MORE THOUGHTS 1
Sometimes, quite often really, life takes unexpected directions. In this case, having said goodbye to Georges River Presbytery and the Pastoral Relations role, I find myself back again for a little while. But it doesn’t feel like going backwards. There would be something wrong if it did. For a start, it has been great to see the new, hospitable and welcoming space of the new Presbytery office. It feels like a “home” for everyone. When I finished at the end of November we were moving into Advent and preparing for Christmas, wondering how we might be able to celebrate the Incarnation, Christ’s coming among us. That seems a long time ago now. Back then, one of the symbols of that time was the star: the thing that moved and guided those who were seeking a king about whom they knew little, except that his coming would change everything and would be the fulfilment of life’s journey. Now we are on a journey through Lent, that moves us, inescapably towards the cross.
There are many readings that tell us that this cross became inevitable, and the extraordinary humility and faith with which Jesus submitted to it pierces through our protective and comfortable thinking. After all, we are called to follow. We may want to hurry on to resurrection and new beginning, but there is no new beginning without allowing the cross to strip us back to the fundamentals of our faith.
The star has morphed into the cross as the symbol that hangs over us at this time. The star appears much easier, something of light, but, in the story of the magi in Matthew’s gospel, it was what had dislocated these people and sent them on a journey of discovery. While it led them to the place of Jesus birth, it also involved intrigue and plotting by Herod and then violence. The star was a guiding light and a symbol of hope that tells us that, right from the start, finding Jesus and arriving at a place of worship often involves focusing on things beyond what we normally see. There is always movement. There was no settled place for the infant Jesus and his family. They too had to move on, guided by the Spirit.
The cross was the culmination of a deliberate journey that Jesus made as he taught his followers what discipleship means. It can seem a very dark and challenging journey. It is also a journey of love. Along the way, Jesus showed the depths of that love and how its self-giving nature is always, ultimately, life-giving. There may be times when we feel that it all seems to hard. We may not want to keep moving on along this path. But life also shows us that trying to turn the clock back to a place or time when things felt safer ultimately bring us no joy, no real life, no fulfilment. The way of the cross challenges us, but it is not a way we walk alone. Maybe the star still shines as well as we are drawn together seeking the wisdom and the truth of life lived out in love.
Here is the last verse of the song “Travelling the Road to freedom” by John Bell and Graham Maule. In Wild Goose Songs Vol.2, ©Wild Goose Publications, the Iona Community.
Travelling the road to freedom, I am the Way, I’ll take you there.
Choose to come on the journey, or choose to criticise and stare.
Earth’s mesmerising evil only a traveller can repair.
Travelling the road to freedom. I am the Way, I’ll take you there.