Matthew 26: 31-35 Then Jesus said to them, ‘You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written, “I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.” But after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.’ Peter said to him, ‘Though all become deserters because of you, I will never desert you.’ Jesus said to him, ‘Truly I tell you, this very night, before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.’ Peter said to him, ‘Even though I must die with you, I will not deny you.’ And so said all the disciples.
Photo Credit: Kyle Post/Flickr
Fiji is a place of contradictions.
Conflicting or colliding identities and approaches are played out, moment by moment, in communities and people.
A huge national debt drives the perceived need for economic growth, but that growth threatens to destroy the very natural resources that make Fiji ‘what it is’.
Policy makers work hard to shake off the legacy of colonialism, but remain reliant on the largesse of wealthier nations as they seek to do so.
The capital city of Suva has malls and nightclubs, stadia and restaurants. Its hotels, cinemas and offices are air conditioned and comfortable, wealthy people can live in gated compounds or luxurious private villas.
But take the gravel roads out into the mountainous interior and when they turn to rutted mud you find yourself in a different world. You are in a country where hunters go into the jungle to catch pigs with dogs and spears and where any request from outside the village must be made by way of a formal ‘sevu sevu’ ceremony to the chief or headman.
Fijians are charming, welcoming and polite almost to a fault, you couldn’t wish to meet nicer people. But domestic violence rates are nothing short of shocking.
Everything stops on Sundays because most people are in church. Fiji is a devoutly and conservatively religious and predominantly Christian (mainly Methodist) nation. It’s a good place to sell Jesus themed car stickers.
It’s also a place famous for bloody political coups – four violent uprisings in the last forty years have caused economic and political turbulence.
Fiji is a reminder that even in ourselves we live in a state of contradiction – we ‘contain multitudes’ (as Walt Whitman put it) of tensions that move us one way or another in the momentary choices and decisions that shape our lives.
Prayer In the early morning the Mangrove Heron hunts for fish, refusing the distractions of shadow and reflection. Just so, we pray, may we focus our minds upon Your ways. We acknowledge the conflicts and contradictions within us – things that would, and do, attract and distract us. But humbly choose again to focus on the silvery dart of the spirit of God, leading us into truth, justice, grace and mercy – and to follow its lead. Amen.
Dr Simon Cross is a 3rd year student at Westminster College training for the Ministry of Word and Sacraments. He is a member of Grimsby URC in North East Lincolnshire.