We can be so certain we’re right. We can believe and insist on all sorts of things, if there are a few people around encouraging us. There are groups of people that sincerely believe the Earth is actually flat. How did it come to the Flat Earth society being a thing in 2018? The patent evidence of science is swept away by willful ignorance, and for what purpose? To not be wrong, to be sure of being right?...
The Ten Commandments! - such a foreboding name. In fact, it's not a very good name for them. The Hebrew means: The Ten Words, The Decalogue. It is the revealed Word of God.
A little bit of context: the Israelites have been in the wilderness for three months after being freed from slavery in Egypt. During that time God has provided them with fresh drinking water, and sustained them with manna and quails to eat. Now on the day of the third month, God asks Moses to get everyone ready to encounter God at the foot of Mt Sinai. God will come in a cloud and speak to Moses so that everyone can hear and trust him.
We can understand from this context that the decalogue was addressed to the people as a whole psyche, and each individual is addressed as well. The community has responsibility as a whole, and the individual has responsibility. In fact, there is an ancient Jewish myth that these words were offered to the entire world at the same time and was interpreted into all languages of the earth. And that Israel is the only nation to accept it. This myth illustrates that the Words are universal in application.
For many marginalized communities, the importance of the cross is that it is the location where Christ chose solidarity with the world’s marginalized. Christ becomes one with the crucified people of his time, as well as with all who are crucified today on the crosses of racism, sexism, classism, and heterosexism. These crosses are places of violence, littered with broken lives and bodies. Jesus’ solidarity with the world’s failures and the world’s powerlessness points to the God of the oppressed. Here is the importance of the cross. God is not the God of those who crucify, only of those who are crucified. The paradox of the cross is that, in spite of what it symbolizes, there is resurrection.
This quote from ethicist Miguel de la Torre is confronting. God is not the God of those who crucify, only of those who are crucified. What does this mean for us? God is a God of the margins; therefore, the church should be a movement organically grown from crucified communities particularly as we acknowledge Reconciliation Week, the crosses of racism...
In our journey through Lent into Easter we meet in many places, the desert, the wilderness, by wells of water, in temples, on the cross, in the tomb. We explore a myriad of environments telling dramatic encounters between heaven and earth. We explore a tapestry of God moments: moments of heaven breaking loose into the world. Culminating in the ultimate event of the resurrection of Jesus Christ...
I have come across people who really dread the Christian season of Lent. They have experienced it as a dreary time of deprivation and dull hymns. Yet it can be a wonderful time of renewal and opportunity.
The first question when it comes to Lent is ' shall I let something go or take something on?'. Either can be effective. The purpose is to do something that helps to focus our attention and turn us God-ward. So whether it is remembering not to eat meat or chocolate, or remembering to find five minutes in a day to spend time in silence, the outcome is the same.
Great things to let go can be excess time spent on social media, TV or even email as well as more traditional abstinences from sugar or alcohol. Making a little space in our day can enable opportunity for more creative ways to interact with God and God's world.
So think about committing to taking a walk in nature each day, with God as your companion. You might like then to ask questions, such as 'what is God bringing to my attention in the things I see and hear?'. Or perhaps you might like to spend some focused time in such pursuits as reading, painting or gardening. The important thing is the intent. Remember this is time set aside to be more attentive to God.
Other activities that can bring Lent to life include interacting with others in a study group or out in the community, tidying up some waste ground or helping a refugee child to read. For remember that the idea of Lent is not just to mark the forty days in a focused way. It is also about creating habits and relationships that continue after Lent and become part of every day. So for example if you try to focus your attention every time you pass through a doorway and remember that Christ walks with you when you do that, hopefully you will always have that sense of Christ's accompanying in future.
So talk with God about what will be life giving for you and breathe new life into your spiritual journey. Use your imagination and realise that anything pretty much can be used as a doorway to the divine. And talk to others about what you intend to do, so that they can hold you accountable and encourage you. One way to do that is to take part in a Lent group. We will have two in the parish, to be held at St. Francis College, one on a Wednesday from 1.30-3pm and the other on a Thursday 7-8.30pm. The material will be the same, so if you miss a session on Wednesday you can catch up on Thursday. See you there!
Jo Inkpin, Penny Jones, Peter Jeffery, Ann Edwards, Elizabeth McConnell