..few days ago BBC news showed our Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson meeting President of Mynamar, Aung San Suu Kyi, Nobel Peace prize winner, now accused of ethnic cleansing..before his visit there in Nov last year, Pope Francis was advised not to use the “R” word Rohingya..too inflammatory infuriating status quo, foreign interference in their internal affairs..to the annoyance of many, the Pope followed diplomatic etiquette & kept silent about the atrocity..until he crossed border into Bangladesh where Rohingya were being given safe sanctuary, & he said “..the presence of God today is also called Rohingya”..
..the hypocrisy & smiles of Aung San Suu Kyi & Boris were evident for world to see..& ironically Boris was later seen walking among debris of burned out villages where thousands had been massacred..ashes to ashes, dust to dust..I wonder if he will have the conscience to make the connection this Ash Wednesday?..the news item finished by showing a repatriation camp Mynamar had prepared for the Rohingya who might might return..impeccably neat rows of wooden huts, neatly cut grass surrounds, with a high barbed wire fence & armed soldiers looking expectantly towards the border for the first returnees..it could be a long long Lent of waiting & window dressing for them..
& pray how does this impinge on our Ash Wednesday in this quiet safe comfortable corner of North Yorkshire where memories of local holding camps from 75yrs ago have almost been forgotten..the ashes grassed over..”come back to me with all your heart, fasting weeping mourning..”..will we fast today in solidarity with Rohingya Muslims?
..do the graphic images on your 46” HD tv screen bring you to tears?..will you mourn the loss & the ongoing effects of atrocity by offering just the one word Rohingya as a prayer each day for the next 40days?..or would you rather switch over on your remote to the safety of BBC news Channel & yet another Brexit announcement, or decide that the extent of your Lenten resolution is to give up on sugar or sweets?..penance or hypocrisy? ..“why should it be said among the nations “ where is their God?”
.indeed so called unbelievers, those we label unbelievers on little sparse or historical evidence, must look at us in our dutiful malpractice of our faith & ask themselves “where is their God?”..indeed where is he?..
..take heart, be encouraged..Jesus had to read riot act to his favourite closest followers in gospel..& as todays successors of disciples he challenges us..three wake up calls..first to practice good deeds quietly under the radar..”take on” rather than “give up”..second to pray..to pray simply..one word “Rohingya” 40days & wait for the perceptive among you to tell you “you’ve changed..” thirdly, potentially hardest for some of us, smile..Lent is a joyful season..a huge ask for those of you addicted to “giving up” for Lent, to give up the gloomy look..give a smile..& give us all a break..there are too many gloomy looks in our village..we need beamers not moaners..new lambs not grumpy goats..
“we are ambassadors for Christ..be reconciled to God..so that in him we might become the goodness of God..”
..Bob the builder’s discipleship fits his Lent as well as his yellow hard hat..he asks “can we do it?”..& his fellow disciples confidently respond & with a smile.. “yes we can!”..
..& to us the challenge is offered as we step up to receive the cross & the ashes..”can we do Lent?..can we?..with a shoulder full of Cross or a spoonful of sugar?..
[Ash Wednesday Mt 6;1-6.16-18]