Lent 1 – The light we are called to be This week, slightly late liturgically, but for the very first time, the children from our Church school in Castle Acre came and presented a Candlemass service. It was really thoughtful and well done, and I came away both impressed and having learned something. That is that the metaphor of us as a Christian people who follow the light of the world, who are given a small candle at our baptisms in token of our calling to spread light in a dark world, is very powerful indeed. Today our readings help flesh out that thought further. Genesis has the story of Noah and his ark, a refuge from the deluge thought to be the wrath of God, in which he saves the people for a future beyond seeming destruction. But in this story is a wonderful thought, it says; “ Whenever I bring clouds over the earth and the rainbow appears in the clouds, 15 I will remember my covenant between me and you and all living creatures of every kind. Never again will the waters become a flood to destroy all life. 16 Whenever the rainbow appears in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and all living creatures of every kind on the earth.” Genesis 9 As with baptism where we symbolically die to the world and its wrongs in order to rise with Christ in His victory of light and hope, the chosen people of Israel can rely on the rainbow, always associated with the aftermath of bad weather, to be instead a sign of God’s promise of light beyond the darkness, of a reaffirmation of his faithfulness and love for his people. In our epistle from Peter, he expands upon the importance and new meaning of the power of baptism, he says; “this water symbolizes baptism that now saves you also—not the removal of dirt from the body but the pledge of a clear conscience toward God” 1 Peter For Peter the followers of Jesus who spend their days in the world with its darkness and ability to soil the best of intentions, are in fact able to carry that light of hope, so needed in the world, because the forgiveness and fresh start of baptism, from where we walk in the world with that hope of the light of Christ in our hearts, is the most important reality. And our Gospel from Mark recalls the baptism of Christ by John, and shows that the immediate aftermath was a journey, he says; “At once the Spirit sent him out into the wilderness, 13 and he was in the wilderness forty days, being tempted by Satan. He was with the wild animals, and angels attended him.” Mark 1 For all those who leave their baptisms the journey of Christian life takes us into the world, into the metaphorical and practical challenges of shining the light of Christ, and bearing witness to that light in place where often darkness seems about to prevail. In these days of Lent when the church and all Christians journey into the desert with Jesus, to face the tough challenges of keeping true to our calling, unafraid to bear that light so it may be seen by those around us, and confident in the protection and example of the light of the world, we have all this to reflect upon. The young people in church are at the start of their lives and their Christian journeys, but I was so struck that they so eagerly took to the idea of carrying the light of Christ in the dark world. They know life and others may wish to extinguish it, that it will be easier sometime to hide it, but they face up to what we all must, that the alternative is darkness, a world without light, or hope. Where wickedness and evil go unchallenged, where bad people are allowed their way, where the weak and the poor, go unheard, and where lives never come to the fullness God intends for all he created and loves. I for one will treasure the idea of walking trying as best I can to shield and protect that ever fragile light. And when I see a rainbow, I will give thanks that another storm has come and gone, others may follow, but always at their end will be the promise and sign of God that we are loved and that they will never wash us or what we carry away. Amen