Lent does not begin until next Wednesday but I feel that I have been living in the presence of it for the last month as I have developed the materials that we are making available through Mustard Seed Associates. As I worked on the booklet I found myself becoming more and more angry at the trivial ways in which most people treat this season. If I speak to one more person who intends to give up chocolate, alcohol, TV or internet surfing I will probably react in a very unChristian way. And the ads for diet aids that flood our TV screens at this time of year (at least in the Northern hemisphere) don’t really help. Though I realize these can be very real addictions for some people in Western cultures, they also seem incredibly trivial when compared to the suffering of so many in our world.
The scary thing about developing these materials is that I now feel responsible to carry through on everything I have suggested to others and that is probably as difficult for me to do as it is for anyone else. I too like to take shortcuts and not follow Christ’s teachings seriously – especially when it means giving up my comforts even for a day or two. It is amazing our easily I make excuses & trivialize the commitment that God asks of us. One of the reasons I have started making the videos for reflection that are appearing on this blog is because I find that having visual images like these helps me to enter more deeply into the gospel story and enables me to grab hold of my responsibility.
I started by uploading some of my photos from refugee camps and images of poverty as a screen saver but as my photo banks grew that didn’t seem as important. Then I started to write liturgies – not like we read in church (though sometimes they do look a little like a church service) but more as responsive readings that help me (and hopefully others) to connect their faith to their everyday life and to the world around them. The videos seemed like a logical next step melding together my love of photography with my liturgies. These videos help me to remember why I do what I do. As I work on them for different seasons of the year they also draw me back to a profound comment by Robert Webber who says that for Christians the rhythm of the year is meant to be governed by the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus not by the civil and national holidays of our countries or by the dictates of the consumer culture in which we live. Life with Jesus is life with a very different rhythm.