Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Shrove Tuesday

For those of you who are liturgically-minded you will know that today is Shrove Tuesday, or the last day before the season of Lent is upon us. Lent is a marked time, that is to say a time set aside to live differently than we do the rest of the year. Historically this has meant giving up for the season specific activities and practices, or forswearing certain foods or habits, all in an effort to make the difference we are striving for tangible and visible to us and to our peers. Lent rolls around every late winter precisely because we have to experience this act of living differently for a spell every year lest we forget how to do it and revert back to just living the same old way all the time. Lent is a way to practice then, a tool for helping us find our true vocations as image bearing creatures.
What does it mean though to be made in the image of God, as we are told we have been in the creation narrative from the Book of Genesis? As Tom Wright tells us in the passage we read, it means that we must reflect the ”creative and redemptive love of God” back into our communities, that we must nurture and sustain growth (of our gardens for sure, but also of people), and that we must live in relationship as our God does with us. Because we are inclined to think in a materialist frame of reference it is easy for us to forget that the creation narrative was written instead from a functionalist frame of reference. So creation is not so much (or perhaps not at all) the making of matter out of non-matter, but rather the establishment of order out of chaos. And to the extent that we are called as image-bearers to also be creators, it seems to me that promoting order out of chaos is then our true vocation. Where we find sorrow, we must plant joy, where we see violence, peace, where we find hate, love. Our world continues to be full of chaos – witness the sad passing of a young man this weekend on our own campus, or in any number of other places near and far. But if we truly live vocationally, bearing the image of our Creator, we can help to overcome that chaos, by cultivating relationships, practicing stewardship, and radiating worship.