Reflection for Ash Wednesday 2021



Sermon by Reverend Matt Harbage

Wednesday 17th February 2021


Isaiah 58.1-12 ; Psalm 51.1-18; 2 Corinthians 5.20-6.10; Matthew 6.1-6,16-21


May I speak in the name of God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  Amen.

Each of us has a story to tell. The story of our lives: where we came from, who and what has shaped us, and where we are going.

This year, I’m following the Church of England’s Lent Booklet: “LiveLent” [show]

It’s all about our stories. My story, your story, God’s story.

The opening question the booklet asks the reader is this:

“How did God become real to you? How did your journey of faith begin?”

I want to share just a little of my story with you, as we begin our Lenten journey: The journey of Jesus’ life, passion, death and glorious resurrection.

My journey of faith in Jesus Christ began with my parents. As a child they spoke often of Jesus’ love, and they said their love for one another came from Him. It was Jesus who inspired them, and guided them. So one night, when I was about 6, before bed I prayed that Jesus would become ‘boss’ of my life too, just as he was their ‘boss’. I wanted the love and kindness of Jesus to live in me too.

Since then, my journey of discipleship has grown and developed. God has helped me weather some difficult and painful storms, and has always been faithful – as He continues to be throughout this pandemic, even though it has been full of much sadness.

I wonder where your journey of faith began. I wonder who first helped you to discover God and started you on your path of discipleship.

Like several of us-I’ve discovered at St Paul’s, I was brought up in the Baptist Church tradition. It gave me a residing passion for the Holy Scriptures; and I especially love the Gospels. There we discover the life-story of Jesus: we get to hear his words and learn about the amazing acts of compassion and power that he did on Earth.

The LiveLent booklet, along with daily reflections through Lent, suggests some actions you might like to take.

The invitation at the end of week 1 is simple: To read one of the Gospels: Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John. I handed out some copies of St John’s gospel out on St John’s Day in church and I’m happy to post more out if anyone else would like a copy. I’m going to re-read John’s Gospel this week:

To remind myself afresh of Jesus’ life-story. To ponder the love of God revealed in our leader, our teacher, our Lord.

My story, and how I began my journey in faith started with my parents but I was guided by my Sunday school teachers, and others in my local church. I wonder if you had Godparents, or perhaps you started on your Christian walk later in life and it was fellow adults, fellow friends from St Paul’s who helped you first experience something of God.

To honour them, I want to finish this reflection with a prayer for those who have blessed our lives: as individuals and as a community at St Paul’s, who have been an important part of our stories:

Let us pray:

Thank you God for the people who have brought good news to us – especially those who help us to understand the good news of your love.

Please bless them today and everyday.