27 February, 2012
Homily for Evensong - First Sunday of Lent (B) 2012
A few days ago, on Ash Wednesday we have solemnly begun Lent. I had the privilege of preaching for a few minutes and my homily touched on the formative power of liturgy, and of keeping a rule of life. Tonight I want to expand on the same subject taking in consideration liturgy and how it can be a shaping force in our lives, especially during Lent.
We have said together the creed and in doing so we have turned towards the altar and towards the east, the Orient, quite literally re-orienting ourselves. This is an ancient custom of the Church. In doing so we act in our body what our hearts should believe. We turn towards the altar that is the symbol of Jesus and towards the East, the place of the rising Sun which is the symbol of God coming to visit His people. As the gospel of St Luke says, In the tender mercy of our God, the dawn from on high will break upon us (Luke 1:78).
Remember these actions because in today’s gospel we hear Jesus saying: The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news (Mark 1:15) or more literally, turn around and believe in the gospel. This is the call of Jesus, Turn around. Stop going about your own way.
As our mouths proclaim our faith in the good news set forth in the creed, our bodies turn towards the symbol of Christ, so that our hearts may truly confess what we say and inwardly turn towards our redeemer.
However, in the second part of tonight’s service we will have a chance to do much more than this. In a few moments we will welcome the Eucharistic Christ on the altar; we will turn our undivided attention towards his presence in this sacrament, and we will kneel before him. As your white booklets say in the introduction Christ is present here, and present to bless (Kenneth Leech, 1980) us; therefore I think it is very fitting that we should begin our Lent with Benediction; as we kneel here in silence before Jesus he may speak to us, calling us to turn around, to reorient ourselves towards Him who one day, will call us out of the wilderness of this world, and our eyes will see him, not under the veils of the Eucharist, but face to face.