07 March 2014
This week's blog link is to that of a Baptist minister called Jo who I first got to know 'on line' and subsequently met a few times as she went through her NAM period. She has blogged intermittently for many years, and this year it looks as if she is challenging herself to some Lent blogging. I don't want to pressurise you Jo, but I do want to share your post on laughter.
We can make Lent such a solemn affair (with good reason) but there should still be space for laughter (remember what Jesus said about behaviour during fasts).
Here's the link to Jo's blog post
I saw a post on social media that made me smile. In resposne to the pious Christian suffering caffiene withdrawal God says "did I ask you give up coffee for Lent?" Today's PAYG focuses on Isaiah 58: 5 - 9a and the kind of 'fast' God desires... release from oppression, not self-flagellation. Giving up can be a good disicpline but it can also be a pious trap. Laughter is good for the soul - I'm sure it says that somewhere in Proverbs if only I searched hard enough!!
06 March 2014
Looking Through the Cross, by Graham Tomlin, the Archbishop(s) of Canterbury's Lent book (commissioned by Rowan Williams, endorsed by Justin Welby) begins by inviting the reader to reflect on the difference between seeing (~ unconscious observation) and looking (~ deliberate, conscious observation) (paranthesised definitions my precis) before beginning to explore ways of looking, specifically looking 'at' and looking 'through'. He then introduces the concept of an icon as the believer looks 'through', a bit like a window, before applying this idea to the Cross (or perhaps more accurately, the 'cross event').
Not, for me, anything vaguely new there. Likewise the description of what Roman crucifixion actually entailed or the observation that crosses have been reduced to articles of jewellry not instruments of torture (with Nicky Gumbell cited if not by name!) is all stuff that to me is extrememly familiar.
This makes me wonder if he is assuming a very different starting point for his readers than mine. Whilst I can appreciate that some more conservative, evangelical Christians might be slightly wrong-footed by the idea of 'icons', confusing them with idols (a distinction he is at pains to note) and even that some (maybe many) readers will have given little thought to 'types' of seeing, the need to eplxain what crucifixion really was is worrying... what are churches and Alpha courses actually teaching people? Or am I being unfair, is he reflecting (another kind of seeing/looking) that there may/will be readers for whom none of this is familiar?
I am looking forward to getting into the book proper, at exploring how he envisages (seeing again) the cross as a lense, or even a pair of spectacles, through which to view aspects of human experience, I think it is a good and promising premise. I guess that the first 30 odd pages have just left me distinctly underwhlemed.
05 March 2014
I did a web search using 'ash wednesday poem' and basically up popped T S Elliott's long and complicated work. So I tried again with 'lent poetry' and that was more successful. Here is one that seemed quite fitting for the start of Lent, that challenges the white-washed tombs nature of strict outward obervance and inner corruption...
Is this a Fast, to keep
the larder leane?
from fat of Veales and Sheep?
Is it to quit the dish
of Flesh, yet still
the platter high with fish?
Is it to fast an houre
or rag’d go,
a down cast look, and sour?
No: ‘tis a fast, to dole
thy sheaf of wheat
unto the hungry soule.
It is to fast from strife,
from old debate
to circumcise thy life.
To shew a heart grief-rent;
to starve thy sin,
and that’s to keep thy Lent.
What does the LORD require of thee, this only this: to do justice, to love mercy and to walk humbly with thy God.
When you fast.... wash your face, comb your hair.... and smile (CG paraphrase of JC!)