|Pen and Ink Reflections||
What happened on 14 July 1833? Well, obviously, all kinds of things, not least in post-Revolutionary France perhaps, albeit it had at that point backslid into a monarchy. For Anglicans that day has certainly become a momentous turning point, for it was the date of John Keble’s famous Assizes Sermon in Oxford, a sermon given traditionally at the start of the law courts in England. It was not a call to Revolution. Yet it was a call to arms and to re-foundation and it issued in a movement of considerable change. In the face of a greatly transforming world, and of significant changes in church-society relationships, it helped give the Church of England a fresh identity and vitality. So, on the anniversary of his death, as we remember John Keble, can the memory of that sermon, and of his life and ministry, challenge us to find similar purpose and energy today?
Every single one of us sees the world differently. That is on the one hand self evident, but on the other something we don't often think about. I suspect that most of the time I am assuming that you are seeing what I am seeing. But it is just not the case. Each of us, because of our unique physiology, psychology, upbringing, experience, context, actually sees things differently. And of course because of all those things there are also things that we simply do not see. So when the Pharisees say to Jesus 'Surely we're not blind are we?', they are failing to acknowledge a basic spiritual truth. We are all blind to some extent...
Well we have a real piece of theatre in our Gospel reading today, don't we? It's beautifully set up. We can picture it clearly. Jesus in shining robes or simple sackcloth. The devil, however we want to picture him - or her- horn and tails, or sharp cut suit and red high heels. Good on one side, evil on the other and after a bit of verbal swordplay good comes out victorious. It's how we'd all love it to be. It is the subtext of every superhero book or movie. Yet it is not real life is it? It is not the world in which we struggle to pay our bills, and sit up late to meet someone else's deadlines and get cranky with our kids and shout at the dog. In our real world good and evil are all mixed up. We know the good thing that we want to do for our own good and that of others and we do the opposite for no reason we can fathom, as Paul said. In this real world we are four days into Lent and many of our good intentions, I'll take a bet have already evaporated or never been begun. (Never mind pick yourself up and have another go!) But what use is this story to us, mere humans?...