A message for Lent from Bishop Steven

Blog Bulletin 

Published on: Thursday February 15 2024, 2:20 pm

Earlier this month I had an appointment in central Oxford arranged at short notice. The instructions on location in my diary are normally an address or a postcode. But these instructions read as follows: Big Green door left of Ravenscroft and Ede, High Street. This sounds more like an extract from a John Le Carré novel or maybe Harry Potter than a normal Bishop’s diary.

I walked down the High Street with moments to spare, only half remembering where Ravenscroft and Ede is, and concerned that I might miss the big green door because I’m colourblind. Thankfully my host was there to meet me. We stepped inside between the shop fronts, through a door, an alleyway and a gate. Behind the shop front, as so often in Oxford, we entered another world: quadrangles and staircases; modern buildings; student rooms; a maze of corridors. I had walked down the High Street scores of time, never realising the hidden world beyond.

Some years ago, my son bought me a special pair of spectacles which aim to correct colour blindness, so that I could tell the difference between red and green. I had visions of being able to see a glorious range of colours instead of the colours I can see. Sadly they don’t work that well for me.

But it was something like this effect multiplied a hundredfold for Peter, James and John. They see the glory of the Christ who is the image of God. He is transfigured. The Greek word is metamorphosised: the transition from a chrysalis to a glorious butterfly. His clothes became dazzling white. They see part of the company of heaven, represented by Moses and Elijah. They see there is one here who is greater than the law and the prophets. They hear a voice from heaven, echoing the voice at Jesus’ baptism which answers the deepest question in the gospel: who is this Jesus?

“This is my Son, the Beloved, listen to him!”

One of the most wonderful and profound invitations in the gospel recurs at the beginning of John. Two reticent disciples begin to follow behind Jesus. Jesus turns and sees them following and begins, as Jesus often does, with a question: What are you looking for?

They stammer out a reply: Rabbi, where are you staying? They see him only as a teacher. Jesus gives this most beautiful invitation: Come and see. He opens a door to another world.

This Lent, as every Lent, we are echoing Jesus’ invitation to the whole diocese within the Church and beyond it to Come and See. Use this season to come deeper into faith, to discover the glory of Christ who is the image of God. Use this season to explore faith, perhaps for the first time. Register on our website and we will send you daily reflections by email and short videos each Sunday. This year we are exploring the Way of Love: Jesus’ great summary of the law.

Read Bishop Steven’s whole sermon, preached in St Mary’s, Iffley and Keble College Chapel on 11 February, on the blog.

Photo by David Billings on Unsplash