We live at a time when many of our leaders play the age-old game of divide and rule. They use our differences, whether real or imagined, to make us afraid of one another.
But fear is mostly based on ignorance; and when we make the effort to know one another we discover that what unites us is much greater than what divides us.
Last year’s commemoration of the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation was marked, not by mutual invective, but by shared celebration, as Lutherans and Roman Catholics in particular recognized that the church is semper reformanda — always needing reformation and renewal.
This year, Easter and the Jewish Passover fall on the same weekend, providing a vivid reminder that both of these great festivals celebrate our deliverance from various kinds of slavery—including our slavery to ignorance, complacency and fear (especially our fear of death which quickly becomes fear of life).
And, as we come to the end of the Easter season at Pentecost on May 20th, our Muslim brothers and sisters will have just begun their holy month of Ramadan (May 16–June 14), which borrows much of its purpose and ethos from our Lent and Easter.
They take the fast seriously, denying themselves all food and drink from dawn until dusk, and using this abstinence to care for the needy. At the end
of Ramadan they celebrate the Muslim feast of Eid, with much festivity and gift-giving.
In our interfaith observances of this rhythm of fasting and feasting, we’re reminded of our need to question a culture which preaches non-stop consumption, and the idea that we can never have enough.
For Christians, Lent is a time to slow down our frantic busy- ness and nonstop consumption, and to make time to reconsider our priorities.
Abstinence and fasting can help us appreciate what we so easily take for granted.
On Saturday, March 3rd our synod delegates will gathercto elect a new bishop for our Diocese of Niagara. What kind of church are we called to be? What kind of leadership do we need?
May this holy season lead us to serious and joyful renewal.
A happy Lent and Easter joy to all.
The Reverend Peter Davison is Editor of HAPPENINGS: the quarterly newsle er of St. James Dundas, where this article first appeared.
Parishes are encouraged to send copies of their newsletters to the Editor.