Revenge…

Mt5.44

 

I have been thinking about revenge today on my drive around Argyll.

This was stimulated in part by a story that the news is full of over here in the UK about a former Member of Parliament and his ex wife who have both been found guilty of perverting the course of justice. Many years ago he persuaded her to take some speeding points onto her licence by saying she was driving when in fact it had been him. Later on, he had an affair with a work colleague and left his wife for her. His wife, by way of revenge, decided that she would tell the press about the speeding thing, knowing that it would end his political career.

What she did not anticipate was that both of them would end up in court, with the details of their intimate lives being dragged out in front of the media, at the end of which both are now facing a jail sentence.

Revenge, red in tooth and claw, let loose to ravage this way and that, doing damage to all.

I was also thinking about revenge because of another situation we are faced with- involving some people who have acted vindictively towards us, in a way that I will not spell out here. We are sort of in the position to give pay back.

Now I do not claim to be better than most- I am not in any way morally superior. But the words of Matthew 5 above- they gave me a problem.

What do we do when faced with personal injustice? How do we deal with people who slight us, who treat us with disrespect, who see what we are and find it wanting?

I know what my natural reaction is- I lick my wounds, I seek conversations of conspiracy- with people who will speak words of partiality and hostility. I obsessively pick over my rights, my own just cause. I look accross no-mans land and watch for weaknesses in the opposing trench line. In my mind I prepare for war.

But those words of Jesus about turning the other cheek, offering the shirt when they take my coat, walking two miles when forced to march one… they slow me down, discomfort me. Surely he is not wanting some kind of wimpy doormat for others to wipe their feet on?

Well, think about the politician and his wife.

He had it coming-  right?

 

The houses of the Kingdom…

Been doing more Greenbelt thinking- it is only a few days away after all! If you are going to the festival, Aoradh’s worship slot in the Worship Collective (Used to be called New Forms Cafe) is first up- 7.00pm on Friday.

The GB theme this year is ‘dreams of home’, and we have used this to consider something of the contrast between our house-obsessed culture, and the deeper things of home that we long for- resulting for most of us in a kind of yearning, that might be called ‘homesickness’.

For many Christians, this impulse seems to have resulted in a deliberate focus on ‘heaven’- as in some place that we go to when we die. In doing this, the danger is that we enter into that old dual thinking trap- we split into sacred/profane, temporary/eternal. What seems to have happened at times is that our religion became an escape pod from this doomed planet.

This is not the way of Jesus.

How might our homes reflect this then?

I turn once more to the Jesus manifesto from Matthew chapter 5…

 

Beatitudes for houses

 

Blessed is the house of the poor in spirit (for this home belongs to theKingdomofHeaven.)

 

Blessed is the house of those who mourn (for their homes will be places of comfort.)

 

Blessed is the house of the meek (For their house is bigger than the whole earth.)

 

Blessed is the house of those who long for righteousness (for their homes will be pregnant with grace.)

 

Blessed are houses full of mercy (for love will rest in them.)

 

Blessed are the house of the pure in heart (for God will be ever present.)

 

Blessed are the houses of the peacemakers (The sons and daughters of the Living God.)

 

Blessed are the houses that are broken because of Jesus. (The Kingdom of heaven is no earthly insurance policy.)

 

 

 

Dave Andrews on violence and the Beatitudes…

Is it possible to turn from violence?

It is there in all of our interactions. As Dave says- plan A is usually to repay violence with violence. To take what injury we feel, and look to make someone else pay- either as an individual, or as a group.

I have been thinking about this in relation to the place of my work. Those people who treat me badly- whose interactions are characterised by hard, angry and overly rigid attitudes. Or at least it seems that way to me and those with whom I confide.

And I find myself carrying this violence into my own responses- it shapes the way that I defend, then set up my own small plans of violent resistance.

Sometimes I manage to carry the beatitudes into these interactions- not just outwardly, but actually in the way I think and feel. But not often.

So that is my prayer. To be Christlike.

To measure victory not in terms of overcoming by violence- but in overcoming by something far deeper- called (for want of a better word) love.

God grant me the serenity to not want to change the people that I want to change…

Remembering…

Yesterday was my father in law’s birthday.

Or would have been.

To remember his death in April of this year, Mary suggested we took some flowers to a place he loved. I am not really keen on those displays of flowers tied to lamp posts and benches- the ones that droop and rot into a mess of green plastic. But Mary had a much simpler idea.

So we went to a bridge over the River Eachaig, next to the lovely Uig Hall- a fine, still place where the river runs strongly around a meander and over a weir before disappearing towards the Holy Loch then the Clyde and finally the deep blue sea.

We stood in silence on the bridge, Michaela, me, the kids and Mary. That kind of stillness that is enhanced by the gentle noises around, and the feelings of pain and loss within. The whole world folds in for a while.

Then Mary threw her flower, along with a little note, into the river.

Taken by the current it moved off. Followed in line by Michaela’s, William’s and mine. It was unbearably sad, but lovely at the same time.

Emily was last to throw in her flower, and as she was standing nearer to the bank, the current took it around the meander and almost out of sight, before it snagged on the bank- a flash of yellow amongst the floating leaves.

This upset Emily- so much so that she wanted to go and fetch it somehow, although this was not practicable.

For me, this spoke volumes.

The river moves on and by, to a distant destination. But no matter how strong the flow it is hard to let go.

It is right not to let go.

Because blessed are those who mourn…