Monday morning, I sit down to write this piece, only a few hours left before it is due. And very little idea – or perhaps too many ideas, probably most won’t do.
A clue-question I will follow: What is my world this morning?
‘My world’ is the great created living world as it comes to me through various media of communication and distortion. ‘The great created living world’ is always in danger of being misused, reduced to being no more than ‘my world’, ie the world of a grasshopper (Isaiah 40.22 – read the whole chapter.) If I am to live with God who creates, owns, and fulfils the real world, ‘self’ (the first person, singular and plural) must be gently and definitely put in its marginal place (Matt 16.24-26). Only then can I learn to see truth rather than misdirect myself and our humanity into colonializing and appropriating the world following our own idol-making imagination. (cf Isaiah 44.9-20)
So, heeding this salutary warning as best I can, I ask again, What is my world this morning? It is a dishwasher we can’t get repaired till Wednesday, a granddaughter we couldn’t contact because we had an out-of-date phone number – manageable ordinary affairs, about which nothing more need be said.
My world this morning is also the flare-up of war between Israel and Palestine – and is that not your world today? It shocks, by its suddenness, its many grievous killings, and because we sense it is the latest terrible episode in a ‘forever war’ (Lyse Doucet). We cannot hide from it in ‘safe rooms’ as though it is also a ‘faraway war’. Rather, even in Leeds, it is the ‘bell that tolls for thee’, since ‘no man is an island’.
My world this morning takes me soon to a church coffee morning. People will come out of islands of loneliness to meet with others, and find grace to help in time of need, even stirring one another up to love and good works (Heb.4.16, 10.24-25,13.1-3). But will we also be making for ourselves a safe room, sheltering from the world’s wars, even cultivating pious aloofness to the world, hiding ourselves in the ‘Rock of ages, cleft for me’?
See! Something more in my world this morning – a party conference, a bit of our shaky but not quite dead democratic society. Such a society is built on people like us getting stuck in, even though we might prefer to leave other people to care for the frameworks of order which makes life together workable. This political world calls us to risk leaving our safe rooms, even churchy ones, to join in the deliberations, puzzles and sorrows, which beset building of human community, wherever God has sent us (Jeremiah 29.1-14).
The world, being God’s world, comes to us, with hands open inviting us to live with and for others, loving God, and all creatures, as God does (Ps 145.8-9). Loving enemies as God loves, (Romans 5.8.10) and working at loving politically as well as personally, is the only way to avoid leaving the world we live to the devil of our human selves, forever warring.
Originally published on the Network Leeds blog.