James’s Blog: Memento – Part Two.

James’s Blog:  Memento – Part Two.

Most of us get bruised as we make our way through this world. Sometimes those bruises take a long time to heal, and might leave us tender and scarred beneath the surface. In Memento, Leonard lets his tattoos and notes guide him. He trusts them completely, and they become his truth. In the same way, we sometimes let our wounds control our actions and outlook on life. The world is full of people who let their scars do the talking.

I find it interesting that the risen Jesus still had the wounds from his crucifixion. It makes me speculate: perhaps those wounds that we have suffered in service to God will be a part of our perfect resurrection body. Our images of heaven might feature beautiful men and women with perfect teeth and unblemished skin, but I wonder if the truth might be different. Perhaps Paul, and all those who can say with him that they “…bear on my body the marks of Jesus…” might still have those wounds in heaven and – far from being a sign of imperfection and suffering – they might be a badge of honour.

But, as I was saying, sometimes those wounds are hidden; there are unseen scars. They count too. As I hinted at above, it’s the unseen tattoos that tend to have the most control over us. I’ve acquired a few cuts and grazes on my soul in my attempts to follow Jesus, but I don’t want them to shape me negatively. Instead I try to think of them a bit like Memento tattoos. They spell out words too – words like obedient and owned by God and faithful. After all, I wouldn’t have got them if it wasn’t for the risks I’ve taken in trying to serve Him. I don’t want to ignore them, or try to pretend that they’re not there, but neither do I want to relate to the world out of hurts and disappointments. Paul, the master of being wounded both by and for God, understood, I think, that these internal tattoos were sacraments – reminders of the divine – when he said, “…I delight in weaknesses, insults, hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties, for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

James’s Blog: The Politics of Fear.

James’s Blog:  The Politics of Fear.

I’ve been thinking a little bit about fear recently. I don’t really want to write about Britain’s decision to leave the EU, but I feel like I should at least say something. It’s too big to ignore; too massive to just carry on and pretend it hasn’t happened. I’d rather write something else, some spiritual reflection or humourous observation, (like the fact that my spell-checker lets me write ‘humour’ but wants me to write ‘humorous’). But, as I said, I’ve been thinking about fear recently.

The referendum debate revolved around fear. Fear of economic uncertainty, fear of immigration, fear of eroded sovereignty, fear of the future. Fear seems to be the only tool that our politicians have, and if that’s the case – regardless of the referendum result – we’re in trouble.

There’s no doubt. Fear is a powerful motivator. You can make people do outrageous things, things totally against their character, if you can just make them afraid enough. Yet when I read through the gospels, I can’t help but notice that Jesus never seemed to act out of fear. I never get the impression that fear was a factor in his motivation. He did some pretty crazy stuff and upset some powerful people, but he never seemed to be afraid, and if he was then he never let it control his choices.

There was a time when fear came out to play, and that was in the garden of Gethsemane, where he pleads for a different route. He doesn’t want to die, especially not like this, and he asks God to spare him. And yet…”Not my will, Father, but yours”. Even in his darkest hour, his greatest fear is not death or suffering, but rather the fear of not being obedient.

Imagine living a life where that’s really the only thing that you are truly afraid of.

I find it hard to feel optimistic about the immediate future right now. There’s all kinds of ugliness and uncertainty surfacing in the Island of the Mighty, but I have decided to not be afraid. Whatever the future brings and whatever actions I take, I will try to not let fear be the thing that drives me. Not my will, Father, but yours.