St. Mary's Church

First Sunday of Lent

First Sunday of Lent

20 Feb 2021 • General news

Genesis 9. 8-17

8 Then God said to Noah and to his sons with him, 9‘As for me, I am establishing my covenant with you and your descendants after you, 10and with every living creature that is with you, the birds, the domestic animals, and every animal of the earth with you, as many as came out of the ark. 11I establish my covenant with you, that never again shall all flesh be cut off by the waters of a flood, and never again shall there be a flood to destroy the earth.’ 12God said, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I make between me and you and every living creature that is with you, for all future generations: 13I have set my bow in the clouds, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth. 14When I bring clouds over the earth and the bow is seen in the clouds, 15I will remember my covenant that is between me and you and every living creature of all flesh; and the waters shall never again become a flood to destroy all flesh. 16When the bow is in the clouds, I will see it and remember the everlasting covenant between God and every living creature of all flesh that is on the earth.’ 17God said to Noah, ‘This is the sign of the covenant that I have established between me and all flesh that is on the earth.’

1 Peter 3. 18-end

18For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, in order to bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit, 19in which also he went and made a proclamation to the spirits in prison, 20who in former times did not obey, when God waited patiently in the days of Noah, during the building of the ark, in which a few, that is, eight people, were saved through water. 21And baptism, which this prefigured, now saves you—not as a removal of dirt from the body, but as an appeal to God for a good conscience, through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, 22who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers made subject to him.

Mark 1. 9-15

9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. 10And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. 11And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’

12 And the Spirit immediately drove him out into the wilderness. 13He was in the wilderness for forty days, tempted by Satan; and he was with the wild beasts; and the angels waited on him.

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.’

Thought for Lent 1 (21st February 2021) by Malcolm Tyler

The reading from Mark’s gospel today certainly lives up to Mark’s reputation of being brief. Two verses only about Jesus being in the wilderness for 40 days and no mention of what Satan’s temptations were. Mark seems to lay emphasis on the fact that the angels ministered to Jesus, in other words on the goodness of God, who has presumably sent the angels in the first place. This is picked up in the next couple of verses as Jesus is seen to proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God and not an unforgiving God who begrudges anything for his creation.

I find it encouraging too, that today’s Old Testament reading is the end of that wonderful story of Noah and his ark. After the continual rain and then the receding of the flood God sends the rainbow as the sign of his everlasting covenant between himself and his people. This speaks to me of a God who forgives rather than one who punishes.

Many people seem to imagine that Lent is meant to be a hard time, one in which Christians forego things. The liturgy of the season can encourage us to do just that.The words ‘deny yourself and take up your cross and follow me’, spring to mind and I guess few of us like to deny ourselves. We can, however, draw a distinction between. To use a medical analogy, denying ourself of things is like treating the symptoms of a disease, whereas denying ourself is dealing with the cause.

The message of Easter, which is of course what we are meant to be using our time in Lent to reflect upon, is that God has acted to bring us back to him, to forgive those who are repentant and not to cast them off for ever. This does not mean that we should make ourselves miserable in Lent but should be rejoicing that we can be forgiven by putting our trust in God and living the life he wants us to live.In the end, that may mean eating or drinking less, so that the world’s resources may be shared more equitably but not necessarily so.God calls even the poorest in our world to deny themselves and I don’t think that means to stop eating things they need for survival. Rather it means to be faithful to God and trust in him and not just in themselves.

The words which we would have used on Ash Wednesday, had we had a service of ashing, are powerful words but they set the agenda for us all.

‘Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return. Turn away from sin and be faithful to Christ.’

Intercessions for the First Sunday of Lent – 21st February 2021

Everlasting God, your son Jesus Christ was tried and tempted by the devil. May we never be ashamed of temptation but saved from the weakness of giving in. Help us choose the way of faithfulness rather than popularity, service rather than fame and sacrifice rather than power.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer

Gracious God, we pray for the whole family of your church here in Coventry and across this country and throughout the world. May all your people be built up in faith and demonstrate in their lives the gospel of Jesus Christ especially as at this time we are struggling to meet together because of the pandemic. Help us to play our part in the life of the church throughout the world; through our prayers and by our gifts of money, service and care during this season of Lent and beyond. Give courage to those who find it hard to follow you. Give us a fresh vision that leads to action and strengthen us to serve you in the places where we live.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer

Creator God, we pray for those in positions of authority and leadership; that they do not misuse their powers but respect and care for all their peoples and for the natural resources of their countries. We pray for the governments of all countries still suffering under the pandemic, and especially for our own government; guide our Prime Minister and all those working for and with him during this difficult time.

During our Lent observance may we be constantly aware of those in our world who are always hungry and thirsty and of all those who have so little when we have so much.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer

Father God, we ask you to protect our loved ones, our friends and our neighbours. We pray that this Lenten season may bring grace to our friends and relatives who no longer practice their faith, and that they may return in the certain knowledge of your loving acceptance of them.

We pray for all front-line workers, and for all those who put service to others ahead of their own safety. We pray for teachers who work hard to provide continuity of education for our young people, and for all those who are juggling working from home with the stresses of home schooling, that they may find the strength to remain creative, positive and resilient.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer

Loving God, we pray for those who are ill and in pain, longing to live full lives; for those who are sad and hurt, longing for comfort; for those in hospital awaiting treatment; for those convalescing, seeing an end to their suffering; and for those whose only relief will come through death. May we always offer gentle support to those in trouble sensitive encouragement to those in need, and strength and support to those in weakness. We especially pray for any suffering from Coronavirus.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer

Merciful God, we pray for those saddened by the death of someone close to them. Give them your comfort as they mourn for their loved ones and turn their darkness into light. We commend to your everlasting love and care those who have died praying that will rest eternal in the light of Christ. We remember especially those personally known to us.

Lord in your mercy,

Hear our Prayer

Gracious God, help us to see this time of Lent as an opportunity to develop our discipleship and discipline and as your Son Jesus showed us how to reject temptation, fill us with grace to be faithful to his example in this Lenten season and the years ahead.

Merciful Father:

accept these prayers for the sake of your Son, our Saviour, Jesus Christ.

Faithfulness to Christ and rejection of sin (and not giving up things which can make us feel we have merited something from God) are the things honoured by our faithful God who invites us all into his Kingdom.