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Minister's letter for 3 March

Dear Friends,

Our journey through Lent continues and for the next few weeks the story is followed in John's gospel. With the telling of Jesus' overturning of the tables in the Temple is the focus for this Sunday, alongside the Decalogue or Ten words (Ten commandments) at the beginning of Exodus 20 from the Hebrew scriptures. For me both texts present uncomfortable aspects of God. That God is a jealous God (although a quick look through the etymology of the word and there is a sense of it meaning 'tolerating no unfaithfulness' which seems appropriate for the context), and the violent reaction Jesus has in the Temple.

There is an image used in the Christ we Share pack called 'The Angry Christ' by Lino Ponteboon, which depicts this very clearly – every part of Jesus' face radiates rage. It is a different and unsettling side to Jesus. In John's timeline of events it would be the action that would cause the authorities of the day to be threatened and wary of Jesus. In turn this would eventually lead to trial and his death on the cross. It is also a very human emotion and a very raw emotion. When someone loses their temper, no matter the provocation or justification, there is a wildness and an uncertainty to it. It is why we try to calm ourselves down before engaging with the person or the situation that has caused this reaction within us, even if we are in the right or the cause is just. So are there times when to be in a rage is the right response? As with everything, context matters. It is how and where that rage is directed. There are injustices all around us that we should be more enraged about, but it should impel us into constructive action. We should also be prepared for the consequences that may occur as a result of our angry response. We should also be prepared to discern when our anger is born from having our own way frustrated. That is difficult to do when we are caught up in our annoyances and it is why we need trusted people around us to, calmly, challenge our anger. And to help channel that rage into a positive action or way of being.

Jealousy and anger – two powerful emotions that are seemingly shared by human and the divine.

In a complex and messy world may we continue to be engaged with all of our emotions, that through them we can determine God's prompting in who we are and all that we do.


Every blessing,
Rev Karen

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