A time for spiritual spring-cleaning!
That is the heading on day one of my little Lent reflection book which I’ve had for years – I don’t use it every year but it is good to re-visit the reflections every few Lents or so! (Is “Lents” a real word? Who cares!) I like the heading – good to ponder as I survey the dust that collects in my study and which I really must get round to cleaning!
Lent, it is said, is a time for spiritual spring-cleaning, a time for Christians traditionally to reflect on their lives and lifestyles and to “tone up” spiritually, a time to turn our backs on the errors that easily creep into our lives and to set our focus once again on Jesus and make sure that we are following him more closely. So far so good, I don’t have a problem with looking in the mirror, except for the fact that I’m looking way older than I feel!
But I do have issue with Lent being a time for us only to reflect individually. “We don’t” you say, “we reflect together in our worship” – do we really? Is that not individual reflection in a gathered setting?
How does the Church that urges us to reflect as individuals reflect itself as a body? The “Living Lent” initiative is positive about personal changes, and perhaps even joint changes, we can make in order to address climate change - during Lent could you…give up single use plastics or go meat free or find alternative means of transport or give up electricity for an hour a day or live more local or buy nothing new? Together we can combat climate change. But how does the Church itself reflect and look in the mirror? We could argue that as we reflect as individuals so we reflect as a Church, but why then do we not see more radical change within our Church?
What will create a climate of change in the Church? Individuals reflecting? You might think so, but what really changes? We wait in hope for a really radical plan – I’m introducing the word “really” because I wouldn’t like to see tinkering or re-hashed old ideas or fudge to be seen as radical.
Self-reflecting is only of use if we re-commit to the Kingdom values and reflect that in the way we do Church, so, for example…
When we hold millions in reserve, is that what Jesus would want to see?
When we create more bureaucracy is that what Jesus would want to see?
When we cling to the past is that what Jesus would want to see?
When we can’t see past our own Church doors and contemplate sharing with our Christian neighbours is that what Jesus would want to see?
When we place ministers in rather large houses is that what Jesus would want to see?
When we ask questions like this and more, and when we throw our hands up the air because it’s too convoluted to change, and when our hackles are raised at the questions even being asked, is that what Jesus would want to see?
The Church Without Walls Report says one of the biggest challenges facing the Church is the need to change mind-sets! 18 years later that’s still the case. Thank God Lent only lasts 40 days and then we can get back to normal!
Is “business as normal” what Jesus wants to see in the Church today?
Mon the reformers!