I had a friend say to me about my doodles it is good to leave space some time so others can interact and doodle with it themselves. This seemed like a good week to do so. We have entered into the season of Lent. It is a time of reflecting on where we are with God and doing a bit of work on it. It goes for 40 days representative of the time that Jesus spent in the desert.
We hear in the reading today about the 3 main temptations that Jesus was faced with, to use his power for his own personal gain, to use his power to be a superstar in his community or use his power to rule the world.
It got me thinking, we are all given gifts and abilities and given a choice about how we are going to use them. Do we use what we have just to take care of ourselves? I do think we have a responsibility to take care of ourselves, to be active and do our share, but when we get to the point where we only care for ourselves and our immediate family I think we may have lost sight about what we are here for. In our world of pension cuts and encouraging individualism it can be easy to circle the wagons and be fearful for the future. If something goes wrong I will have no – one and I must look after myself, God offers a different voice, remember last week do not worry? Be generous as God is generous to you.
We could also use our gifts and skills to make ourselves look pretty impressive. Aren’t I fabulous! It is interesting that I have even seen people use the gift of service to make themselves look good. Humility is an interest path and not always an easy thing to master. It is a balancing of being confident and comfortable in who we are and our gifts but seeing them as valuable and important as all other gifts. We have an equal place in the whole, that means we are no better or worse than anyone else.
The final temptation is about power, do you want to rule the world? or at least your little patch of it? I think in our world we can often feel very powerless. I wonder how often we remain silent or absent from issues because we feel powerless to do anything about. I am only one person? Last week I went to a training course in political advocacy and learnt how a good democratic system works. The truth is we do have power, you have power. Your voice added to the voice of others can change the world and often does.. This is both very hopeful and very scary at the same time. Things can be changed. When enough people are brave enough to look at the issues honestly and seek wisdom the world can be made a better place. There is also the opportunity to use that power that might make the world better for some but makes it a lot worse for others, thus I say the need for honest wisdom. As a Christian I believe I am called to humbly sit before God as I ponder my opinion about this, to sit in that humble place means that i might need to acknowledge I am wrong and need to change what I am doing and how I see things. You will find I rarely say this, but from this perspective Paul is my hero, he was adamant he was right about persecuting the Christians but God knew that Paul was a genuine man of God and that he could be changed and he did, becoming one of Jesus biggest supporters.
So Lent, a time to pick something up or let something go to become closer to God. I offer the colouring in this week as a meditation what are your temptations? Where are you locked into only thinking about yourself? Where do you want to impress people or be the centre of attention? or where are you hiding from the community around you? and where are you using the power you have? Are you using it to help many or only some or have you been sitting comfortably not using it at all?
I pray this time of Lent may be a rich opportunity of deepening growth with God for each of you.
Matthew 6:25 – 34
My daughter loves to watch the birds of the air in the morning when I drop her early to school. She told me the other day that they like to fly in figure 8’s around and around. Interestingly she also said they don’t like it when the crows are around “they tend to disappear” she says.. It would seem that there are some things that the birds of the air do worry about. Yet it is about the things that really matter, the things that can destroy you, not the things that consume you. We worry about not having enough, or how we look. I do too. But it doesn’t really matter that much, nothing can change having pot holes in my face from a dose of adult chicken pox and I don’t care enough to cover it up. Having had a life time of pimples, now pot holes and wrinkles, I have begun to love the body I live in.. Do not worry.. How much more does God love you..
This weeks doodle I wanted to offer, just take time to ponder how much God does love you. Plain and simple. Consider the beauty that helps you connect with God, maybe it is the birds of the air, or the beautiful lilies, or an amazing sunset or beautiful rainforest. Go to that place in your heart and sit a while with God, put the things that consume you down for a little while. Maybe you might want to leave them there.
Matthew 5:38 -48
I love what I notice when I draw these readings.. They are particularly challenging with how they deal with conflict. Some read these reading as though to be a Christian requires that we be door mats and let people walk all over us.. Some read them a challenge to stand up for yourself (turning the other cheek is about encouraging someone to hit you rather than just backhand you, giving them your cloak as well as your coat, would leave you naked and show a landlord evicting you the injustice they are causing, taking a soldiers luggage an extra mile which they were not allowed to force you to, puts them very much on the back foot and highlights their laziness.) This second theory sits more comfortably with me usually but I noticed this time that the reading isn’t finished until you include giving to people who beg, and loaning to people who ask of it..
