Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr B, Uncategorized

Missing the landmines of sin. 1 John 1 – 2.5 Easter 2B

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1 John 1:1 – 2.5

This might be a bit late but it has been an interesting reflection.. The section of the passage that has stood out to me was…  If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he who is faithful and just will forgive us our sins and cleanse us from all unrighteousness. 10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

Most of the time I have pretty good days. I think I work hard to be a person of compassion and honour and try to live a life worthy of reflecting this.. I may have been having one of these rather proud moments when this reading came up for me to reflect on.. In that same week I found myself twice in so many days being very tempted to gossip and bitch about a particular situation. Let me tell you it took all my strength to not get caught up in it and if I’m truthful words may have come from my mouth which were not uplifting.

In that same week, I heard of someone doing something totally inappropriate and it was as clear as day that they were threatened and acting out of that fear..

None of us can say we are free from sin and if we do we make Jesus a liar and his word is not in us.  The truth is all of us are broken people and as broken people our minds are set to go off like land mines or TNT, triggered by the trauma of the past.. Even good people, even people who love God, because no matter how much we seek to try to heal and let go of things and hand them over to God this is an eternal battle..

One of my favourite books and movies is called the Shack. If you haven’t come in contact with it  yet, it is very powerful. In the shack the key character is asked to forgive someone who has done something horrible to him.. Most human beings would say it is impossible but God meets the character where he is at and teaches him that it is a daily journey to forgive. A daily wrestling to let go of those who have harmed us..

It is a big ask of God that we must forgive and if that is not enough, to forgive seventy times seven, but seeing it in this movie I get it. It is a daily working to hand over to God those things, those hurts that cause us to react and hurt others.

I do not believe it is possible on our own, and even with God’s help it is hard, but if we can take that journey of handing over sin, both that which has been done to us and that which we do to others whether intentionally or unintentially, Jesus is able to bring something new. Our greed becomes generosity, our gossip ,prayer, our revenge, reconciliation, our desire to climb over others for power ,transforms to a bending over to help those who have fallen. That which is harmful is washed away and transformed into a new life, new growth, new hope.

For that healing to happen begins with a real acknowledgement of how our actions are harming others, if you can’t see it maybe it is time to sit and have a long chat with the Boss. It is a valuable conversation.

Have a great week sinner!

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Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr B, Uncategorized

Easter Sunday – He is risen! Mark 16:1-8

Scan_20180325Mark 16:1-8

I was asked to do a lectionary doodle for Easter Sunday.  On reflection I wanted to be able to hold in tension the various understandings of what happened on Resurrection Sunday. It might be news to you that not everyone understands the resurrection of Jesus in the same way..

For some it is about Jesus being the substitutional sacrifice for us and our sin, you can see this on the right with the altar and the cage. This understanding believes that our sin has separated us from God and there requires a sacrifice for us to be connected with God again. Jesus makes this sacrifice so that there no longer be a need for sacrifice ever again.

For some it is that the gates of hell have been broken down. I read a beautiful reflection on Judas playing the role that God required, knowing that Jesus would be able to break down the barriers of hell that keeps us away from God and that Jesus actually went to retrieve him from hell.

For some it is that death has been overcome and that this life is not the end but the beginning of a journey with God that would last for all eternity. Thus the empty grave.

For some it is about having direct connection into heaven and that the gates were now open for all not just the special ones. Those streets paved with gold were now available for all, Jesus has the key.

For some this is the ultimate act of God reaching out to humanity. Helping us see, feel and know God’s love in a way that has never been known before. God touching into our lives and us knowing we are seen in love.

For some it is that the bondage of sin have been broken and that the concept of grace, breaks any restraint..  That humanity could do such horrible acts to the innocent in the name of power, greed and fear yet God’s response to this, is that this is not the end of the story.

For some that evil has been part of creation since the beginning of time and Jesus, the second Adam, stood against evil and conquered it, putting it to death.

For some through Jesus there is new life. It is through death in a wide variety of ways, to ourselves, to our sin, to those things that would seek to corrupt us, that the seed is cracked open and we bloom into the rich and full life that God imagined for us.

For some the resurrection is about the restoration of the whole earth.. A new vision of who we can all be together, for how we can be together in this beautiful created world.

Hope. Freedom, Peace.

I wanted to show some of the ways the Church understands what happened to Jesus because I think that all of them offer us an insight into the amazing moment that is contained on this day.. I don’t think anyone can speak with authority as to what was going down except God, but I do think that on that day God was trying to send us a message loud and clear..

