Monday, February 04, 2008

Drawing close

Readings for the First Sunday in LentFebruary 10, 2008 may be taken from; Genesis 2:15-17; 3:1-7; Psalm 32 ; Romans 5:12-19 Matthew 4:1-11

It is a great treat to have three highly focussed seasons
one after the other
Advent...leading us to Christmas
Christmas-Epiphany...exploring the mystery of the Word made flesh
and now Lent, causing us to reflect on our lives in a spirit of penitence
as we look to Holy Week and Easter.
Maybe you don'tquite think of it this way.
But let me try and convince you
that what is on offer here is a chance to draw closer to God,
and that drawing close to God
is the best thing for us.
It is not an easy thing, but it is the best!

The readings today are (in a way) introductory to Lent
they set the scene for us.
The Genesis reading is part of the way we talk about
the separation of humanity from God.
Adam and Eve get kicked out of the Garden of Eden!

It is a powerful story which uses legend/myth/poetry/theology
to explore the human condition.
And (for Genesis) the human condition is this:

We find ourselves separated fromGod.
because having been created by God
we chose not to be what God created us to be
rather than being ourselves
we wanted to be God.

This is not a debate about equality/inequality
But rather a statement about the fact that we find oursleves to be fundamentally separated from God.
At the conclusion of the Eden story
we discover that rather than remain in Paradise
we are destined to leave the place God has put us
because we chose to not be what God intended.
This is an important dimension to grasp
while in a sense we are "exiled" from Eden (the place God intends us to be)
we also exiled ourselves
because we wanted to be God
and of course could not live up to this.

The human story from this point onwards
is about how we return to Eden.

The Inner Struggle
The temptations of Jesus point us to the fact
that part of this return to God
is confronting our own inner selves
and turning away from the seductions of untruth
---we will not live by material support (bread) alone
---the magic of the supernatural holds no way forward
---even having all power possible is a dead end

In a way, these tempations

  • materialism
are fundamental human temptations
which every human being will need to confront
in their spiritual journey.

In what ways have I:

  • put my trust in the wrong place, and think that possessions, wealth and material goods are the sole purpose of what life is about
  • surrendered my autonomy to the supernatural, or to a view of God and the universe which is corrupt and untrue. Have I tried to cause God to fit into my narrow conception rather than open myself to the possibilities of what God is offering me?
  • used my power to manipulate others, to abuse and force my will on others

This week

Take time to be quiet with God and to reflect on where you have moved away from God's desire for you to share in abundant life

Look for one thing to do this week which might restore a sense of faithfulness to your call and desire to be God's person in a difficult world

Review this from time to time during the week and have the courage to implement it

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