Bono, the lead singer of the band U2 and a co-founder of the advocacy group ONE, is a contributing columnist for The New York Times and writes this week about the rhythm of the Christina faith through Easter. “I am a long way from the warm breeze of voices I heard a week ago on Easter Sunday. “Glorify your name,” the island women sang, as they swayed in a cut sandstone church. I was overwhelmed by a riot of colour, an emotional swell that carried me to sea. Christianity, it turns out, has a rhythm — and it crescendos this time of year. The rumba of Carnival gives way to the slow march of Lent, then to the staccato hymnals of the Easter parade. From revelry to reverie. After 40 days in the desert, sort of … Carnival — rock stars are good at that. “Carne” is flesh; “Carne-val,” its goodbye party. ……This is a Joy that cannot be conjured. This is life force. This is the heart full and spilling over with gratitude. “The rock star goes on to talk about the problems he had with the self denial aspects of lent, so much so that he gave up lent altogether, but loves the transcendent moment of Easter which he describes as “ a rebirth I always seem to need. Of all the Christian festivals, it is the Easter parade that demands the most faith — pushing you past reverence for creation, through bewilderment at the idea of a virgin birth, and into the far-fetched and far-reaching idea that death is not the end. The cross as crossroads. Whatever your religious or nonreligious views, the chance to begin again is a compelling idea. “• He goes on to explain his need for soul-searching through the scriptures and sets out a radical agenda for the world from this story of re-birth and new beginnings; “Carnival is over. Commerce has been overheating markets and climates … the sooty skies of the industrial revolution have changed scale and location, but now melt ice caps and make the seas boil in the time of technological revolution. Capitalism is on trial; globalization is, once again, in the dock. We used to say that all we wanted for the rest of the world was what we had for ourselves. Then we found out that if every living soul on the planet had a fridge and a house and an S.U.V., we would choke on our own exhaust. Lent is upon us whether we asked for it or not. And with it, we hope, comes a chance at redemption. But redemption is not just a spiritual term, it’s an economic concept. At the turn of the millennium, the debt cancellation campaign, inspired by the Jewish concept of Jubilee, aimed to give the poorest countries a fresh start. Thirty-four million more children in Africa are now in school in large part because their governments used money freed up by debt relief. This redemption was not an end to economic slavery, but it was a more hopeful beginning for many. And to the many, not the lucky few, is surely where any soul-searching must lead us.”
At the beginning of his ministry Jesus announced his intentions by reading from the scriptures in the synagogue- Bono chose The New York Times. Read the full article at http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/opinion/19bono.html?_r=3
In this week’s Radio 4 Lent broadcast Sister Frances Dominicatalks movingly and sensitively about her work with the children’s hospice- Helen House of which she is a trustee and founder. She doesn’t have much truck with religion, but sees church as an expressions of her need, and essential to her relationship with God. She sees God as allowing suffering in ways we cannot understand or explain, and accepts there are aspects of childhood suffering she finds unfair, yet knows deep in her souls that there is no evil out of which good cannot be brought. “Not in our time but in eternity all will be well, we have the questions but only God has the answers.”
Sister Frances talks about how she sees miracles daily as people who don’t have the comfort of faith react in amazing ways when faced with worst imaginable tragedies, discovering reserves of strengths they never believe they had.
Sister Frances adds; “God hasn’t left any situation however tragic it seems- I can’t get my head around it but often say to parents I don’t know, I don’t understand. I have fewer answers to the big questions than I had 20- 30 years ago , but I know this ago doesn’t spell the absence of God. My faith has moved from my head to go deeper into the gut, not tangible in any way I can reason or feel it but it is the very ground of my being and I thank God for that.”
What an amazing women and what amazing work our hospices do.
Six more days to listen to the broadcast from today here at http://www.bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/b00j4hk6/Lent_Talks_Does_God_Make_Mistakes/
love life live lent
Mmnn…tomorrow is Pancake Day, when many of us will over indulge in that heady mix of flower and water drizzled with lemon, sugar or maybe maple syrup or chocolate, but what about the next day- Ash Wednesday or the first day of the season of Lent. To many Lent seems to have lost its real meaning of a 40 day long prayerful preparation for Easter through, study, prayer and self-sacrifice. It has become a date which provides a little extra incentive to give up something like chocolate, sweets, cakes or pastries; not in order to discover some spiritual truth but to lose a few inches off the waist- a slimmers holy day!
For the past few years the Church of England has tried to promote Lent as a season of celebration and action with their Love Life Live Lent campaign. It is a new way of marking Lent. Instead of giving up chocolate or going on a detox, it encourages people to undertake a simple act of generosity each day. The actions are small and fun to do, but make a real difference in homes, families and communities.
It began in Birmingham in 2006 and since then over 250,000 people nationwide have participated- why not give it a try yourself? More information from http://www.livelent.net/index.html
I recently read a great book- Why go to church? by Fr Timothy Radcliffe OP. The book challenged and inspired me to look at what we do as church- our rituals and traditions – from the point of view of those who find going to church boring and pointless. I am not a Roman Catholic, yet I found the book engrossing and very readable.
It helped me discover afresh some of the depth and truth around the drama of the Eucharist or communion and I was delighted that Rowan Williams ,The Archbishop of Canterbury, selected this as his Lent Book choice for 2009. In his foreword he wrote, “The drama at the core of our humanity is about the reluctance to be human; and the gift that the Church offers is the resource and courage to step into Jesus’ world and begin the business of being human afresh- again and again.”
But guess what? Yes, the naysayers are at it again! I open today’s Sunday Timesto read that a member of the Protestant Truth Society is reported to be upset that the Primate of the Church of England has invited a group of Catholic Dominican Friars to launch the book at Lambeth Palace by chanting compline or night prayer. The reason for the complaint is recorded as the Roman Catholic Church being in opposition to the doctrines of the Church of England as expressed in the 39 articles of faith, and one person is quoted as saying, “It’s a sad day when The Archbishop of Canterbury can decide to join in prayer with one of the orders that so viciously opposed the Protestant Reformation”- the sins of the fathers eh!
Apparently it’s the first time that anything like this has happened there since the Reformation, and I for one believe this should be the cause of celebration and not offence or regret.
So what’s so bad about one Christian tradition joining another in prayer at Lambeth Palace? For me, I am happy with the words of Rowan Williams from his foreword; “I hope that these pages will remind us all that, whatever tensions and unfinished business still lie between the historic churches, the basic commitment is one and the same. It is to let God…touch the core of our humanity and…free us to be sent in God’s name, to announce healing and joy to all creation.”
So Protestant Truth Society or Catholic Truth Society it matters not to me: I’m happy with the truth that Rowan and Timothy are living out and let’s stop making this compline complicated and instead celebrate the symbolism of love and togetherness of different traditions coming together in prayer to get people to understand more why we do go to church?
The first book of Timothy’s I read was “What is the point of being a Christian?” It’s also the question I wonder should be asked of some in The Protestant Truth Society today.