It got me to thinking.. What if the whole of this reading is about generosity. We know that Jesus chose to go to the cross and took it humbly and non violently to make a point or achieve a goal. He wanted to demonstrate that both he and God were not into revenge, “you have taken this from me so I will take back what you have taken”. He was definitely not weak he was willing to confront the officials in a very physical and violent way in the temple. But he was generous. Choosing to give of himself with no expectation of payback. He would bless, heal, give to be people on the way and keep walking.
Which brings us to the question why are people hitting us, taking our coat, or asking us to walk a mile? Sure they could be not very nice people who just like to use the power they have to only serve themselves. But often people are reacting from a place of pain or suffering, hurt and jealousy. I wonder if this was the first lesson for the disciples about this other way of thinking? You do have the power to pay back and seek revenge but choose to be generous and loving. Even in those difficult moments, they totally change the way the conversation goes from there, most of the time.
Matthew 5 : 21-37
I have chosen this week to link you to the Message version of the text. I found it to be a great way to get the concept of what Jesus was on about.. This speech of Jesus is trying to transition people from the concept of law – we only don’t do something because it is against the law to a much bigger concept of wisdom..
These couple of readings are looking at what Christian living is about. What does it look like with flesh on? Jesus here is trying to connect the laws into why we have the laws and that the problem often starts long before we think they do..
I love how the message concludes the first section by saying ” The simple moral fact is that words kill.” It is easy when there is law to get caught up in who is right and who is wrong, debates can go in forever, Jesus reminds us it is better to sort it out as soon as you can and be careful what you say.. Your gifts to God are pretty useless if you haven’t sorted things out with those you love..
I wonder if you could read the second section of the reading about divorce and lust to be more than that.. If you see in the image the woman walking away has no face and hands yet the woman he is with does have. I wonder if part of it is about not appreciating and respecting what you have but instead being distracted and drawn to the other things we don’t know.
This final reading is one I carry in my heart always the simple fact of your yes being yes and your no being no.. the idea of a signpost was important for me in this image because you need to be able to trust them to send you in the right direction. Our words point people in directions and people need to be able to trust that what we say is what we mean. This is not always easy, sometimes I have to change the topic and avoid the question if I am unable to speak truthfully at that time. At times I have also had to say to people you might not like the answer to the question I am giving you, but I will try to tell the truth when you ask me.
All these ideas change the way we live, it is not just about adhering to the law but also about understanding why we have the law. I am reminded about the speeding example, I can get a fine and eventually lose my liscence for speeding, but realistically if I speed my reaction time is shortened and I am not able to stop as quick as I can in an emergency. It is about changing the way I live not just watching my speed when there is a speed camera. It makes a difference when we live with wisdom, truth and integrity but that doesn’t always make it easy.
Matthew 5:13 – 20
Hi everyone,well it would seem that doodling is good for my soul and I found I was missing it terribly!! We are in the new house but the boxes are still high!!
Here is this weeks lectionary doodle, sorry for the quality next week will be back on track but thought you might like to have a look!
This one was an interesting reflection on the use of salt, how much difference it makes to good food, how it helps to preserve things and helps to keep things afloat! I was thinking about the joy and delight of someone who loves to make a great meal adding just the right amount and the difference it can make. usually this works best in hot fluids the combination of those flames licking the feet of your pot, and the perfect addition of salt gets that bubbling stew perfect.
I sometimes wonder if as Christians we think we can just add our salt to whatever and it will make all the difference to the world. We forget that it is actually the combination of heat and great ingredients mixed with love that makes some that truly is Divine! Too much salt is truthfully disgusting and will ruin any meal, and you can go without it for health reasons but boy you really notice and appreciate it on those rare times it gets added!!
We are called people to be salt, to drop just the right amount of love and God into the world at the right time. May our task as salt and light is to be open and available to the great Chef to see when and how much needs to be added!!
As I worked on my doodle today, my colleague Rev. Miriam Parker Lacey wrote a blessing prayer to go with it..
May your week be blessed through the salt sprinkled through your life!!
human, breathing ,reclaiming
free gift of Creator Spirit