A collect for the second week of Lent

God of dispossession,
you rebuke our refusal
to give up our idols,
separate and safe:
Send us with Jesus
On the way of the cross,
That we might lose our love of death
And take the risk of life
Through Jesus Christ, the new covenant. Amen.
(from Prayers for an Inclusive Church by Steven Shakespeare)
As we come to the end of the second week of our Lenten pilgrimage, this prayer which we encountered in our Lenten study can seem a strange companion. Why are we talking about giving up idols that are ‘separate and safe’ and why would we be ever asking to lose our ‘love of death’? I think the secret here is in understanding that the way of following Jesus is always a movement, away from the static idols that are created when we begin worshipping the forms and not the author of our faith. It is also a movement towards deeper love and richer life and away from…yes, death. Spiritual discernment is about noticing in which direction our moment by moment choices are taking us- towards life or away from it. Death-dealing choices are ones which rob us of things like love and friendship, communion and community, creativity and joy. They are the kinds of choices that keep us competing and comparing, striving for supremacy or wrapped up in ourselves. Such thoughts, actions and habits are what I think Steven Shakespeare might have been thinking of when he wrote a prayer asking for help to travel the way of the cross that “we might lose our love of death”. Life can seem a daunting risk as to truly live requires you to truly love, surrendering to communion and creatively embracing community. What do you need right now to walk Jesus’ way and risk life in its fullness?
Grace and peace,

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