Monthly Archives: March 2023

Palm Sunday – Generosity – 2nd April 2023

Rev Alison Way

Matthew 21:1-11 and Philippians 2:5-11

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, grow in us the fruit of your spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Amen

Today in our consideration of the fruit of the Spirit that St Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians, we are briefly thinking about Generosity. Generosity is giving good things to others freely and abundantly. Generous behaviours are intended to enhance the well-being of others.

This is one of the fruit where the translation most commonly varies in some versions of the Bible generosity and in others goodness, but we can see that being generous is pretty synonymous with being or doing good. In the picture book we therefore have the apple of goodness – helps us to be and do good as we should!

Jesus regularly acted with great generosity of heart in the way he approached his day to day life

  • the enormous quantity of wine he made at the wedding feast in Cana,
  • or the vast amount of food available at the feeding of the five thousand.

The generosity factor is something that I often use in discernment of the right course of action in the face of a dilemma. If it is honouring of God’s love for us, then we need to give a generous response. I am not saying that is always easy, but I often sit more comfortably with a difficult choice if I have been gracious and generous! It is best for us to share what we have, but like all small children when they first learn this art, that means we need to open ourselves up to considering others needs on an equal footing to our own.

In our first reading we heard about the crowds welcoming Jesus warmly into  Jerusalem.  The crowd responded in 2 different ways – some cut palm branches to wave and others laid their cloaks on the ground. If we like the palm branches were free and freely available – This was an easy choice of no cost to those who chose to wave the palms. But laying your cloak on the ground was a much more costly way to honour Jesus. Cloaks were valuable, and useful and put to all sorts of purposes in everyday life. Opening a cloak to the potential for dirt and damage like this was the much more generous response to Jesus coming!

I am not sure quite what was going on in the hearts of the people of Jerusalem on the first Palm Sunday – the reading describes the situation as turmoil, and the crowd recognising Jesus as a prophet from Nazareth in Galilee.  Yet the words of the crowd as he rode on the donkey, recognised he was so much more than this – he was the one to who the crowd cried Hosanna (which means save me), and son of David – which was a very respectful address of his lineage, credentials and recognising he was coming in the name of the Lord.

Though the crowd soon turned on him, the echoes of who he was and what he came to do are there even  if they didn’t understand it completely.

So this holy week which starts today, and as we mark once again the cross and passion of our Lord Jesus Christ, in the horns of any dilemma presented to us, let’s use generosity as a litmus test. In the choice of responses we have, which is the most generous and choose that. We are acting in this way to show how the Holy Spirit can grow generosity into us in response to Jesus overwhelmingly generous love for us.

On Good Friday we will think in depth about the cross and the reality for Jesus and his love for us. That powerful phrase from our reading from Philippians tunes into this.

Jesus being found in human form, he humbled himself and became obedient to the point of death –  even death on a cross.  

This is a very big deal for us, and one that changed things for ever and shows the ultimate generosity of God, through the Father and the Son and bringing to us the Holy Spirit to guide us. We recognise this huge act of love changed everything. We should exalt and proclaim the name of Jesus as our loving Lord and be generous in all things.


The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible  © 1989, 1995. Picture from © reproduced with permission.,through%20various%20forms%20of%20giving.

The Fruit of the Spirit for little ones – Mandy Fender

Lent 5 – Gentleness – Penny Ashton – 26th March 2023

Lent 5 – Gentleness

I was gratified to hear another preacher in this series admitting that they had found the subject they were preaching on had been a challenge.  Not that I wish difficulty on anyone who finds themselves standing here in front of a church full of people who expect them to know what they are talking about, but relieved to know that it was not just me!  It is also not easy to think about gentleness without straying into subjects that have already been covered like self-control, faithfulness, patience, and kindness, or into some of those that are yet to come – like generosity and peace.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines gentleness as: ‘The quality of being gentle in character or behaviour; (in early use) †good breeding, refinement, courtesy, politeness (obsolete); (now usually) kindness, mildness, amiableness.’[1]  If in doubt – as I often am – I look to see what William Barclay has to say on the subject and it is quite interesting.  Incidentally, I am permanently grateful to Canon Alan Watson for my ability to turn to Barclay, as he very kindly gave me his complete set of New Testament commentaries. Hear I learn that Aristotle defined gentleness as being the mid-point between excessive anger and excessive angerlessness – descriptive of the person who is always angry at the right time and never at the wrong time.  I find this helpful, as when considering gentleness in the life of Jesus I kept coming up against the cleansing of the temple, overturning of tables and using a whip to drive out the money changers.  This didn’t seem to fit well with what we generally consider to be gentle. 

