Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 1 – Ash Wednesday
From the Scriptures:
If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 21 ‘Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch’? 22 All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings.
I have been a member of Parochial Church Councils in various roles since I was in my early Twenties and there has never been a meeting where the plight of the church kitchen was not discussed.
My very first Church Council was in St Barnabas Church on the slopes of Table Mountain, Cape Town. Overseen by the saintly Bishop Mark Nye who, after all his life experiences, must have despaired at our antics. It seemed that it would have been easier to defeat the evils of Apartheid than find a solution to the missing teaspoons in the church kitchen! When I left Cape Town for Johannesburg I bought three-dozen brand new teaspoons and secretly placed them in the kitchen. I often wonder what on earth the PCC spoke about the next time they met.
Forty years later, though I have changed parishes and roles, I find the same angst over teaspoons and coffee cups, kettles and washing-up liquid, wherever I go. It was rather humorous to once hear a member of the Kitchen Police, as she was locking up her own stash of a bag of sugar and half-a-jar of coffee, proclaiming (without any trace of irony) how much better things were at the local village hall were nothing was locked up and everyone could use anything they needed!
As I begin my journey each Lent I find that I am my own ‘Kitchen Police Force’ and have the full Ikea range of locked cupboards inside of me. I plot the course of my Lent and budget for how much I can ‘unlock’ and empty out in front of the One Who Loves me Best. I know that each of my little locked compartments contains nothing more than the spiritual equivalent of a crusty jar of coffee and some out-of-date soggy Rich Tea biscuits, but they are mine and I refuse to let go of them in case they are never returned to me.
This is senseless. The things I hold on to do me no good and if I do ever use them they taste of gall and wormwood to my soul. Why can’t I let go of them? After all how can I ever get on with the business of following God if I am forever reordering the kitchen of my soul? But I am worried that if, for one minute, I hand God the keys to the cupboard of my life, God might discover that I am a bit of a sham and in need of salvation…
…and that is not a bad place to start Lent – knowing our need and knowing our loving Saviour. Perhaps today, in our prayers we may ask for a vision of God that is bigger than ‘teaspoons and coffee cups, kettles and washing-up liquid’, hand over the keys of our heart, and let the Holy Spirit clean out every corner of our life? After all Lent is a good time for Spring-cleaning our souls as well as our homes.
Give to your church, O God,
a bold vision and a daring charity,
a refreshed wisdom and a courteous understanding,
that the eternal message of your Son
may be acclaimed as the good news of the age:
through him who makes all things new,
even Jesus Christ our Lord.
The Society of St Francis
1) If you can physically carry fewer keys this Lent, do.
2) Sit down with God and let God show you which cupboard in the kitchen of your soul you need to surrender.
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Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
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