Lent Course 2017
A Lenten message from the Chairs of the London District of the Methodist Church (extract/abridged)
Nigel Cowgill and Michaela Youngson:
The word "Lent," comes from the old English word meaning "spring". This puts a whole new meaning on the season we have just come into; not just a reference to the crocuses pushing their ways out of the ground in the season before Easter, but a time to seek God's renewal in our lives. And so, as we reflect on Lent within the communities God has placed us in, we have 40 whole days for finding out what life can offer us in its abundance; to give us a chance to re-connect to God; to assess what is really important to us. This Lent is a time to practise getting free of those things that hold us back in our relationship with God by working out what really is important in our lives.
It is also a calling to the Church to speak for justice and peace in our world.
Dethroning Mammon - What We See We Value (Update 16th March)
This week in our Circuit Lent groups we have been reflecting on Chapter 1 of Justin Welby's book - Dethroning Mammon. "What We See We Value" moved us on from the "Pearl of Great Price" to the the miracle of the resurrection of Lazarus.
The questions raised, the thoughts and reflections shared, included:
What reality do we tend not to notice?
We thought particularly about our tendency to bury our heads in the sand, or to look away, to avoid disturbing images of reality, and of our becoming de-sensitised to pictures of famine from around the world.
We were struck by the realisation that we all perceive reality - things happening around us - differently, based on our personal experience, our pre-conceived ideas, values and prejudices. To look at things anew from God's perspective, through the lens of the Gospel, is deeply challenging. It transforms our view of the world and transforms our lives.
It can prove comforting; but it is far from easy.
We reflected on the importance of faith - particularly where there seems to be little sign of hope.
We also thought about how to approach answering difficult questions.
We acknowledged the importance of all the unsung contributions that pass unnoticed - such as the work of those caring for family or friends and neighbours.
In Chapter 2 we start to reflect on Zacchaeus as we explore "What We Measure Controls Us."
Dethroning Mammon – Reflections (Update 9th March)
What do I value most? Now there’s a good question!
We have given out 29 copies of Dethroning Mammon. It is clear that from the initial responses and group sessions that the questions posed by Archbishop Justin Welby in Dethroning Mammon are resonating loud and clear with people across the Tower Hamlets Circuit. Brexit, Donald Trump and the latest Budget have all put these questions at the forefront of our communities and have raised some interesting reflections.
Questions so far include:
- What is Mammon?
- How do I make the right decisions in my life as a Christian?
- What is the most important thing in my life?
- Where do I look for help to make those difficult decisions?
- Was the recent budget addressing the massive inequalities in our society or making things worse?
- Can the Christian message engage
with people who are living hand to mouth? Does it speak about a less
money/possessions centred life-style?
There have already been some interesting comments and reflections too:
- The giving up of things that we value can be quite difficult. We are inclined to find excuses.
- The value we place on money is a trick. It is always playing on our feelings and imagination.
- Many of the adverts on the television sell us the idea that we must have something because everyone else has it, and that the money to obtain it is easy to get.
- Many of us can make life-style choices because we have the power and resources to make them. Many people have not.
- Lent and our response to these studies should not just be about giving things up, but thinking about what we might do as a positive contribution to making a difference.
- "If I were to go to Canary Wharf and speak to the Bankers, I would want to ask them to relate what they do to the message of Jesus."
- Being judgemental towards people whose life style and life choices are different from our own is very easy, whether they have a lot of money or little money. This is something we must try and resist.
So it’s been a fascinating start to our Lenten reflections. Look out for more sessions to share together across the Circuit, preaching that reflects on the themes, and maybe catch the Radio Four services too. We still have a few books left, so if you can make it, join in with the journey.
What are the questions and comments that are challenging you?
Let us know.
Revds Cameron & John
This year's Circuit Lent Course follows the exciting, new, little book, "Dethroning Mammon" by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Reverend Justin Welby.
There are six chapters. Each chapter takes a key bible passage, usually from the teaching and encounters of Jesus leading to his death and burial, and puts it alongside the big questions of global finance and the attitudes it breeds.
Intended as a companion for Lent, this is a call for Christians to examine who it is that sits upon the throne of their lives: are they following the self-sacrificing example of Christ, who gave his life for others? Or have they succumbed, perhaps unconsciously, to the rule of Mammon?
What is it that we really value? What is our closest treasure? What do we tend to put first in our lives?
Money causes inequality. It even buys life. The difference in life expectancy at birth between the richest and poorest parts of the UK is as much as 10 years. Money buys advantage in this life but it does not buy God.
Before we begin to dethrone Mammon, we need to see clearly so that we may value properly.
Join us this Lent as we explore reflections on a number of gospel passages as presented in the book.
Copies are available free of charge from Rev'd Cameron or Rev'd John; or call the Circuit Office.
The sessions have been designed to maximise possibility of attendance, offering alternative times and venues. There is also an option of following on-line using the BBC Radio4 website.
Download Timetable of Sessions
Self-study Guide for any (or all) sessions. Useful when you cannot attend a meeting
See also Prayers for Lent and Easter
Methodist booklet - A Gift of Easter - for you
See also Prayers and Services on-line