Like the women in the garden it is ok if at first you don’t get it or believe it, it is ok if you are too scared to speak the truth, God is present with us even in those moments of deep doubt and fear. But God does not leave us there. God remains with us in love until we are ready to share what we have seen and know with others.

We don’t have to all agree with what happened on that day or what it meant, whatever we understand of it, God took care it. God did not stay with God’s back facing us but returned, in a way so profound and mindblowingly, amazing that it is difficult to believe. But somehow in that special moment the world, life and time was changed forever. Now God was / is and always will be here.

Happy Easter people, you are free, a new creation, loved, renewed, held and welcomed!

Thanks be to God!!!

 

Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Advocate, helper, friend, comforter. Mary Poppins, Tonto, Dr Who’s companions. Easter 6 John 14:15-21

holy Spirit

John 14:15-21

This weeks reading is about the Holy Spirit, it was interesting that across the translations there were 4 different words used to try and explain what the Gospel writer was trying to say.. Comforter, advocate, friend and helper, I think I have read the word companion as well, each of these words give us a different understanding of the relationship and the purpose of the Holy Spirit.

This got me to thinking about what would be some of the more current equivalent to these roles. The truth is this week I really wanted to draw Mary Poppins, Tonto and the companions of Doctor Who . (I am a whimp, I thought some of you might find it a little disrespectful, not my intention mind you! ). Two characters that are quite well known who were companions and a few more that I am willing to help you out with.

I was pondering what do these characters tell us about the human desire to have partners, helpers in our lives? The first thing that it tells me is that there is still a longing in humanity to have someone come alongside us and stick with us through the thick and thin.

Let’s start with Mary Poppins, oh how I would love someone who could come in and clean up my messes with the blink of an eye! or to have a travel bag light enough to carry but able to fit just about anything in. The truth is she was a companion who was tough but also kind in a time when things felt really out of control. Someone who walked alongside those children reminding they were loved and how wide and rich the wonders of the world are, even amongst the chaos.

I am a mad Johnny Depp fan so I will be talking about his version of Tonto (sorry for you older readers). Early in the movie the Lone Ranger is so busy being right that he doesn’t take time to listen and figure out what is really going on, later Tonto finds the Lone Ranger almost dead and does all he can to bring him back to life, he is his conscience and the vioce of wisdom (or craziness) in his ear that talks through the options. He always has his back in a fight.

In Dr Who the companions are the ones who inspire his adventures and help him see things as though for the first time, they are his conscience and keep him on track when ocassionally he would prefer to walk away or rage to a point of utter distruction.

As I ponder these companions, helpers, friends, compassionate ones I gain a whole new insight into how the Holy Spirit has played a massive role in my life, the compassionate one who sticks with me through the chaos, is kind but tough, who pulls out a bag of tricks that is both surprising and sometimes seems impossible. I feel like the  Spirit always has my back, offers wisdom and insight. The Spirit mocks me as I sit in my own importance of being right and waits till I am willing to hear the whole story , (I think too there are days it feels like the Spirit sends me on wild goose chases!) It is the Spirit who has led me on amazing adventures I would not have embarked on without her leading and she shows me things in a new light as though for the first time. The Spirit is my conscious and holds me to account when I want to walk away or rage to the point of distruction.

This pondering on companions got me thinking about the importance of physical companions and what it is they show us about ourselves and life. We trust them with so much, the Spirit often uses them to be the physical presence of God we need. I pray you may have great ones around you as well!

Blessings beautiful people!

modern holy spirit

Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Abundant life, Easter 4, John 10:1-10

good shepherd

John 10:1-10

Sorry I haven’t been online for a while, I had realised that the task had become more of a chore for others, rather than my way of connecting with God and the text in a deeper way.  It seems a break has helped! I hope you had a blessed Easter.

The reading this week is one I have heard a few times before. The story of Jesus the Good shepherd. I have heard from a couple of sources that the Shepherds of the time used to sleep accross the gate, to keep the animals in and to keep the predators out.  The reading highlights that Jesus is the gate to abundant life, there wil be others that will try and sneak in but they are thieves and robbers.

I was thinking about the things that seek to get our attention and rob us of the abundant life that God has visioned for us. Sometimes these things lead us to death, like the sheep who would have been stolen away by theives. Some of those things for me are wanting to achieve impressive things, being more concerned about the impression people get rather than building  solid relationships that are real and honest, being woried about the future and the changes that will happen in my world, whether they be economical and the need to have enough for when we finally retire which stops me from being generous now, or environmental and what will happen to our planet, the drive to keep everyone happy, the desire to provide my kids with the best opportunities. I haven’t even started on the being a good wife, daughter, sister, minister! As I reflect on these things the thing that motivates alot of them is to have an abundant and fulfilling life, yet all of them distract me from being at peace and living. I think this is the irony of this reading those things that rob us in life are the things that give false promises that they provide the key to an abundant life, but it is really Jesus who does.

