This Lent we are all invited to explore how we can live well with the mess of everyday life.
Dust and Glory encourages us to take a fresh look at the frustrations and failings that every day brings and, rather than pretending we can always avoid them, seek to learn from them and grow closer to God through them
|Failing widelyTuesday, Week 5ReadingJohn 21.1-11After these things Jesus showed himself again to the disciples by the Sea of Tiberias; and he showed himself in this way. Gathered there together were Simon Peter, Thomas called the Twin, Nathanael of Cana in Galilee, the sons of Zebedee, and two others of his disciples. Simon Peter said to them, ‘I am going fishing.’ They said to him, ‘We will go with you.’ They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing.|
Just after daybreak, Jesus stood on the beach; but the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, ‘Children, you have no fish, have you?’ They answered him, ‘No.’ He said to them, ‘Cast the net to the right side of the boat, and you will find some.’ So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in because there were so many fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved said to Peter, ‘It is the Lord!’ When Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he put on some clothes, for he was naked, and jumped into the lake. But the other disciples came in the boat, dragging the net full of fish, for they were not far from the land, only about a hundred yards off.
When they had gone ashore, they saw a charcoal fire there, with fish on it, and bread. Jesus said to them, ‘Bring some of the fish that you have just caught.’ So Simon Peter went aboard and hauled the net ashore, full of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three of them; and though there were so many, the net was not torn.ReflectionJesus set the disciples on the right path when they were failing at their task. I have learned from many different kinds of mistakes. It doesn’t mean I won’t make mistakes again – it means I won’t make those particular mistakes again.
One of the things most often said is that failure presents an opportunity to learn and to do things differently. But it’s not that easy is it? Sometimes we fail to learn from our mistakes. We make the same ones again and again.
Learning from failure is different to turning failure into success. In learning from failure, you may simply be learning not to mess things up so badly, or in the same way, next time.
Learning from our failures may actually be about making life a little more tolerable, not incredibly successful. Perhaps we need to set the bar quite low when it comes to learning from failure?ChallengeThink of a mistake you have made this week, whether small or large. What can you learn from it? What can you do to try to ensure it doesn’t happen again?Today’s family challengeThink back to a time things went wrong for youWe often learn through experiences of things going wrong. They can help us to avoid similar problems in future – or at least to deal with them better.
|Living in the messMonday, Week 5|
|ReadingPsalm 107O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;|
for his steadfast love endures for ever.
Let the redeemed of the Lord say so,
those he redeemed from trouble
and gathered in from the lands,
from the east and from the west,
from the north and from the south.
Some wandered in desert wastes,
finding no way to an inhabited town;
hungry and thirsty,
their soul fainted within them.
Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
and he delivered them from their distress;
he led them by a straight way,
until they reached an inhabited town.
Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
for his wonderful works to humankind.
For he satisfies the thirsty,
and the hungry he fills with good things.
|ReflectionWhen I procrastinate, I tidy. I organise each room, I fold the sheets, I tidy the drawers and get the laundry in order. It’s so beautiful. The trouble is that I tend to try to do with life what I have just done with my house – that is, get it all tidy and in order. And that’s not possible. We do what we can to make things better, but it’s equally important to learn to live in the mess that’s an inevitable consequence of living.|
So what can we learn about ourselves through living in the mess? One of the things we note is that God is closer to the mess than we might imagine, and our messy lives and world are never out of the scope of God’s love and redemption. Indeed “mess” might even be part of God’s plan. He is always present with us in it.
|ChallengeWhether we’re facing physical mess, emotional mess, financial mess or any other kind – do we shut God out of it, or do we “cry out to the Lord in our trouble” to step into the confusion of our lives?|
|Today’s family challengeClear up a drawer or cupboard that’s got into a messTidying our belongings is not too hard (once we get started) – but unless we make a habit of doing so regularly, the mess soon builds up again|
|How we are, not just who we areWeekend, Week 4|
|ReadingRevelation 2.1-7‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: These are the words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands:|
‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance. I know that you cannot tolerate evildoers; you have tested those who claim to be apostles but are not, and have found them to be false. I also know that you are enduring patiently and bearing up for the sake of my name, and that you have not grown weary. But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Yet this is to your credit: you hate the works of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate. Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches. To everyone who conquers, I will give permission to eat from the tree of life that is in the paradise of God.
|ReflectionThere is no ideal Church, only the one that exists. So how do we reconcile this amazing, cosmic vision of who and what the Church is with the limited, fractured and fallible organisation we see enacted in our pews and parsonages, and in the pages of our news outlets day after day?|
We need to focus less on what we are, and the limits and boundaries of that, less on what we do, and the way our own efforts might save us, and more on the way we are together, the quality of our being and our relating – how we are church.
In the words of Revelation, we need as a church to rekindle the love we had at first. Let’s be kind to each other, and focus more on the qualities that have the potential to bring us together, not drive us apart. For in the end we are, together, a demonstration of the wisdom God, no more and no less.
|ChallengeHow do we treat others, particularly when we disagree? Is it with kindness, openness and compassion, or do we try and preserve our own interests? Bear that in mind today.|
|Today’s family challengeWhen you next go to church, notice when we say sorry to others and to GodIn church we often begin services by saying sorry. And we often shake hands to show that we share the peace Jesus wants for his Church|
|Division is not the answerFriday, Week 4|
|ReadingJohn 17.20-24Jesus looked up to heaven and said, ‘I ask not only on behalf of these, but also on behalf of those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. Father, I desire that those also, whom you have given me, may be with me where I am, to see my glory, which you have given me because you loved me before the foundation of the world.|
|ReflectionIn Monday’s reading, we heard Paul telling the Ephesians that the Church is the means by which God shows to the hidden forces of this world the wisdom of God’s plan to reconcile all people to himself through the cross of Christ. The mere existence of the Church demonstrates that Christ has been victorious.|
The way you prove that something was a wise plan is to show it working.
