faith · Following Jesus

Wondering Where The Lions Are ?

So this week, we started the ‘Being With’ course at Church. I came across this on a conference on Zoom during lockdown. The course has been developed by Sam Wells, vicar at St Martin-In-The-Fields in London along with his associate vicar, Sally Hitchiner.

When I heard Sam Wells talk about the course, I knew immediately that this was huge. It’s a way of introducing people to Christianity that recognises and affirms the truth that God is always at work in our lives, and that we all bring precious experiences that can help us as we together, discover the joy of being with God.

I have wanted to offer this course for so long, and finally on Wednesday this week, we kicked off with the first session.

I’m going to give you a feel for what we did.

After a welcome, we went straight in and invited the group to respond to some ‘wondering.’
I wonder if you have ever known what it feels like to be set free ?
I wonder if you have ever known what it feels like to be in prison ?
I wonder how it would feel to know that there’s something in the past that you don’t need to worry about anymore ?
I wonder what it would feel like to know that the future cannot hurt you ?

The invitation is to share from our own experience stories that might be very everyday and mundane, or might be profound.

E.g. I remember as a child that my brother locked me in my room, but my mum came and told him off, and said that he must let me out.

We cannot live freely in the present when our lives are dominated by the twin prisons of fear of the past, and fear of the future.
The past may be blighted by things have been done to us that have hurt us, or ways in which we have hurt others.
The future is a cloud of unknowing, with fears about our own mortality, sickness, bereavement and all the other pains that we as humans are subject to. We can end up paralysed, imprisoned by our fears.

This session is about dealing with those twin ‘lions’ so that we can live in the present. Two central planks of Christianity are knowing forgiveness for things in the past, and receiving the gift of everlasting life so that we can live without fear of the future.

This is not, by the way, a quick fix. My guess is that we spend our whole lives growing in both of these aspects of faith.

But in the end, having these two – the faith that forgiveness can set us free, and the hope of everlasting life – we can be set free to live in God’s love in the here and now.

I was out on my walk today and wanted to end by listening to a song. I was browsing my collection of Bruce Cockburn’s music and came across ‘Wondering Where The Lions Are,’ with these lines:

I had another dream about lions at the door
They weren’t half as frightening as they were before
But i’m thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.

It seemed like a pretty good way to sum up what we had been thinking about in the group this week, and indentifying and dealing with these two ‘lions.’

So here’s the song, and lyrics.

And a link to ‘Being With.’

Wondering Where The Lions Are

Sun’s up, uuh huh, looks okay
The world survives into another day
And i’m thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.

I had another dream about lions at the door
They weren’t half as frightening as they were before
But i’m thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me.

Walls windows trees, waves coming through
You be in me and i’ll be in you
Together in eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me

Up among the firs where it smells so sweet
Or down in the valley where the river used to be
I got my mind on eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me
And i’m wondering where the lions are…
I’m wondering where the lions are…

Huge orange flying boat rises off a lake,
Thousand-year-old petroglyphs doing a double take,
Pointing a finger at eternity
I’m sitting in the middle of this ecstasy

Young men marching, helmets shining in the sun,
Polished as precise like the brain behind the gun
(Should be!) they got me thinking about eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me
And i’m wondering where the lions are…
I’m wondering where the lions are…

Freighters on the nod on the surface of the bay
One of these days we’re going to sail away,
Going to sail into eternity
Some kind of ecstasy got a hold on me
And i’m wondering where the lions are…
I’m wondering where the lions are…

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