My Ramblings Lent I 5th March 2017
Lent is upon us! This has been a very hectic week so far. With the two very well-attended Ash Wednesday services, and the memorial service of Jean Addy at Shoreham House on Tuesday, it has been a week full of reflection and meaning for me. This morning I heard the news of the death of our dear friend Jayne Rooke, which has brought me to prayer once again, as I uphold her partner Klaus and son Matthew.
I know many of you, like me, will be doing so.
St. Mark’s has been closed this week, and will be next week, because of construction works. This has reminded me of a powerful book I read, during my training. It is called “Preaching while the Church is Under Reconstruction: The Visionary Role of Preachers in a Fragmented World”, by Thomas Troeger. I highly recommend it. I did own a copy once, but the colleague I lent it to must have loved it, as it never returned to me, or it was lost…
In this book, Thomas Troeger uses the image of a church in which a part of the roof has fallen in, leaving a hole where a large image of Christ, Pantocrator, used to be. Christ the ruler of the Cosmos.
The result of this disaster, is that there is now a “God-shaped hole” in the roof. Perhaps the people can look out and see God? Even more disturbing might be the idea that God can look into the church very easily, and see what the congregation is doing. Or even what they are not doing.
Perhaps this Lent might be a time, when we engage with this exposure to the close scrutiny of God. Jesus calls to us through the centuries. The powerful story of his life here on earth engages us time and time again. This week, we remember his flight into the wilderness for 40 days of fasting and prayer. Having heard the voice of God at his Baptism, saying “This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased.”
Jesus is the Son Of God. The Beloved. Naturally, when the tempter comes to him within his hunger and distress in the wilderness, this is what is focussed upon:
“If you are the Son of God, then….”
As our Bishop Paul pointed out to those who attended the Jumbunna gathering a few weeks ago,
“It is notable, and no doubt deliberate, that at each of the three temptations Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 6 and 8, a wilderness book, making the allusion back to ancient Israel. Where Israel failed, Jesus does not.”
Throughout history, when times of disruption, distress and wilderness wanderings occur, God is close to us. The story of Jesus’ journey to the cross, which we engage in during Lent, is the most powerful example of this. It is this solemn walk to his destiny which we engage with: the destiny which not only means his physical torture and death, but also the means of our redemption and salvation.
While one of our cherished church buildings is under re-construction, we have an opportunity to reflect on what is happening within. What would Jesus say to us today, as he looks deeply into our hearts and minds through the gaps in our defences? I encourage you to come along to our Bible Study groups, or engage with the reflection notes at home.
Many blessings for your week.
Church of the Holy Sepulchre, Jerusalem.
Image by Andrew Shiva.