It struck me the other day that I am no longer asked a question I remember frequently being asked as a teenager and young adult.

The ubiquity of mobile phones means that I cannot remember the last time someone asked me “do you have the time?”, a very Glaswegian way of asking “what time is it?”. One survey I saw suggests that 98% of adults have a mobile phone so people no longer stop complete strangers and ask what the time is.

A Theological Question.

To ask, “what time is it?” is to pose a deeply theological question. As human beings we do not simply experience time as pure chronology, the continuous tick-tock of a clock, but we experience time in “chunks” which we often refer to as seasons.

Indeed, we can experience time as the coming together of various seasons at the same time.

To ask what time it is, theologically, is to ask, “what season are we in?”, “what is God doing?”. It is also to work with, or within, “the grain of the universe,” of how God has ordered things.

A long obedience

As such, seasons remind us that there are both times for “things” and that “things” take time. Just as it takes time for things in the natural world to grow, so our spiritual growth, our sanctification takes time.

While we may experience certain breakthroughs in various areas of our life, the truth is, that growing as a disciple of Christ happens over seasons.

Some of those seasons mark periods of substantial growth. In other seasons growth, our becoming more Christlike, seems to be much slower and we are reminded that the race we run is not a sprint but, a long obedience toward Christ. Or to borrow a phrase from Nietzsche popularised (at least in Christian circles) by Eugene Peterson as the title for one of his books, spiritual growth takes “A long obedience in the same direction”.


Seasons also speak to us of beginnings and endings, and remind us, to quote a Persian proverb, that “this too shall pass”; that situations which seem permanent are only for a season.

The Season of Lent.

This week marked the beginning of the season of Lent.

On Tuesday (Shrove Tuesday) we made pancakes outside The Point. It was an opportunity to engage with people as they passed by the building, bless them with a warm pancake and engage them in conversation.

With their pancake everyone got a wee leaflet we’d made called “Why a pancake?”. It was an interesting exercise to think about how to briefly explain Shrove Tuesday and Lent to people who many know nothing of the Christian story. Here’s part of what the leaflet said:

“Lent is the 40 days (Sundays are not counted) leading up to Easter when Christians celebrate that the world is forever changed because Jesus did not remain dead after being crucified but was resurrected”.

Not doom and gloom.

It is easy to think of Lent as a season of doom and gloom. I’m writing this on Ash Wednesday, the day when traditionally Christians have reminded themselves of our mortality;

“all come from dust, and to dust all return” (Ecclesiastes 3:20).

Yet, the ashes of Ash Wednesday don’t just remind us of our mortality, but given they take the shape of the cross, they remind us that death ultimately is not victorious, it is not the end. That ashes take the form of the cross reminds us of the bodily resurrection which we look forward to in hope, which is life eternal in Christ.

Joy, gladness, and celebration.

And so, we do not face our mortality with fear, but joy and gladness, in the sure and certain hope that just as God raised Jesus from the dead to resurrection so he will also transform and raise our mortal bodies to resurrected life eternal.

Yes, Lent is a time for repentance and reflection, but it is also a time for celebration because we know Easter has happened and the world is forever changed. That is what traditionally the Sundays of Lent are “feast days” a day on which people who remind themselves we can celebrate what God has done for us in Christ Jesus.

This Sunday

This Sunday we will come together to celebrate what God has done for us in Christ Jesus and continue to think about The Lord’s Prayer.

“And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).

This is one a line of the prayer which can trip us up if praying out loud communally as the verse will differ depending on the translation you are familiar with.

Above is how the New Revised Standard Version renders the Greek of Matthew. The New International Version, New Living Translation, and New American Standard Version all say “temptation” rather than trial.

The Greek of the text, peirasmon, can mean either temptation or trial/test, and this has got me wondering “is there a difference between a trail or test and temptation, or are they basically the same thing?”. I wonder what your view on this is.

Back to Pancakes.

What a pancake is will differ depending on where you grew up. On Tuesday the pancakes we made and gave away where Scottish drop pancakes. Delicious on their own but elevated to the next level of deliciousness with some butter and jam on top!

Here’s the recipe which will make around 10 to 12 pancakes:

  • 4oz self-raising flour, ¼ teaspoon of salt, 1/2oz of marg (block), 2oz sugar, 1 egg, milk to suit.
  • Mix the dry ingredients in a bowl then rub in the marg. Once the marg is rubbed in add and egg and bind the mix together. Next add the milk to loosen the mix so it is a nice pouring consistency.
  • Cook on a low heat. You know the first side is cooked when bubbles form on the visible side. Turn the pancake over and cook the other side.



Looking forward to seeing you on Sunday but let me leave you with a prayer for this Season of Lent.

Father God,

Thank you for this Lenten morning in which we know your mercies anew.

Today, we are reminded that we are dust and to dust we shall return. Yet we face our finitude knowing we are held in our faithfulness. We remember that this is not the end of the story. There is an Easter morning to look forward to, Resurrection has entered the fabric of the universe, and so we live not in fear but in hope.

May we, today, know your hope. May we, today, see signs of the transforming and renewing work of your Spirit.

We ask this in Jesus name.