Welcome to Lectionary doodles. Here you will find a weekly adult colouring in item that reflects on the lectionary for the week. My hope that you might stumble on something new about the Christian faith story you didn’t notice before, grow a little in your own faith, gain a deeper connection with God and have fun while you are doing it or at least relax a little or concentrate a bit better when someone else is talking!
This is hugely new to me.. I don’t consider myself an artist but started the drawings as a Lenten practice for myself and shared them with my congregation, people seem to find them helpful and I have been encouraged to share them on a wider more accessible format. Some weeks I am amazed at what I can do other weeks I feel like my 8 year old could do much better! But I will share them with you as gifts, may they help you connect deeply with the Ultimate creative One, God.
So here goes.
I thought what I might do is put up the drawing, add the reading I was reflecting on, write a bit about what I noticed in the text and chuck a couple of questions in that seem to spring to mind when I ponder them.
By the way if you want to use my stuff that is great, just let me know and don’t use it to make millions (not that I really think you can!), not unless you are going to give it all to the poor!
In the theme of Advent to get ready, we come to a reading in Matthew where John the Baptist is in gaol and is beginning to wonder is Jesus the Messiah, the one that they were waiting for or should they be looking for another? How do we prepare for one that realistically we had no idea what it looks like? God does not work in our logic or reason, but often throws things in that surprise us. The superhero Messiah came in the form of a normal child, a baby born of a woman, loved by a family. The expectations of miraculous came much later and that confirmed what already was.
It reminds me of the regular struggle we face as Christians as to what is the will of God? How do we discern it? Some say, there is no God’s will, God just allows us to live the life we choose. My experience of the journey of faith is not this. I think God does have a dream or vision for us and this world, we are given free will so we can choose, but throughout this, God is always available to offer wisdom and guidance, in the hope that all can be the best they can be. It is not always easy to know this wisdom, or hear the quiet still voice, interestingly the only time I have ever been sure is when I see the consequences of the actions or decisions I have made and they reflect the things I know are valuable to God. Mind you there are some times when I know that in the beginning but I choose to ignore it too!
I wonder if Jesus was giving us a model here to know the things of God? People who couldn’t see things before see, people who could not hear before hear, people who could not move are leaping for joy, those who were dead become alive, the poor hear the good news. How do we know people are from God, or the path is from God? It reflects the things of God.
This is not always easy to see or hear. So I wonder if preparing for Advent with this reading is about opening our eyes and ears, looking for those moments and people when God shines through. What is your joy, your hope this Christmas? How is God present with you in ways you did not expect? How do you know, when you have brushed up against God?
For the second week in Advent we get to hear about John the Baptist out in the desert challenging us to Prepare the way of the Lord.. and I was thinking what does it mean to prepare the way of the Lord? It was a call by John to repent, to turn things around and get things in order with God. I wonder if part of it was to shake people out of their habits and rituals and make them think about what they were doing and what it really meant to them. How was it helping them live closer to God’s way?
It got me thinking what would John the Baptist look like in our current age, who are the prophets in the desert calling out to us to change our ways and what are they saying? The first that came to me was in Australia’s literal desert, and the Aboriginal communities there, challenging us to be more generous in how we treat those coming to Australia to seek Asylum. Then I remembered that our oceans are also considered a desert, a place with no drinkable water. Our pacific Island brothers and sisters have been challenging us with the concern for global warming and it’s effects on their homes. Then I was thinking that sometimes our cities can feel like deserts too, barren and lifeless.. and we can forget how easy it is for life to turn around in a flash and we can lose everything.. The message of John was not always liked by people, and sometimes our response to these modern day prophets can be the same..
But in all these cases we know that things are not as they could be and as a church we believe that God has answers, a vision and a way forward.. To make this happen we need to prepare ourselves ready to hear it.. What are your prophets saying to you about what you need to get ready?
But about that day and hour no one knows, neither the angels of heaven, nor the Son,[a] but only the Father.
I often feel like this reading is a bit of a trap, no one knows when it is going to happen.. I found it interesting to notice in the reading that it wasn’t just the people but the angels and even the Son would not know when it would happen.. So the angels aren’t singing but are shocked as much as everyone else as to what is happening.. People would be there then they would be gone..
