We approach Lent this year with the image of flood firmly in our minds. Popular culture has even referred to the winter events as “Biblical” with more references than I can remember for some time to Noah and the flood.
The Noah story is a good example of how suddenly a Bible story can speak again to a new generation in a way it has not spoken before. No generation has faced the climate change we now face since prehistory. Yet much like the Noah story there is a world full of sceptics. Noah built his ark in a society which was hostile and derisive towards his actions. Proponents of climate change are met with the same hostility and derision today. I suspect the majority will see the errors of their ways when it is too late for all of us.
However at this moment in time it is NOT too late, but we must act now and protect God’s wonderful gift of creation. As Noah faced his critics and got on with building the Ark so we must face the sceptics of climate change and build a 21st century Ark. Our Ark is not a physical one but an Ark of attitude. We must build a society with ecological foundations so that we play our part in reducing the global climate change. Think Global - Act Local can never have been more important.
Our Ark of Attitude means tough choices - an astonishing paradox this winter for me has been the debate on fuel costs at the same time as the floods. Even though we have parts of the country blighted by flooding and crucial infrastructure destroyed e.g. power distribution, railways lines collapsing; the government - pressured by populist press - talk of reducing the so called “green taxes” on fuels to reduce fuel bills. Am I the only “Noah” who sees this astonishing lapse - we need more “ green taxes” to force the shift away from the fossil fuels that damage our environment and cause the flooding. If you want to reduce fuel bills then sort out the PRIVATE energy companies profit! I would go further I would link the cost of flooding to energy generation and make the energy companies pay for the clean up!
The story of Noah has important theological points as we approach Lent. In Baptism we are recall that our “sins are drowned in the water of redemption”
Lent is also a good time to think about any suffering or hurt in our life, this may be current or sometimes dating from our past. This Lent we are going to try something different and make a Garment of Suffering. The Garment of Suffering symbolises the hurt that is contained in our lives and community.
During Lent we ask that you to either pick up a piece of cloth from the back of church, or bring to the Church a piece of cloth (any colour) about four to six inches square and leave it in the designated basket. Your piece of cloth can represent the pain, grief or hurt in your life. It may be associated with:
Grief at death and separation;
Pain of living with a troubled partner, parent or child;
The pain of sickness;
The pain of being misunderstood;
The pain of failure, etc.
During Holy Week the cloths will be collected and sewn together into one complete garment. On Good Friday the garment will be draped over the Cross and left there throughout Easter. At Pentecost the garment will be removed and burnt.
During Lent and Easter we will pray to be healed.
What is unique about this ritual is that you will be able to recognise your own piece of cloth, your own grief and suffering and yet understand that so many others share similar worries.
If you don’t normally come to church, why not come along and join in with this act.