The Third Sunday in Lent

Charlotte and I had a good break. It is nice to get away and see something different – more museums, walking tours, history, geography, and a nice amount of lovely food! Although Charlotte had been on them before, we did do a Beatles Tour in Liverpool. We are children of the 60s and the Beatles and their music was part of our world ‘down under’ and so seeing places – homes, schools, landmarks, streets – and hearing the history associated with them – and sensing the Liverpudlian pride – brought home to me a lot more than I had known or appreciated. What impressed me was hearing and seeing linkages between their environment, their personal circumstances and their songs. The details helped make more sense of what I knew.

The new Museum of Liverpool also currently has an exhibition (until this November) entitled ‘Double Fantasy’ which focused on John and Yoko’s relationship and creative endeavours ‘in their own words’. Again, I was aware of some of the things – unaware of lot of things – and came away with an appreciation of … I’m not sure what … history, the ‘Fab Four’ as a group and as individuals, my ignorance, the 60s and 70s, and some good songs. We sat through the video clip of ‘Imagine’ … twice. Maybe I’m just being nostalgic. At times, we can get that way about the past. (At other times, we want to forget the past all together.)

Lent can be nostalgic. Anything we do repeatedly over time can become nostalgic. But Lent, I suspect, was never meant to be nostalgic. Just as worship services are not meetings of the Jesus Historical Society, so Lent – or any part of the Church Year – are times of encounters more than reflections, meetings more than memories, performances where things happen more than watching something on display. When we are in the presence of biblical words – read out loud, read silently, remembered, preached, taught, sung, dramatized – then the Holy Spirit brings about a meeting with Jesus – and it is dynamic, more than any meeting we have with literature in general. I can read the displays in a museum, listen to a guide, hear and touch artefacts from the past and I ‘absorb’ from history what I want to take.

That isn’t what Jesus does. He has instituted the ‘Means of Grace’ not as a memory aide but as a way of meeting his people now. The point of Jesus’ empty tomb is that he comes to us! To us … today – no matter what that day contains. We choose how we behave and respond each day of our lives. Lent is that time when we recall what happened to Jesus before that empty tomb – and why. And Jesus still comes close to us so that we might live aware of the past and not shackled by it. For each day can be a new beginning after any hard day’s night! GS