March we forth...
‘God is working his purpose out as year succeeds to year’ is one of my favourite hymns, and it contains, the lines ‘March we forth in the strength of God, with the banner of Christ unfurled, that the light of the glorious gospel of truth may shine throughout the world’. In these cautious days those lines might be considered to be neither very politically correct with their military undertones in marching, nor respectful of our multi-faith world, if it is suggesting that only Christianity has the truth the whole truth and nothing but the truth!
And yet ... each and every Lent, just like this one, we March through Lent towards Holy Week and Easter, and we do it all in the strength of God. For we try our hardest to give something up, to fast from certain foods or fancies and in so doing call to mind Jesus’ forty days of fasting in the wilderness, in a way that we publically unfurl the banner of Christ for all to see, or do we just keep these things to ourselves?
The light of the glorious gospel of truth may shine throughout the world, if only we are bold enough to shine this light ourselves.
Now, in order to shine their best, my black shoes need to be lovingly polished every now and then. I know that they will get dirty in-between the polishing but still I religiously polish them for all to see. I remember my Dad every Saturday evening lining up all the shoes to be worn the next week, to church or to work, and his spending time making them shine for all to see.
Lent is really our opportunity to polish up our lives a bit, even though we know and realise that things will come along and make our lives dull and sometimes in need of a good clean up.
I learned my shoe polishing skills from my father. As Christians we should learn our life polishing skills from our Father who again and again dusts away our dross as he forgives us our sins.
The true banner of Christ was unfurled on that very first Good Friday, as Jesus said to His Father, ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’, Jesus didn’t say ‘Father when they come to their senses and repent, forgive them’ no! For the light of the glorious gospel of Christ was and is still for everyone to see.
It’s just difficult to see sometimes because of the dust of our lives. So get polishing and praying this lent, for the party is to come, this Easter Eve in Great Wymondley. And I know I have said it before but if you have never been to the Easter Eve service before – where have you been! – does it take you that long to polish your shoes?
Carry on marching and polishing with love.