However, Professor Barclay himself starts off by being rather less than helpful as he says that the Greek word that we translate as gentleness – praotes – is the most untranslatable of words.  Its use in the New Testament generally has one of three meanings – firstly submissive to the will of God, secondly teachable or not too proud to learn, and finally and most commonly – considerate.   In his summing up he says this ‘Praotes speaks of the spirit which is submissive to God, teachable in all good things and considerate to fellow men’[2]

I hope at last that we are beginning to see what quality Paul was expecting us to show as fruit of our lives brought forth by the spirit.  We also begin to see the character of Jesus emerging as one who fully bears these fruits . In Mark’s gospel, chapter 6 from verse 31 we read: ‘He said to them, (his disciples) ‘Come away to a deserted place all by yourselves and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.  And they went away in the boat to a deserted place by themselves.  Now many saw them going and recognized them, and they hurried there on foot from all the towns and arrived ahead of them.  As he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them, because they were like sheep without a shepherd; and he began to teach them many things.’[3]  Jesus here is showing consideration for his disciples by telling them to come away by themselves to get some rest and of how his intention was thwarted when the crowd guessed where he was going, and got there before him.  If we read on in this chapter, we will read of how he had compassion on the crowd and ended up feeding them before sending them off home.  He was able to show consideration even for those from whom he was trying to escape for an hour or two.  Even more often we read of how Jesus withdrew from the crowds to a deserted place, often at night as this was the only time when he could spend time with his Father.  It is as necessary to show consideration to ourselves as we do to others.  The second commandment – as Jesus gave them is that we love our neighbour as ourselves.  Not to love yourself will almost certainly lead to you short-changing those others to whom you should show love.

We can also see how Aristotle’s definition fits the character of Jesus, who was not afraid to be angry when anger was appropriate.  When he saw the poorest being defrauded by the money changers, and the purpose of the Temple – a place of prayer and worship to the Father – being used constantly as a place of commercial dealing he was very angry and had every right to be.

We can see examples of gentleness in the most surprising of places.  I don’t know about you, but I am an avid watcher of the BBC Natural History Unit’s ‘Watch’ programmes – ever since they started with Springwatch in 2005 followed by Autumwatch in the same year and Winterwatch in 2012.  One of the most amazing sights that they have been able to capture is that of large birds of prey on the nest with their young.  The adults have the most alarming beaks and talons imaginable, and yet the tenderness with which they tear up food and feed it to their chicks is quite beautiful to see. Real gentleness in action in God’s world.

How can we show the fruit of gentleness in our own lives?  Perhaps we need to come back to Prof Barclay’s summing up that I quoted earlier – we must try to be submissive to God, teachable in all good things, and considerate to all.  It is not easy to submit to God however, if we have not taken the time, as Jesus did, to spend time with him and learn his will for us.  We must learn the humility that is necessary to realise that we can learn in the most unexpected of times and places and keep our hearts and minds open to learn.  Finally, we must be considerate.  This can work in two ways, we can be considerate in ensuring that we do not act too impulsively – it is always wise to look before you leap – and we can consider who will be affected by our words or actions – ideally before we have said or done them and not when it is too late!

While I was preparing this, I was also exchanging messages with Elizabeth Wray, who as you know is daughter to Alan and Rosemary Watson, and she told me this story and gave me her permission to pass it on to you.  When he was in the home, Alan, who as you know was a very gentle person, and hated violence of all kinds became distressed, as one of the residents who was suffering from dementia liked to dress as a sheriff and carry two toy guns.  He started to tease Alan for wearing his cross by pretending to shoot him, which left him very shaken.  When he told Liz about this, she suggested that he talk to the man and ask his name, and the next time they met he did this.  His name was Rob, and Alan said, ‘God bless you, Rob’.  Whenever they met after that, Rob shook his hand and thanked him.  Gentleness, it seems, is perhaps not just a fruit in itself, but at times can also bear fruit. 

