Monday, 23 February 2015

Whole new world?

Mark 1:12-15

The Spirit drove Jesus out into the wilderness and he remained there for forty days, and was tempted by Satan. He was with the wild beasts, and the angels looked after him.

After John had been arrested, Jesus went into Galilee. There he proclaimed the Good News from God. ‘The time has come’ he said ‘and the kingdom of God is close at hand. Repent, and believe the Good News.’

As it's half term, Lent has begun with grandchildren duties and  many viewings of Disney's Aladdin. Amazing where you get inspiration from. 

Hopefully, many of us will have the opportunity sometime during Lent to step outside the mundane path of life and take a retreat. There are so many different ways these days, literally spending the time in a secluded space, guided by courses, reflective books or on-line encouragement. Lent's lengthening of the days offer us a little more daylight that could be turned to our advantage given our desire and a little luck. 

This is a spiritual practice I look forward to so much and bemoan when it doesn't come along.  How much I wish for a weekend, a day, an hour - even five minutes solitude. So forty days is nothing more than a fantasy.

Interesting then, that Jesus didn't ask to go. The Spirit does not take Jesus, or even drive Jesus, the word used is ἐκβάλλω - expulsion, the same word that describes Jesus' exorcism of demons. Jesus is dragged out of whatever intention he may have had. It seems that, just after his baptism, Jesus is not in the best of places.

And who would be, if the knowledge of who you were brought with it , as Robin Williams' Genii would say 'Phenomenal cosmic powers! a itty bitty living space'. 

Scripture tells us of all the times God is disappointed in us, in how we behave, how we let God down. How much more raw would it feel if it was your mother who was slandered, your father who was given the cuckold sign, your stomach that was empty, your village that was impoverished and oppressed? Given what is going on in our world today - if someone gave you three wishes wouldn't you be setting some people straight, whether they liked it or not? 

This makes Satan's task so easy.  The real temptation makes so much sense, seems so holy. To create that world that the Father can only dream of. Turning human beings into the pawns of a Kingdom of God that is only a mirage of God's true desire.

In the desert Jesus learns of God's relationships in the world - with Satan, with the beasts, with the angels. For a man out of Nazareth it is a whole new world and one only the Spirit can guide him through. Never mind the cosmic powers, here in the desert Jesus is reminded of his humanity and the people he has come to share his life with, as well as to serve.

The rest of his ministry, Jesus will live with the temptation of our lives given into his hands. How notable that he only acts on request and with discretion. One of the first miracle requests in Mark reminds him,  'If you are willing.' 

At the end of the film, Aladdin learns that his human gifts are enough, a promise is kept, the Genii is set free. Jesus is set free with the knowledge and acknowledgment that he is his Father's son and it is his Father's Kingdom that he is building. And for that task - he is willing. 


Thursday, 19 February 2015

Lamentation After Ash Wednesday

Joel 2:12

Due to a whole cacophony of family duties and distractions I came upon Ash Wednesday utterly unprepared and unfocused. 

By the time I curled over into sleep, i had drunk coffee and alcohol, eaten meat and chocolate, spent too much time on the computer, too much time driving around, forgotten to turn the radio off, forgotten to go outside to pray. Not one Lenten observance even considered. 

That evening I had ran into Mass late, only to be tutted by the priest. As I was the reader this was not the best of beginnings. Chastened, I approached the lectern not at all surprised at the Lord's sense of timing.  Joel's reading resounded 
'Now, now...Come back to me with all your heart'. 

It's not my heart, Lord. It's the world that surrounds it. 

It's the responsibilities that come with being a full-time working, studying, wanting to work in the vineyard, grandmother, mother and wife. It's the inability to bilocate and the assumption that you can. It's knowing that every time you say 'no' to something it is usually the one thing you wanted to do.

I do intend to try. I've got my Lenten read, signed on to a few on-line retreats, subscribed to my favourite Lenten daily postings. I have art materials and journals and ideas that spin out in my sleep-starved nights.

The bookmark hasn't moved a page in the last few days and I expect I will be sorting the retreats and emails into the 'one day folder' more often than not. 

I will 'like' other people's offerings with minimal envy and try to keep up with the blog. I'm sure that this Lent, like every Lent, has a mind all of its own and by the end, I will have learnt a little more. 

But for now.

My heart is weary, Lord. If you want it you had better come to me.


Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Lenten Psalms 51

O, Divine have mercy
Heal me with compassion
And swaddle me with your love

I fear to be in your presence
knowing how many times I have turned
Treating life as a dead-end street
Whilst you waited for memory to return

Take me again in your arms, O Divine
With hyssop, purify me as a holy place
As bright as the mountaintop snow  
As a tabernacle of scented blessedness 

O Divine create within me, a new song 
A rhythm of heart beating truth
Let the breath of your Spirit renew me 
And my days bear the joy of your word

All I can offer is me, O Divine 
All the sorrow that cannot be carried
The brokenness that won't hold any longer
And a heart that cries out to be held

O, Divine have mercy
Heal me with compassion
And swaddle me with your love