Saturday, 13 February 2016

If you loved me...

John 14:28
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.

If you loved me...
You would rejoice
If you loved me...
You would know
If you loved me...
You would understand 
If you loved me...
You would rejoice
God even with our hindsight
Even when we know the rest of the story
Even when, daily, you surround us
with your love and beauty,
Still we do not get it.
We fail to make the connections
We are slow to join the dots
And so we miss the joy
of loving and being loved
by the one whose name is love.
This day, O God,
Open our heart and mind and soul
to notice the presence
of your Holy Spirit
with which you confront us
in mystery and love.

Friday, 12 February 2016

Calm assurance

Matthew 6:30-31
But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’

Colour and resilience
emerging from the frozen ground
signalling much more
than a change of season
promising much more
than beauty and life:
A symbol of faithfulness -
the faithfulness of God
who is present
in every season
alongside all who seek
accompaniment through life
through every time and season
promising and delivering
fullness of life.

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Listen carefully

1 Samuel 3:19-21
As Samuel grew up, the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. And all Israel from Dan to Beer-sheba knew that Samuel was a trustworthy prophet of the Lord. The Lord continued to appear at Shiloh, for the Lord revealed himself to Samuel at Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

Hushed was the evening hymn,
The temple courts were dark,
The lamp was burning dim,
Before the sacred ark:
When suddenly a voice divine
Rang through the silence of the shrine.

Growing up in the church, this was one of my favourite hymns - and the call of Samuel was one of my favourite Bible stories.
The hymn goes on as a prayer for all of the attributes that Samuel had that allowed him to be an effective servant of God.
Looking again at the story, I am reminded that in Samuel's "elevation", there was also a message of judgement - the priest Eli, under whose instruction Samuel was nurtured in faith was censured for not acting to quash his sons' sins of blasphemy.
1 Samuel 3:13
For I have told him that I am about to punish his house forever, for the iniquity that he knew, because his sons were blaspheming God, and he did not restrain them.

With adult eyes, I see a story much harsher than the carefully edited version with which I grew up, a story with many layers. 
In this season of Lent, may there be space and clarity that allows the layers to be uncovered, getting to the heart of God who calls, who empowers, who judges and equips, a God who demands much, who gives much and who rebukes and corrects. A God who calls real people to serve in a real world.
During this season, may there be space to listen carefully to the voice of God for our lives today and the wisdom to act on and to share the whole message.

Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Baptism, Eucharist, Death

Remember that you are dust and to dust you shall return... (Genesis 3:19)
Ash Wednesday
The first day of the season of Lent
When, by a simple smudge of ashes
the whole gospel is proclaimed:
You are loved,
You are deeply loved
by the God who loved you before you were born
whose love accompanies you through all of life
and whose arms will be there to welcome you in death.
Affirming in baptism: You are my beloved child
Reaching out through the Eucharist: Remember me
Proclaiming in death: Love never ends
In all your sojourns in the wilderness of life
may you hear those whispers 
of the God who created you
of the God who redeems you
And of the God who waits to welcome you to eternal life.
Repent and believe in the gospel (Mark 1:15)

Wednesday, 6 January 2016

The Epiphany star today

Responding to a restlessness within
The Magi embarked on a journey
They followed their star,
a sign that called them out of the comfort
of familiar patterns
to seek fulfilment of their yearning.
They set out
with no guarantee of success,
not even sure what success might look like.
They set out to encounter the Unknown
but longed for.
Seen as strangers,interlopers, imposters,
greeted at times with deference,
but also with suspicion.
What turmoil did their journey incite
in those they left behind
and in those who greeted them
on the road?
What joy and destruction
did they leave in their wake?

And if, today, our restlessness 
should compel us to follow a star:
How will we know we are heading in the right direction?
Will there be markers along the way?
Or is it simply the compulsion of our faith
that spurs us on?
Who will accompany us on the journey?
What must we leave behind?
Will we be mindful of the passions 
of those we encounter on the path?
Of the longings we stir up in others?
And what gifts might we bring?
What, for us, would be as precious
or as insightful
as gold, frankincense and myrrh?

May your Epiphany star
guide and compel
and lead you to fulfilment.
May you discover your passion
and the resources within
to bring your unique gifts
and pay homage to the babe
long gone from the stable
but still drawing those who seek 
on an unpredictable adventure in faith.
May you see that star
poised over the shelter for the homeless
or pausing to illuminate
lives touched by grief,
the Epiphany Star
guiding those who worship the Christ child
to all those places
where the Incarnation
is needed today.

Monday, 4 January 2016

Elusive Joy

I took this picture of a light up Joy Christmas ornament, fully expecting that, during Advent, I would use it to illustrate a blog post. I was anticipating joy creeping in with the season and, if not banishing, then at least mitigating the sense of loss I was experiencing in moving from Parish ministry to a new vocation in the church. I was sure that I had grieved long enough, that time would do its work of healing and that preparing for Christmas would complete this painful part of the journey of transition.
That's not how things worked out. It seems that transition was not to be as well behaved or as precisely orchestrated as I had hoped. Joy did not come rushing in with the Incarnation. It did not even slip in quietly as Advent progressed. Of course there were glimpses: especially in the liturgy and the music of the season but those glimpses were fleeting and elusive.
I enjoyed the space, the lack of pressure, the less frenzied pace. I did not miss the expectations of others, and of myself, to choreograph a Christmas experience that would deliver the baby right into folks' hands just at the moment they were ready to receive him.
But still, my journey through Advent felt like wading through treacle. I was unable, even though I longed to do so, to run with the shepherds to the manger.
And so I look to Epiphany this year, not for resolution, not for any sense of completion or accomplishment, but for the acknowledgment that the journey of transition is a slow one, unpredictable in nature and encompasses surprising twists and turns.
The Magi responded to a restlessness that took them from the known and the familiar, even from those they loved to embark on a journey that wasn't mapped out, a journey they could not control or even plan. Amd, when they thought they'd arrived, there was yet another kink in the path: they managed to upset a tyrant and unleashed his wrath on innocents. But still they journeyed and were eventually able to offer their gifts to the one whom they sought, whose star they followed.
The Magi are my inspiration this season as the journey goes on...

Thursday, 24 December 2015

The Mystery

Luke 2:1-7
The Birth of Jesus
In those days a decree went out from Emperor Augustus that all the world should be registered. This was the first registration and was taken while Quirinius was governor of Syria. All went to their own towns to be registered. Joseph also went from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to the city of David called Bethlehem, because he was descended from the house and family of David. He went to be registered with Mary, to whom he was engaged and who was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for her to deliver her child. And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in bands of cloth, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Birth does not happen
just when the time is right
or when everything is ready
when we've done all the right things
or when we wait patiently ...
Even when carefully planned
and engineered
long awaited
or dreaded,
birth comes crashing in
bringing change
and disruption
The arrival of a baby
in the best of circumstances
brings upheaval that cannot be anticipated.
Whether homeless on the streets
Or camped in a refugees enclosure
Crouched in squalor
Or laying in a manger
Birth comes
Heralding joy and sorrow
excitement and danger
Signalling despair and hope
fear and longing.
Into melee and mystery
God is born.
The world is not suddenly transformed.
The experience of birth is no less traumatic
The chaos and squalor do not disappear.
But the air is charged with a new reality
that is seldom grasped:
A message for all:
You are deeply, deeply loved
by a God who is love.

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