Thursday, 31 March 2011
Before embarking on our Lenten labyrinth, folk take off their shoes and soak up whatever the path offers them, a different journey every time. A journey made in the knowledge of Christ walking alongside, touching toes with us. A journey that has the potential for as many and more emotions as the simple act of taking off our shoes.
Wednesday, 30 March 2011
Tonight, we are considering Sunday's gospel - Jesus healing a blind man in John chapter 9. We're reading verses 1-12 and glossing over all the theological minefields that question whose sin caused the man to be blind and, instead, asking a more basic but perhaps more profound question: What hinders us from seeing? And - what would allow us to gain a different perspective?
Lent is a time for digging ourselves out of the ruts in which we've become entrenched so that we can encounter God and the world around us in a whole new way.
I've had lots of fun sourcing tonight's Lenten symbol - teeny, tiny eye glasses designed for dolls. We will carry them with us in the week ahead to remind us to take another look at all that God reveals.
Tuesday, 29 March 2011
Half way through Lent, I have been reviewing the journey so far and harnessing energy for what is to come. It has been good to regain a sense of excitement as the gospel stories unfold and look forward to all the creative worship opportunities to come. Giving thanks for the opportunity to recover some stamina that will be required for the weeks ahead.
Monday, 28 March 2011
Maybe the discipline of Lent could become a tool for reclaiming some space and for educating those who expect unlimited access that their expectations may not- and should not - always be met.
Sunday, 27 March 2011
Saturday, 26 March 2011
It is my hope and prayer that, when threatened with hard decisions and the possibility of schism that we do not become exclusive and sacrifice the breadth that allows the Church of Scotland to be a place of welcome for all.
Friday, 25 March 2011
Is it too sacreligious to imagine that, in the desert for 40 days, Jesus might have indulged in some blue sky thinking before emerging to change the world?
Thursday, 24 March 2011
Wednesday, 23 March 2011
Tuesday, 22 March 2011
The joy with which they were abandoned in stark contrast with images of children's shoes abandoned in Japanese schools shown on last night's news - shoes of a lost generation of youngsters.
10 days on from the earthquake and tsunami, still details are only emerging of the scale of loss and devastation and with fears of further radiation danger, it seems we may never know the real toll of the disaster. Only God knows.
However, witnessing this scale of loss, wouldn't you think that we'd grasp how precious human life is and cease from war?
Even if a mother should forget her own child, I will never forget you. How can I forget you. I have written your name on the palm of my hand.
Monday, 21 March 2011
Whilst a carefully planned diary may maximise effective time management, it is so often the spontaneous, unplanned meetings that make a difference and leave a sense of achievement and fulfillment. I'm reminded of how often Jesus' ministry consisted of interruptions and how it was in those unplanned encounters that Jesus was most often able to display love and achieve miracles. At our busiest, it is always important to have just enough room for spontaneity. And to see God at work in those spaces filled with opportunity.
Sunday, 20 March 2011
In church this morning we attempted making doves out of paper doilies. The idea was we would keep them with us during the week so that, when world news gets us down, we could remember to lift up in prayer all those suffering throughout the world. However, what I thought were simple instructions flummoxed a lot of people. I'm so glad we didn't attempt origami Japanese cranes!
We did get the message, though, that when things are so difficult, when things are as out of control as they are throughout the world right now, in our helplessness, it is vital that we keep on praying.
Saturday, 19 March 2011
We also wait to see if air strikes will begin in Libya, escalating the probability of civil war raging out of control there.
All through the Middle East, anti government protests are attracting violent response.
And, meantime, the cholera epidemic in Haiti rages on with no end in sight except death and destruction.
And these are just the stories that are still barely making it into the headlines of our news media. Many other crises and atrocities have long since disappeared from the world news stage and, often, from our consciousness.
How can one keep up? How can one pray intelligently?
How tempting it is to take a fast from the news.
I'm sure that even in the midst of all these heart wrenching stories there are glimpses of hope, of heroic actions, of human love triumphing against the odds.
But the overwhelming picture is of mayhem and suffering and despair.
So how can we, who believe in a God of love and light, who believe in a God who is present wherever there is suffering, speak hope into such relentless chaos?
Especially when we are feeling particularly overwhelmed by the emerging news even at the privileged distance we maintain?
And yet, if we had no hope, if we lacked that inkling of a God who can turn things around, that notion of a God who brings order out of chaos, wouldn't we have stopped watching and listening already?
If we had no hope, already we would be preparing for our own demise and closing our eyes and ears to all that afflicts our brothers and sisters in this thing that we call the human race.
But God, who plants a seed of the godhead deep within each of us, plants a flicker of hope and of love by which we can remain involved, retain hope and know that our God, through us, reaches out, lifts up and redeems a broken, battered and bruised world.
All is not lost.
For a moment we are overwhelmed.
But God, living in us, binds up humanity in love.
In that wilderness space that Lent invites us to inhabit, may we rediscover the seed of the godhead deep within us that allows us to love and to care and to hope anew.
Friday, 18 March 2011
Did I say? I LOVE my Kindle.
Today I received a book to review Half the Church by Carolyn Custis James. There will be a blog post on it as soon as I've read it! But not only was the book sent to me in printed form - it is also a hardback. It seems like a real chore to read a book in hardback printed form. I may well download it in Kindle form since I have discovered that it is available.
But I recall being quite sceptical of the whole idea of e-books when I first encountered it. I thought that nothing could ever replace a printed text.
It's incredible how soon we can get used to doing things in a new way or to using new forms of media. But only if we open ourselves to change.
May part of our Lenten journey involve us taking steps into unfamiliar territory and embracing new ideas.
Thursday, 17 March 2011
Last month I travelled across the world to meet up with women whom I had only previously encountered online but with whom I had experienced real community. Why? Because we shared our stories and supported one another virtually.
At the Revgals meet up, one quote which has become my mantra is: "In Christ there is no real or virtual.." a slight paraphrase of Galatians 3! All are one. We underestimate the power of online communities at our peril. Christ journeys with us in the wilderness of the worldwide web. Thanks be to God.
Wednesday, 16 March 2011
|snake in the water|
But I want to focus on the Serpent being lifted up in the wilderness (verse 14) and ask:
Where, in our lives, do we raise Christ today?
In our homes?
In our places of work?
In our communities?
As ever, when something devastating happens, there are those who speculate on the actions of a harsh, judgmental, vindictive God.
Today, more than ever, we need to speak of and share the incredible love and grace of God by lifting up Christ wherever we are. We cannot and should not ever cease to share the message that God IS love because so many folk are hearing, even in churches, messages to the contrary.
This Lent, may we lift up the God of love.
Tuesday, 15 March 2011
When I was in Cozumel with the Revgals two weeks ago, I had my hair braided and enjoyed the exotic feel of that as well as the reminder of a special time with a super bunch of women. While I had the audacity to conduct Sunday worship with the braids still in place, I knew that they would be inappropriate when it was time to conduct a funeral service. So, I removed them last night in preparation for a funeral today.
Throughout the day, my hands kept reaching for my hair, before I would remember that the braids were no longer there.
It seemed like a sacrifice I had had to make for the job.
However, as I watched the news this evening and caught up on reports from Japan, reports of hundreds of bodies being washed ashore, of crematoria unable to cope with the task required of them, I reflected on the luxury of the quiet, dignified service I had been able to share with a grieving family today. And I gained a new awareness of the incredibly small demands that God makes of me. As well as the awareness, I pray that I have also gained a new sense of joy and thankfulness for the ministry to which God calls me. And I pray fervently for all those who seek to minister to those bereaved by earthquake and tsunami and for those who may never know what became of their loved ones.
May perspective be a part of our Lenten discipline.
God in your mercy, hear my prayer.
Monday, 14 March 2011
Can't get blogger to upload a picture tonight - Technology!!! So frustrating sometimes.
In the primary school this morning, I was pleasantly surprised at how much the children knew about Lent. And amazed at how many of them are giving up some of their technology for the season - Nintendo Wiis, DSs, XBoxs and the like.
But what was even more surprising was the maturity with which they explained the purpose of their "giving up" - so that they could spend more time with friends and family.
Fasting for fasting's sake helps no one. But relationships can always benefit from some investment.
Maybe tomorrow I'll be able to add a photo - unless I have a computer fast!
Sunday, 13 March 2011
The congregation always amaze me by their willingness to get out of their seats and join in symbolic actions.
It wasn't until I uploaded the pictures taken after the service that I noticed that the names were carefully sorted into different colours for each side - red and yellow on one side and blue, green and orange on the other. For a moment I thought the children had sorted them and then I realised that it was just how I'd distributed the pack of coloured paper between each side of the church.
In the thick of things, sometimes, we miss the detail and it's good to be able to go back and reflect and gain a new awareness. The discipline of Lent affords that opportunity.
Saturday, 12 March 2011
The question is - what kind of God do we want to believe in - the magical kind who directs operations from afar, keeping us safe by strait jacketing us? Or a God who deals with REAL life who supports creation through every tragedy and, in the face of disaster is the one shedding rivers of tears for the creation so beloved of God.
The God who keeps a rosy garden or the God who dwells in a messy garden?
Friday, 11 March 2011
I found this out myself this afternoon when I went apple picking with Janice, Carol, Adam, Rose and their assistants. MY attitude was to get the apples picked, put them in bags and go home. But I soon learned all of that was much less important than to help Rose pick one or two apples, to walk with Janice looking for apples that hang low enough so that she herself can reach them, to compliment Carol on her ability to find good apples, and just to sit beside Adam in his wheelchair under an apple tree and give him a sense of belonging to a group... Efficiency is not the most important word - care is.
(Road to Daybreak p28)
May there be space in our Lenten journey to discover more care than efficiency and to experience and value the journey as well as the destination.
Thursday, 10 March 2011
These symbols are just that - symbols. They help us mark the movement through the liturgical year. They don't straitjacket us into feeling or thinking a particular way. Indeed the familiarity of some of the symbols of our faith and worship should free us to be aware of new things that God reveals to us. And if God is leading us in exciting paths, our response has to be in step. God is not bowed down by our traditions, so why should we be?
May Lent be a time when even tradition cannot stop the mischievous bubbling up of God's Spirit in you.
Wednesday, 9 March 2011
Tuesday, 8 March 2011
I love the discipline of looking back over each day and finding the God-filled moments that were in it - before we rush on to the next day - The Daily Examen of Ignatian Spirituality.
So, in the midst of picking up the threads again and as we prepare for the marathon that is Lent, it is refreshing and life giving to discover the bits of paradise that exist right where we are.
In the Cayman Islands or in Scotland, in the Gulf of Mexico or in the desert, God allows us to glimpse paradise and provides nourishment for our journey.
May your Lenten discipline allow you to glimpse the presence of God accompanying you on your journey.
Sunday, 6 March 2011
I always find the customs and immigration process daunting when I visit the USA. I suppose the officials are trained to be suspicious but I usually feel like a criminal. On this visit, however, the guy picked up on my nerves and asked why I was worried. I explained that I was on my way to meet up with 40 folk whom I'd never met before on a Continuing Ed Cruise. When he discovered that these "strangers" were women preachers, he beamed and assured me I had no need to fear. Of course he was right but I'm wondering how many women preachers he's met?
On the domestic flight between Newark and Tampa, the passenger in the next seat caught sight of what I was reading: Reframing Hope by Carol Howard Merrit, the text for the course, and asked if I was a Christian. No sooner had I affirmed this than she asked me to pray with her. Just two glimpses of God at the beginning of a God-filled week.
Saturday, 5 March 2011
It would seem that our mountain top experiences are often closely followed by a harsh re-entry - down to earth with a bang.
Jesus taught and shared so that his disciples might be sustained in all of life and might have confidence to navigate the highs and lows that are the reality of life, secure in the knowledge that, in God, we are equipped and resourced and renewed every day. We cannot remain on the mountain but we can remain changed, enriched and renewed by all that is revealed to us in the presence of a transforming God.