Sunday night time TV viewing in the Manse has recently been dominated by two ‘medical’ drama programmes whose current series ended on March 12th.
In “Call the Midwife”, all of human life is played out through the adaptation of the memoirs of Jennifer Worth set in East London in the last century. In the “The Good Karma Hospital”, all of human life is also played out, though this time in tropical South India.
Various episodes of these programmes have at times wrestled with issues of life and death, good and evil, hope and tragedy. Such episodes reminded me of a colleague whose child had been teased by a school friend for her lack of athletic prowess. The little girl’s friend (the real athlete!) then unceremoniously fell face first out of the swing. At which point, the little girl later reported to her mum, “Karrrrrrrmaaaa!”
“No,” said mum, “we believe in grace not Karma. “ This theological point was lost on the little girl who with a raised eyebrow and a roll of her eyes, seemed to be saying, “Whatever!”
The notion of Karma seems to be prevalent in our current world – we like the notion of retribution – of someone getting what’s coming to them – or getting their just desserts.
Weekly in our Sunday Worship, in our opening prayer of confession, we pray for and are given an assurance of pardon, but do we pray and receive them? Do we accept that we (and others) are in need of mercy – God’s and others – or do we just hope for Karma (we’re not all that bad really). What do the words “forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” in the Lord’s Prayer mean to us?
One of my favourite theologians, Miroslav Volf, once wrote that we live in a “culture stripped of grace.” But why did Christ come, live, die and rise again if not by grace?
In “The End of Memory” Volf writes, “In light of Christ’s self- sacrifice and resurrection, the future belongs to those who give themselves, in love, not to those who nail others to a cross.”
In this season of Lent, we lean in towards the future of Easter, living and recognising that Jesus took our place when he said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”
Christ paid that debt for us! Will we respond through calls for Karma or with demonstrations of grace? Pretty amazing grace!