So when the Church demonstrates its unity, when the Church rises up to be all the Church it can be, bringing reconciliation, challenging injustice, heralding freedom, proclaiming good news; when we refuse hostility and division, when we treat each other – everyone – as Christian brothers and sisters, then we show to the rulers and authorities the wisdom of God, by being the Church Christ died to create.
|ChallengeJesus calls us to unity, even (maybe especially) with those who are different from us.|
Can you find something you have in common with someone who is very different to you today?
|Today’s family challengeSpend some time with someone who seems very different from youJesus made friends with unexpected people. Who do you know who seems very different? Can you find something you have in common?|
|What do we do with the past?Thursday, Week 4|
|ReadingMatthew 5.23-24Jesus said to the crowds, ‘So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.’|
|ReflectionOne of ways the Church has failed is in events in its history, with resonances in the present, where things went very badly wrong. In recent years the Church of England has made commitments to address the historic wrongs perpetrated by the church in the past – and to stop those things happening again.|
So what to do with these failures of the past? How can a church – or indeed any institution – today meaningfully apologise on behalf of people from long ago? What form should repentance and justice take?
We can’t change history, but we can become aware of damaging things that happened in the past and commit to put right their effects in the present. Although turning back the clock is impossible, we need to do the next best thing – to say sorry and to do all that can be done to put it right.
|ChallengeNone of us can undo our actions. But it is never too late to apologise. Is there something in your past (however long ago) that you can apologise for?|
|Today’s family challengeRead or listen to Jesus’ story about The Lost Sheep (Luke 15.1-7)We all lose our way sometimes. The church is not a place for perfect people. It’s a place where we know God wants to gather all of us into his family.|
|Powers and principalitiesWednesday, Week 4|
|ReadingEphesians 6.10-20Finally, be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his power. Put on the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. Therefore take up the whole armour of God, so that you may be able to withstand on that evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm. Stand therefore, and fasten the belt of truth around your waist, and put on the breastplate of righteousness. As shoes for your feet put on whatever will make you ready to proclaim the gospel of peace. With all of these, take the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.|
Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints. Pray also for me, so that when I speak, a message may be given to me to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it boldly, as I must speak.
|ReflectionThe ways of God’s kingdom are not the ways of the world. Jesus himself made that clear: “My kingdom is not of this world” (John 18.36).|
The kingdom of God – that overarching framework in which Jesus understood his mission and in which we continue to view the work of the church – sets itself over against the “kingdoms” (and powers and principalities) who occupy this world in “this present darkness”.
We are citizens of another kingdom, living in a land under occupation, and that demands a different approach. Jesus taught the disciples to operate in a way that subverted the powers and principalities of the world by giving them signposts, telling them stories about God’s kingdom. And he left space for them to fail in pursuit of it.
|ChallengeThink about power in our world – who has it and how we perceive it – and the power Jesus showed us in the Gospels. How do they differ?|
|Today’s family challengePray for those who lead your local churchLike any group, the church contains different views and ideas about what is best. Pray for those who have to work out what God wants for his people.|
|Relational sinsTuesday, Week 4ReadingGalatians 5.16-26Live by the Spirit, I say, and do not gratify the desires of the flesh. For what the flesh desires is opposed to the Spirit, and what the Spirit desires is opposed to the flesh; for these are opposed to each other, to prevent you from doing what you want. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not subject to the law. Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.|
By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. And those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live by the Spirit, let us also be guided by the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, competing against one another, envying one another.ReflectionThis passage in Galatians is a difficult one for us, and it often feels easier to ignore it. When we do, rarely, look at it, we often seem to focus on the “juicy” sins – “sexual immorality, impurity, debauchery, idolatry, sorcery… drunkenness, carousing”. We often forget or overlook the more boring relational sins: “enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy”.
And yet how often do we see these particular “works of the flesh” consuming churches and communities, as people fall out with each other, fail to love each other, and descend into factions and parties (and not the fun kind)?
These sins of “communal discord” which Paul lists in Galatians 5 are very much evident in both the Church and the wider world. But what marks the Church out as different – as God’s Church – is our willingness to love those with whom we differ, disagree and whom perhaps we even dislike.ChallengeWhere there are communities, there is often discord. Think for a moment about a Christian community you are part of. Do any of the sins Paul talks about in Galatians seem to be present?Today’s family challengeLook up ‘The Golden Rule’ Jesus gave his followers (Matthew 7.12)Jesus called his followers to treat everyone – not just the people we like – as we would want to be treated
|What’s so important about the church?Monday, Week 4|
|ReadingEphesians 3.7-13Of this gospel I have become a servant according to the gift of God’s grace that was given to me by the working of his power. Although I am the very least of all the saints, this grace was given to me to bring to the Gentiles the news of the boundless riches of Christ, and to make everyone see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things; so that through the church the wisdom of God in its rich variety might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose that he has carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, in whom we have access to God in boldness and confidence through faith in him. I pray therefore that you may not lose heart over my sufferings for you; they are your glory.|
|ReflectionPaul’s vision in Ephesians is that “church” isn’t an optional extra we can add on to a personal faith in Jesus if we feel like it. Membership of the Body of Christ, with our siblings, this radical new inclusive community of belonging and reconciliation, is absolutely central to the gospel.|
When we’re talking about “the Church” in Ephesians, we are talking the gathering of all God’s people, called out and saved throughout all time and history to gather around the throne of Jesus, the heavenly assembly, the universal, cosmic, multi-national, multi-racial, boundary-less community of saved and reconciled people.
