LENTEN REFLECTIONS —WEEK 3
Simon the Zealot
Scripture tells us almost nothing about Simon. In the Gospels, he is mentioned in three places, but only to list his name with the 12 disciples. In Acts 1:13 we learn that he was present with the 11 apostles in the upper room of Jerusalem after Christ had ascended to heaven. Church tradition holds that he spread the gospel in Egypt as a missionary and was martyred in Persia. Like most of the other apostles, Simon the Zealot deserted Jesus during his trial and crucifixion. Clearly there must be more to the man who was referred to as a Zealot.
Lent is a time to learn to travel
Light, to clear the clutter
From our crowded lives and
Find a space, a desert.
Deserts are bleak; no creature
Comforts, only a vast expanse of Stillness, sharpening awareness of
Ourselves and God
Uncomfortable places, deserts.
Most of the time we’re tempted to
Avoid them, finding good reason to
Live lives of ease; cushioned by
Noise from self-discovery.
Clutching at world’s success
To stave off fear.
But if we dare to trust the silence
To strip away our false security,
God can begin to grow his wholeness in us,
Fill up our emptiness, destroy our fears,
Give us new vision, courage for the journey,
And make our desert blossom like a rose.
From – ‘Waiting for the Kingfisher’ – Ann Lewin
Simon the Zealot
Coming down from the hills changed me. I met him first in that desert, where I’d bloodied and battered and been bloodied and battered, on the steep road to Jericho. We’d both known the force of the law, the brutality, the demands of the military, and the homes smashed during so-called searches, and the homes destroyed as punishment. A cowed people nursed their bitterness in strong community, closed against the other. It was during my second time in prison, when my body ached from the beatings and the years stretched out ahead, that he visited, and brought cold water, clothing, food, and dignity.
I fell in love with the romance of faith in a different journey, the knowledge that the hills where we trained were the hills where he prayed. I could see why I needed him but not why he wanted me. In the years of the dirty war we’d lost sight of what we were fighting for: it was more tit for tat, keeping up the fear so we might survive. But he brought me back to the centre, to the goodness and truth and different way to live that I’d known as a child, then a youth. He refreshed my soul.
But follow him? Ex-taxmen, small business-folk, women with histories, there was a place for everybody in his company, I found. And being with him made us start to be kind again. Soldiers have bonds – we look out for each other: this was deeper. We gave without counting the cost, without hope of return. Not just to each other, but we turned aside mistrust and took the risk with strangers. And enjoyed the results. We laughed on the road. Yet I wasn’t much good at the end. I wasn’t the hand-to-hand combat type, more the bomb-maker at a distance. I’d given up on hurting people but it was bombastic Simon Peter who was better at security guard roles. I’d seen so much pain: I was scared at the thought of what it would be like. Going all the way with him. I’d seen my mates executed: even the toughest fall apart. In those hours, those days. That’s the point: it doesn’t pay to cross authority. I did not think, my friend, that I could love so little, or could be so self-absorbed I could not see your body on the other tree, that I could miss in this, my life’s extreme, your living company. You did not love the loud thief less then, love, though he could only hear his groaning anger at the world in pain which you have held so dear. So, Christ, if we should turn from you at last, you are forever near.
Afghan sacrifice 2001
The mild-mannered man on the city council declared himself a former soldier and an atheist. He’d seen too much in Afghanistan. Then he told a story, just one.
They had been far out in the lawless areas, to the north. They scurried to leave the hostile village as tempers flared. All got in and, the door still open, the helicopter took off. At that moment, through the crowd two women ran and each threw something through the door.
‘We thought we were done for.’ But the explosion, their lives’ final sound, did not come. The pilot flew upwards. There were two bundles, each a desperately ill baby. ‘What mother could do that, so desperate she risked her child with strangers?’
They cared for the two as best they might. One died on the flight, the other lived and was taken to hospital and then to an orphanage in Kabul.
We give thanks …
For those who can change their way of life and show us the humanity within the enemy.
For those who recognise their own failures and return to show us how to be braver than they.
For those wars that have ended,
For unseen acts of gentleness or of withholding from slaughter, expected or ordered.
We pray …
For an end to violence, and a recognition that speaking at the table earlier rather than later saves much suffering.
For child soldiers and all they have seen and been brought to do.
We pray for those who have suffered at their hands, and for all who seek to work for the future of all.
For the places in the world where violence dominates; for an end to suicide bombing and for an understanding of the cost and casualties.
For a just, peaceful, rapid and lasting solution in Israel-Palestine, the lands where the soles of your feet have touched the earth.
Our own prayers …….. Lord’s Prayer ……
KEEP SAFE ….KEEP PRAYING……