FROM THE MINISTER

For over 250 years people have been enjoying jigsaw puzzles.  Around 1760 John Spilsbury started selling ‘dissected maps’ to help children learn where the countries of Europe were located.  Since then, wooden or cardboard puzzles have sold in their millions as good value and, of course, re-usable home entertainment.

Over the last few weeks we have been in the season of Lent. It may seem strange to say so, but there is a link between what Lent is for and what we do when we tip a box of pieces onto the table and start a jigsaw. 

‘Lent is a good opportunity’, Peter Ball of the United Reformed Church has written, ‘to reflect on how our worship of God and life of discipleship fit together’ (Sundays with CWM – 2019).

When making a jigsaw most people start working on the edge and corner pieces and leave tackling those difficult areas of sky as long as possible.  How does that compare with our attitude to Lent?  I get the impression that with Lent many people start with what you might call a simple corner piece (giving something up – or doing something extra) but it does not really become part of any bigger picture. 

That bigger picture comes from asking God to help turn ourselves round until we line up better with the way Jesus was – and the way he still is in the church today.  So, in that sense, perhaps we are like a jigsaw piece itself and in Lent we have been asking God to be like the hand that has chosen us, turns us and guides us into the picture he is making of the world. 

Of course any time is a good time for that to happen, but Lent with its forty days and six Sundays has been giving a kind of shape to our intention. 

On the Sundays of Lent we have been following this year a sequence I’ve called ‘The Way of the Cross’.   For there is something valuable about deciding to keep Jesus company all the way to Good Friday.  We are touching on some of the most difficult things in life: sorrow and sacrifice and pain, but always with Jesus beside us.

In early March we began exploring this theme (including a jigsaw) at Café Church and have gone on from there.

Our hope is that when Easter comes we shall be able to share more truly and meaningfully in its joy precisely because we have taken this journey in step with Jesus. 

‘Death has been swallowed up in victory’, St Paul rejoiced to write to his friends (1 Corinthians 15:54).  He who had once dragged Christians from their homes in an ecstasy of intolerance, now saw the biggest picture of all – and his part in it.  He was made glad and we can be so made also.

Stephen

 

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