Monday, 16 March 2009

The Year of the Lord.

A hectic week looms which is not helped by the massed vampire armies of British Telecom who wish to extract a ridiculous sum out of me in exchange for a telephone line activation which will enable me to be charged for using the line thereafter. Duane, their salesperson, has just informed me that I am getting a good deal and he 'will give me free evening calls' which is kind of him I suppose. Whether this means that Duane will telephone me in the evening and not charge me or whether I can telephone other people is unclear, but I shall be terrified of going anywhere near the instrument in case I incur a further charge. This was better than Orange, who would have me on a cheaper tariff, but I would have to 'deal with BT contractural issues (my)self' and have two telephones, one for on peak and one for off peak calls, one of which they would give me 'free' the other could be a 'standard phone', whatever one of those is. This sounded too complicated and I would not remember which one to use, although I have a funny feeling that a 'livebox' is currently winging its way to AW towers. My brother, who gave me a remarkably good bottle of Cotes du Rhone a while ago which I consumed last night after Stations of the Cross (if you have any more, I should be very interested), has a telephone with a little wheel on it, which I do not think would be compatible with any of these exciting offers. The temptation to buy a telephone with a little wheel on it is overwhelming, but the thought of racing up and down five flights of stairs to answer it only to be sold double glazing or informed that I have won the state of Alabama in a raffle does not fill me with joy.

So I will have to wait, because British telecom demand a deposit, which I cannot now give and because I do not mind waiting. Sitting patiently in a gnomic fashion is quite a nice way to pass the time before the second coming, particularly if you have a good view of the countryside. If I were on Radio Two giving the 'Thought for the Day' as Terry Wogan's guest, I would probably say 'Lent is a time of waiting' at this juncture, having got the amusing-slice-of-life-story out of the way and as a feeder into the religious bit tacked onto the end. I would exhort listeners to take a step back and appreciate the goodness of God in a cold, stark season before Spring bursts into multi coloured life and the earth wakes once again. 'God is good' I would say, 'and His every creation exists to praise Him, through colour, life, flower and decision' and I would be quite right to do so, because God is good and His every creation is able to praise Him.

Ability and free will, though, often clash with each other. The wonderful gift of all of creation is able to praise God through every part blessing the Lord in many different ways, such as in the sacrament of marriage and in bringing up children within a loving, Christian framework. Alas the sperm cannot bless the Lord if it finds itself suddenly in a plastic bag and the ark of life, the foetus, cannot bless the Lord if it is removed and incinerated, nor can the Doctor bless the Lord while burning His creation. The advocate of Euthanasia cannot bless the Lord by taking away what is His and the Christian cannot bless the Lord unless he or she makes a conscious decision to, followed up by effort.

However, the Lord still provides and the assister of suicides and the abortionist may sit in the field and enjoy the sunshine gazing at God's creation as well as anyone else can, because like us and everybody else, he or she has the mercy and love of God available to them, if only they ask. It is easy to judge people, harder yet to rely on the grace of God that will, in the end, win through. I have done some pretty bloody silly things in my life, but have been called to witness to the redemptive power of the love of God, but not to pretend that I am not in continual need of this myself.

In this waiting time of Lent, we prepare ourselves for the death of Christ, measuring ourselves up to the need for repentance and new birth and praying that the world may do the same. If every creature blessed the Lord with the full ability it has, then the favourable time will have come, when the earth will be made new. This leads us to realise that there will have to be an end to poverty, injustice, war and subjugation before the year of the Lord's favour is proclaimed. May this Lent be a start, again, when we work for that. The battery farmed chicken cannot bless the Lord, the sweat shop labourer cannot bless the Lord while living in conditions which violate his God given humanity, the purchaser of these goods cannot bless the Lord if he knows the conditions he is helping to bankroll. The builder of atomic weapons cannot bless the Lord nor can the arrogant, who put their pride before others wellbeing.

Lent is a time of change, the Son of Man changes into the naked Lamb of God, covered in lashes and dripping His blood onto the ground in reparation for our sins. The year of the Lord's favour is not now, the world changes continually and we discover new ways in which we oppress and we become more aware of the extravagant luxury of our own lives in contrast to that of our brothers and sisters in Christ who, by the design of the Lord, live in poverty or terror a plane ride away. Journeying towards the Kingdom, implementing the year of the Lord's favour, involves changing ourselves and the world we live in. As we wait for the joy of Easter, let us pray that one day we may deserve to live in the presence of the Lord, as part of the happy ones who have worked for the Kingdom and who have attempted to proclaim the year of the Lord.