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Minister's letter for 18 February

Dear Friends,

We are entering into the season of Lent. I wonder how you will mark this time? Will you be giving up something or perhaps you will be adding something into your daily routine – more intentional time to pray, be with God, give thanks. Perhaps you will be attending a Lent study group or follow a Lent course?

Whatever your focus this Lent, it is important to know why we observe this time, why we encourage each other to be prepared. Mark 1:15 summarises the reason for this well.

"The time is fulfilled and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news".

The kingdom of God – what does that phrase mean for you? For many it is almost synonymous with 'heaven'. It is spoken in terms of a place (usually the sky, or Eden) and a future event.

Unsurprisingly there have been many books and studies about what this means. Some considered the kingdom of heaven as not yet – a state that is beyond our reach at this moment but we know that it is waiting for us – a sign of hope. Then others theorised that the kingdom of God is here and now, as well as a future hope – called realised eschatology. There are many other descriptions all with their own nuances. In truth we cannot, at this point, fully explain the kingdom of God. Jesus uses many images to describe it, his actions and miracles offered glimpses of what it would be like when heaven and earth meet – in harmony. But we are still very much living an earthly existence with the challenges that that brings.

I do not have an answer, but in the reading and listening to reflections whilst preparing for this week's services, the image that remains with me from Mark's gospel is that the heavens were torn apart. A very different sense than being opened, which suggests that they can be very neatly closed again. When something is torn, it is never fully closed again. There may be patches and repairs but it is still there. Heaven and earth met in the birth of Jesus but Jesus's adult ministry would be the catalyst for earth to reflect the kingdom of God – it has drawn near and remains close by.

May we be alert to the glimpses of the kingdom of God around us, and when we ourselves are called to reveal this to others through our actions and in who we are. Amen

Every blessing
Rev Karen

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