Copyright Acknowledgements:

Oxford English Dictionary at

The Rev Willian Barclay DD, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh, 1960

The New Revised Standard Version (Anglicized Edition), copyright 1989, 1995


[2] The Rev William Barclay DD, The Letters to the Galatians and Ephesians, The Saint Andrew Press, Edinburgh 1960

[3] Mark 6: 31-34

Mothering Sunday

Mothering Sunday – March 19th 2023 – Rev Alison Way

Phil 4;4-9, John 19:25-27

In the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit Amen

Mothers or people who have been like mothers to us, or people who care for us come in all shapes and sizes. Quite who has this kind of caring role for us depends a lot on what stage we are in our lives. The Children’s Society suggested that one way to identify who does the mothering or caring in our lives is to ask the question who does our laundry?

For some of us here present that might be our mothers or parents or other people who help us practically (for example for my mum her carers do this for her). We also might be doing it ourselves or someone in our household other than us who isn’t in a mothering or parenting role to us. Doing the laundry is a role we associate with caring. In my childhood I only recollect one time my dad did the laundry, because my mum was unwell. And it didn’t end well as one of my brother’s red rugby socks turned a selection of things pink!

Continuing to think about our clothing, as well as who has washed our clothes pointing to people who care for us, what have we chosen to put on today? Something practical, something smart, something comfortable, something to ward off the coolness of our church building. Billy Connolly famously said that there is no such thing as bad weather, only the wrong sort of clothes. How many times have we been caught out by wearing something that isn’t quite right?

Like wearing black when everyone else at a funeral is wearing bright colours (and we missed out on the instructions to be colourful). Or the first time I went to watch the Masters snooker at Alexandra Palace. I dressed in winter weight clothing (as this event happens in January and it was a cold day!) This venue turned out to be rather like a sauna and in my experience gets hotter and hotter as the match proceeds. Especially if you are well up the tiered seating (as heat rises). It is hot primarily because of the lights, but also because of the table heaters and the proximity of 2500 people in a relatively small space! The first time I went I boiled in my sensible thick winter jumper – and ever since have worn breathable thin layers with a thick coat to put over the top!

Paul uses the imagery of clothing to point to a caring approach to life in his letter to the Colossians which was our first reading today. Sometimes Paul has high and dense theology and philosophy (as he has done in the last couple of week’s readings from Romans). But this week we get a very simple and practical picture to help us understand. As we have already discovered (Sorry if I am rambling abit!), in our households it is not just mothers who sort the washing, ironing and putting away. The clothes we put on help keep us and protect us. (And somehow it feels like a ‘motherly thing’ to care about what those we love are wearing).

Paul in this case uses the image of clothing to describe the depths  of what it is to love in a household and community. What it is to put that love into practical action. It says

As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

Kindness and patience should sound familiar as these are the last two fruit of the spirit we have thought about.  We can be thankful for those who have been kind to us in our lives (and been wearing kindness in their attitude to life). This can be our mothers or our fathers, or others who have and are caring for us. This can be a selection of other people in our lives too!

Tom Wright describes Paul’s different clothing as Being tender-hearted, kind, humble, meek and ready to put up with anything. Definitely well rounded characteristics of those who have cared for and loved us over the years in our mothers, fathers and others who care for us.

It is important to widen the scope like this (and be honest). Mothers or those who care for us come in all shapes and sizes and so do our experiences of them. As well as all the fun and positive stuff we have been hearing for some Mothering Sunday can be difficult. Where we had a difficult relationship with our mother or our mother has died (especially if that is recent). When we never knew our mother or found mothering hard or someone else has acted in a more mothering way in our lives – than our actual mother. Or that we really wanted to be a mother and couldn’t have children.

Our second reading finished with a pointer to the challenge of mothering. A sword will pierce your own soul was said to Mary. Jesus was a 40 day babe in arms at the time. Just as our relationships with our mothers may be great or difficult, being a mother or someone who cares in a mothering way can also be wonderful or difficult.

The ideas from the Children Society describes their BRICK project, as if it is piece of clothing of enfolding love and care. It is an example of the deepest support to struggling parents and carers (in the worst of circumstances and addictions) to provide care for their children.

From all this it is important to remember it is not always appropriate to hang caring (and being thankful for caring) specifically on mothering and our experiences of it. Especially today as the 19th March is also the day in the church calendar we particularly remember Joseph (Jesus’s earthly father). One thing that matters is it is possible for all of us to put on caring clothing for each other.

