I have been speaking of our need for change since the beginning of my service with the Church. Since our earliest days we have been conformed to the agenda of Capitalism. There is a clear sense in which we have been serving money when we should have been serving God. This service to money has led us to the place where we now are. It is a place of decision. Will we continue to act as if all is well with the world or will we recognize that the seed we have sown is set to bring us an unwelcome harvest?
Lent is a period of forty days and nights set apart for careful reflection on what matters to us as human beings and what does not. By the providence of God this season of Lent has forced us to withdraw from our regular habits and routines. Each day we have heard new announcements calling us to abstain from all unnecessary contact with family, friends and neighbours. We are being told to stay home as the primary way of avoiding contact with the virus spreading through the world. It is as if our Lenten journey has taken on a focus that is hard to imagine. We are actually being forced to look closely at what is going on in the world and what this is doing in our hearts and minds.
The Bible readings for this week speak about darkness being cast out by light. Jesus is presented as the light of the world. Wherever Jesus meets a person suffering from some circumstance or another he brings remedy. The story of Lazarus being raised from death to life offers us opportunity to notice the difference between material being and spiritual being. We are encouraged to root ourselves in spiritual life. This is the inner being which circumstance cannot overcome. It is the eternal image of God in us. The apostle Paul makes this clear in his letter to the Ephesians. We are made aware that focus on our material being leads to death. In contrast, focusing on spiritual being leads to life and peace. That life and peace being experienced while in our bodies on earth.
Much of the world is now in the grip of fear. This related to the possibility of sickness and death following infection by a contagious virus. I hope each of you is spending at least a small measure of time to pray, to study and to communicate with family, friends and neighbours. Each of these offers support and encouragement as we find our way forward in hope.
Here is a small prayer that I wrote some years ago:
We have all wandered far from the safety of your word. Seeking greener pastures, we left the security of your rod and staff. Now we hear the wolves howling in the distance. We rush about in near panic. Which is the way home? Each new decision leads us deeper into the thorns and thistles of anxiety. Finally we cry out - save us, O God, or else we will perish.
Gracious God, you hear our cries. Leaving the ninety and nine, you come to bring us back to the fold. With compassion, you gather us into your loving arms. We find our peace in you strong presence.
Thank you Lord!