Did You Hear the One About… 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 6 – Tuesday after 1st Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. 2 He fasted for forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished. 3 The tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’ 4 But he answered, ‘It is written,
“One does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”’
So, did anyone else play a game of ‘Hymn Bingo’ on Sunday with a small wager as to whether ‘Forty Days and Forty Nights’ would, along with other long morbid hymns in minor keys, be amongst those served up to ‘help’ us get in the mood for Lent?
I sometimes wish that centuries of church tradition did not mean that a ‘good’ Lent means no flowers, no alleluias, sombre vestments (with the promise of even darker ones to come), and no fun at all.
For me the words of ‘Forty Days’ (sung to a much more jolly tune than Heinlein) takes me back to the joyful people of St Nicholas Church, Matroosfontein, Cape Town. In an area set aside only for people labelled by Apartheid as ‘Cape Coloured’, it was a parish that, regardless of its dusty streets and impoverished families, had song in its soul.
It seemed, as it so often does, that it was amongst those who have little about which to boast – after all how could you ‘give up’ for Lent if you hand nothing to share or fast if you were always hungry – were able to keep Lent with a deep joy and purpose.
This Lent I have dreaded moments when people, discovering that I am a vicar, ask me what I have given up for Lent? For many this is an honest enquiry but for some I think it can easily become a game of spiritual apple-polishing. Often I decline about specifics and point to the extra tasks, such as the discipline of writing these words, which help me put my life back into order. I shy away from telling others of the deeds I hope to perform for fear of them being emptied of their purpose.
Lent, as our Prime Minster has learnt to her cost, has to be about much more than deciding to give up eating potato crisps until Easter.
The Eucharist during Lent has this Preface. It reminds me that Lent is not all about ‘thou shalt not’ and more about a call towards Easter:
…In these forty days you lead us into the desert of repentance
that through a pilgrimage of prayer and discipline
we may grow in grace and learn to be your people once again.
Through fasting, prayer and acts of service
you bring us back to your generous heart.
Through study of your holy word
you open our eyes to your presence in the world
and free our hands to welcome others
into the radiant splendour of your love.
During Lent we are called to do only one thing in three different ways;
- Remember we belong to the One Who Loves us Best.
- Remember that our Beloved is more generous to us than we deserve.
- Remember that God’s Spirit is in the whole of creation and we are called to meet Her in the lives of others.
To remedy this I will do whatever it takes to hold on to the one who holds on to me. (Philippians 3.12). This will sometimes involve busier church not quieter, extra food not fast, occasionally missing something I am expected to attend, and often enduring things I would rather not attend. Today’s cartoon is sometimes more truth than irony!
There is no hierarchy of Lenten observance and no single devotion (or morbid hymn tune!) is superior to another. There is only the common need to remember that every single one of us is learning to be loved perfectly and each of us is to respect the whisperings of the Holy Spirit as to how each encounters the journey towards Easter.
In Lent we stand together on intimate holy ground before the ever-burning flame of God’s love and, rather than looking at each other, should bow down and remove our sandals…
From the cowardice that dare not face new truth,
from the laziness that is content with half-truth,
from the arrogance that thinks it knows all truth,
Good Lord, deliver me.
- It’s not too late to ‘start over’ this Lent. If the first days have been difficult to observe (or something is just not working) like the wayward golfer take a Mulligan and tee off again with a different approach.
- Find ways of noting the ‘Three R’s’ of Lent. Remembering God’s grace, God’s generosity, and God’s care for everything
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