Pause for Thought with Ray Dadswell: The Meaning of Lent

Lent takes us back to the period of time Jesus spent in the desert, fasting for forty days, described for us in the New Testament Gospels.

The incident is recorded for us in Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4. Following his baptism in the River Jordan, Jesus encountered Satan, ‘the tempter’, commanding him to perform a miracle by changing stones into bread. Jesus of course overcame the evil one, and ‘angels came and attended him’.

Jesus looked forward to being victor over death, his resurrection highlighted by the festival of Easter. An empty cross is what we specially look forward to at this time of the year.

Caroline Kimber gives a perspective on the Christian discipline of fasting.

‘Jesus said, “When you give ..., when you pray ..., when you fast ...” (Matthew chapter 5). There is an assumption in these words that it is a normal practice for the inhabitants of the Kingdom of God.

‘This is a deliberate ‘going-without-something’, in order to give God space to work in us. These disciplines are not designed by God to make life difficult for us, but they are to help us put the ‘me-me’ monster to death so that God can form the likeness of Jesus in our lives. As long as we feed the monster by gratifying the self-life, it gets bigger, stronger and louder.

‘Every time we choose to serve others, to go to a prayer meeting rather than stay in bed or please ourselves, every time we choose to read the Bible rather than watch TV, when we give an hour of time in the prayer room, we are diminishing the monster’s power over is and giving God a chance to make us what we sing about.

‘Although food is generally what comes to mind when we say ‘fasting’, it would be well to consider what might have the greatest hold over us, not necessarily food, and give that up.

‘We will need to persevere; we need to make these things part of daily life.

‘When Jesus died on the cross, it was to break the power of our collective ‘me-me’ monsters. God has done his part and we need to do ours. As we come to the communion, in groups or alone, let us ask God which aspect of our particular ‘me-me’ monster is hindering our Christian life, and with the help of the Holy Spirit resolve to put it to death so that Jesus may increase and the monster decrease.’

HERE 4 U was set up in early 2013 as an extension of the churches’ ministry in the Old Town area of Eastbourne. Glyn Moreton, the director, explains. “To practically do what we say we do – in a public place, all of the time.”

The centre is open to provide a friendly face and a listening ear in the community. People call in to have coffee, talk about pressures and problems they face, receive food vouchers, discuss their financial difficulties, and ask for prayer. As a result, some go to church.

Glyn likes to quote the words of the apostle Peter in John 6, 68 – “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.” The Here 4 U ministry therefore seeks to introduce people to the Jesus who gave his life that first Easter so that men and women in the 21st century might have a new relationship with God because of him.