Paul tells us that the love of God will protect us and sustain us and warm us. Especially in situations where people are under the greatest strain. If you like Paul’s prayer is that it will be the love of God which people see in us when they come to church. Making a caring or motherly choice of clothing means people see others who enable them to love and forgive. People who are patient, and who bear with each other. Worn well such clothing becomes second nature like your favourite shoes, which you hardly know you have on.

Paul invites us to think of what we choose to wear and why? Today is the day to hear a voice telling us to choose the right clothes. Being as Tom Wright had it – Clothes of tender-heartedness, kindness, humbleness, meekness and ready to put up with anything.

All too often we may think of God as remote and mighty, but God is also motherly and very close to us. Let God clothe us in his love and be loving with each other. Whether our experiences of mothering, parenting and caring our something that brings us great thankfulness or where these things bring memories of the toughest of times and unfulfilled hopes. Putting on love ourselves can change things around us.

That is exactly what Jesus did when he came to earth. He put on love. Love as deep as love can be and as sacrificial as love can be. This love works in us and through us if we wear it as well. And as St Paul ended our reading today – And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. Amen

References:, The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible 1989 ©  1995

Lent 3 – Kindness – Rachel Pengelly

Romans 5:11 and John 4:5-42

May the words of my mouth and meditations of our hearts be acceptable in your sight Amen.

When I went to Secondary school, I was aware of a Latin phrase above the door to the entrance of the school, lots of places and buildings have them. I was aware of it but had no idea what it meant and still to this day I have no idea what it means! A strap line perhaps or some kind of moral guidance that I never tried to investigate. In the Romans passage there is a similar type of phrase. We are ‘justified by faith’.

What does that mean? It sounds very nice, doesn’t it? We are justified by faith and we have peace with God through our lord Jesus Christ.

This motto is central to truth and to our salvation. It is often misunderstood but it is so important to us as Christians.

What is justification? in theology it says ‘the action of declaring or making righteous in the sight of God. We have an echo of Isaiah, in this passage Isaiah says in 27: v5.

“Let them lay claim to My protection; let them make peace with Me–yes, let them make peace with Me.” (NIV)

This goes some way to helping us to understand the meaning of Gods’ protection towards us. Isn’t that wonderful! We are justified and protected by God.

What do we need justification from? One commentary suggests that.

‘One man’s actions started men and women into the path of sin that was Adam back in Genesis. Paul contrasts Adams sinful act with Christ’s redemptive work’ (Enduring word bible commentary 2022)

We have made choices contrary to what God wants for us damaging our relationships with God and others. In our prayers of preparation, we ask God to cleanse the thoughts of our hearts. We bring to mind doing those things we ought not to have done, asking God to wash them clean. Becoming a child of God through Christ.

 In the passage, Paul was writing to Jews and gentiles, and is pastoral in nature, he was writing to real churches with people with real problems like us today.

 We all need justification by God because we are all under the influence of sin. Protestant theologian John Calvin said, ‘justification is through grace alone, through faith alone’. There are no other ways to achieve justification. According to Calvin.

 Justification is like a not guilty verdict from God. A freedom to lead a Christian life. The penalty, fine or sentence is paid. Through Jesus’ suffering on the cross that was enough to justify all that believe in him. Jesus came to save us, not in our sins but from our sins.  We are vindicated through the love, kindness, and the Grace of God. It’s like a parent paying the fines of a child so they do not have to go to prison. A person taking the blame for someone else’s actions. Christ is our substitute. We are justified by faith in Christ. Jesus says that rarely anyone will die for a righteous person.  Paul tells us. ‘Christ proves his love for us, that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.’ How wonderful is that!!

But we must be willing to receive this justification, how do we do that?

We are justified by faith. This is the starting point, to growth and transformation. A real genuine faith in God a faith in his son Jesus Christ and faith in the Holy spirit left with us. As the passage says our suffering produces endurance, that produces character and character produces hope. ‘A chain of maturity I think one virtue builds upon another as we grow in the pattern of Jesus’.  (Enduring word bible commentary 2022)

There are no demands on us, no time scales.  God just wants our faithfulness. This path towards this can be joyful but also tricky with its ups and downs. But in our troubles, we grow. God’s grace and work through us weaves a strong basket that will hold and sustain good fruit.  One of those fruits is forgiveness. Jesus taught us to forgive others as God forgives us. But there is another, that forgiveness can be hard to grant. The hardest type of forgiveness is towards ourselves. But is necessary for reconciliation with God and others, and our personal flourishing and spiritual growth. This lent, shall we flourish in the forgiveness of Christ and the knowledge of our reconciliation with God? Think how liberating that will be!

