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Dear COA Family,

As we journey through the season of Lent, what is one most important lesson for us to learn?

I believe that it is the need to be focused and “present” in our relationship with God and others. This will in turn lead us to be fully attuned to all the duties and roles that God has called us to participate and serve in. And this is important because we can be so easily distracted and preoccupied by many things that we fail to pay attention to what is truly important in our lives.

The story of Mary and Martha in Luke 10:38-42 is a great illustration of this truth.

At the home of Mary and Mary, Jesus was present with them and ready to give them his full attention. However, Martha was distracted with much serving and even requested Jesus to “help her out” in her duties by “releasing” Mary to serve. Jesus wisely refused to do so and proceeded to tell Martha that Mary had chosen what was better, that is, more suited for the occasion and beneficial for her.

As we look at Martha’s actions, we should first realise that she actually had the good intention of being a perfect host. This should lead us to refrain from judging her too harshly. Yet her motivation, while good, was not good enough. There was a better thing to do. That is to give to Jesus her undivided attention while he was present.

Another reason why we should refrain from judging Martha too harshly is because we are all Marthas at some points of our lives.

How many of us, like Martha, are also so consumed with the desire to get things that we are preoccupied and harried and miss out on the more important things? I must confess that I am alsoone of them.

For example, I find myself sometimes rushing through my daily devotions so that I can “get on” with the work of ministry that I have to do for the day. Or I read through my morning devotion passages with the intention of gleaning something from them to use in my devotional sharing or preaching. I have placed higher priority on the less important call of working for God over the more important one of spending time with him. And I need to repent of it.

And I am sure that we often find ourselves in such situations as well.

We get in contact with others not so much to listen, build up or pray for them but to ask them to do something for us or to ensure that they are getting the work done. We use people to get them to achieve the purposes we are concerned about. We have cheapened the precious gift of human connection in relationships to the utilitarian ue of getting stuff done. We need to repent of that too.

Let us be mindful of this temptation in this season of Lent to refrain from being caught up in our own priorities to miss out on God’s will in our lives. His will is to be present in our lives and for us to abide in Him.

May we therefore consciously slow down, say “no” to less consequential duties and activities so that we can spend more consciously focused and unhurried time with the Lord in prayer and others in relationships in this season of Lent.

God Bless,
Revd Ian