SEE US IN A NEW LIGHT
Lent 2021 – ‘Returning from Exile… Returning to Normal?’
The Revd Canon Peter Dobson, Canon for Outreach and Discipleship, writes:
In addition to our regular online services this Lent, Newcastle Cathedral will be running a series of group conversations over Zoom: an opportunity to explore different themes in the scriptures around returning from exile and how they might speak to our situation today.
In these sessions, we will look forward to returning to a transformed Cathedral building, looking also to the easing of COVID restrictions and to what ‘normal’ might look like for us.
All are welcome to come and be part of the conversation via Zoom. If you would like to receive the joining details each week, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
We will offer the same session at two different times — Wednesdays at 2pm and Thursdays at 7:30pm.
The conversation topics for each week will be as follows:
Week 1 – Returning With Treasure; Old and New? (Wed 24 Feb, 2pm & Thurs 25 Feb, 7:30pm)
An introduction to the theme of returning from Exile and the parallels (or otherwise) there are with our current situation, reflecting in-particular on the old treasures the exiled community return with (Ezra 1) and the new treasures they are invited to give (Ezra 2:68-70). What are the precious things we might like to return to after this period of work in the Cathedral and lockdowns, and what are the new things we have discovered which we don’t want to lose?
Week 2 – Rebuilding a Temple; But What For? (Wed 3 March, 2pm & Thurs 4 March, 7:30pm)
As more people return to Jerusalem from Babylon Ezra (3-6), we explore with Ezra why the Temple was to be rebuilt, the social and financial functions as well as the religious ones. Considering the encouragement towards the rebuilding in the Book of Haggai and Zechariah (1-7)’s vision for what it means for the future, we consider what the return to the Cathedral and other church buildings means for us. Why is it important for us?
Week 3 – Renegotiating a Different Future; Is the Grass Always Greener? (Wed 10 March, 2pm & Thurs 11 March, 7:30pm)
Ezra himself returns to Jerusalem having stayed behind in Babylon with those who were most vulnerable and could not travel. However, is this a return he will regret? Considering the challenges faced around what to do with taxes and tolls and who should marry whom amidst continued threats of violence and invasion, with Ezra (7-10) we reflect on the challenges of trying to “go back to normal”; is it ever possible, never mind desirable?
Week 4 – Rebuilding the City’s Walls; Building a Different Society? (Wed 17 March, 2pm & Thurs 18 March, 7:30pm)
Following the return to Jerusalem, the people remain vulnerable, the City walls are in disrepair and so Nehemiah (1-6) sets to working out what can be done. In the process of working out how the work could be undertaken, when and by whom, Nehemiah (chapter 5 especially) confronts the oppressive systems and attitudes which have already grown up since the return from exile. As we look to different days ahead, where are the opportunities for us to ‘build back better’ and what ills remain that we must challenge and change in our society?
Week 5 – Renewing the Covenant; A Time for Renewed Commitment (Wed 24 March, 2pm & Thurs 25 March, 7:30pm)
Ezra and Nehemiah recount the acts of faithfulness God has done for, and with, the people down history – the God who journeys with and provides for all people. In this last week, we wonder about what we sometimes struggle to notice of God’s faithful love, as well as the things we struggle to trust. With Nehemiah (8-10) we explore what this time of pandemic and being away from the Cathedral has caused us to think about our faith, and where we are being called to renew (or maybe change) our commitment as we approach Easter 2021.
Each week will stand alone so if you haven’t been able to join one week, please don’t let that stop you coming another week. All are very welcome, and we look forward to seeing you!
If you use Facebook, you can let your friends know which sessions you are attending by visiting our ‘Upcoming events’ section and pressing ‘Interested’ next to the relevant event.