Talking Point – April 2024

Extreme moderation

SO MUCH IN our lives today is becoming extreme. Our climate has just given us one of the warmest and wettest Februaries ever. Keeping a roof over our heads has become incredibly expensive, with a knock-on effect on family finances and working practices. We are shaken daily by extreme violence and political events, both at home and overseas. The word ‘unprecedented’ is used – justifiably – far too often for my liking!
If we want to get anything done or changed, the received wisdom is that we must go large: push hard and fast; get yourself noticed; go viral on social media. Employers want people who can ‘get things done’ and their customers want to see results, fast. There’s a lot of intensity and pressure (which can be a good thing) but, if the pressure and stress is constant, we will burn out.
Constantly living life at high pitch, in a stressful environment, is unhealthy: not only is it exhausting, but the anxiety leads to an increased chance of fracture and division, with limited chances for healing. Yet this is where so many of us, young and old, find ourselves too often.
For Christians, not surprisingly, it is Jesus who gives us a model for a better life. Jesus invariably went to the extremes of society (the poor, sick, outcast who were often literally on the edge of town) and healed them so they could return into their community and take part again. In this Easter season especially, we remember Jesus’ death and rising to life again: that ultimate sign of healing for the whole world.
At first glance Jesus’ way of life, based on love and faithfulness, patience and grace seems foolish. How is that ever going to get anything done? Jesus’ way could also be described as a way of ‘extreme moderation’: relentlessly striving to return to the moderate, calm centre. The world hurls us outwards toward the frantic extremes; Jesus calls us back to where we can regain balance in our life, where we can find acceptance, love and healing.
Sure, it’s unremarkable, it’s not a quick fix for anything.
Rather it’s a long-term solution for everything (what Christians call ‘the Kingdom of God’). Extreme moderation: try it!
Rev’d Kevin Lovell, Vicar of St Barnabas, Emmer Green and Caversham Park

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