|Pen and Ink Reflections||
As you may be aware, there is a tradition in more Catholic Christian circles of using rose pink as a colour for this Sunday. For the third Sunday of Advent has often been known as “Gaudete’ – or ‘Rejoice’ – Sunday, and rose pink, became linked to it, as rose pink is also associated with Mary the Mother of Jesus. So, being a bit into colours at the moment, especially pink ones, I thought I’d do a little investigation into the subject. The first thing I came across was the Readers Digest guide to rose colour meanings It begins very interestingly. The red rose is said to symbolise love, and, I quote, is ‘Perfect for: freaking out your first date; covering beer stains; wooing a hunky bishop.’ So, something to bear in mind there? In contrast, according to Readers Digest, the pink rose is said to express grace and elegance, as well as sweetness and sympathy: and thus: ‘Perfect for: sick secretaries, (and) the platinum blonde in your life.’ Again, is there something useful for us to remember there? Well, maybe just a teens-weensy bit of gender stereotyping in that, don’t you think?! It is a little like many approaches to Mary, the Mother of Jesus …
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?
A few weeks ago our Toowoomba Catholic bishop was interviewed by several national TV and other media outlets. He did a wonderful job in sharing our Christian concern for our neighbours, particularly for our Muslim neighbours whose mosque had been set on fire. You would have thought that all other Christians would have been grateful to him, wouldn’t you? After all, loving our neighbour, whoever they are, is at the very heart of the teaching of Jesus. Strangely however, he told me that someone complained, calling him Antichrist. Oh dear, I replied, it sounds as if the worst spirit of the Reformation is alive again! For that kind of language and attack on fellow Christians was very much part of the Reformation and much of Christian history. Indeed, it helped promote similar kinds of warfare and bloodshed which we now see consuming parts of the Islamic world, where believers kill fellow believers, as well as others, in the name of their particular kind of faith. No wonder many people therefore have difficulties with religion as a whole. Even where there is no physical violence, many religious people can still sometimes display distressing self-righteousness and judgemental attitudes towards others. For this reason, if nothing else, we surely need to continue to pray for Christian Unity and for that peace of Christ which passes all understanding.
This week’s readings certainly challenge us to explore what it means to live in love and unity together. This is especially the case with our second reading. Somewhat unusually, this is also almost the same text as our second reading last week. Certainly it deserves attention. For this reading is drawn from the First Letter attributed to John: a letter which takes us deep into the intense Christian disputes and theological divisions of the first two centuries of Christian Faith. For make no mistake, Christians have always had arguments with one another...