Tag Archives: Lent 4a

Threat – and opportunity

The world seems very different from just a couple of weeks ago. The threat of a virus – covid-19 – has changed our lives, causing strain and fear. Can Paul’s words from his letter to Ephesus offer any help? (We read Ephesians 5:8-14)

Christians are just like everyone else in having to respond to the situation, take instructions, and know that many things are changing, and some will never be the same. Paul’s challenge would seem to be that we do this with love, deliberately imitating God.

Yes there is evil in some of what is happening. Fear, insecurity, we could make quite a long list. These things can divide people and strain relationships. Can there be anything good in all this?

“Live as children of light” we are told. No secrets, no selfish advantage, but an open attempt to live generously and well. What does that mean, when we cannot go and meet people, join for worship, offer help? Perhaps it is a helpful challenge. It makes us think again about how we live our faith.

We cannot gather to worship, but we can join in broadcast services, or listen to our leaders and teachers via the internet. We cannot go and see people, but we can be in touch by phone, e-mail, messaging. We have more time spare that we are used to – and can use it well, or badly.

What it will mean to live in the light as Christian disciples? That will vary in detail from person to person. But for all it will be a life sharing with others, probably in new ways, which need exploring. We may self-isolate to avoid the bug, and the problem of others catching it from us, or perhaps having to care for us – but that is physical, not emotional. Don’t lower the portcullis and prepare to resist any who come near!

When we get back to something more like normal, what will the churches have learnt? Will they try for “business as usual”, or will they be glad of having tried new ways of supporting one another, new friends made, new skills learnt? It’s not that the faith has changed, but the times mean that the practice of faith has to adapt. Is the understanding we have gained so far equal to changing, and meeting a new world with the light of Christ?

In sight?

This week many British churches will be taken up with Mothering Sunday (and there is a Dialogue Sketch on that theme here), but the lectionary provides a reading from John 9:1-41 for others.

It is a story of a blind man coming to sight – and a great deal more than just physical sight (remarkable as that was, and is, in someone who have never been able to see).  It is made clear that the healing of his eyes is only a start.  He then has to struggle with some heavy questioning before he finds Jesus in a new way, and is able to “see” more profoundly.

Alongside this happy story is another, of increasing blindness.  By verse 41 Jesus has harsh words for those who say they are spiritually able to see, but cannot.  The division is there in v16, and has hardened by v24.

Is this still true?  Yes.  There are those today who are finding “sight”.  There are also others, even within religion, who are not.  We say that we walk in the light.  What happens if that isn’t true?

  • the occasional failure can be repented of and forgiven
  • but when we fail to recognise God at work, and persist in that opinion -!

The challenge is to speak of what we know.  We are intended to know God.  If we fail to know, become complacent, or imagine that God must work according to our traditions, that is far worse even than physical blindness.