Working things out

Thinking Rector

Rational thinking is very much part of the Anglican tradition (scripture, tradition, reasoning) and we need to engage brain as we consider the realities of the present and plan for the immediate future. This is as true for individuals as for churches and organisations. It’s tempting to go from one day to the next simply responding to what happens—and a good deal of our lives is exactly that, but I suggest that it can be helpful to have a plan or an aim for the immediate future. Not something that is inflexible, but a rough idea of where we might like to be as individuals and in community. That is one of the things that Lent is traditionally about: looking ahead to where we might like to be, and ditching what might be slowing down the journey. The Biblical readings for Lent have all had this theme in one form or another.

Unfortunately, it sometimes seems that Churches require people to remove their brains as they enter a church. Furthermore, it sometimes seems that people forget to pick them up again on the way out. Maybe a lenten discipline would be to think about the traditional doctrines of the church, and ask to what extent they are helpful or unhelpful in dealing with the trials and tribulations of daily life in the 21st century. Is the Trinity an outmoded mediaeval concept? Or does its mystery say something worth saying about what we are discovering about the origins of the universe? It gets more mysterious the more we know. Is God – the divine being (a better term IMHO) – just the laws of the cosmos? Is there anything that is not God? What is not God is nothing, said Sergey Bulgakov. What about evil? Is that part of God too?

Cases of parents found guilty of neglecting and abusing their children remind us that we are all products of genetics and upbringing, and not so far under the surface there lurk temptations and urges to do nasty things should the circumstances be different. If you haven’t done it yet, be glad that you’ve never been in situations that have tested you to go beyond the limit. Maybe that is what it means when we say lead us not into temptation and deliver us from (the) evil (part of ourselves).

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