There are two things I always find interesting with end times talk, the first is the multitude of people who believe it is going to happen and they know.. I noticed myself with the whole new millennium it was easy to get caught up in the questions about it.. Now that I have safely lived through it, or maybe got left behind.. It is easy to laugh it off. It can quickly suck us in! As a rule this passage from Jesus means I have a clear answer, if you know it is going to happen, then it isn’t going to happen , cause surely if Jesus doesn’t know, there is a good chance God isn’t going to let you in on the act. In some ways it reminds me of impatient children, are we there yet? When is the show going to start? Maybe we never grow up. More the point is that what is really important about this passage?
Have you ever been left out of something, or found out about something after the event? It usually contains a great gamut of emotions most of which aren’t real good. I wonder if this reading is about being present and living in the moment well, sometimes we can get so caught up in what is to come or getting ready for what is next, that we miss the beautiful moment we have right now. Maybe it is being distracted by your phone when you’re having a coffee with your friend, or neglecting the dog because you are too busy, or feeling forever angry and frustrated because things aren’t moving the way we want the to. The thought of these images remind me of times when I have lost someone I loved, I recall our times of coffee and I miss them. We think of the end times as coming in a big bang but really we live it regularly with the reality of the changes in life.
So this week, as the first week in Advent, get ready by being real. Appreciate what you have in that moment and recognise the gift that it is.. You never know it might even take you to a place of gratitude in the process! I’m going to watch Star Trek with my family. See you next week.
I have chosen the New Testament reading today but the gospel would work just as well. It is Christ the King Sunday! The week in the Church Calender that we celebrate Christ as King.. As I read the gospel reading and then through Colosians I was reminded as to the diversity of ideas people have of Jesus as Christ the King.. Lots of them have crowns, or thrones or mystical golden crosses behind His head. Some see the true power of Jesus by what he did on the cross, some just that he has inherited the great leadership from God, some see that the power comes that God came to earth as a child, others the power came right from the beginning..
What does Christ the King look like for you? What is Jesus ruling? What does His rule look like? For me I wanted His crown to be out of daisies and to have Him dressed like a hippy carrying signs of peace, because for me Jesus being the King comes about because people choose to let Him rule thier life, because of the love and peace and hope that He offers.
As I pondered this it reminded me of someone standing in a mirror maze (yes this is what it is supposed to be!) It is often difficult to tell which is the real person and which one, a mere reflection.. For me all the images we hold as Jesus as Christ the King is a reflection of the real Jesus King, depending on which angle you look at it from. I think when we hold things lightly like this and realise we are looking merely at a reflection so great our mind cannot comprehend, we are able to be open to listen to each other and learn. Each time we do this we gain a new angle of which to see Jesus from and hopefully the surprise and beauty of this moves us to a deeper understanding of who Jesus is.
The temple in the time of Jesus was the ultimate place of God, some believed it was where God dwelt. They were admiring its magnificence, adorned in the best of the best to honor God. It must have felt like a special place, like those grand Cathedrals in Europe. People travelled a long way to be able to make their sacrifices to God there.I wonder if for the people it was the sign of the achievement of making God happy.. I wonder what things we have now that for us is the place where God dwells? Or the things we hold onto that make us feel like we have made God happy? In this moment of overwhelming awe at what the temple is Jesus breaks the bad news. The connection to God that you have on this earth is going to be destroyed and not just a little bit but it is going to be decimated.. As if this isn’t enough Jesus goes on to tell them the world is going to go into chaos it will look like it is all going to end! But before that happens you will be arrested and find yourself before great and powerful people needing to explain yourself.. But don’t worry..
I have the REM song going on in my head, it is the end of the world as we know it and I feel fine! I don’t know how things are going in your church at the moment but there is a lot of doom and gloom around. The temple that was has been knocked down almost to a point where it is not recognisable and the world is in a very scary way..Global warming, terrorism, wars, famine, then we have our leadership, it is hard to know who to trust and it doesn’t feel very promising.
But Jesus says don’t worry, don’t even prepare for it I will give you the words to say and it will be ok because by your endurance you will gain your soul. Jesus never promised it would be easy, he was also a big fan of not worshiping idols, but worshiping God. As people I think sometimes it can be easy to fall into the trap of thinking if we just do this or go here we will make God happy. What makes God happy is a relationship with God, us being friends and making time with God, our lives being a living sacrifice.
I was thinking this week what if every Christian saw themselves as missionaries, more so light givers. That God had put them where they were to share the Good news of God to the people they are part of. What if the time and energy we invested into buildings and projects we invested in praying and seeking from God how to speak the good news to the people right beside us.. I’m not talking about speaking the formula, let me tell you about Jesus. I’m talking about the genuine knowing who people are and what of the Good news speaks to them.. That means we need to start with what does the Good news mean to me?
