Today is a significant day in many respects. Given the military’s involvement in the shaping and reshaping of our nation, for many people the focus will be towards Queen Elizabeth Barracks and the Handover Parade when current Commander and Head of Government , Commodore Bainimarama will be bid farewell according to Naval tradition and a new commander for the RFMF will be formally welcomed.
For the Christian community in Fiji and around the world, today also is a significant day. It is Ash Wednesday.
Many religions observe a season of fasting and/or personal reflection and spiritual renewal before a major religious festival or observance. Christians of many traditions begin today a period of reflection, personal sacrifice and spiritual renewal that will last 40 days until Passion or Holy Week which marks the triumphant entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, includes the commemoration of the Last Supper, and His Passion: betrayal, arrest, trial, torture, suffering, the shame of the cross and death; and concludes with the celebration of His resurrection on Easter Sunday.
Last Sunday, many churches marked an event in Jesus ministry known as the Transfiguration. For those who are unfamiliar with this, tThe Transfiguration of Jesus is an episode in the New Testament narrative of the Christian Scriptures in which Jesus is transfigured (or metamorphosed) and becomes radiant upon a mountain. The Synoptic Gospels (Matthew 17:1–9,Mark 9:2-8, Luke 9:28–36) describe it, and 2 Peter 1:16–18 refers to it.
Preaching at Dudley Church I shared a reflection on the Transfiguration, in which I described it as transformation from within and a transformation of understanding.
Sometimes, when we feel the pain and suffering of those around us who are oppressed we are faced with difficult decisions, and we ask ourselves what we should do – what is our responsibility as a Christian – what is God calling us to do.” When this happens we share something in the hope that the things may change. This is the time when we experience the presence of God who leads us toward the future full of hope. This is the moment when God speaks to us and we become so enlightened as to understand the meaning. The fruit of this transformation is a life willing to serve, loving God and neighbour and a life willing to submit to the will of God even at great personal cost.
Last Saturday, 1st of March was “Zero Discrimination Day.” Zero Discrimination against those living with HIV and AIDS. This coming Saturday is International Women’s Day with the theme “Inspiring Change” - It calls for challenging the status quo for women's equality and vigilance inspiring positive change. We continue to hear stories of discrimination, of violence, of abuse against the vulnerable in our community.
How many of us prefer to have only a spiritual experience of God without connecting to the realities we face with the same passion, commitment. The challenge for us as Christians is to understand our role as sons and daughters of God, to transform our way of thinking and judging those that look, talk and behave differently from ourselves.
The Lenten journey is an opportunity for a large portion of the Fijian population to undertake a spiritual transformation that will enable us to see the common things of earth, sky and sea with a new wonder and fresh joy. It will also enable us to see the presence of Jesus within ourselves and in the people who cross our path, even if they drive us crazy. We may think that such an attitude is too difficult to acquire but it is something that we can continuously ask for and desire. In this sense, Transfiguration is transformation in understanding.
Lent is a time for transforming ourselves, cleansing our bodies, our mind and our souls. As our country prepares for general elections, we call on t God to transform us to be agents of grace, mercy and love. It is a time to commit to transforming our country into a place of tolerance, respect, and understanding. Let us commit to transforming this world in to a new creation of justice, equality and respect for all God’s creatures.
This Lent, the Fiji Council of Churches is collaborating with the Pacific Conference of Churches to host a series of weekly “Lenten Talks”, beginning next Tuesday at 7pm at Dudley Memorial Church on the corner of Amy Street and Toorak Road in Suva.
The theme for the Lenten Talks is “theme is: “The Call to Conversion: the formation of a people into God’s vision of life”. Basically, the talks are about the Biblical vision for God’s creation and present the Biblical vision of society as a way for Christians to reflect and prepare themselves and their communities for the Holy week and Easter.
The topics are as follows:
· March 12th: Topic – Formation in morality
· March 19th: Topic – Formation in governance
· March 26th: Topic – Formation in social justice
· April 2nd: Topic – Formation in caring for the environment
· April 9th: Topic – Formation in the kingdom of God
The talks are open to anyone and everyone who is interested, regardless of what Church you attend, what Christian tradition you follow, what religion you observe or spiritual path you follow. Refreshments are provided. For more information email firstname.lastname@example.org.
May your week and this season of Lent, be blessed with love, light and peace.
“Simplicity, Serenity, Spontaneity”