And through this assembly of “called out” ones, the manifold wisdom of God will be made known. The “wisdom” of God is his wonderful redemption plan to unite heaven and earth, and all peoples, through the death of his Son Jesus on the cross.
|ChallengeWhether we like it or not, we’re not just individual Christians. We are part of a new community of God’s people. What do you think that community should look like?|
|Today’s family challengeThink about what makes a good communityWhat do you think is the recipe for a kind and happy school? Or a kind and happy church? Perhaps write or draw what it looks like to you.|
|Forgetting like God forgets: part 2Weekend, Week 3ReadingRomans 4.6-8So also David speaks of the blessedness of those to whom God reckons righteousness irrespective of works: |
‘Blessed are those whose iniquities are forgiven,
and whose sins are covered;
blessed is the one against whom the Lord will not reckon sin.’ReflectionNow we know that God doesn’t just forgive our sins but forgets them, how does that help us deal with those who may have done us a great wrong – perhaps an unforgiveable wrong?
Telling people to “forgive” others has sometimes been a continuation of the wrong that has been done to them, a denial of its severity and an avoidance of proper justice. We have seen it happen to victims of abuse, communities who have been terribly treated, to women and children harmed in relationships, and many other vulnerable groups.
Forgiveness is vitally important, but equally important is understanding power dynamics in relationships and systems, recognising that forgiveness is the victims’ choice alone and that forgiveness will often come alongside repentance, consequences and justice. There may well be certain things we find too difficult to forgive. All we can do is hand them over to the God who judges everyone with perfect justice and mercy.ChallengeMeditate on this line from the Lord’s Prayer today: “Forgive us our sins as we forgive those who sin against us.” How might you put this into practice?Today’s family challengeThis Mothering Sunday weekend, thank God for those who care for youThis weekend – which marks the half-way point in our Lent journey – try to spend some time looking after someone who works hard to look after you.
|Forgetting like God forgets: part 1Friday, Week 3ReadingIsaiah 43.16-25Thus says the Lord,|
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
The wild animals will honour me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
Yet you did not call upon me, O Jacob;
but you have been weary of me, O Israel!
You have not brought me your sheep for burnt-offerings,
or honoured me with your sacrifices.
I have not burdened you with offerings,
or wearied you with frankincense.
You have not bought me sweet cane with money,
or satisfied me with the fat of your sacrifices.
But you have burdened me with your sins;
you have wearied me with your iniquities.
I, I am He
who blots out your transgressions for my own sake,
and I will not remember your sins.Reflection“If we confess our sins,” St John writes, “he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1.9). Yes, God calls us to own up to – or confess – our sins. But once this confession has taken place, God does something remarkable with our sins, and his memory of them. In fact the Bible shows us a God who is so ready and willing to forgive sins that he can’t even remember them half the time: “I will not remember your sins,” God says in our reading from Isaiah today.
God might be perfect, but he’s very forgetful when it comes to our sin, negligent, even, in not counting our sins against us. That is a great encouragement to all of us who consider ourselves failures. With the awakening to the knowledge of sin comes inevitable guilt, but even as that happens God has already provided the solution, and has blotted out our sin.ChallengeYou might be holding on to something you did wrong in the past. Perhaps it still has a big hold on you. Ask the God who is ready to forget your wrong to help you forgive yourself today.Today’s family challengeAsk God to forgive any wrong you may have done todayThe Prophet Isaiah tells us that God will not remember the sins of those who are truly sorry. Sometimes we, too, need to let go of what is past and forgive ourselves.
|Our part in the world’s “big sins”Thursday, Week 3ReadingMatthew 5.21-26Jesus said to the crowds, ‘You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, “You shall not murder”; and “whoever murders shall be liable to judgement.” But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgement; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, “You fool”, you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift. Come to terms quickly with your accuser while you are on the way to court with him, or your accuser may hand you over to the judge, and the judge to the guard, and you will be thrown into prison. Truly I tell you, you will never get out until you have paid the last penny.ReflectionSin is both a power and a behaviour. We don’t need – nor are we able to – choose between the two or prioritise one over the other.|
Perhaps the most obvious example of this is the way the sin of racism has historically shaped and continues to shape the way our world, particularly in the West, is ordered. One of the revelations of recent thinking on racism is that it is not enough simply to be not racist myself. I must also acknowledge the fact that I am shaped by a history and a society where I have benefitted because of a history of colonialism, racism and oppression.
What is my responsibility in relation to this kind of structural or systemic sin?
