REFLECTION written by the Rev. Dr. George Garnsey Romans 8, 11: If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you. Along with your fellow Christians all over the world, you have been travelling through the season of Lent for a whole month on your journey towards the joy and new life of Easter, offered to all people by God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. The present Archbishop of Canterbury, Justin Welby, has sent a message about the season of Lent which is different from the conventional views of Lent held by some of the folk among whom we live and work. He said (in brief) “Lent is not intended to be mainly a time when you give up things which you enjoy. The only thing that you need to give up is anything that cuts you off or prevents you from loving God, and loving people, and loving God’s gift of creation. Lent is meant to be a time of joy and freedom, when we realise that in spite of our frequent failures to love God all that we are and all that we have, and to love God’s people. Jesus shows a God who looks on us with compassion, understanding and forgiveness; a God who lifts the load of past wrong choices off our shoulders, who sets us free to love him and his people with the promise of new life that is eternal”. A good theme, then, for Lent is “joy and freedom”. Lent can be a journey of reflection that leads us from the joy of knowing that we are forgiven to the joy of Easter’s promise of new life offered to all people through the love of Christ, who even forgave the people putting him on the Cross on the first Good Friday. God’s love revealed on the Cross includes everyone – no one is excluded – the gift of new life flows from God’s costly love that in Christ proved to be stronger than the power of death, hatred and all evil. We are members of a church which believed from its earliest days that this new life of joy and freedom became real for its members through Baptism. In the early days the Church welcomed the new members by Baptism at Easter. In the early days and still today, the most important question asked of the candidates for Baptism was this: “Do you turn to Christ?” The Church saw Lent as a journey, a time for the candidates to reflect on their life, to reflect on Christ as he is revealed in the Word of life found in the Scriptures, and to go forward to the joy of Easter’s gift of new life, rejoicing in the freedom of forgiveness offered by God through the love and freedom of Christ and his Holy Spirit, known and real in there lives, as he promised his first followers. God’s Church offers us and all our fellow Christians the same opportunity for reflection on our lives as we accept God’s invitation to undertake the journey towards Easter. We have resources for this journey. We have food for reflection, food for the journey in the Word of God, the life–giving word found in the Scriptures, and in our worship. St Paul’s words written to the Church at Rome offer us food for reflection, food for our journey. If the Spirit who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you.