Common Ground Editorial: March 2021

In tumultous times, we often come to a moment when we pause and look around. Over the past year, familiar landmarks, whether political or social, have shifted on their foundations; the apparently stable ground of life—whether economic or health-related—is proving somewhat shaky. We look around, aware of what we’ve taken for granted; we’re perhaps uncertain of where we stand, calculating what the next move might be.

As we take in the horizon of our moment, we find ourselves tested. Some of us seek to take control, to impose meaning on the present situation; more of us drop our heads: we foreshorten the horizon, and busy ourselves with only immediate concerns. It’s in such testing times I recall our son Emmaus’s Grade 9 football coach: they were a goal down, with 10 on the clock, and they were tired. Suddenly their coach fired up from the sidelines: “Heads up; get in the game!”, she yelled. Instinctively, they knew what she meant. They lifted up their heads and got back in the game; and yes, they equalised and went on to win. By the Spirit of God, we know an analogous voice that calls us to live: the Lord, “the One who lifts my head” (Ps. 3).

It is the marked characteristic of Christians that we are people of hope, that we endure in the midst of tumult and uncertainty. We pause and look around to understand, to love better, to serve more faithfully, but not to conjure hope—that much is already secure. Indeed, hope is—in the mixed metaphor of Hebrews—the anchor within the veil, “an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.” This line reaches unbroken into God’s very presence, through the gift of Jesus’s life (Heb. 6:19-20).

Much of our offering in this month’s Common Ground will invite you to pause, and to look around in faith and hope. Hope, suggests Nathan McLellan, is the gift of that greatest of pauses, Holy Saturday. It is, argues Dr Ruth Bollen, the question raised by the COVID vaccine. It is a theme in this month’s Alumni Interview with Kenton and Lacy Starr. Mel Cooper invites us to walk with her and pause as through photography she indwells the events of Holy Week. Alongside these offerings, we’ve created some Holy Week practices for you and your households: you’ll find a stunning daily devotional that extends our Lenten pilgrimage through Holy Week to Easter Day; you’ll also find a script for a Scripture Meal–it’s a simple yet profound way to linger together in the passion of Jesus.

However much the immediate horizon may be obscure to us, however much the swells of the present rise, we live and act now with hope. As we walk towards Easter, may you rejoice in our common ground: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come in glory.


Dr John Dennison
Editor, Common Ground

(Image: “Palm Sunday,” by Kareen Durbin)