Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 5 – Monday after 1st Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
It is the same way with lifeless instruments that produce sound, such as the flute or the harp. If they do not give distinct notes, how will anyone know what is being played? 8 And if the bugle gives an indistinct sound, who will get ready for battle? 9 So with yourselves; if in a tongue you utter speech that is not intelligible, how will anyone know what is being said? For you will be speaking into the air.
1 Corinthians 14.7-9
I know it’s a week late for Shrove Tuesday but is it ok if I make a confession? It has to do with the reality of today’s cartoon as expressed in what passes for Notice Boards outside St John’s Church, Orwell Road and St Edmund’s Church, Langer Road, Felixstowe.
We are definitely not as bad as CartoonChurch. Our services are not dull, we are getting better at websites, blogs and Facebook pages, and there are plenty of people who are willing to help. It’s just that the new (15 months in post does still counts as new doesn’t it?) vicar has still not made up his mind as to what information should go on the church noticeboards! One of them has no contact details at all and the other still has the previous vicar’s name complete with a disconnected phone number. Woe is me! Just as well both our bishops’ are on a Lenten pilgrimage walking across the Diocese and the Archdeacon is laid-up with a pair of bad ankles. Please don’t tell them of my iniquity…
I don’t quite know how it has come to pass that it has taken so long for me to get around to organising this and why I have allowed our public notice boards to ‘give an indistinct sound’. Well no more! Seeing as people from Auckland to New York now know about the situation I suppose I had better get the sign-writer in by Easter, or perhaps May when the Archdeacon visits, or maybe I should hang on getting it done until the summer so that they will be nice and new for the confirmation service when the bishop will visit…
See how easy it is? How simply we put off working on our outward ‘message’ – both ecclesiastical and personal – and allow ourselves to get sucked into interior busy-ness at the cost of telling the Good News to passers-by.
Yes, a slick and polished exterior is not proof of a rich interior life. Our Lord’s warnings about ‘Whitewashed sepulchres’ (Matthew 23.27) remind us to not be some sort of religious show-ponies. However we must be savour-filled salt, visible lights and distinct in the message we have to proclaim. What does the cartoon say again?
There isn’t anyone available to speak to you at the moment
as we are all quite busy, what with one thing and another…
P.S. please give us some money.
The challenge of proclaiming our faith in the market place is to walk the line between the fire-breathing street preacher and the person who, like the Priest and the Levite in the tale of the Good Samaritan, walks by on the other side. (Luke 10.25-37). We are called at the same time to ‘sound a bugle clearly’ yet not be in the business of ‘blowing our own trumpet’.
As the Lenten journey unfolds this can we make ensuring we give a ‘distinct sound’ one our prayers we make? This Lent as we listen we will learn more of God’s precious love. So why not, as we learn, ask the Holy Spirit to whom we should be telling this good news we have just learnt? Across our Diocese we do this by following a practice called ‘Dwelling in the Word’ which leads on to noticing God’s presence around us and then announcing the Kingdom.
If a formal practice does not suit you why not simply begin with noticing God’s work in you this Lent? Recognise the kind thought, the harsh word held back, the good deed done without fuss or expectation of reward. As we name them and let them work their way within us we will become more visible followers of the Beloved without being ‘in your face’ Christians. By all means dive deep into whichever devotional practices and study helps you come closer to The One Who Loves us Best but never forget that we do not go on this journey for ourselves alone. We live Lent for all those on the ‘outside’ who are not yet aware how much they are loved, that they may hear the call of God’s love and join us to make the Body of Christ complete.
God my Creator, I open my heart to you,
may it turn to you as the sunflower turns to the sun.
God, my Redeemer, take away from my heart everything that is not love
so that I may reach out to you in my own unworthiness.
God, my Sanctifier, journey with me along life’s way
so that all that I am and all that I do
may bring greater glory to you the triune God.
from Sri Lanka
- Do go and check your church and community notice boards to
ensure that they are up to date and give correct information.
- Don’t give in to the temptation to ‘over-polish’ your faith and
deeds in public. The ‘distinct sound’ we give must be in tune…
Find out more about ‘Dwelling in the Word’ here:
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.
Please support their work by visiting http://www.uspg.org.uk
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