The first step is awareness. Second, there is a need to listen and understand. Thirdly, there is a need to speak out about what we now know is wrong and sinful.ChallengeThink of a big injustice that is part of society. How might you follow the three-step process of awareness, understanding and speaking out about it?Today’s family challengeMake a list of the biggest problems in our world todayThink about the things on your list. Is anyone to blame for them? Do you see any signs of hope that things can improve?
|Our sins are not smallWednesday, Week 3Reading2 Samuel 12.1-7aAnd the Lord sent [the Prophet] Nathan to David. He came to him, and said to him, ‘There were two men in a certain city, one rich and the other poor. The rich man had very many flocks and herds; but the poor man had nothing but one little ewe lamb, which he had bought. He brought it up, and it grew up with him and with his children; it used to eat of his meagre fare, and drink from his cup, and lie in his bosom, and it was like a daughter to him. Now there came a traveller to the rich man, and he was loath to take one of his own flock or herd to prepare for the wayfarer who had come to him, but he took the poor man’s lamb, and prepared that for the guest who had come to him.’ Then David’s anger was greatly kindled against the man. He said to Nathan, ‘As the Lord lives, the man who has done this deserves to die; he shall restore the lamb fourfold, because he did this thing, and because he had no pity.’|
Nathan said to David, ‘You are the man! … ReflectionOne of the greatest deficiencies of the human condition is that we imagine that our sins are small. The cognitive dissonance we experience daily – “I am a good person, I deserve more, I am worth it; so why do I keep doing and saying and thinking bad things and why do bad things keep happening to me?” – comes about because we tend to say we have no sin and so “the truth is not in us” (1 John 1.8).
Sin? Me? No, surely not! But minimising our own sinfulness has three consequences. First, when we do sin big we’re shocked and feel even more like failures. Second, it leads us to be more judgemental of others, as David is in our reading today. Finally, it means we tend to excuse ourselves from the part we play in the sinfulness of humanity as a whole. Each of us needs to own our own part in the “big sins” of the world.ChallengeThere are so many big problems in the world that go far beyond one person – poverty, injustice, conflict. If you are honest with yourself, are there small things you do to contribute to big problems?Today’s family challengeRead or listen to Jesus’ story about The Lost Son (Luke 15.11-24)As you follow the story, focus on the father and how he responds when his son returns to say sorry. Why do you think Jesus told this story?
|Get into trainingTuesday, Week 3|
|ReadingHebrews 5.11-14About this we have much to say that is hard to explain, since you have become dull in understanding. For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic elements of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food; for everyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is unskilled in the word of righteousness. But solid food is for the mature, for those whose faculties have been trained by practice to distinguish good from evil.|
|ReflectionAlthough we are indeed sinners, we are sinners beloved of God. Within us dwells God’s Holy Spirit, whose job it is (among other things) daily to make us more like Jesus – or become less sinful.|
This is the process of sanctification, or “becoming more holy”. Sanctification is the ongoing movement – once a person has recognised that they are a sinner and have begun to repent – of the Christian heart towards a greater love of God and more closely living in the ways of God’s kingdom.
And how to do that? The answer is slightly surprising and maybe not a little unpopular in today’s fast-track, short-cut world where we can have anything we want, wherever we want it, immediately. The answer is in what we do with our habits.
So what we need to do is train our desires to be more in tune with the heart of God and his kingdom.
|ChallengeHabits are such an important part of our spiritual discipline. What is one habit you can begin or renew today to be more in tune with the heart of God?|
|Today’s family challengeDecide on a good habit you would like to get intoIt takes regular practice to improve your skills in sport or music. Habits like making a regular time to pray or read the Bible can help us stay closer to God.|
|Admit you’re “quite a sinner”Monday, Week 3|
|ReadingLuke 18.9-14Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: ‘Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax-collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, “God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax-collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.” But the tax-collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, “God, be merciful to me, a sinner!” I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.’|
|ReflectionIf we see sin as the ultimate failure, then admitting that we’re all sinners is not a bad place to start in coming to terms with how to live well with failure. Indeed, it may be a liberation.|
To admit that we commit sins, that we are part of a sinful humanity, that we are all sinners, is to join in what Dietrich Bonhoeffer called “the fellowship of the undevout”: those who are so aware of their own failure and need of redemption that there is no need for pretence. The mercy and grace of God take centre stage.
Admitting “Yes, I am quite a sinner” (to quote Martin Luther) comes as liberation not condemnation. Once we acknowledge and accept that we are sinful human beings, we can let go of our exhausting attempts to redeem ourselves or to earn our way into heaven by our own efforts.
|ChallengeHave a go today at praying The Jesus Prayer – which draws on the words of the tax-collector in our reading today:|
“Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”
|Today’s family challengeLearn a short prayer by heartWhen life seems difficult or we feel lost, saying a short, simple prayer can help us reconnect with God’s love.|
|Hope for all sinnersWeekend, Week 2ReadingRomans 5.1-11Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.|
For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. Indeed, rarely will anyone die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person someone might actually dare to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us. Much more surely then, now that we have been justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, much more surely, having been reconciled, will we be saved by his life. But more than that, we even boast in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.
ReflectionWe have looked a lot at sin this week. That’s because, unless we understand a bit more about sin, we can’t really get to the heart of what it means to fail and to get up again, and what it means to be human being who learns from their mistakes.
This is the perspective that sin gives us that we need most. If all human beings are totally sinful and there is no hope of redemption then we may as well give up now and let the world go to hell in a handcart.
But if God somehow entered our world to deal with our sins, to deal with our sinfulness and our failings and our fallen human nature, and died to make it possible to redeem it, then there is hope. God has given us this hope in Christ, as Paul writes in our reading today: ‘and hope does not disappoint us’.ChallengeTake time today to simply reflect on God’s goodness. Let our failures make us aware of our need for God.Today’s family challengeRead or listen to the story of Jesus and Zacchaeus (Luke 19.1-10)Zacchaeus’ neighbours dislike him as he has got rich collecting taxes. How does Jesus treat him? And how does Zacchaeus change?
|I sin, you sin, we all sinFriday, Week 2ReadingRomans 5.18-21Therefore just as one man’s trespass led to condemnation for all, so one man’s act of righteousness leads to justification and life for all. For just as by the one man’s disobedience the many were made sinners, so by the one man’s obedience the many will be made righteous. But law came in, with the result that the trespass multiplied; but where sin increased, grace abounded all the more, so that, just as sin exercised dominion in death, so grace might also exercise dominion through justification leading to eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord. |
ReflectionIf we understand creation as being in a fallen state then individual human beings are part and parcel of that fallenness.