 We have the knowledge as followers of Jesus, that we will see God face to face, God does not look upon us as sinners, but in his kindness, as righteous people we have been reconciled and saved through the life and death of Christ. Our  starting point is receiving God’s grace, righteousness is our end. We have been ‘made fit’ or made ready to see God. When we put our faith in Christ we can bring our sins to him, and be sorry for them, through our prayers and hand them to God.

So, ‘Paul is saying that we have gained entrance to the most wonderful place possible- we have gained entrance to Gods domain. And we have done this not because we are worthy of it, not because we have forced our way in, but because Jesus Christ has made it possible for us. Jesus is the door to where we enter, and what we enter is a place of grace’ (Jervis, 2020)

Our hearts are changed through God’s grace, which is undeserved and freely given, and we are transformed by that grace ‘a blissful and serene state which a sense of justification can bring’. (Bible hub, Romans 5)

Gods saving love is offered freely to us. All we have to do is receive it!! We may boast or another translation ‘rejoice’ in God’s love. So, what do we do with this gracious gift of the spirit?  Do we keep it to ourselves?  Lock it away in our hearts? or do we share it and spread the news of Gods kindness to us? We use this gift to be kind to others and share the good news of Jesus in our lives. If we receive it openly and joyfully with an open heart, here we will all surely receive Gods free justification. So, this lent let us remember that we are justified by God through Christ.  Through his life, death, and resurrection we are justified by faith.


Enduring word bible commentary Romans chapter 5 (2022) Enduring Word. Available at: (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

Enduring word bible commentary Romans chapter 5 (2022) Enduring Word. Available at: (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

Jervis, L.A. (2020) Commentary on romans 5:1-11, Working Preacher from Luther Seminary. Available at: (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

Romans 5 (no date) Romans 5:1 commentaries: Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with god through our lord jesus christ. Available at: (Accessed: February 6, 2023).

New International Version of the Bible.

Lent 2 – Patience – 5th March 2023

Lent 2 – Patience – 5th March 2023 – Rev Alison Way

Romans  4:1-5, 13-17, John 3:1-17

God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, grow in us the fruit of your spirit, love, joy, peace, patience, kindness generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self control. Amen

Today in our consideration of the fruit of the Spirit that St Paul describes in his letter to the Galatians, we are thinking about patience. Like many people patience is not my best gift. Likewise, patience is not a well prized attitude to life in our “I want it and I want it now” culture. We live with a lot of pressure about having things instantly. When it would often be better to be taking more time and putting in more effort to achieve something that would be much more rewarding and long lasting.

Henri Nouwen says – The word patience means the willingness to stay where we are and live the situation out to the full, in the belief that something hidden there will manifest itself to us. Inpatient people are always expecting the real thing to happen somewhere else and therefore want to go somewhere else. The moment is empty. Patient people, he concludes, dare to stay where they are.

Patient living means living actively in the present and waiting there. When I look back over my life I can think of a number of occasions when the going got difficult, when I needed to be patient and take time rather than thinking the grass was greener on the other side. This seemed to be particularly true when I didn’t want to be patient and wait. Yet things did work themselves through as the days passed and in a way beyond the limits of what I had thought was best at the time! I suspect we have all been there (and eventually been very grateful that we waited and were patient!)

In the Bible we encounter patience in two different sets of circumstances. Firstly, there are those related to perseverance, and keeping going towards a goal. Further on in Galatians it says – So let us not grow weary in doing what is right, for we will reap at harvest time, if we do not give up. And secondly in circumstances where we don’t know which way to turn and hit rock bottom. For example in the psalms of lament: Be still before the Lord, and wait patiently for him. (Psalm 37:7). Both of these circumstances mean we need to move forward to God’s timing and not our own. The Spirit’s fruit will help us with waiting where we need to and giving us the strength to keep going taking one step at a time.

In that reading from Romans, Paul is using the story of Abraham to say to the people of Rome that it is about your walk of faith and how you go about it that matters, rather than relying on who your ancestors happen to be or the law! What Paul is actually saying here is that as an example of faithful living – Abraham is the father of all of us.

