News

Our way, our truth, our life?

8 May 2020 • From Frances, our Associate Minister

Readings

Acts 7 verses 50 to 55

John 14 verses 1 to 14

Our way, our truth, our life?

Walking in our wood this morning, I noticed a little track wending its way through the undergrowth. I know it wasn’t made by human feet--probably by the dog, or the fox or the badger or the deer who live in the wood. And then it occurred to me that what I was actually seeing was some broken stems, some stunted grass, some patches of undergrowth brushed aside. But my eye sees all this and my brain interprets all these individual signs as a continuous path. It’s a bit like a dot-to-dot puzzle. And it made me think about Jesus’ words-‘I am the way, the truth and the life.’

We often talk about ‘following Jesus’—but it’s not always easy to think what that really means, and to apply it to our lives and our own circumstances.

St Ignatius of Loyola was a very wise man back in the fifteenth century, who gave this a lot of thought. Put very simply, he worked out that when he felt really fulfilled and enlivened by something that he had done or thought about, it was likely to be something that drew him nearer to God. On the other hand, if something depressed and drained him, then quite likely it was not God’s way, and would be better avoided. And I think this is a little like the ‘dot-to-dot’ puzzle of the path in the wood. Our ‘path’—our ‘way’ through life is made up of many small different happenings and choices as to which way to go, and which way to avoid.

Two weeks ago I wrote in my reflection that this present situation gives us a chance to see our world and our lives in a new light, and to consider whether we want to change the way we live our lives. We often hear people say ‘ when this is over and we get back to normal’ but it seems likely that our lives will never be quite the same again, and the new normal will be very different from what it used to be. Many businesses will have failed, so it may be difficult to access all the material goods we have been used to. Many people will have lost their jobs. Somehow they will have to be supported, and somehow the enormous expenditure on welfare payments which are being made at the moment will have to be made up for. Presumably taxes will increase, as they did after the war, to pay for it all, and we may find ourselves a bit harder up than we expected to be.

It all sounds rather negative. But there is another side to all of this.

For the first time in decades, it is possible to see Beijing from the International Space Station, because there is so much less atmospheric pollution after the lockdown. We can see the stars. The changes to our lifestyles which are necessary to tackle climate change and which our politicians have been too scared to suggest, have now happened, almost overnight, because our fear of the virus is greater than all our other considerations. For many years now we have had the technology for many people to work from home, avoiding the daily commute and all the pollution that causes, but it hasn’t happened because we are all stuck in our ways of working—until, that is, the fear of the infection has made us change. We have become used to flying around the globe, but our present crisis gives us pause for thought as to whether it is wise or necessary to go on as we have done before.

So where do we go in the future? How can we take advantage of this extraordinary time, and learn some lessons from it? These major changes are for the politicians to work out, to see where we go from here.

But my invitation to you today is to think about what you have found positive about your own personal lives during the lockdown, and whether there are changes you would like to hang onto when it comes to an end. Perhaps having more time to stand and stare? To keep in touch with friends and family? To sit and talk in depth, rather than rushing off to do something? A new hobby, perhaps, which you have enjoyed during this time? It will be different for each one of us.

But each of those decisions is like one of the dots that, strung together, makes up our path through life—our way, our truth, our life.

Collect:

Risen Christ

Your wounds declare your love for the world

And the wonder of your risen life;

Give us compassion and courage

To risk ourselves for those we serve

To the glory of God the Father.

Amen