So does that mean we don’t have to take individual responsibility for the things we do wrong? Are people a result of the badness that is in the world, in societies and in individual people’s circumstances? How much personal responsibility do we need take for our failings?
The Bible would find the question about whether sin is corporate or individual rather an odd question. The two are closely linked. Paul, writing to the Romans, makes the link between the sin of the one Adam and the sin of the many. Likewise the beneficial effects of the redemption brought about by one man (Jesus) spreads to the many (all Christians).
Our own actions are influenced by many factors – and the consequences of those actions go far beyond affecting only ourselves.ChallengeSometimes, things aren’t our fault, but they are our responsibility. Can you think of a situation like that in your life?Today’s family challengePray for those who have to make big decisions in our worldWhat any of us does can affect other people. What politicians and other leaders do can do a lot of good – or harm. Pray that they may decide wisely and fairly.
|Corporate sinThursday, Week 2|
|ReadingRomans 5.12-17Therefore, just as sin came into the world through one man, and death came through sin, and so death spread to all because all have sinned— sin was indeed in the world before the law, but sin is not reckoned when there is no law. Yet death exercised dominion from Adam to Moses, even over those whose sins were not like the transgression of Adam, who is a type of the one who was to come.|
But the free gift is not like the trespass. For if the many died through the one man’s trespass, much more surely have the grace of God and the free gift in the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, abounded for the many. And the free gift is not like the effect of the one man’s sin. For the judgement following one trespass brought condemnation, but the free gift following many trespasses brings justification. If, because of the one man’s trespass, death exercised dominion through that one, much more surely will those who receive the abundance of grace and the free gift of righteousness exercise dominion in life through the one man, Jesus Christ.
|ReflectionOne of the things that we learned during the pandemic is that we don’t exist in isolation from each other (despite the need sometimes to self-isolate). Our individual actions have an effect on others.|
Scientific evidence showed that the wearing of masks during a pandemic, for example, is more likely to protect others from catching COVID from you than it is to stop you catching it from them. The pandemic taught us that it is not possible to be an island. All our actions and intentions are interrelated and interdependent.
So it is with sin. We take individual responsibility for our own sins and yet we are part of a system, a world in which sinfulness is inherent and we can never fully escape from it or its effects. What we can do is treat others with the compassion and forgiveness with which we wish to be treated, and love our neighbour as Jesus calls us to.
|ChallengeAll the things you do affect other people – directly or indirectly.|
What’s one thing you could change that might help someone else today?
|Today’s family challengeSay (or message) something kind to someone todayHuman beings affect each other. The things we do can harm or help those around us. What could you do today to spread some kindness?|
|Original sinWednesday, Week 2ReadingPsalm 51Have mercy on me, O God,|
according to your steadfast love;
according to your abundant mercy
blot out my transgressions.
Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions,
and my sin is ever before me.
Against you, you alone, have I sinned,
and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are justified in your sentence
and blameless when you pass judgement.
Indeed, I was born guilty,
a sinner when my mother conceived me.
ReflectionOriginal sin is the belief that sin isn’t just something we do; it is something we are. We are sinners who do sinful things because we are sinners. St Augustine believed that everyone is a sinner from the moment they are born – imagine sin being like a part of our DNA, a fundamental piece of who we are.
So naturally, the question we might ask is this: What does it mean for us, as individuals, if we are part of a system infected with sin at its very core? How can we escape it?
There is some good news to this puzzling conundrum. Even though sin has corrupted all people for all time, as the view goes, so also the grace and redemption of Christ is available for all people for all time. As Paul writes to the Corinthians, “for as all die in Adam, so all will be made alive in Christ” (1 Corinthians 15.22).ChallengeSpend some time reading and praying through Psalm 51 today.Today’s family challengeFind the Lord’s Prayer and pray it slowlyThe prayer Jesus gave encourages us to say sorry for what we have done wrong and to forgive those who have hurt us.
|Who invented sin?Tuesday, Week 2ReadingGenesis 2.15-17The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to till it and keep it. And the Lord God commanded the man, ‘You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.’ReflectionThe question of when and how sin first entered into the human experience is one that has long preoccupied theologians and philosophers.|
Was the introduction of sin into the Garden of Eden the fault of Adam who ate the apple? Or Eve who gave it to him? Or God who gave them free will? Or the serpent who persuaded them? Or again God, who created the serpent?
To ask where sin originated is to fall into the trap of thinking of all sin as “someone’s fault” which isn’t really the point. When relationships are fractured, there are almost always many reasons why. Relationships are multi-faceted – including our relationship with God.
