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Surprised by God

News St Martin – Talking Points

Sunday 16 March 2014

Lent now feels like it has truly started.

We’ve had Ash Wednesday. Monday saw the first of the Lent Course based on Gerard W Hughes book “God of Surprises”. And last weekend, we had the first of our Lent 6.30pm services, in which members of the congregation are talking about their stories of being surprised by God. I’ve a tremendous fondness for those services; their simple style works well with my spirituality, there’s always a new insight and they were, in 2000, my way into this community, of understanding a new level of love and acceptance. We were reminded on Sunday of how God surprises us by showing us so much love, making us children of God.

The Collect for Ash Wednesday starts:

Almighty and everlasting God, you hate nothing that you have made…

And invites us to pray that:

…we, worthily lamenting our sins and acknowledging our wretchedness, may receive from you, the God of all mercy, perfect remission and forgiveness.

How do you read that Collect? The part of me that is more than capable of becoming victim heads straight for the word wretchedness and stops there, ignoring the forgiveness that is writ so large. Penitence is an essential part of Lent – but it’s only part of the journey. The prayers of penitence at the Lent 6.30pm service include these words:

Because you come among us

and hear the stories of our lives

and in the place of judgement offer healing for our pain

we need you

Why not come and hear more of the stories of our great and surprising God? Why not come and bring your story and find healing rather than judgement?

Jeff Claxton