Things might be scary at the moment and it might be really easy to lose hope, but there is hope. Whether it comes to you as it did me through a woman soldier on the ground fighting ISIS, not afraid because she knows she is part of something so much bigger. Or my friend who has dilligently fought to have bottle and cans recycled and plastic bags banned in our State. Let us not quit at the overwhelming darkness. Jesus told us this would come, as it has for generations before us, but let’s be the people of light who will not stop believing in the impossible and putting it into action. Shine people Shine!
Have you every had a discussion with someone around an issue where they think you are an absolute fool for thinking the way you do? The sort where they don’t engage the discussion properly, but come up with these crazy way out there theories that would never happen, in their attempt to try to minimise your beliefs. I don’t know about you but I often just laugh and don’t continue the discussion because it is clear that they have already made up their mind.. But Jesus in all his graciousness (or sarcasm?) uses the weird ideas of the Sadducees that don’t believe in the resurrection as a teachable moment and really it must have been a fairly good teachable moment because here we are reading about it some 2000 years later..
Jesus in his response basically says the whole resurrection thing, it is going to blow your mind, it is so far outside your ability to understand, that is if your even good enough to be chosen anyway. The fascinating thing for me was this concept that God is a God of the living and that to God even the dead are living.. I was thinking about how we get caught up so often as human beings in the details, the law, who is ok to marry who is not, who is really attached to who? But life is never that simple, families even can be so complicated, we create laws to try to bring order and yet it really is so amazingly simple at the same time.. It’s all about love, the easy and the hard of it, the good days and bad, the living and the dead.. Love helps us to see each other in the best light even at our very worst.
I tried to ponder for a moment how God might see us.. How God can see the connections between us, even when we are so different or so far away on the other side of the planet or even living or dead. God sees us with love but also sees the potential for love between us.. For me I wonder if when that day comes whatever it looks like, that magnificent power of love that is from God and is God, will blow ours minds so profoundly that all we thought before will seem pretty trivial. Who will she be married to? Who knows, when we get there I don’t think it will matter too much anyway.. I wonder what else we will be laughing about on that day?
To my surprise Sycamore trees can grow quite big, well really I shouldn’t be surprised because Zacchaeus had climbed up in one.. Jesus goes to the tree and looking up at Zacchaeus invites himself to his place to dinner.. I wonder what that would feel like to want to see someone so much you would just climb up a tree and then to have that person announce they wanted to come to your place to dinner..The people around him were annoyed, “why should Jesus hang out with this crook” it says in the message.. Let’s be truthful they were jealous.. They were wishing why didn’t he want to come to my place for dinner? a number of the translations have an interesting response from Zacchaeus, some make it sound like just because Jesus choose him now he would do the right thing, but others actually talk in terms that he was already doing the right thing..
It is interesting what we see when we look at people.. How easily we can be corrupted by fear and gossip.. The assumption, due to his job was that he was automatically dodgy, but this was just the label that the community put on him not necesarily the reality of who he was. To see Zacchaeus, you had to look past the forest to see the trees, or in this drawing case past the tree to see the leaves and what was hiding in it..
This weekend it is coming up to Halloween, lots of kids in our neighbourhood get dressed up in scary clothes and knock on the neighbours doors.. It is the only time in our neighbourhood when you will find lots of our neighbours out and about walking the street. I live in a very multicultural suburb, there are Christians , Muslims, Sheiks, Buddhists and I am sure many more I do not know about.. We could look at the other and be scared of what we see and feel threatened, creating enclaves that only add to the fear and mistrust, or we can take off the masks we put on people and hand out some hospitality and discover people are usually an amazing example of humanity, well at least a lot more like us than we realised!!
It is interesting what comes our of the reading when I draw it.. I thought this picture was going to be very elaborate with lots of background but when it came down to it, it was all about the two men and light.. The first man was busy shining his own light. In the reading the parable was told because Jesus had a couple of people who were very pleased with their own moral standing and looked down at common people.. The pharisee was very proud that he paid his 10% and fasted twice a week.. Realistically I’m thinking it is not really that impressive, he was required by law to pay his 10% and I fast twice a week when I am so busy at work and I forget to eat lunch!
