One of the very strong messages that runs throughout the Gospels, and especially in the readings for Lent and Holy Week, is that Jesus came not to be served but to serve. Indeed, as we move through the Triduum – the three holiest of days – to the joy of Easter morning and that amazing moment when Mary Magdalene realises that the Lord is risen and goes to tell the disciples of her great joy, let us not forget that Jesus came amongst us to serve.
As we respond to the Good News that Christ is risen, it is resurrection joy that should lead us to want to serve those around us and to be good neighbours as part of our way of saying thank you to God for the gift of his Son who came to save us. The Lenten Gospels urge us to reflect upon how we can be of service to others in the same way as Jesus served his disciples. Loving service can be costly in many ways, but it is this that helps to deepen our joy as we grow more into the likeness of Christ in all that we do.
Such loving service has been evident in our parishes throughout the last year as we have lived through the significant changes brought about in all our lives by the pandemic. People have become more aware of the needs of others and have sought to join together to help to meet those needs.
That is precisely what the joy of Easter should be about in so many ways. For, as we give thanks for Jesus’ life, death and resurrection and for the fullness of life that this can and does bring to us, so we should find ourselves wanting to help others to have full and abundant lives.
For many at this time, such fullness and abundance feels out of reach because of the situation in which they find themselves. Concerns about where it will be possible to live or whether they have enough to feed their families are felt, sadly, by far too many both in this country and around the world.
That is why both here in our Diocese and in our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe and in Jerusalem the churches have been so concerned to work together to reduce food insecurity. In so doing they are helping people to know more about God’s love and care for the whole of humanity through the practical medium of helping to ensure that that they will be able to eat and feed those who matter to them.
My Lent Call this year has focused entirely on food insecurity. It has featured food banks here in the Diocese in Redhill, Wandsworth, Norwood and Brixton, Lewisham, Bermondsey and Camberwell, as well as food-related projects in our Link Dioceses in Zimbabwe of Masvingo, Matabeleland, Manicaland and Central Zimbabwe, as well as in Jerusalem.
In each of these projects and places we can learn of the efforts that are being made to help to feed the hungry and alleviate their pressing needs. Work is also happening to seek to try to change the things that cause this need. There is much joy to be found in this expression of God’s love to those around us and we should give thanks to God for this. Please do pray for these projects and give generously if you can – it is not too late to do so! Thank you.
As we move from Lent into Eastertide may you know the deepening joy of serving our Lord in what ever way you can so that, as we pay close attention to the injunction to love our neighbours as ourselves, we can know that we are giving thanks to God in a practical way, for the joy brought by Jesus’ resurrection and all that means in our lives and to the life of the world.
I wish you and yours a joyful and blessed Eastertide.