Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 7 – Wednesday after 1st Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2 The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh? 4 Did you experience so much for nothing? – if it really was for nothing. 5 Well then, does God supply you with the Spirit and work miracles among you by your doing the works of the law, or by your believing what you heard?
Knowing how careful our Diocesan staff are at being good stewards of our resources I am pretty sure that there is no way this Rural Dean can justify the expense of all the technological wizardry that would be needed to equip a ‘Foul Language Detector Van’. Mind you, now that both our bishops have gone on ‘pilgrimage’ to not one but two breweries since Ash Wednesday, thee may be carte blanche for clergy to organize brewery visits next Lent. Suffolk, thankfully, is not short on good breweries!
Of all the above ‘Lenten Crimes’ it is the ‘Chocolate Biscuit Police’ I find the most difficult to cope with. In a previous life I was responsible for Quality Control in a Chocolate Factory (occasionally I have been referred to as The Revd. Willy Wonka) and I find it unfair that chocolate receives such a bad press during Lent. Personally I think people should be allowed to eat as much chocolate as they like during Lent with two caveats: that it be fair-trade chocolate, and that it be only dark chocolate. Any self respecting chocolatier will know that the abhorrent tasteless milk chocolate has no place in God’s plan of salvation!
How easy it is for us, like the early followers of The Way in Galatia, to turn Lent, which is supposed to set us free and bring us closer to The One Who Loves us Best, into a legalistic burden which draws us further away from God instead. Lenten disciplines are supposed to make the journey towards Easter richer, fuller, and easier instead they can become opportunities for the ‘Don’t Brigade’ (especially the squad that lives inside our own heads) to enforce ‘the rules’ and in so doing ‘empty the cross of its power’ (1 Corinthians 1.17).
We stand on the other side of the Cross and so live ‘not under law but under grace’ (Romans 6.14) so we should be careful how we use our Lenten acts of devotion, discipline, and service of others. If they are a burden that gnaws at our spirit and robs us of joy it is quite likely that we are involved in searching for self-justification instead of learning the glorious truth that we are ‘saved by grace through faith [which] is not our own doing but it is the gift of God’ (Ephesians 2.8).
Giving up chocolate for Lent (would that it were that simple !) will not, of itself, make us into better Christians. Learning to use all God’s gifts of our time, our treasure, and our talent in thankfulness for our redemption and in the service of others is a different thing altogether.
Lent, at its best, is life-affirming and not just flesh-denying. There needs to be joy coupled with our commitment to less self-indulgence. If I can’t give up something for Lent freely and willingly then I will find the discipline becomes a rod that chastises rather than a rule that guides us on the journey home. When we let that happen we descend into the very legalism from which Our Beloved came to redeem us at such great cost on the cross and we find we journey away from Love instead of towards it. And if that was all that Lent brings us that would be a crying shame.
Now, where did I leave that Kit-Kat….
All things look to you, O Lord,
to give them their food in due season:
look in mercy on your people,
and hear our prayer
for those whose lives and possessions
are threatened by drought, flood, or fire.
In your mercy,
restore your creation and heal our land.
So guide and bless your people,
that we may enjoy the fruits of the earth
and give you thanks with grateful hearts,
through our Lord Jesus Christ.
A Prayer Book for Australia
- Resist the temptation to comment about yours and others
biscuit eating habits
- When one of your Lenten disciplines ‘bites’ you – to do their
work the best ones will – sing a happy song or whistle a joyful tune.
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more J
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
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Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
These Reflections, ‘Did You Hear the One About…’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2017