Did You Hear the One About…? 40 Days with Cartoon Church
Day 34 – Saturday after 5th Sunday of Lent
From the Scriptures:
The Activity of the Scribe
How different the one who devotes himself to the study of the law of the Most High! He seeks out the wisdom of all the ancients, and is concerned with prophecies; 2 he preserves the sayings of the famous and penetrates the subtleties of parables; 3 he seeks out the hidden meanings of proverbs and is at home with the obscurities of parables. 4 He serves among the great and appears before rulers; he travels in foreign lands and learns what is good and evil in the human lot. 5 He sets his heart on rising early to seek the Lord who made him, and to petition the Most High; he opens his mouth in prayer and asks pardon for his sins.
It was at Christchurch, Kenilworth – a caring community nestled under the shadow of the Wynberg in the Cape Peninsula – where I first learnt to take notes during worship. At first it was the copying of points from the sermon, then a list of prayers was added to it, then ‘to do’ lists for the week ahead and personal commitments to deepen the faith journey. In the end those notebooks became, and remain, my spiritual journal; a place of personal encounter with The Beloved in times of wonder, questioning, and darkness.
This habit is fine if most of the congregation joins you but if you are the only person taking notes you do attract some looks. Worse still is the taking of notes on an electronic device! In a previous parish before I moved there I sat in on a service and took notes on my Psion Series 5mx (old tech now but in those days with two AA batteries you could rule the internet!). All seemed to go well until I overheard a parishioner whisper, ‘Our new vicar looks very nice but I do wish he wouldn’t play computer games during the sermon’… I have reverted to using a notebook as apparently God doesn’t understand binary code!
Taking notes in the service used to be the hallmark of a particular kind of evangelical Anglicanism and I am grateful for the nurture, particularly in study of the Scriptures, that I received from communities such as the Wynberg group of Churches in Cape Town. Nowadays we seem to lead lives that are more provisional and far less reflective. Regardless of our church practice the call is always a ‘call to action!’ and very rarely a call to reflection.
Having been in some fairly ‘urgent’ situations where the beliefs of the Church and the deeds of the State collide I know full well the danger of inactivity; I also know the folly of acting without thinking. If we do not ‘take note’ of all that is happening around us we can easily be swept away on a tide of enthusiasm, public opinion or community outrage. When this happens we shout ‘Barabbas’ instead of ‘Jesus’.
In these final days of Lent each of us will once again hear ‘the old story of Jesus and his love’ and, if we are not careful to ‘take note’ of it we may find ourselves unchanged by the passion, death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ, and that would be intensely sad.
How then do we not only hear ‘the old story of Jesus and his love’ but also read, mark, learn and inwardly digest’ the depth of its meaning so that we too are born again come Easter Day? For, if we hear the familiar words of Holy Week again, and are not transformed we will find ourselves lamenting with Jeremiah, ‘The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.’ (Jeremiah 8.20).
Today, before Palm Sunday processions begin, Tenebrae lights are lit, Passover Seders laid out, or bowls of water and towels arranged for foot-washing, decide how you will ‘take note’ of the week ahead. It doesn’t have to be in a book with words (or a blog or a tweet). It doesn’t have to be with words at all. Plan now to greet the next week in a way different to how you have always done it. Arrive earlier (or later) for church services, extra (or less) devotions, less (or more) sleep; listen to the whispers of the Holy Spirit and aim to dive deep into the pool of ‘the love that wilt not let me go!’
Help me, dear God,
to see my brother with the eyes of Christ,
to hear my sister with the ears of Christ,
to taste my neighbour’s hunger with the mouth of Christ,
to smell creation’s beauty with the nose of Christ,
to touch the world’s pain with the hands of Christ,
and to love life, each life, every life,
with the heart of Christ.
(Sam Hamilton-Poore, United States of America)
- Write down your present plans for each day from Palm Sunday to Easter Day, let it ‘rest’ for at lest an hour then tear it up and write it again from your heart.
- After Easter, think about how you might regularly ‘take note’ of your faith journey.
All Cartoons are copyright © Dave Walker. Please visit http://www.cartoonchurch.com if you would like to laugh even more
Prayers are from the collection ‘Praying with the World Church’ compiled by USPG.
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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