Weekly Bible Reflection
Mark's Alternative Economy
Fourth Sunday of Lent
Text: John 3 verse 14-21. "Keeping Secrets "
Begin by using the Bible Study method as outlined
What do you know about:
- Life in Guantanamo Bay prison camp – the number and nationality of people held there, the daily regime and the interrogation practices?
- How the banks have invested your savings and pension fund, or about the practices which have led to the present financial crisis?
- The reality of day-to-day life in Gaza during the recent invasion by the Israeli army?
A Window on the Text
(This section will examine the verses in reverse order.)
It is likely that your answer to those questions was, “Not very much”, because in each of the examples the information has been kept from us, quite deliberately.
Jesus knew and understood this aspect of how people, and especially governments, behave (vv19-20). Its starting point is that control lies in human power and wealth rather than in a life of faith in God. It assumes that doubtful behaviour and questionable practices can be justified to protect physical and financial security, and that such practices are best hidden from the view of the rest of society and from God who may stand in judgement.
The matter of judgement is crucial and John makes it clear that Jesus was not sent to condemn human behaviour, but to save (vv 17-18). His message is rather an offering of another, better, way of leading one’s life and of organising society: a ‘better way’ rooted in love, God’s love for the world (v16), a love marked by the giving of God’s Son as a source of light, illuminating the new pathway. This gift is to the whole world, not any one nation. It’s a gift to the whole of creation, not just humanity. Its objective is that ‘everyone and everything’ may have eternal life, the benefits of life in all its fullness.
How is this ‘better way’ to be found? By keeping one’s eyes on God and God’s ways (v14). Back in their history, Israel’s people had been saved from death by staying focused on a symbol of God: a snake mounted on a pole. For us it is a matter of keeping our focus on the Son of God and the principles by which he led his life on earth. Therein is the route to a full life – for all.
Responding as a community
- The New Way trustees have been wrestling with whether to make all their internal discussions public on the Web Site Forum.
Can you identify an aspect of the life of your Christian community that is kept hidden, never discussed openly, or simply never mentioned?
- Why is it kept hidden?
- What is achieved by hiding it, and for whom?
- What is the cost and to whom?
- If one kept a focus on God and God’s ways
- Would the topic remain hidden?
- What might be the effect of opening up the secret, hidden or unspoken?
- Would God be glorified by the opening up?
- What are you going to do as a community?
Sit in a circle around a single candle.
Reflect in silence on the discussions and on the secrets which have been revealed. Then light small candles from the central one to represent the Christ Light transforming things that were in darkness before this discussion.
Say the Lord’s Prayer, pausing at “your will be done …” and naming the Action which you have decided on then, before completing the prayer.
End by asking for God to empower you, using the words of the Grace.
- An alternative short liturgy, entitled How Then Shall We Live, can be found in Dorothy McRae-McMahon’s book Liturgies for Daily Life, published by SPCK.
- For details about the numbers, ages, nationalities etc. of detainees at Guantanamo Bay go to http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/nation/nationalsecurity/gitmoarchive.html or try http://projects.washingtonpost.com/guantanamo and click on the links.
Mark's Alternative Economy - Discussion