Reflections, Prayers and Themes
Matthew 5: 21 - 37: Preparation for Lent - Andrew Gardner
Let us look at what could be seen as negative in this passage, and turn the negatives into positives. Rather than anger and vengeance, in seeking reconciliation with sometimes hard truths.
My late friend Ken was very dear to me, and a good friend to people in Canonbury, a father-figure to some. Stern when he needed to be stern, he was great fun when fun was needed. He served loyally in the Royal Navy, and his feeling of care for those under his command served him later in civilian life.
Ken was not a religious man, but carried all the traits and qualities that people of faith should aspire to: kindness, generosity, loyalty, honesty. Even when honesty was painful to him, and seemingly unfriendly, even angry; as he spoke, what had to be said was said, home truths sometimes, there would always afterwards be a drink standing on the table or on the bar: there – it’s said now, and the air is clear.
The passage is about examining the spirit of the law, not the letter of it, and of being reconciled before anger escalates out of hand. That if we have offended each other, to seek to forgive, or to mend the damage before we attend the altar. 1st century courts would not have handed out the punishments described here; rather they show how dangerously thoughts and feelings fester if we fail to address them. If we offend God, we must seek our peace with God, and as Lent approaches this is an appropriate time to do so. Many Victorian philanthropists believed in salvation through good works, but Matthew’s account shows that the importance and value also in faith and prayer. In the same way, observant Jews have the ten Days of Awe in the Autumn, between Yom Kippur and Rosh Hashanah as a time for introspection and reflection on the sins of the past year, before the book of names is closed for the year to come.
Lent will be a time for us to seek our peace not only with God but with each other. Matthew writes of violent reconciliation, but this is to emphasise its urgency. The longer we leave it, the harder it is. As much as we might pray for intercession for those times when we have offended each other, only we can truly and honestly talk to each other about it. Before we take our troubles to the altar.
A reflection on Creation - Karen Stallard
Let’s start again.
What is hope if it is not to know that we can start all over again?
At the end of a good day we hope that the next day will be just as good.
At the end of a life we hope that the next life will be better.
We long for a better moment
We long for day when we won’t feel so anxious or tired or frightened
Sometimes things go so wrong we need to start again
The dinner is burnt, the tea is spilt, the equation is wrong.
Let’s start again.
Let’s begin our conversation again,
but take it on a different course this time so we don’t end up in the same place, having the same argument.
What are we doing when we start again?
We are creating.
We are walking a slightly different path.
We are exploring what it is like to act in a different way.
Every moment we can become a new creation - perhaps that is what the stars and the sun and the moon can do so easily.
Old light turns into new light, a new day, a new night
Let’s start again,
let’s bury ourselves deep in the ground and wait for spring;
lets see how we grow, what form we will take, the old is past, the new is up for grabs.
Even with all our limitations, even though we are creatures of habit,
The new beginnings are infinite in their possibilities.
This is our work of creation.
So let’s start again.