The Bishop of Natal

The Bishop of Natal, The Right Revd Dr H.C.N. Ndwandwe

bishop of natal right revd dr hcn ndwandwe

Lenten Message from Bishop Nkosinathi

Brothers and Sisters in Christ, I greet you today as we begin the Season of Lent. Last year's palm crosses have been burned and destroyed by fire. Only ashes remain. "Leave the past in ashes", our liturgy tells us. But this is a hard thing for us to do. It is so much easier to cling to the past. We hold on to past hurts, we relive old memories, we dwell on unforgiven sins. We cling to grudges. And we begin to feel hopeless. Because we are a Church steeped in tradition, we can easily fall into the trap of constantly looking backwards. But Ash Wednesday urges us again, "Return to the Lord with all your heart; leave the past in ashes and turn to God with tears and fasting, for he is slow to anger and ready to forgive." A long time ago, the prophet Isaiah gave a similar message to his people. At the time, the people of Israel were trapped in exile. Their circumstances were desperate. They were stuck in a past of sin and defeat. They were discouraged. They couldn't see the way forward. Does that sound familiar to you?

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Leave the Past in Ashes

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.

I believe this message is for us, sisters and brothers in Christ, as we begin Lent this year. The things of the past can weigh us down. We too can be stuck in a past of sin and defeat. We too can become discouraged. We too can struggle see the way forward. We have been called to build God's Kingdom here on earth. But we cannot build anything at all, if we are looking back over our shoulders. Isaiah is calling us to leave the past in ashes. He calls us to look towards a brighter future. He calls us to look for the new thing God is doing, the new way God is making in the wilderness, the rivers that will spring up in the deserts of our lives.

God is on the move.

If we trust in Him, we will move with God into a brighter future.

  • Let that be the ongoing theme of our Lenten disciplines this year.
  • Let's turn away from what has held us back.
  • Let's pray against discouragement and defeat.
  • Let's actively seek signs of the future God is preparing for us.
  • Let's leave the past in ashes and look forward in courage and faith.

Amen.

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