Week 3: Lent reflections – Sunday 4 March
In this third week of Lent we journey with those who have had to flee from violence in Nigeria.
Overturning the tables
Something to read: John 2:13-22
Something to consider
How long do you imagine it took Jesus to ‘make a whip of cords’ before he drove the animals out of the temple? Was it a sudden movement to grab a few cords together, enough to drive them out?
Or do you picture him standing for a moment, looking around him while weaving the strands together, gathering his thoughts and letting his fury build before he caused this scandalous disruption of the status quo?
His disruptive anger was justified – the poor were being fleeced and excluded by the temple tax, the coin changer’s exchange rate and the fee of the sacrifice inspectors.
Not to mention the extortionate and inevitable cost of buying an animal for sacrifice within the temple when your sacrifice had been rejected as unclean. Jesus was furious!
It is a fury familiar to the many supporters of Christian Aid’s work. A fury that wells up within when we encounter stories of how the poor are excluded and suffer at the hands of oppressors.
This week in Count Your Blessings, we read Aisha’s story from Nigeria. It is a story that might fuel our righteous anger in these deep days of Lent.
Since 2013, militant Islamist group Boko Haram have used bombings, assassinations and abductions to instil terror and fear in northeast Nigeria. Many have fled from the violence and up to 1.7 million people have been forced from their homes.
Aisha Hassan has witnessed more than most. Three years ago, insurgents from Boko Haram came to her hometown of Bama and killed her brother’s wife in front of her eyes. Aisha was told that if she didn’t leave she would be married off to a stranger.
Heavily pregnant at the time, Aisha was forced to make a 45-mile journey to safety. It took her three days to get there, and it was here where she gave birth to her child.
Initially sleeping out in the open with her child, Aisha was taken in by a host family who have provided her family with a house to shelter in and Christian Aid has provided essential food supplies for both her and her hosts.
While Aisha now has the basic essentials for survival and shelter, her life is far from the fullness of life that Jesus came to give.
Violence again women a global pandemic
Violence against women and girls is a global pandemic and one of the most harrowing results of gender inequality rooted in patriarchal systems and structures that enable men to assert power and control over women.
It is a daily outrage and a scandal that makes us angry enough to do something about it, the tables are finally beginning to turn.
Something to do
Participate in International Women’s Day celebrations and events in your area on 8 March to strengthen support and drive injustice out of society. For example, join the March4Women in London, on 4 March, organised by CARE.
Something to pray
give us the eyes to see
the accepted injustice
found in the status quo
Help us to overturn
the tables that exclude.