When we think about whether people are totally good or totally bad, it might be tempting to put people into one category or the other, depending on whether or not we like them. The challenge is to see the dividing line between good and evil not between people, but within each person.ChallengeIs there a situation in your life you have been seeking to blame someone else for? What might their perspective be?Today’s family challengePlay a different kind of ‘blame game’ todayNotice how many times you notice people blaming others when something goes wrong – in the news, at school, at home?
|Come back sin, all is forgiven?Monday, Week 2ReadingRomans 3.21-26But now, irrespective of law, the righteousness of God has been disclosed, and is attested by the law and the prophets, the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction, since all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God; they are now justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a sacrifice of atonement by his blood, effective through faith. He did this to show his righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over the sins previously committed; it was to prove at the present time that he himself is righteous and that he justifies the one who has faith in Jesus.|
ReflectionSin is a word and concept that has found its way into popular culture. But instead of referring to the utter depravity of the human condition, it’s associated with eating something you really shouldn’t, or telling a little fib. It’s come to be a word you use in quotation marks with a wink, a fun little phrase that indicates something is naughty but nice.
What happened to sin?
Sin, for Christians, is really about separation from God. It’s about those choices we make and temptations we fall victim to that are contrary to what God wants for us.
Sin is really about ruptured relationships – with God, with one another, with ourselves. Between individuals and communities, in ways small and big, sin is what keeps us isolated, hopeless and suffering.ChallengeThere are relationships in all of our lives that aren’t as we wish they would be.
Today, try praying for God to bring healing to those relationships.Today’s family challengeAsk at least two people you know what they think ‘sin’ means?Sin is often seen today as doing something ‘naughty but nice’. For Christians, though, sin represents everything that spoils our relationship with God and others.
|Appearances can be deceivingWeekend, Week 1ReadingMatthew 27.33-44And when they came to a place called Golgotha (which means Place of a Skull), they offered Jesus wine to drink, mixed with gall; but when he tasted it, he would not drink it. And when they had crucified him, they divided his clothes among themselves by casting lots; then they sat down there and kept watch over him. Over his head they put the charge against him, which read, ‘This is Jesus, the King of the Jews.’|
Then two bandits were crucified with him, one on his right and one on his left. Those who passed by derided him, shaking their heads and saying, ‘You who would destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking him, saying, ‘He saved others; he cannot save himself. He is the King of Israel; let him come down from the cross now, and we will believe in him. He trusts in God; let God deliver him now, if he wants to; for he said, “I am God’s Son.” ’ The bandits who were crucified with him also taunted him in the same way.ReflectionIt’s easy to forget what a shameful failure the cross seemed to be. After Easter, we cast it in the warm glow of the resurrection. But Lent is a time to remember how the crucifixion was a symbol of the ultimate shame and failure. The fact that Jesus is led to his death wearing a crown of thorns and a purple robe – ironic success symbols – underlines how badly Jesus had failed in the eyes of those who condemned him. And yet it’s through this icon of foolishness and failure that God chose to shame the apparent wisdom of the world (1 Corinthians 1.27).
Appearances can be deceiving. Sometimes what seems obvious to us isn’t the whole story. Maybe we’ve misunderstood it, maybe our own experiences have coloured our perspective of it, maybe we’ve made assumptions based on our own hopes or fears. What looks like failure and weakness might just be the strength that only comes from vulnerability.ChallengeThere are many things that society thinks look like weakness that might actually be strength. Stepping away from a difficult situation, deciding to let go of pursuing a goal. Is there something like this in your life?Today’s family challengeSet yourself a challenge to try something newWhen we first try a new sport or hobby we often don’t do well to begin with. But our early ‘failures’ are how we learn.
|Imperfect saints (and perfect sinners)Friday, Week 1ReadingMark 10.35-45James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came forward to Jesus and said to him, ‘Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.’ And he said to them, ‘What is it you want me to do for you?’ And they said to him, ‘Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.’ But Jesus said to them, ‘You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I drink, or be baptized with the baptism that I am baptized with?’ They replied, ‘We are able.’ Then Jesus said to them, ‘The cup that I drink you will drink; and with the baptism with which I am baptized, you will be baptized; but to sit at my right hand or at my left is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared.’|
When the ten heard this, they began to be angry with James and John. So Jesus called them and said to them, ‘You know that among the Gentiles those whom they recognize as their rulers lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. But it is not so among you; but whoever wishes to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be slave of all. For the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.’
ReflectionThe funny thing is that Christians ought to be really good at failure. Jesus constantly made it clear to his disciples that following him, despite their hopes, wasn’t an instant route to worldly success. It would, in all likelihood, lead to their deaths.
When the disciples argued over who was the most important and would sit in the best place in heaven, Jesus was clear with them that their expectations were sure to be disappointed – or at least fulfilled in a way they definitely didn’t expect.
Jesus prepares us for failure as well. He calls us to take up our cross and follow him. Life as a Christian is many wonderful things, but it is not easy. We are called to step into the suffering and mess of the world, just as Jesus did, not to avoid it.
It is on this difficult path that we are offered life in all its fullness.ChallengeHow do we respond when life is difficult? Do we feel surprised or angry? Or do we accept Jesus’ invitation to walk the tough path he has trodden?Today’s family challengeLook up what Jesus has to say about ‘who is great’ (Mark 10.43)Jesus says those who want to be ‘great’ are to serve other people rather than themselves. Can you think of anyone ‘great’ like this?
|The fear factorThursday, Week 1|
|ReadingPsalm 56Be gracious to me, O God, for people trample on me;|
all day long foes oppress me;
my enemies trample on me all day long,
for many fight against me.
O Most High, when I am afraid,
I put my trust in you.
In God, whose word I praise,
in God I trust; I am not afraid;
what can flesh do to me?
|ReflectionThe main thing that stops us from trying new things is the fear of getting it wrong. We worry that we’ll be found inadequate, or we’ll be embarrassed.|
A healthy amount of fear is a good thing, but sometimes fear of failure is crippling. At its heart is a fear of shame: the belief that we are flawed and unworthy of love, belonging and connection.
