Brian’s Reflection: Sunday, March 18, 2012
[ on the Readings for Lent IV, Year B, Revised Common Lectionary ]
[ The full Readings can be found at:
Any quotes, except for the Collect, are from The Message ]
The liturgical year has an “ordered-ness” about it. Starts with the Reign of God (Advent) and marches right on to Full Life in the Spirit of God (the long Pentecost season – I don’t like it being called “Ordinary Time” ; I must be getting crotchety in my advancing age!… though I suppose Life in the Spirit is supposed, like living in the Reign of God, to be the “ordinary norm”). “Death and Resurrection” is the “ordinary” path to Life, as the Gospel presents it. Lent keeps lifting up the heightened vision, the pattern, before us in the person of Jesus.
The Gospel of John today says something very compelling: " This is the crisis we're in: God-light streamed into the world, but men and women everywhere ran for the darkness. They went for the darkness because they were not really interested in pleasing God. Everyone who makes a practice of doing evil, addicted to denial and illusion, hates God-light and won't come near it, fearing a painful exposure. But anyone working and living in truth and reality welcomes God-light so the work can be seen for the God-work it is."
As you hear this Gospel tomorrow, perhaps think of the passage about the 7 demons that were cast out of a person and the inner space “swept clean” …. but soon that inner space was invaded by many more. The teaching here is meant to remind us to check what our “inner space” looks like. Is it “addicted to denial and illusion” and not liking exposure? It can happen easily to any of us! Spiritually healthy are aware of this. We always have to be vigilant about sweeping the inner space clean ….. and not leaving it empty but filled with God-light, and with the active intention to live in “truth and reality”. This requires vigilance.
The writer of the letter to the church in Ephesus boldly reminds us of our propensity for being lazy about the state of our hearts/souls/inner life! But he goes on to remind of the generous love of God (as does the Psalmist this morning) … reminding us that inner light is always available. Jesus is the shining Reality of that light.
Moses chastises the People for failing, in their freedom, to recall that a generous and loving and freeing God is at the heart of their lives (and reminds them of God’s covenant love). I really don’t know why the writer of Deuteronomy chose the symbol of the Snake raised up to recall them to health. But, I find it interesting, psychologically and spiritually, that the antidote to the “snakebite” is to gaze upon a similar “creature”. Whatever else it may portend, I think we are being reminded here that there is a resemblance between Dark and Light Within … recall the Psalmist saying “Darkness and Light to You are both alike”. In other words, there is a hint that spiritual darkness is often found in the shadows of the human Ego … but that Light is to be found in overlaying that shadow with the Divine Shadow … and the Christ is our Alter-Ego.
I find the Collect imagery beautiful! Jesus is “the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him the true bread which gives life to the world: Evermore give us this bread, that he may live in us, and we in him…” . “Bread” … think of all the references in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures: Methuselah “offering bread and wine”; God sending manna in the wilderness; King David eating the “Shew-bread”; the Passover bread; Jesus speaking of the Passover Bread and Wine as His “Body and Blood”; Paul gathering the Christian community around the sharing of the Bread and Wine; WE gathering to merge God with ourselves in the elements of the Bread and Wine/Body and Blood of Christ … ALL of them Life-giving.
May worship tomorrow be full of the Wonder of a generous God. And may it remind us that we are called to be generous Givers of Life … of Light, not Darkness … to each other and to the World.