The time has come for our yearly pilgrimage into the desert, the time that we remember Jesus’ 40 day journey traversing the wilderness and the challenges he faced. The time is Lent.
Lent gives us the opportunity to turn towards God and examine our lives. It is a time of repentance. Repentance is a word laden with negative connotations about what we have done, or left undone. But repentance is far more than moral correction, it stems from the Greek, metanoia, meaning transformation, turning around or towards God. Lent is a time of transformation, of turning our faces towards the face of God. In turning towards God we inevitably turn towards our neighbour.
Biblical scholar Christopher Wright said about mission, “it is not so much that God has a mission for his church in the world, but that God has a church for his mission in the world”. Because the Church exists for this role in God’s mission, we can only know what mission is by being in relationship with God, by prayerfully discerning, in community, the way of God. Mission is inherently relational and transformative. In being in relationship with God we are in relationship with our neighbour and transformed through the engagement.
The Anglican Church of Australia is in a place of discernment regarding its identity, mission, and future. Much attention was given to this discernment at the 2014 General Synod, particularly through a report from the Viability and Structures Task Force. As we journey this Lent let us turn towards God and our neighbour in discernment, prayer, and therefore, mission. Let us particularly pray for the church and its life in God’s mission.
May your Lent be a time of transformation.
The Rev John Deane