The assumption of the other is that they intentionally have set out to do the wrong thing.. Robbers, crooks, adulterers and “that” tax collector. I assume the Pharisee had enough money that he could fast twice a week as a choice.. I wonder if this also meant he could take as many wives as he wanted.. Now maybe I am making some assumptions about him, but he was obviously making assumptions about the others.It was easier to blame the tax collector for being dodgy rather than being angry at the system that left the tax collector in a difficult predicament and made the people feel like they are taking advantage of them..people needed to make a living somehow what happens to those who don’t have the family support, or where left as orphans, how do they make a living?
As human beings I think we often make assumptions about the other.. The stranger we do not know or understand.. sometimes our culture actually encourages us to be afraid of someone or something so we won’t look at the bigger picture and see the broader injustice , or see things from a new perspective and realise the other is actually just like us. Instead it encourages us to sit back and pat ourselves on the back about how good we are. But if we were put in their situation would we really do anything any different?
The tax collector was struggling with who he was and what was going on in his life and he was truthful and honest in his conversation with God. He was realistic to know he wasn’t perfect and it gave him room to learn and grow.. At the front of his picture we see a shadow which is often what we see when we see the stranger but the light source that casts that shadow is God.
This week we look at the story of the persistant widow. It is an encouragement from Jesus not to give up.. A short 7 verse story but interesting when you get into it.. The widow in that time was incredibly vulnerable, without a husband to “look after” her, she needed to rely on family and people who had a responsiblity but not necesarily a want to care for her.. It sounds like someone had done a dodgy on her and she required the help of a judge to fix the situation. This was her judge, who didn’t really care much for justice.. I wonder why he was a judge, did he inherit the role, was it expected from him? He didn’t really care for the womans situation but her persitance paid off. Everyday knocking on his door until he eventually gave up..
I was thinking about that door, the one that stops us hearing the story of injustice. I was thinking about how sometimes we can get compassion fatigue, overwhelmed by all the sufferring going on and feeling powerless to do anything about it.. For me sometimes there is also an issue of who can we trust, what information is actually acurate, can we trust what the media says to us.. You know there is always two sides to the story.. I wonder whether God has a moment of that. Before you all jump down my throat that God is all knowing, I was pondering how much there is to know I feel for God as we beg God from both sides that our football teams win.. Or that we do or don’t get the politician we want.. The judge is given a bad wrap but I don’t think that making justice happen is always easy and to try and make sense of it takes alot of work.
The one thing I noticed is that the judge did hear.. He didn’t want to hear or want to deal with it, but he did hear. If this judge hears and acts how much more will God.. Because God hears and God cares, God does not merely have a responsibilty to care but actually cares.. There is a great difference between the two. It is so fantastic for me to be loved in this way, but I know that to have this blessing is to want to share this blessing.
At times like this I often pray for the wisdom of Solomon, God help me to know what is true and what is not, help me to act justly and fairly, open my eyes to the widows plight. Guide my path in your ways.
It is interesting reflecting on the 10 lepers this week. I noticed for the first time we do not know whether they were women or men young or old or how long they had been lepers for.. I am assuming they are part of the religious community because they were comfortable to go to the temple to get the OK that they were able to return to the community..(Having a skin disease which leprosy is part of meant you were ex communicated from the community to stop the spread to others, people were placed outside the city and had to let people know they were unclean as they approached. To be permitted back into the community you needed the OK of the priests that you were healed.) We hear that only one returned to say thankyou, the odd one the one who didn’t worship like everyone else. To see God to experience God’s hand does not happen for him only at the temple so he could see God working through Jesus.
I wonder about the other 9 we often look at them with disdain, how ungrateful they were.. I wonder if they were ungrateful or if they were giving thanks the only way they knew how, to go to the temple as Jesus had told them to. That is the only place that they could worship God and give thanks. I wonder too what it would be like to have to give up your family and loved ones due to illness, to intentionally stay away from them out of love and how costly that is.. I wonder if that was what they were focused on as they raced towards the temple.. Did they even notice they were healed..
It got me thinking about where I and others connect with God. I was thinking about how focused we get on what is going on that sometimes we don’t even notice when things have changed, or we get caught up in the hope of what might be that we don’t notice when it has already happened.. In all of this I think God is gracious, God knows us and sees what is going on.. I feel God laughing “will you please take a look at your hand it’s all sorted”!
May this week, you find the healing and hope you require and find your ways to be grateful for what you do notice!