That need for self-protection to avoid shame is why we often don’t admit what we’ve got wrong. The worry is that we learn to live lives that are fearful rather than faithful – smaller, rather than expansive, turned in to ourselves rather than out to the world.
God leads us out of fear and into faith. Through faith we are able to try new things, take bold steps and know that it is the attempt, not the outcome, that matters.
|ChallengeWhat is something you’ve been avoiding out of fear of failure?|
Can you take a step towards it today?
|Today’s family challengeBe kind to someone who is having a difficult timeThings don’t always go to plan for any of us. Who do you know who could do with an encouraging word or a smile today?|
|Risking failureWednesday, Week 1|
|ReadingGenesis 12.1-4Now the Lord said to Abram, ‘Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.’|
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
|ReflectionSometimes – whisper it – failure is actually A Very Good Thing. It means we have taken a chance to try something new, that we’ve been bold and taken risks.|
And sometimes we have to take the right risks for the right reasons, otherwise we would never move forward, learn new things or develop new relationships. Maybe we won’t get it right the first time – or the first hundred times – but each time, we will be a little closer.
Abraham takes big risks in leaving his country, his people and his homeland. And he makes plenty of mistakes as well. God doesn’t expect us to be perfect on the journey, he just wants us to go with him.
|ChallengeSometimes trying things that might fail is to be encouraged.|
How can you put this into practice in your own life?
|Today’s family challengeWatch some outtakes from your favourite filmsThings going wrong can make us laugh. It can also help us remember that we are all human and get things wrong sometimes.|
|What is failure anyway?Tuesday, Week 1ReadingMark 14.66-72While Peter was below in the courtyard, one of the servant-girls of the high priest came by. When she saw Peter warming himself, she stared at him and said, ‘You also were with Jesus, the man from Nazareth.’ But he denied it, saying, ‘I do not know or understand what you are talking about.’ And he went out into the forecourt. Then the cock crowed. And the servant-girl, on seeing him, began again to say to the bystanders, ‘This man is one of them.’ But again he denied it. Then after a little while the bystanders again said to Peter, ‘Certainly you are one of them; for you are a Galilean.’ But he began to curse, and he swore an oath, ‘I do not know this man you are talking about.’ At that moment the cock crowed for the second time. Then Peter remembered that Jesus had said to him, ‘Before the cock crows twice, you will deny me three times.’ And he broke down and wept.|
ReflectionPerhaps the worst thing is to be a “failure”. To wear it as a garment that can’t be taken off, to have this label at the heart of your identity feels so final. That’s how many of us respond when things go wrong. We leapfrog over “I have failed” straight to “I am a failure.”
People are, of course, so much more nuanced than that. We are much more than one action, or one thought, or one sentence. We are a complicated muddle of doing well, doing badly and being somewhere in the middle of the flux.
Take Peter, for example. Peter failed on a huge scale. He denied Jesus three times, after totally denying that he would deny him! And yet that same Peter – cowardly, dishonest Peter – became one of the great pillars of the Church. Was he a failure? Yes, and no. More importantly, he was forgiven, and loved, and defined by God.ChallengeMake a list of the things you think define you – builder, nurse, artist, son, mother, carer, runner, singer, etc.
How do you think God defines you?Today’s family challengeThank God for your friends today and pray for themJesus cared about his friends – even though they didn’t always understand him or do what he asked
|Good failure, bad failureMonday, Week 1ReadingJonah 3.3-4.5So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.|
When the news reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. Then he had a proclamation made in Nineveh: ‘By the decree of the king and his nobles: No human being or animal, no herd or flock, shall taste anything. They shall not feed, nor shall they drink water. Human beings and animals shall be covered with sackcloth, and they shall cry mightily to God. All shall turn from their evil ways and from the violence that is in their hands. Who knows? God may relent and change his mind; he may turn from his fierce anger, so that we do not perish.’
When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil ways, God changed his mind about the calamity that he had said he would bring upon them; and he did not do it.
But this was very displeasing to Jonah, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord and said, ‘O Lord! Is not this what I said while I was still in my own country? That is why I fled to Tarshish at the beginning; for I knew that you are a gracious God and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and ready to relent from punishing. And now, O Lord, please take my life from me, for it is better for me to die than to live.’ And the Lord said, ‘Is it right for you to be angry?’ Then Jonah went out of the city and sat down east of the city, and made a booth for himself there. He sat under it in the shade, waiting to see what would become of the city.
ReflectionDuring the COVID pandemic, we got a bit of an insight into the blooper reel of other people’s lives. From people being interrupted on zoom calls, forgetting they were only correctly dressed from the waist up, and the various connectivity issues (“You’re on mute … ”), these mini-disasters actually brought us closer as we all muddled along together. Failure can be endearing. Seeing other people as vulnerable and human too can be quite comforting. Jonah’s failure is quite endearing and funny. At first he tries haplessly to run away. Then when the people of Nineveh listen to his warning and change their ways, he stomps around the city, throws a strop at God for being merciful to them and goes off to sulk under a tree.
But other failures have the opposite effect. When a politician has lied or when someone says something hurtful on social media, we feel angry. Different types of failure elicit very different responses.ChallengeWhat failures in others do you find funny or endearing? And what failures do you find offensive and dangerous? Why do you think that is?Today’s family challengeRead or listen to the story of JonahJonah gets thrown off a ship and swallowed by a huge fish. But that’s not the only thing that doesn’t go to plan for him!