Let’s remind ourselves a little of the story of Abraham and there is more than a little patience and perseverance on display within it. Abraham was the first great Patriarch of ancient Israel. Abraham took up the leadership of his family when he was 75 years old (when many of us would be looking to hand things over). At this point, Abraham started to follow what God wanted of him and to follow where God led him. As God gave Abraham this new name (he was originally Abram), God promised to make him and his descendants a great nation. and God would take them to a promised land.

Abraham literally means father of a multitude. Yet in reality, Abraham and his wife Sarah had no children at the time and were getting on in years. This choice to follow God Abraham made was by no means the easy option. It involved leaving his homelands and travelling long distances and settling where the locals were pretty hostile. It meant withstanding a time of great famine and having a very iffy time in Egypt – which included his wife Sarah (who Abraham had said was his sister) being taken from him to be the wife of the Egyptian ruler.

Time was marching on in Abraham’s story when God reaffirmed his promise to Abraham about being the father of a great nation if he was a faithful follower and emphasising the need for patience in his journey. Abraham was, I suspect unsurprisingly, growing increasingly anxious about his advancing age and the likelihood of him founding a great nation was diminishing by the day. Yet eventually nearly 25 years on Abraham and Sarah had their child Isaac. And a very patient wait ended. How good would we be at waiting 25 years for something?

In Old testament times, Abraham’s faithfulness and perseverance (which you could define as lived out patience) is presented as a model for human behaviour.  He is hospitable to strangers. He is a God-fearing man who was obedient to God’s laws and his will for his life. In later Biblical references, the God of Israel is frequently identified as the God of Abraham  and Israel is often called the people “of the God of Abraham”. Abraham is such an important figure in the history of God’s people that when they were in trouble, Israel appealed to God to remember the promises made to Abraham.

In the New Testament, as we heard this morning Abraham is presented as the supreme model of vital faith and patience as required for every Christian believer. Abraham’s example includes bravery, patience and dependence on God. Abraham wasn’t in the position to rationalise God’s plan for him and his family, or to wonder about the long-term future that he would not see. Abraham had to wait a long time for what God promised. Yet Abraham got on with the business of following God faithfully, no matter how unlikely all that God promised to him seemed.

So what can we learn from Abraham? Are we living up to what are our own God-given priorities? What is God asking of us? Or doing things more to our own designing? Are we willing and are we flexible about achieving what God wants of each of us here today? Even when we can’t see the full picture, and don’t have the map. Or when we think what God wants is impossible or it takes a very long time to come to pass (as it did for Abraham) – is there evidence of patience and perseverance in our lives?

How can we encourage ourselves to live with more patience and perseverance to the fore? It can be easy to get discouraged and give up when something seems a long way off. It is then helpful to recognise each step on a journey to something (rather than just the importance of the final destination). Not looking too far ahead, and looking at what we can do now and in the present can be helpful, and sharing the things that encourage us to keep going. 

On that topic we are in a period with much anxiety and gloominess around us. It is important to be encouraging, kind and patient with each other as well as with ourselves. Sharing the steps along the way and going at the pace that suits everyone is important (rather than wanting to rush ahead and leaving others behind in our uncomfortable wake!) Sharing many more encouragements rather than criticisms is a part of this too. The Spirit of patience will help us with our need to be thankful as well, if we pay attention to the journey and how we are walking together rather than just the final destination.

Abraham’s story has much to teach us and has a strong core of patient  faithfulness we can learn from, but I want to dwell in a very Lenten place to finish. With another aspect of his story I have always found hard to understand. This is the action when a bit later on Abraham follows the custom to sacrifice his precious son. Through God’s intervention, Abraham doesn’t go through with it. The purpose of this story is to point to his son Jesus and God’s sacrifice for us and just how profound that is. There are deep echoes, as Isaac carries the wood for the sacrifice, and we remember Jesus carrying his wooden cross. It all points to the deep cost of it in the heart of our loving God.

Develop in us more of the fruit of patience, as we give thanks for God sending his Son to earth to save us. Let us pray – Just as Abraham did, Lord, we come in faith to wait upon you. You are the light of our hearts. In you our hearts rejoice. We pray for the spiritual fruit of patience in our walk with you. We place our trust in your holy name now and forever. Amen.

Henri Nouwen – Waiting for God – In Watch for the Light – Plough Publishing house, The New Revised Standard Version of the Bible  © 1989, 1995. Prayer from © reproduced with permission.