March 2016

It probably doesn’t surprise you to know that when I’m driving around – in fact quite often at other times too – I like to have music playing. Music has always been a passion for me and there is something about having music in the background, as ambience or to join in with, that has a great appeal. For me, having music there is just a part of the normal day-to-day life that I lead. I’m sure music has been something that many folk have enjoyed over the years, either on the radio, television, iPod/Walkman, or even live.

Most of the time it becomes part of the general ambience of my drive. I mix it around a bit, with different track listings, but it’s there, I sing along, I get moved by it, I get cheered up by it.

Occasionally, when I’m driving around, the music cuts out and my listening is interrupted by a traffic and travel update. This cuts through wherever it is in the music, often quite forcefully different from that which is around it, and it gives me an update on the conditions of the roads. In the middle of what can be a normal, unexpected and unremarkable journey, with just the few usual landmarks, something cuts through and creates something that grabs attention, makes me listen differently and take note. My journey may not change but it’ll give me something to become aware of and to consider, and if it affects me, I will need to decide how best to approach the area. When the traffic news finishes, the radio cuts out and it returns me, exactly where I was. Will I need to act? Or can my journey go on unaltered?

Our journey into Lent can be a bit like that too. Much of the journey is well known. We journey through with patterns and activities that are like being on autopilot. There is a journey towards Easter that gives us familiar songs and familiar liturgies. We started the journey with pancakes, we pass through Hot Cross Buns, and then finish around the Communion Table, sharing in a meal with the risen Christ.

But occasionally, we need the journey to be interrupted with something different, something that gives us new insight and provides us with new possibilities, even if it disorientates and cuts through the routine. Lent seems as good a time as any for that to happen. After all, the city that shouted ‘Hosanna’ on Palm Sunday was the same city that cried ‘Crucify’ on Good Friday. The stark interruption of the Cross, reminds us that life’s direction sometimes needs to be reconsidered, and sometimes it needs an interruption of something dramatic to give us the opportunity to think again and reflect on what direction we may need to take.

As March takes us deeper into the journey of Lent, we pass along the road of familiar landmarks, possibly among familiar experiences of Palm Sunday and Holy Week. Some of the things this year are familiar from previous years. But sometimes too we have something different, something that cuts through the expected and provides a different message. Do we need to reconsider the journey we are taking through Lent and past Easter? Do we need to think again about what approach we want to take? Will we just continue as we are even when the message is to change our route? What will happen when we get stuck on the road, moving nowhere at all? Which way do we turn then?

Lent is a chance to listen to interruptions and to feel able to act upon them. Spend some time in Lent listening for the alerts, the warnings, the messages and signs that might change the path you feel you want to take and then use the opportunity to decide how you want to respond. When the music begins again, do we carry on the same, or learn from what’s happened? That’s a challenge for us all in Lent.

Best wishes

Matthew

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