Here in the UK, our late winter weather seems brutal. This is not what we expect for February, and many people are beginning this season with the heartbreak of seeing their homes flooded. This Lent, the Archbishop is encouraging us to take seriously the call to tend and care for the living earth.
I am very pleased that various groups, churches, and groups of churches are going to use my book as guide through Lent, and, if you would like to follow, you can find a suggested programme here.
Getting Started: Chapter 1, Moses and Abraham. This is a shortish introductory chapter – you could fit it in the week before Lent, or as an extra piece of reading as Lent begins.
That means that this week is a good time for me to share with you a little of the first chapter – I am: Moses and Abraham. It’s short, so I hope you’ll be able to include it in your readings.
John’s gospel looks back to Moses’ ancient story, recording for us how Jesus called himself by this name – “I am”. This name, which emerged from a burning bush so long ago, is one of the most identifiable features of John’s account. It resonated with his early readers and listeners in Greek Ephesus, and it stirs our imagination even today, millennia later. Before we go deep into John’s account, and explore why that may be, we will look back to Moses’ story and see what we understand of this earliest “I am”.
Nothing is wasted in God’s economy. God used the rubbish – and the good – in Moses’ upbringing and his life as a shepherd. He became ideally suited to his task. As well as his circumstances and experience, God used his character; in this case, a sense of justice and an indignation at bullies. What must have felt like failure and a downwards path was the place where Moses encountered God.
We do not know if he was seeking God when God appeared. We do know that he was in the middle of his everyday, working life, and that God did something strange to arrest his attention, awaken his curiosity, draw him nearer. Attention and curiosity can guide you, can awaken you to God in the burning bushes we pass every day.
Moses certainly didn’t seem to looking for a job, let alone a great mission. It is easy to read his rather thin excuses and wonder why he spent so long arguing. His unwillingness to respond seems to come from uncertainty.
Moses is uncertain about himself, and he is uncertain about God.
“Nothing is wasted in God’s economy” – can we live from this realisation? Can we acknowledge that even very difficult things can be fuel for something better?
Can we work to eliminate wasteful ways of living?
And from the Reflection and Response section
Earth’s crammed with heaven,
And every common bush afire with God.
But only he who sees, takes off his shoes.
Elizabeth Barrett Browning
As you start your day, pray for open eyes to see where God may be at work, or may be seeking to catch your attention today. Set off with open eyes, a camera and a notepad. Record anything that draws your attention. At the end of the day, mull over what you have recorded in prayer. What did you see?
If you’d like a copy, you can ask your local bookshop, or order online.
Here are a few suggestions:
Thank you for joining me in your reading. There is more to come…..