Rend your hearts and not your clothing
A letter from the Vicar:
I have long enjoyed the Chronicles of Narnia by C. S. Lewis. In ‘The Voyage of the Dawn Treader,’ Eustace becomes besotted with a great find of dragon’s gold. Unaware that if you steal gold from a dragon you, too, will become a dragon, Eustace gives in to temptation and becomes a dragon. He cannot free himself from the curse. He tries to tear at his own dragon skin because this is not how he wants to be or to look. But he cannot undo the magic. He is a dragon. He cannot return to the way he should be, what he was created to be, with the skin of a human. He doesn’t like himself this way. Only Aslan can set him free and transform Eustace into the person he was and is created to be.
Aslan the Lion is the ‘Christ figure’ in the Chronicles and there is much wisdom about life we can learn from him. Many of us are not happy with our lives and know that we want to change. We are constantly bombarded with enticing suggestions on how we can make our lives perfect, how we look like, or what we possess. Superficially we may well be able to transform our outward appearance, however it doesn’t transform us on the inside. Christians believe that only a relationship with God can do that. Many of us are like Eustace, caught in a trap we cannot free ourselves from. No matter how hard we try, life seems hopeless.
On Ash Wednesday Christians around the world began a Lenten journey which calls us to honour and celebrate our authentic humanity and to ‘live up’ to our best selves, and not be oppressed by our worst selves, both within our hearts, and in the systems we have created. At St Mark’s and St Swithun’s as part of our Lent observations we are considering this verse from the prophet Joel:
Rend your hearts and not your clothing. Return to the Lord, your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love, and relents from punishing. Joel 2 v 13.
Repentance and transformation come through the disciplines of giving (which challenges our greed), prayer (which challenges our hunger for power), and fasting (which challenges our lustful, gratification of our basest desires). as we do this, our lives reflect the life and power of God, through these small actions, we try to contribute to making the world a more just place.
May you have a Holy Lent and Joyous Easter.
Details of our services and activities in Lent may be found on the 'What's On' page.