Friday, July 29, 2011

Get out of Jail Free Card...

We have been in Wicklow for about two weeks now and beginning to feel at home.  I am in the midst of 40 days of prayer.  Until now I've been trying to be quiet, listening to the good shepherd.  The other evening on the way back from a prayer meeting I stopped alongside the road to watch some sheep.  It was SO peaceful.  I remembered the words of David... "The Lord is my shepherd.  I lack nothing... you are with me, your rod and your staff they comfort me."

Then yesterday I walked into Wicklow again.  I visited a local art gallery and bookshop.  There is such a love of art in this place.  I find myself wondering if this might be a way into this community.  I listened to people as they shared life over a cup of tea or coffee and wondered if a simple cup of tea or coffee might be an avenue through which we might share the gospel.  I just know there is a real need for people to encounter Jesus in a meaningful way.

As many of you have heard there is much pain connected with the church here in Ireland.  Just recently, Enda Kenny, the taoiseach(prime minister) spoke out following the release of a very troubling report involving sexual misconduct and abuse of children in the church.  He spoke plainly about how very troubling this report was about the church.  The news here was not so much the abuse mentioned in the report,(that has been dealt with many times already) The news was about the harsh tone of Ireland's leader.  Many Irish are becoming disillusioned with the church, so much so they're leaving in huge numbers.  All this is leaving a spiritual vacuum.

In the town of Wicklow one of the local attractions is an old jail or Gaol, as they call it in Gaelic.  This weekend at the Gaol two "spiritual mediums" have been invited to come and give a demonstration of mediumship.  They'll be inviting people from the local community to come and connect with love ones who have died.  I share this because for me it speaks to the spiritual searching that is going on both here in Ireland and really all around our world. People are looking for hope, peace, healing and help!  Unfortunately many believe they've already given the church a chance, only to have been hurt.  

I find it interesting that people are coming to a Gaol to find freedom when true freedom is found in Christ alone.  I was reminded of some words Jesus shared when he returned to Nazareth during the early days of his ministry, Jesus went into the synagogue and read from the scroll of Isaiah these words.

       “The Spirit of the Lord is on me,
       because he has anointed me
       to proclaim good news to the poor.
       He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners
       and recovery of sight for the blind,
       to set the oppressed free,
       to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”

Then we read the Jesus rolled up the scroll and with the eyes of everyone on him said... “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.”

Freedom, sight, hope... they're ALL found in Jesus.  When you think about it, HE is our HOPE... so much more than a "get out of jail card" don't you think?