It is the times when I have asked God what to do in a situation that I have taken time to hear wisdom, when I pray about the situation with my kids I don’t quite so easily get driven by the fears of not being a good parent (some days I still do!), when I start my work remembering it is actually Gods work I don’t feel quite so much the need to prove myself and I can be humble enough to make mistakes and learn, when I remember my call is to love my neighbour I care less about how my lawn looks and more about how I connect with the people around me, when I remember this is God’s world I take time to remember I am called to be a good steward with what I have and I take the time to switch off lights and devices and remember my shopping bags.

Jesus does give us the key to abundant life, God’s vision of life calls us to something much more richer and beautiful for all of life it is a pleasant change from the manic drive which can so easily consume us!

I realise I am a white middle class woman and these are my struggles, the line “first world problems” comes quickly to mind , tragically these first world problems stop me from remembering the plights of my brothers and sisters all around the world, if anything they create mind numbing guilt. I need to be honest about them so I can be part of the world that makes things better for everyone. I would love it if you were willing to share how Jesus moves you from the things that rob you to abundant life in the comments section!

Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Provocative comedy? Speaking out against injustice. Palm Sunday. Matthew 21:1-11

Palm sunday

Matthew 21:1-11

This is the second time now I have reflected on Palm Sunday. You would have seen the image on my welcome page.

So what did I notice this time? The story this week tells of how Jesus is coming from the Mount of Olives, the place to which Jesus would return and where things would not go so well for him. The question that arose for me was, does it matter where he came from? He was engaged in the city but did not actually stay in the city but trotted (literally) in and out of it making very public political statements. The first a critique of the Empire and the nature of how they use power and the second was the turning of the tables at the Temple.. The two key residents Jesus was intentionally antagonizing. It isn’t really surprising that they got to a point of wanting to take him out.

The second point that came to my attention was that there was a massive crowd who came in waving palms and laying cloaks but it actually created chaos in the city and people were wondering who this person was. I think when I have heard this story before I just thought everyone was on board, but here the text  is clear Jesus had his own crowd that were excited about his arrival. In this light it makes a bit more sense how the crowd turned to have him crucified. Maybe they were never with him and if all he did was come into the city and criticise and mock, almost goading a reaction from the leaders at the time, I wonder how the every day citizen of the city would feel as they tried to make out an existence in the dynamics that was their lives.

This week I am doing some training on leadership and political advocacy. It has raised for me some questions about how we critique those things that we think are contrary to God’s way and God’s will. Is Jesus model of trot into the city drop a couple of controversial public statements and leave, waiting on the outskirts for them to come and get him. I wonder if Jesus had considered other ways? I wonder if the lengthy discussions with the Pharisees and Sadducees along the way was a way of trying to speak into their world and situation. I wonder if the conversation as to who’s head was on the coin was a gentle attempt to educate? Sometimes people don’t want to listen or hear, even when we talk with them directly no matter the language we use or the examples we explore with them. Sometimes people can justify anything, or it just makes sense to them because that is how it has always been. I wonder if they got it when he went to the extremes? I wonder if Jesus frustration of hearing the suffering of the people had got to a point that it required some light relief. His frustration at the temple and the leadership there left him with no other way left? Maybe, maybe not..

What do I take away from this? The example of Jesus to speak out against the things around him that were causing harm to others, that were separating them from each other and from God. Honestly I struggle often to speak out against most things. The problem I have is that I can see things from both sides, and to the people involved it makes sense. But does it make it ok to harm others or stop others from connecting with God purely because of who their family is, their background, or where they come from? Is this God’s way? Jesus life would suggest otherwise, he even had to fight against his own cultural conditioning to remember this.  Sometimes the consequences of these actions are not good, and the truth be known I too am scared. But slowly I am working on my courage to remain true to myself and what I hear Jesus calling us to as a church and to speak out against injustice. Today we talked about fighting for justice is what love looks like in the Public arena, love cannot remain only contained in caring for the individual without dealing with what is causing thier suffering. So I begin with conversations, kind and gentle chats, going to vigorous discussions, maybe we will even make light about those things that get in between us or try to control us, I wonder if I too will need to turn over tables, I hope we can grow together long before then!!

May wisdom be your guide and the Spirit’s courage your companion.