Lenten Reflections


Is your world view framed by Fear or Love?

Confronting our ability to be an enemy: 40 days before Easter

Polarization.  Division.  Separation.

These are all images of estrangement.  Ties that used to bind us into faiths, nations, communities, are now being cut, and more and more we are reducing our contact with others—associating only with those who think like us, act like us, look like us.  We now learn our news from narrow-casts, not broad-casts, and often we choose to not be challenged, to not listen, to remain the same.

What brings about this division from others?

Enmity:  positive, active, and typically mutual hatred or ill will.  We don’t just fear—we act upon it.  We don’t just despise—we physically and verbally hurl abuse.   Enmity is at the heart of division: we are divided from God, and divided from our neighbor, and divided from our true selves.

Easter is coming.

The celebration of the negation of death is certainly more than green grass, bunnies, babies and eggs.  It is the annual reminder that Jesus, who was publically humiliated, tortured and murdered, has come back to life.  And here’s the clincher:  Jesus returns without anger.  Despite everything that was done to Jesus, he never avenges himself, never even calls his oppressors enemies.

Jesus’ example is clear:  love your enemies.

But if we, through division, have the ability to be an enemy to God, ourselves and our neighbors, how do we recognize and heal that division?  How do we become like Christ?  Join us during this 40-day period of Lent for some questions, challenges and images as we prepare for Jesus’ wrath-less return.
“No one is born hating another person because of the colour of his skin, or his background or religion. People learn to hate, and if they learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.

I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear.”

—Nelson Mandela, Long Walk to Freedom, 1994
Think about something of which you are afraid. Name it outloud. Now, call or e-mail or text it to someone you trust, and ask them to pray for you. Remember, there is no fear in love, but God’s perfect love casts out fear. (1 John 4:18)
You live at the hinge

You brood in the night in its fearfulness,
You dawn the day in its energy,
You live at the edge of night
into the margin of day.
You live at the hinge between fear and energy.
You take the feeble night and give us strong day,
You take our fatigue and bestow courage,
You take our drowsy reluctance and fashion full-blooded zeal.
What shall we say?
You, only you, you
You at the hinge—and then the day.
You—and then us,
from you in faithfulness,
us for the day,
us in the freedom and courage and energy,
and then back to you—in trust and gratitude.
—Walter Brueggemann, August 17, 1989, Awed to Heaven, Rooted in Earth

Where Charity and Love Prevail (hymn)

Where charity and love prevail,
there God is ever found;
brought here together by Christ’s love,
by love are we thus bound.

With grateful joy and holy fear
true charity we learn;
let us with heart and mind and strength
now love Christ in return.

Let strife among us be unknown,
let all contention cease;
be Christ the glory that we seek,
be ours his holy peace.

Love can exclude no race or creed
if honored be God’s name;
our common life embraces all
whose Maker is the same.