Timely reflection

In the new year 2018, now moving further along the Christian year—on towards Lent, Rev. Patrick Curran, Chaplain of Christ Church Vienna offers this meditation:

Towards the end of last year I became aware of two anniversaries that we will be marking in 2018: the centenary of the end of World War I with the signing of the Armistice at Compiègne on 11 November and the bicentenary of the first performance of Stille Nacht, Heilige Nacht in the parish church of St Nicholas in Oberndorf close to Salzburg. The German book publisher Reclam is marking the centenary of Leonard Bernstein’s birth by publishing a biography of the conductor and composer. The Royal Northern College of Music and the University of Glasgow will commemorate the centenary of Claude Debussy’s death with a celebration of his music throughout the year. Beginnings and endings are occasions for us to recall former glories of human creativity and the human tragedies of willed destruction and carnage. There is much to celebrate and much that we should remind ourselves of – “Lest we forget” – so that we may shun making the same mistakes.
The fly in the ointment remains our human nature that does not constantly will the good. We need only to look at ourselves. Long term caregivers for example are often caught short by their lack of patience for the person they are caring for, although they know that the person they are caring for can’t help it. The Christian faith is well aware of our human dilemma and addresses it by calling us to be mindful of our “fallen state” and our “sinfulness”, while calling us to seek God’s forgiveness, as well as the forgiveness of our neighbour. The Christian faith calls us to amend our ways so that they might more closely conform to the will of God as revealed in and through Jesus Christ, whose teaching builds on the teaching of the Law and the Prophets.
In a time when many would again seem to be losing their bearings within and without the Christian faith it is good to remind ourselves that the Christian faith provides orientation, orientation which is grounded in the divine. There is a compass. There is a way. There is a goal and an end. Let me refer to the season of Advent as an example of the orientation to which I am referring to as we look forward to Lent.
During Advent we prepared ourselves to welcome anew the birth of the Christchild. It is forever a time of preparation. We reminded ourselves that God shows in and through his first coming that he keeps his promises by sending Jesus, the Messiah. The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not overcome it. We reminded ourselves of the Ten Commandments and our need to amend our lives accordingly. In our congregation, and perhaps yours, we raised funds not only to look to our needs, but to the needs of others.
The Advent Carol Service, reminded us that God is turned towards the world and that God is for us. It is this message with its “Do not be afraid!” that we must continue to seek to communicate.
During 2018 we will commemorate human tragedy and celebrate human achievement, but always mindful of God. Our duty as Christians is to remain grounded in the Christian story that makes known to us God’s ways and will, so that we may continue faithful in service, worship and prayer. I am fond of referring to what I call the five pillars of Christianity. These are 1) worship, 2) fellowship, 3) service, 4) witness and 5) proclamation. To these we are being called daily. We have much to be thankful for as a church “Lest we forget”, as we sing: “Glories stream from heaven afar, Heavenly hosts sing Alleluia! Christ the Savior is born!”
Rev. Patrick Curran