24th March 2023

Do you ever find yourself filling in a form and feel constrained and irritated? Maybe you’re presented with a yes/no choice, and you find yourself thinking that it’s not that simple, that your answer depends on the context? More seriously, we see how dangerous polarisation of political debate can be, when we’re encouraged to focus on our differences and to learn to distrust the ‘other’.

In Sam’s sermon on Sunday, he noted that when Jesus is presented with an A versus B question, He often provides a third option that his questioners hadn’t thought of. We had missed the point; we weren’t even asking the right question. We were seeking to tidy up the world into neat categories, rather than engaging with its messiness and wonderful diversity.

A former colleague often quoted a proverb about many bringing rakes, but few using shovels. It is inspiring and challenging when we learn of those who find courage to do the hard work of shovelling, rather than keeping it to superficial raking. They take on the struggle for the common ground, for the path to reconciliation and justice – the Truth and Reconciliation Commission chaired by Desmond Tutu in post-apartheid South Africa perhaps, or the Corrymeela Community in Northern Ireland, supporting people from different backgrounds to live well together.

As we travel through Lent we find our way, in the midst of the sometimes dizzying, disorientating complexities of life – by fixing our eyes on Jesus (as the old Sunday school chorus put it). That orientation towards Jesus, and to the new life He brings, is our shared ground with others we encounter along the way.

Ruth Allen