The long road from dust to gloryWeekend after Ash WednesdayReadingGenesis 3.20-24The man named his wife Eve, because she was the mother of all who live. And the Lord God made garments of skins for the man and for his wife, and clothed them.
Then the Lord God said, ‘See, the man has become like one of us, knowing good and evil; and now, he might reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live for ever’— therefore the Lord God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man; and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim, and a sword flaming and turning to guard the way to the tree of life.
ReflectionWe begin Lent by looking back at the first failure in the Bible. But the story doesn’t end there. From Adam and Eve – two “failures” – spring countless more stories of failure and hope, relationships and life: stories that are made possible through the lives and legacies of other imperfect, flawed and fractured people.
Failure is inevitable, but isn’t the end of the story.
All of us descendants of Eve live with failure. But throughout the Bible there is a persistent understanding that failure doesn’t have the final word. From Noah to Moses, to Jacob, to David, God’s grace means human failure doesn’t prevent us from being part of God’s people and doing God’s work.
All of these characters in our Bibles we look up to and learn from today have their failures, yes. But they also become part of a much larger and longer story of God’s people.ChallengeThink back to the area of failure you focused on yesterday. Try thinking of it in a wider context. How has – or might – it become part of the story of God and God’s people?Today’s family challengeRemember any times in your life when you have felt particularly close to GodHave you ever felt close to God at a special or happy time? Have there been any times when life has been difficult or sad when you felt God was with you, too.
|Friday after Ash Wednesday|
|ReadingGenesis 3.17-18And to the man God said,|
‘Because you have listened to the voice of your wife,
and have eaten of the tree
about which I commanded you,
“You shall not eat of it”,
cursed is the ground because of you;
in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
|ReflectionWe all live with the consequences of failure. We fail to get jobs. We fail to be patient with our loved ones. We fail to do everything we say we’re going to do in that flash of enthusiasm.|
As individuals we might be aware of how we measure up against others, of relationships that have gone wrong, or of our bodies failing. On the news, we see failure on a global scale – conflict, famine, injustice, poverty.
Failure is the wallpaper of life. It hangs in the background, slowly building the scenery of our days. How can we live, surrounded as we are by failure? We can’t shy away from it, or try and escape it, or live in constant fear of it. Otherwise, we’ll live narrow lives, motivated by running away from failure rather than running towards full, exciting, hopeful lives.
So, failure. We’d better learn to live with it.
|ChallengeThink of an area of failure that you are living with. Is there a way you can live with it “better” – to be less afraid of it?|
|Today’s family challengeSearch online for interesting quotes about dealing with setbacksFamous people from sport, music, business and politics often have a lot to say about when things have gone wrong for them on their way to achieving success.|
|Thursday after Ash Wednesday|
|ReadingGenesis 3.8-15Adam and Eve heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden at the time of the evening breeze, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God among the trees of the garden. But the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ He said, ‘I heard the sound of you in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself.’ He said, ‘Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?’ The man said, ‘The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit from the tree, and I ate.’ Then the Lord God said to the woman, ‘What is this that you have done?’ The woman said, ‘The serpent tricked me, and I ate.’ The Lord God said to the serpent,|
‘Because you have done this,
cursed are you among all animals
and among all wild creatures;
upon your belly you shall go,
and dust you shall eat
all the days of your life.
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and hers;
he will strike your head,
and you will strike his heel.’
|ReflectionAdam and Eve are too ashamed to admit their wrongs. Instead of taking responsibility, they seek to blame others. This is an easy trap to fall into, but it only ever makes things worse. Admitting you’ve got it wrong can be scary. No one likes to be judged or criticised or thought badly of by others. But we can’t start to repair what has gone wrong until we’re willing to admit it.|
There is a tradition of “confession” in the Christian faith. Christians admit their sinfulness so they can start to dissolve some of the “stuff” that separates them from others and from God. They ask God’s forgiveness and seek to make amends. Admitting we have done something bad can feel like a trap. But it is exactly when we place ourselves into God’s hands we realise that his infinite mercy – his ability to transform any dead end into a turning point – is freedom.
|ChallengeOur church services regularly include “prayers of penitence,” where we confess our sins. Try and look out for them this week (or look them up online) and reflect especially on that prayer.|
|Today’s family challengeRead or listen to Psalm 23This much-loved psalm reminds us that God looks out for us and stays with us in good times and hard times, like a shepherd guarding their flock.|
Remember you are dust Start of Lent – Ash Wednesday Download our free appAccess an audio version of this reflection via our free app for Apple and Android devices.ReadingGenesis 3.19By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; you are dust, and to dust you shall return.ReflectionWe begin Lent by looking back to the first book of the Bible, and the very first failure. We know the story: Adam and Eve disobey God and they eat the fruit that they have been told not to touch.
As a result, they are cast out of the Garden of Eden, condemned to suffering and death.
Fast forward to today, Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent. As the ash is placed on our foreheads in the shape of the cross, those words from Genesis are spoken: “Remember you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” It is a day to lament our disconnectedness from God. It begins a time where we consider those failures in our own lives which separate us from God today.
But the sign of the cross reminds us that in Jesus, our failure is overcome by God’s glory. God himself comes to make up the distance we put between him and us.ChallengeWe all fail, in ways big or small, every day. That’s part of being human.
Ask yourself honestly where you’ve stepped away from God recently.Today’s family challengeMake or draw a simple cross
We traditionally begin Lent today by having a cross of ash marked on our foreheads. Make (or find) a cross to help you remember we are journeying towards Easter, or find a church near you offering this.