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Today: 31 May 2020


Open Mind

First published 14/04/2019

A television company recently arranged for some ‘celebrities’ (who weren’t really very well known) to go on pilgrimage together to Rome.  They were taken to a starting point in the Alps and then sent on their way following the ancient pilgrim route to Rome.  Part of the point was to discover whether anything of the pilgrim experience made any impression on their spirituality or faith.  Some of them already had some faith, some had none.

i don’t know how things worked out, because I didn’t persevere with the programme.  But what did strike me was the man who said he was not a person of faith and had no room for God in his life.  He couldn’t understand why anyone would want a God telling him what to do.

I suspect he was someone who had not delved very far into Christian things, or any other kind of faith for that matter.  What I also suspect is that his mind was closed.  He saw no point in the journey and couldn’t see how a journey to Rome could make any difference.  At least I felt some sympathy for that view - the road to Rome is hardly likely to be more promising than any other road.

But approaching the experience with a closed mind probably meant that he finished the journey still with a closed mind and without any profound change, though I hope not.

This Sunday is celebrated in the Christian church as Palm Sunday, remembering Jesus’ journey into Jerusalem days before his crucifixion.  There were many in the crowds that day who were thrilled to welcome him.  But there were others whose minds were set against him.  They gave him no welcome, saw him as trouble, and ignored the evidence of his life and character.

Jesus frequently met that kind of reaction - as he still does.  Perhaps it’s too easy a defence - I’ve made up my mind, don’t bother me with evidence!  But there are plenty of warnings about not listening, like that in the Old Testament, when God says of his people, “But they stubbornly refused to listen.  They closed their minds and made their hearts as hard as rock” (Zechariah 7, verse 7).

On the positive side, however, Jesus’ challenge - that we should ask and seek and knock, still stands, with the promise that asking leads to answers, looking leads to discovery, and knocking leads to opened doors (see Matthew 7, verse 7 - remarkably contrasting with the same verse number in Zechariah!).

Jesus went on a momentous journey to Jerusalem.  Many of his followers went with him, not knowing what to expect.  But they travelled like pilgrims, with open minds, looking to learn and discover, not finding all the answers, but staying with their friend and receiving his gift of life.

Closed minds make no such discoveries.  Closed minds may reject the God they imagine as an authoritarian tyrant, but they miss finding a relationship of love, trust and joy.

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At Easter-time especially, Lord Jesus, help me to listen without prejudice, to travel with an open and receptive spirit, to discover deeper things than I could have imagined, and to follow you.

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