Lent 3 – Where’s the good news?

The interior of All Saints Basingstoke
The interior of All Saints Basingstoke

It’s great isn’t it. You plan life so that things don’t clash and you can (just about) manage to achieve everything. Then someone changes a date, the goal-posts get moved and your back in “failing to cope” mode – at least almost.

Lent 3 is going to be one of those Sunday’s, with two things I was hoping to enjoy colliding in such a way that we’ll be back to simply trying to survive the day. However, thanks to husband and church friends it looks like the St. Peter’s stand at the wedding fair at Casa Dei Cesari is coming together.

I think I can walk away for the morning with a fairly clear conscience to preach at All Saints, Basingstoke where I served my Reader Training placement last year. I’m actually really looking forward to seeing the friends I made, and also to sharing the way that their more formal, high church, environment makes sharing in the Eucharist much richer in symbolism – there’s more for my mind to grab hold of and use to remember the significance of what we’re doing.

But oh woe, the lectionary gospel: Luke 13:1-9. With the words “where is the good news?” still ringing in my ears from Reader Training, and not wishing to be a total doom merchant when visiting as a guest, this is going to be an interesting balancing act. At least as their vicar has reminded me, this sermon isn’t going to be assessed, but I still want to share a good value helping of God’s good news.

The passage is strongly linked to the current affairs of the time that Jesus was speaking and less noticably the living memories of those to whom Luke was writing, which I guess, gives me some ideas for sermon illustrations. There’s plenty of ‘news’ out there that we’re all to willing to extrapolate the wrong conclusions from. But the passage is very stark, and prophetic – real “this is your last chance” stuff.

There is no mention in the passage of Jesus’ purpose in journeying to Jerusalem – basically, he was going to take the rap for his hearers failing to act on what he was telling them; he lost his life because they didn’t change their ways! And they didn’t really get it, till it was too late. Many of them still didn’t get it – which is why the Temple was destroyed in AD70.

We know Jesus has died and risen because we mess up and take the wrong implications from what is happening in the world around us. If we truly believe that, then we have to seek God, and stay close to him with the hunger and trust of Psalm 63:1-9 if we are to reach the heavenly banquet of Isaiah 55:1-9 (other lectionary readings for Lent 3).

There, that was therapeutic: does that look a bit like a sermon plan to you?

Afterthought; I don’t have the experiences that make this a great sermon; and I don’t know that I want them! But I wouldn’t mind the ability to write the ‘poetry’ of the penultimate paragraph 🙂



  1. Wed 3rd March – whilst visiting Winchester Cathedral for Mothers’ Union prayers I noted that the fig tree in the courtyard of the refectory (behind the gift shop) was bearing small fruit – though it seemed otherwise still totally dormant. No chance of that fig tree being cut down this year then!


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