I’ve been dreadfully unprepared for Lent this year, and whilst thats not the end of the world, I feel a little careless about it. Having said that, being unprepared for Lent has brought me up close to some key questions around the idea of resistance.
I think I could easily make the excuse of an early Lent, so close after Christmas, an excuse, but I discern in myself a resistance to any sort of disciplined focussed. Now, I can fairly easily talk myself out of that and straight into something a bit more rigorous, but I’m interested as to the reason for the resistance. I’m interested in staying with the question at the moment. How have I got to this place?
Again, it would be easy to apportion blame in all directions, but the real answer lies within me. I have listened to a fear. The fear comes in the shape of a sound which is readily heard from our current home, which is only a couple of hundred yards from St Albans Abbey. The fear is that my faith in recent months has been more about ‘aligning to the chapel bell’ than it has been about ‘obedience to the voice of Jesus.’ Not a new phenomenon for me at all. The line between following Jesus and leading in the church can become easily blurred in life. It is a subtle line which can gently lead you away from the Bridegroom to focus on the Bride.
The call of Jesus, to my ears, has never been anything less than revolutionary. And, whilst I’ve journeyed some way from the naivety of my Christian youth, I’ve always known that the Christian life is not one in which you can afford to settle. There are always new questions, new explorations, and new realities to move into. And yet, it becomes easy to quieten the voice of the radical Jesus of Nazareth for the sake of mediocrity, a tame folkish religion and a ‘more tea vicar’ life.
Don’t get me wrong, if any blame is to be apportioned here, it lies with no church, no people, no circumstance, but in ones own lack of watchfulness, alertness and focus. Thankfully, long gone are the days of self flagellation that are so easy to slip into. Instead, having received the ‘check’ in ones heart, you can then awaken yourself once again to the call, to the quiet revolution of the heart we are called to in Christ.
And so, Lent calls me again to that season of self exploration, refocus and renewing. It gives me that opportunity to respond to the grace of God that continues to lap up on the shores of our lives and calls us out of safe harbour onto the sea of life and faith.
A prayer of St Brendon the Navigator: