glory revealed

deep within

a light shines,

its’ source

is eternal,

it is inextinguishable,

and while for now

it might burn dim,

it burns,

burns with possibilities,

with purpose,

reflecting the glory

of the divine,

waiting, waiting

only to be unveiled,

a city on a hill

for all to see,

glory

revealed at last,

glory within,

even deep within

waiting,

can you see it?

only look into

your eyes….

Childs-eye

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A common table….

I have been scrolling through Facebook this morning, pondering news items posted by friends and following some of those stories up ( wanting to be aware of what might be false, what might be out of date etc, I have been caught out too many times before!). The diversity of posts and concerns is fascinating, just I guess as we are diverse, and truly I believe that this is good because I need to be challenged and to read and consider things that may well have passed me by.

This morning two posts caught my attention, one was posted by an Anglican friend who posted a report from the General Synod of the Church of England, the other from a friend who works among  poor and vulnerable families.

The first reported a move to allow Methodist and Anglican Ministers to preside in one anothers churches, it is concerned with reaching an agreement that will be acceptable to both churches, mostly around how ordination of ministers take place, who by and what that means. In the same way we talk about which type of bread and wine should be used, what we wear etc. etc.

The second was a post about child poverty and the removal of the provision of free school meals from children whose parents ear more than £7,200 p.a., that is £617 per month! Crazy. To add insult to injury the MP’s who voted for such a measure then went on to enjoy a luxury banquet where tables sold for up to £15,000, more than double the annual wage of the families whose lives they have just voted to change!

When I consider these two articles side by side I see two things, a church that is shuffling the deckchairs around on the Titanic in order to find a good spot and a decent view, and a world in need, crying out in hunger. Suddenly who lays hands on whom seems less important than the hungry child whose needs are going unmet. In the child I meet the eyes of Christ who says to us, when you feed the hungry you feed me, in the church I see the Spirit groaning at our desire to find unity through  uniformity in a world that is anything but uniform. We can have unity without uniformity, celebrating our differences and rejoicing as we seek to serve together, maybe then the most important table we should gather around is a supper table where the rich and poor share equally for all are welcome, where bread and wine are broken and poured along with soup and cheese, and pie, and even a lavish banquet is served.

Maybe such tables could extend our conversations and help us to know one another in a deeper way than any resolutions voted through by synods and conferences, tables which would be open to all and to any who might come, bread broken extravagantly and wine poured liberally ( with juice for those who prefer no wine). Our communion must surely be more than practice but flow from a relationship with one another through Christ who embraces all in the recognition that Jesus challenged the religious elite, and welcomed the humble.

Perhaps the best response is to seek to have the eyes of Christ, to be his body, broken for all. To feed the hungry, to stick up for the oppressed,  to be welcoming to all without discrimination of colour, gender, creed or sexuality and more, to talk about the environment, to strive to be people of peace, to serve together not uniformly but in unity, and because we have such riches to share to build a bigger table, that way we may discover that our loaves and fishes are multiplied beyond our expectations!

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Called…

Over the last couple of weeks the lectionary readings have been around the topic of calling, and specific calling, noting that we are all as individuals precious to God.Of course I know this, and I preach this, but every now and then the Spirit stirs within to remind me that this is true, that I am loved, known, cherished and called. That has got me pondering what it actually means to be called.

To be called, especially to be called by name means that we are KNOWN, and SEEN, that nothing is hidden, and as much as we might like to hide ourselves away, or hide from ourselves, that where the Spirit is concerned all of these things are about as effective as a baby hiding behind their hands playing a game of peek-a -boo! Oddly, today as I write I find this comforting, I am known, and accepted just as I am known, and for now, no matter what/ who I might long to become or want to be that is enough, and that I find to be immensely freeing! I am now free to walk with and work with the Living God without fear.

To be called by name also marks me out as unique, not to stand out or above others, life is not a competition and we all have gifts and talents to offer, but I am unique, I may be similar to you or vastly different from you, but none of those things matter to my calling for I am uniquely me, and only uniquely me, and I am unable to be you! Again I find this freeing, mostly because I am aware that we live in a hugely competitive society, and that somehow being a winner is essential, or certainly desirable, whereas simply being valued for your own uniqueness and the gifts you can bring to the whole is so easily overlooked.

Lastly I pick up that point about being a part of a whole, for it is not only me that is called, but all are called, the cliched phrase “we are all in this together” is actually true, though discerning quite what that means can be tricky, I heard this described in a wonderful way while out last night at a unique event named “We who sing pray twice“:

” Not one voice here is perfect, some are obviously better than others, others stronger and more confident, but to produce the whole all are needed, the whole brings a blend of depth and harmony that far surpasses the one. We need one another to produce something as beautiful as this….!”

To be called is wonderful, to be called by name and seen as valued for your uniqueness is even better, to be called to be a part of something more whole than you or I could ever be alone is perhaps the best calling there is.

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hope…

Mysteriously, hope comes,

a flickering light

in a dark world,

drawing us,

calling us into its presence…

those who seek hope

are unsurprised

by this flickering flame,

by the seeming unimportance of it,

for they see beyond

the darnkess

knowing that it is already overcome,

those who seek hope

receive that hope

and it illuminates their

hearts and souls,

so it is that hope grows,

hope shines on,

will you receive that hope today,

for still in the darkness hope shines,

a flickering light

in a dark world,

drawing us,

calling us into its presence…

candle1

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On loving myself…

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERALast year, full of resolve and a certain determination I signed up to walk 1,000 miles, the truth is I probably did, but I gave up pushing myself to do so and to record each mile covered following a foot injury, and also the knowledge that I was doing myself more harm than good in pressing myself to do something that seemed so out of reach. By the middle of the year I had collapsed into an exhausted and depressed state, but thankfully and with support and counselling I am now coping with life in a healthier way.

In some ways I needed to acknowledge that there are things that I cannot do alone, and also that I need not be so hard upon myself, that there are times when it is okay to rest, to acclimatise myself to a new situation and to ease into something slowly. Interestingly I wouldn’t call myself competitive, but the reality is that very often I am in competition with myself, and in some subtle way therefore with those around me. I want to be the best, and anything else is not good enough. I have to admit that this is not the best way to live with or love yourself.

So this year I am choosing life, I often do that and then fail, so I am not expecting too much, maybe I should say that I am trying to choose life. I am trying to follow the command of Jesus to love myself (1) for in loving myself I believe that I am freer to love God and to love others. When I refuse to love myself then I am putting a barrier between me and life itself and that often stops me from doing something about it.

Perhaps the big change came when I decided to take myself for a walk to the beach, I had walked, and it was okay, I treated myself to fish and chips and they were okay, but I wa struck by a sudden revelation, and epiphany of you like, and it stung. That revelation was that this had not made me happy in the way I had hoped it would, and the reason was that I was running away from and not towards life!

So what do I mean by that? What I mean is that I was looking for something external to fulfil an internal longing, and that longing was to be at peace with myself, to love myself, to forgive myself and to encourage myself. On the surface this could all seem very selfish, but I don’t believe that it is, and to explain that I am going to quote a portion of Richard Rohr’s meditations from last week. Rohr says this:

When I was on retreat at Thomas Merton’s hermitage at Gethsemani Abbey in 1985, I had a chance encounter that has stayed with me all these years. I was walking down a little trail when I recognized a recluse, what you might call a hermit’s hermit, coming toward me. Not wanting to intrude on his deep silence, I bowed my head and moved to the side of the path, intending to walk past him. But as we neared each other, he said, “Richard!” That surprised me. He was supposed to be silent. How did he know who I was? “Richard, you get chances to preach and I don’t. Tell the people one thing.” Pointing to the sky, he said, “God is not ‘out there’!” Then he said, “God bless you,” and abruptly continued down the path.

The belief that God is “out there” is the basic dualism that is tearing us all apart. Our view of God as separate and distant has harmed our relationships with sexuality, food, possessions, money, animals, nature, politics, and our own incarnate selves. This loss explains why we live such distraught and divided lives. Jesus came to put it all together for us and in us. He was saying, in effect, “To be human is good! The material and the physical can be trusted and enjoyed. This physical world is the hiding place of God and the revelation place of God!” (2)

Even more, my heart my soul and my longings, even my unhappiness can be a place where I encounter God, the God that I preach, the God who loves and receives me with all of my faults and flaws, the God who knows me through and through, the God who is really beyond naming, and infinite in love, mercy and compassion, the God who sets me free to live life, to be life, the God who makes me whole.

I run out of words because I know that when I use the word “God” that some people respond with a negative reaction, for the God they have been introduced to is mean, controlling and very demanding, a God who is out there and waiting for the time when we slip up so that he ( and he is almost always a he) can zap us!

When I say God I am describing the divine spark that set the creation of the universe and beyond into motion, an act of creative and inclusive love that had to be expressed, and contains all darkness and light all joy and pain, who has revealed the divine spark in so  many ways, and  especially for me, as I follow the Christian path, in and through the person of Jesus. It is Jesus, who by the divine Spirit calls me into life, it is Jesus who showed the love of the divine to such a depth that he was prepared to give himself away for it, and challenges us to enter that same path, as one hymn puts it, he ” emptied himself of all but love” (3).

So why am I writing all of this, to be honest I don’t know, maybe it is something that I simply need to speak out, to communicate a deep passion that lies within me, but can be buried by the concerns and worries of this world, by my own separation from my soul, and from having a wrong relationship with myself that damages my relationship with others.

This year I have chosen to do two embodied things that require me to be in touch with my physical self, I have signed up to Slimming World, and I have chosen to enter into a Couch to 5k programme, both of these thing involve the support and encouragement of others, some of it online, and some in real life. I need this, I need to know that when I struggle there will be those around who will encourage me, who will cheer me on and celebrate with me, or cry with me. These two things involve me choosing to let go of my need to be the best and to simply choose to participate in life, to be free to become without pressure.

When I signed up to slimming world I was struck by the enthusiasm and passion that the Consultant had, she believed in her programme, and dare I say her product. It left me as a Christian Minister, asking myself if I have that same conviction and passion for the Gospel I preach, I want to say that I do, and really I do, but to communicate that fully I must allow myself to fully know the depth of love, mercy and compassion that I dwell in. I need to let go of false expectations, and set myself free to be loved, and to be love.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,  just as he chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love. He destined us for adoption as his children through Jesus Christ, according to the good pleasure of his will,  to the praise of his glorious grace that he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.(4)

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  1. Mark 12:31
  2. Richard Rhor Meditation Friday 5th January 2018 (https)://cac.org/where-is-god-2018-01-05/?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=2018-01-06%20DM&utm_content=2018-01-06%20DM+CID_301eeb47a141cde38b70941669103189&utm_source=Campaign%20Monitor%20Google%20Analytics&utm_term=Friday )
  3. From “And can it be” by Charles Wesley
  4. Ephesians 1: 3-6.
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Choosing…

On this day between days

I pause…

Given a chance to reflect

I choose not to make myself,

Or anyone else

False promises.

I choose not to set

Unrealistic goals.

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Instead, I choose life

Having to acknowledge

That I am unsure

What I mean by that,

So perhaps I am choosing

To give myself to the unfolding

Of this moment by moment existence,

Not striving for what might be…

+

I am choosing not to be

Comeptetive

With either my own demands,

Nor the demands of the culture that

Constantly shifts in its definition of what is,

Or what is not acceptable…

+

I choose love,

Knowing that I have only paddled

In the shallows,

But longing to strike out into the deep…

+

I choose these things

Awake to the inevitability

That I will fall and fail in them,

But trusting that I am

Held in the shelter

Of a greater power,

Who I know so little of,

But who knows me completely…

+

In this I rest,

All will be well,

All will be well….

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Christmas yearning

This Christmas Lord,

take a corner of my heart

and steal in,

do not leave me

in my overwhelmed state,

busy with many un-needful things,

take a corner of my heart

and begin your change in me,

challenging me to

vulnerability, to admitting,

and owning my frailty

knowing that nothing is possible

without you,

but that the impossible is

always possible

with you…

+

Come, breathe new life

through my soul,

blow away the cobwebs

that threaten to stifle and smother me,

stir up in me a fresh passion for life,

as you quieten my heart

with your Spirit song…

+

This Christmas Lord,

take a corner of my heart

and steal in,

then gently, but surely

draw me to be wholly yours again,

if only for a moment!

nativity2

 

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