Monday 8 February 2016

For Lent

I have never given anything up for Lent. I think that it is the Baptist in me that -even though I have been part of the Anglican church now for twenty years - raises its head snootily and looks down its nose at the declarations of giving up chocolate and puddings, crisps and wine – usually for the reason of losing a bit of weight. ‘Humph’, I think in self -righteous, judgmentalism, ‘That’s not what Lent is about!’ (Disclaimer: I recognise most Baptists would not be as sanctimonious as me! They have not trod the paths of Free Evangelicalism quite as strictly as I did!)

This year, I thought I would take my unattractive self-righteousness and participate a little more graciously with the lessons a time of Lent can offer. Because I actually love this time. I realised a number of years ago that there was something in times of waiting that I found profoundly helpful. Maybe, it’s because I know at Advent that Christmas will come and I know at Lent that Easter morning will rise, the waiting feels easier? Maybe, I am not as good at waiting as I think?

This year I thought I would ‘take something up’ and so have decided to blog through the story of a woman who really knew what it was to wait. A woman who didn't have the assurance that her time of waiting would result in an Easter Sunday but a woman who allowed her lengthy time of waiting, in all its utter painfulness, to drive her to God rather than away from him.

I am going to do something unusual for me. Even if I don’t think the words are quite right or that enough time has been spent on getting my thoughts together, I am just going to put up – each day – the thoughts that I have. Sometimes there will be a proper blog post, other times maybe just a couple of sentences or a quote. 

Yesterday, as I was at my church preaching on the story of Hannah for our current series on ‘Prayer’, I was finding it hard to hold back my tears. As I looked out on the people who I have the privilege to be family with, I sensed the relevance of her story to their stories and I was also aware that the words I had to share only scratched the surface of this inspirational woman.  I am not a natural preacher. I hear the Holy Spirit whisper and I stick relentlessly to my script!  I always carry the words I don’t say as much as the words that I do speak out. And those unspoken words are often the ones that I wished I had given voice. I think this is what many preachers find. Monday morning is always the time when you see the sermon that you had to preach with the most clarity! As I was preparing to talk about Hannah, her life spoke to me very deeply. I often find that with the stories of the women in the Bible. They resonate more. Not just because I am a woman but maybe because they just seem a little more relevant, more real. They deal with the things of life. The messy stuff. The things that hurt. They are distinctly human, firmly in the everyday.

In his introduction to the books of Samuel, Eugene Peterson, says in The Message Bible of Hannah (and the other three main characters that the books of Samuel focuses on):  ‘…we need to be reminded that these stories are not exemplary in the sense that we stand back and admire, like statues in a gallery, knowing all the while that we will never be able to live either that gloriously or tragically ourselves. Rather they are immersions into the actual business of living itself: this is what it means to be human.’

This Lent I want to consider what it is to be human and in considering this, by looking at the life of Hannah, recognise that she constantly tells us that God is with us every step of the way. I want Hannah to lead me to the foot of a cross and an empty tomb. I want the prayer of her life to remind me again of a Saviour who sees, who loves; who knows; who saves. I think she can. So, if you would like to join me. I would love the company. 



  1. Looking forward to your thoughts Jenny, may God bless you as you bless others, Morag x


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