Collect

Lent 3

Almighty God,
whose most dear Son went not up to joy
but first he suffered pain,
and entered not into glory before he was crucified:
mercifully grant that we, walking in the way of the cross,
may find it none other than the way of life and peace;
through Jesus Christ your Son our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.    

Readings

Exodus 17: 1 – 7; Psalm 95; Romans 5: 1 – 11; John 4: 5 – 42

Explanation

The collect speaks of joy and glory. It recalls the words in Hebrews 12, that Jesus, for the sake of the joy that was before him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is now at the right hand of God.

Jesus says that his joy is to do the Father’s will and to complete his work, to be perfectly obedient. We echo that in the great hymn: “Yet cheerful he to suffering goes; That he his foes from thence might free.”

When Jesus was in the wilderness the wild beasts of opposition and fear surrounded him but the angels of re-assurance and consolation also ministered to him. He found a way through the wilderness time to the time of the angels. On the cross Jesus takes our fallen-ness, our cry of “Where are you?” and transforms us so that we can shout with a cry of joy “found”. Once again we walk in the sunshine of God’s favour and presence.

Whatever we experience in life, and especially any sense of forsakenness or abandonment or pain, or the sheer the reality of our mortality, our fragility, our insignificance, Jesus has gone before us to find a way through to joy and glory.

Walking the way of the cross means that we experience forgiveness for our sinfulness, inward renewal for our outward decay, newness of life for our spiritual weariness, new possibilities for our old limitations. In other words, we find the way of the cross to be none other than the way of life and peace.