Lent #17 – A Chance to Engage

Written as a part of a Lent 2017 project. 

Luke Dowding

Lent is drawing to a close!

Come Sunday (or is it today… Or Saturday…?) I can eat chocolate again and stop feeling guilty for not successfully completing a devotional reading of the entire New Testament. Excellent.

So what have I learnt from this Lenten period? Other than biscuits are a somewhat suitable substitute for chocolate and that my academic cynicism seems to know no bounds? Perhaps firstly it’s worth mentioning the art of patience and waiting, a practice long forgotten by this age of immediacy and often perceived as the actions of those who aren’t driven, who lack passion or perhaps ambition. I’m not a patient person, I can’t watch a film that’s longer then ninety minutes without squirming in my seat or having to get up to do something else, I don’t like it when people don’t get to the point of what they’re saying without the use of embellishing adjectives or stories, and I struggle with finding the balance between active and passive activism. However, focusing more on the disciplines of fasting and deliberate action during Lent has offered a new perspective: Easter has been on the horizon over the last 40 days or so, but it has required patience to see Lent through to the end and reach the weekend in which we reflect, mourn and celebrate.

Last night I was invited to the Second Seder for Pesach; a friend of mine had invited over gay men from the three Abrahamic faiths to join in this festival meal. Despite Christianity’s familial relationship to Judaism (one of the dinner guests last night referred to it as siblings, rather than parent and child), I realized how little I knew of the Jewish faith and the traditions and practices within it. As the evening unfolded we were encouraged to ask questions, to be proactive, to challenge and to learn not only about the festival of Pesach but also about one another: our histories, faiths and outlooks on the world. It was perhaps one of the most thought-provoking, emotional and spiritual evenings I’ve had in a very long time; a chance to engage with scripture, our theology and culture, and the hard hitting issues of freedom.

It was on the way back home after such a powerful evening that it struck me what an apt way for me to bring my journey through Lent to a close. Perhaps I’ve not achieved all that I set out to, but I have opened myself up to a way of learning and being that I’d previously thought closed to me. The conversations last night around the Seder plate, reminded me that it is through our journeying together that we learn and grow, whether that’s learning a particular discipline such as patience or the history of a tradition we long thought we knew the complexities of. Through contributing to this blog and reading the other contributions, I feel I have been part of a similar sharing, learning, journeying, and growing; long may that continue.

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Luke has a degree in Theology from Spurgeon’s College and is currently studying for his Masters in Biblical Studies at King’s College, part time. The rest of the time he works as a freelancer in business management and administration, attempts to journey with the Baptist Union of Great Britain on LGBT+ inclusion, is a Deacon at Bloomsbury Central Baptist Church, and works on projects such as Soho Gathering (@sohogathering). He is married to Steven and their wedding was the first same-sex marriage to be celebrated at Bloomsbury.

 

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