Dear friends,

Warmest Christian greetings in the name and love of Christ.

As we enter March this year, we step into the season of Lent. The season starts on Ash Wednesday and continues up until the beginning of Holy Week.It is a time of preparation – a time that leads up to those pivotal historic days of Good Friday and Easter Sunday. People often talk about giving things up for Lent, but the challenge Jesus presents us with is to take something up, rather than give something up. Jesus said this (Luke 9:23):

If anyone would come after to me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily and follow me.

Jesus directs us toward a daily calling, not merely a Lenten discipline.Following Christ is something we conscientiously embrace every day of this earthly life. There is no retirement in discipleship. This is all based upon the fact that Jesus, by dying for us on the cross, has sacrificed everything for us and for our salvation. Our response to such love has to be a total offering of ourselves to Christ. We must now live for Him and his glory.May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world (Galatians 6:14).

This year on Good Friday, I would like our act of meditation and reflection to be full of your thoughts, reflections and contributions. If you would like to contribute any kind of reading, poem, reflection, song or prayer – please let me know. I hope to lead a service that invites us to contemplate the cross and the love of God from many angles and perspectives – and I would like a number of different voices to be heard. Perhaps God will give you something to share? Contact me if you feel led to contribute anything that speaks about God’s love for us in Jesus. Keep Good Friday in mind.

May I remind you that most of my sermons are available to read and study on our Church website. If you miss a sermon but want to catch up, simply checkout the website. The sermons I preached on the prophet Joel last year are now beginning to take on a new relevance, particularly the one entitled, “Has anything like this ever happened”? I am afraid to say that we are now beginning to see the devastation caused not by Covid, but by the lockdowns. Therefore, we need to be ready to pray and act. The economic tragedy is only just beginning to unfold with the astronomical national debts and severe cost of living crisis now upon us, as well as a mental health disaster which was always predictable. The damage done to the mental health of thousands of our children and young people is deeply concerning and is now being reported through some media outlets, who finally seem willing to admit the acute suffering emerging as a direct result of the lockdowns.

The years to come will be dominated by challenges relating to the nation’s recovery, and the NHS will be battling with gigantic waiting lists for many years into the future. There will be unique opportunities to share the gospel of God’s love and hope in Jesus. A fragile populace in a broken nation, in which fear and division have escalated to untold heights, may finally be much more receptive to the good news of true peace that can be found in Jesus – who is the Light and Hope of the world. His eternal light shines in and through us.

The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid (Psalm 27:1).

A new chapter in the history of Christchurch’s life is about to begin. You can be part of the story. The Holy Spirit is the author.

Yours in Christ,

Peter