We had a lovely evening last night with Si and Sue Smith, who are up here on holiday at the moment. Above is a picture of Si by his son Jonah- who is obviously following in his talented father’s footsteps…
Si works as an illustrator/artist/all round creative person, and was responsible for the ’40’ images that I wrote some meditations for (See here.)
Last night however, we shared stories of faith journeys- through churches, experiments with new forms of church, leaving church, alternative worship groups and our concerns about our kids in all of this. It was a good conversation, because in many ways our stories are similar. And there is something about the path that we have found ourselves on that at times makes us think that we are alone.
I think the truth is that we are very far from alone- there are many of us who have been ‘activists’ within the church who have found that the institution form of organised faith has become simply impossible to remain within- and so we have set out alone- at least for now.
That is not to say that community and connections with others with whom we can share life is not important- in fact it is all the more so, hence the deep goodness of conversations like last night…
(Happy anniversary to Si and Sue by the way!)
I know that strictly speaking lent ended yesterday- but here is the final piece from ’40’- Si Smith’s lovely images of Jesus in the wilderness, along with my words. It has been quite a journey. If you enjoyed it, then you can download or order a physical copy of it from Proost.
So, the journey continued- back into a world of men-
To all the homes and houses
And the broken down old shacks
To the Priests and the soldiers
To the slaves and the fat cats
To the athlete and the cripple
To the beggar and the king
To the broken and the dying
And those who have no song to sing
To the place where children squabble
And the old folk gossip in the square
And the singing from the synagogue
Calls the town for prayer
To all this living and this loving
This fecundity of life…
Now is your time my friends
Exhausted The man fell back into the dust
The desert once again pulled at his bones
It sucked at the moisture in his flesh
But this was not the end
It was a beginning
I serve only one master-
The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me
He has sent me to the poor and the weak to tell them the good news
He has told me that it’s time to heal the broken hearted-
Shout freedom to all captives, and to break the chains of those you have bound
Now is the time of my fathers grace
And the destruction of your plans
And the stranger
With a howl of disgust the stranger turned again and took the man to a high place overlooking a huge city. So began the third attack
Look you fool- all this could be yours! You cower in the desert and but look- the whole world is at my feet!
I can give you anything you could ever want; Money, power, servants, fame, influence- are these things not necessary to complete this mission of yours?
Why not do things in style?
Why grovel in the dust when you can live like a King?
All I ask is this- do it MY way. Listen to me….
With flashing eyes the stranger turned away and in a blink of an eye the two men stood high on the temple roof looking down into the courtyard. And then, the second attack…
I don’t think you are Him at all! Look at you- standing there all weak at the knees!
If you are precious to your father, you could throw yourself from this place and the angels would catch you and float you down to the stone floor below.
GO on- DO it!
I must… not….test my father….
Now is your time, and mine.
The two men walk into the sun. So begins the first attack
Son of God- what a fool you are to suffer such hunger! You have the power to snuff out the sun, yet you go hungry? Perhaps you are not so strong after all?
If you were, you could turn this stone into bread, and we could sit down to sandwiches for lunch…
We need so much more than bread.
I am the bread of life, and I come to feed souls…
Suddenly he was not alone. Striding across the desert comes a stranger
There is something friendly and familiar about this man- he is cool and clean, and his voice is like butter
But beneath this fine exterior there lurks something else.
It is old- older than mankind
Look in his eyes and you can see the very depths of darkness and destruction-
Epidemics rage there
In the corner of his gaze, savage animals rip and claw at one another
And with a glance, arrows fly, and cannons spew fire and flame
And in the pool of his vision, men and women objectify one another
And lust for power and wealth and sex
Forests burn and rivers flow toxic from his tears.
Now he has a new mission…