Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Keys, knots and where is that special brick? Matt 16:13-20 Pentecost 12

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Matthew 16: 13-20

Have you ever noticed that there are keys in the Bible? This must of meant people could lock things up, doors, boxes, things that held special and sacred things.  Or they were also there to protect people.. Keys and locks always seem to be about keeping people out and special things in for those who are special enough to be allowed near it.

Our reading today is a conversation between Jesus and Peter, the topic – who do people say that Jesus is? Peter runs through the various theories that people are offerring, then Jesus says who do you think I am ? Peter who has been hanging out with him for a while says that he is the Messiah, Jesus says you are on the money and it is God who has shown you this. Then we get to the bit about the keys, Jesus hands over the keys to the Kingdom. Jesus trusts Peter the cornerstone with the way into Jesus and God’s sacred things. It is no longer about being kept out or away but opens the door for the Fisherman to come in..

Wow Peter is in…

Not only does Peter get handed over the keys but Jesus says that anything he binds on earth will be bound in heaven and anything he loosens on earth with be loosened in heaven. I wonder how often as Christians do we realise that we have the power to effect what happens in heaven.. Our attitudes and actions could be having an impact in the perception of the world from Heaven.. I don’t know about you but this is scary stuff, what a huge responsibility!

But hang on why would Jesus say that??  I do wonder if Jesus knew that over time the world would change and humanity would learn much about ourselves.. I wonder if this was Jesus acknowledging that what was said then needs to be considered in the context of now..

But wait there is more.. Peter is the cornerstone of the Church. In building a building the cornerstone is important. It sets which direction, how to line the house up. It is key.. But when was the last time you noticed the cornerstone of a building? When you see the building complete it fades into the great wall, a brick like any other. For one that was so important, it gets put together with many others and 2000 years later that cornerstone has created a church that impacts on millions.  Yet isn’t that the big picture of God? We belong to a greater calling, we seek a greater vision. How do we know what that is to look like? Let’s look to our cornerstones, Jesus, Peter, Paul all of them thier lives so transformed by love they would risk everything to be able to cut those keys and share them around.. Even to the point of death. The Kingdom of God no longer about keeping people out but about helping people get in.

As Christians how are we holding those keys? Do we use the power we have to control and keep out or are we using them to let people in.. We have those keys because God thought we would make good key cutters, not so we could hold onto it like a precious item never to leave the chain around our necks. What we have in the Kingdom of God is an incredibly precious treasure, unlike other treasures the more we share it the more we have.

May this week find you being generous and wise, as you carry the keys you have been given .May the responsibilty of the power God has given us, make us slow to judge and help us to continually line ourselves up with those cornerstones that set our direction. May you get a glimpse of the bigger picture we are part of!

Blessing people glad you are part of my wall!

 

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Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Shattering stereotypes. Did Jesus change his mind? Pentecost 11, Matthew 15:21-28

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Matthew 15:21 – 28

A couple of weeks back I shared my new understanding of original sin. That in fact every child is born into a culture and that no culture is perfect is an important reflection in the reading this week. It would seem that in the story Jesus changes his mind.

Whether we like to admit it or not he was a product of his culture.. The view he had fitted nicely into the box that he knew. The Cannanite woman shatters this. The view of God that meant the outsiders could see God but never really be close to God, cracks open and the love of God oozes through to all.

This woman was a desperate outsider, surrounded with suffering, sadness, pain and chaos.. When our children are hurting it is very hard not to hurt too and we want to do everything we can to make things better. And she had tried everything. and then she realised that Jesus had something that she had not known or experienced in anyone else. To my amazement in the midst of this terrible suffering this woman wore hope, she would not give up.

She reminded Jesus that even the puppies get to eat the scraps from the table.

We have two dogs. One only a year old and one much older. They are both very cheeky, they are quick and take any opportunity they are given to get what they need. I have a fussy eater in my family, so often there are scraps from our table.. It again raises the issue for me that sometimes those who are most blessed by God actually don’t appreciate what they have and take it for granted..

I wonder who the puppies and the children are in our time? and in our places? I wonder who has too much food to appreciate and who is so desperate, they will try anything to get it?  I wonder who I would like to feed from the table, hidden from the other important people but just as in need of food?

I wonder again about the cultural things we hold onto that actually blind us to the way of God that we think is God’s? If Jesus changed his mind I wonder if we can too? I wonder what boxes I have that need a few cracks in them??

I pray this week if you are hungry you are fed , if you are super blessed with too much you find a way to sneak stuff to those under the table who need it and if Jesus shatters your box you can be gracious enough  to change and not use the broken glass to harm but allow God to ooze through. Surely if Jesus did maybe we all could too.

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Here comes another one. Thump. Matthew 14:22-33, Pentecost 10

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Matthew 14:22-33

I wonder if people who work on boats for a living, get sea sick in a storm? I have been in rough water a couple of times in our boat. It is tough sitting in the front, you go up and down with a thud. On your way up you can’t see what is in front, just lots of water. This was the image I was imagining as I read the text. The rough water, going up and down, the wind howling and  occasionally getting a glimpse of a person standing in the middle of the water.

The first time, you would definitely think I must be imagining things, Thump..

The next time you look closer, surely not. Thump…

It must be a ghost.. Thump

Nope not a ghost definitely a person,  what are they standing on? Thump..

Are we in trouble heading for rocks? Thump

What? that is Jesus in the middle of this storm? Thump…

The next question for me is what in the world was Peter thinking when he got out of the boat? Thump..

The storm, the rough water, had not died down.. Did he think he was dreaming? Thump…

This story seems to be life transforming for the disciples in the boat, they had a new perspective on Jesus after seeing him walking on water. Jesus response seems much more, of course what else would I be doing?

Thump..

It reminds me of the storms of life that we are often faced with.. Things are never a one wave and it is over, but seem to be a series of thumping waves that just keep coming. In the boat it is fun for the first 5 minutes but very quickly I get cold, wet and have a sore back..  Then the Thumps just get harder and harder..

Yet it is here that Jesus walks to meet us. At first we get glimpses of something unusual out in the distance, something that catches our attention. There is a bizarre calm about Jesus, a kindness, a willingness to let us, like a child, be like him.

Some days in amongst the storm the power of God’s presence means we feel like we can walk on water, we can overcome all things, we are brave and courageous.

Then it gets even colder and more windy  Thump… and no matter how much we try to set our eyes on Jesus we begin to sink. Thump…

Does Jesus disappear into the continual on-coming waves? disappearing like a ghost, punishing us for our lack of faith? Nope. He jumps into our boat, calms the storm and remains with us till the night passes.

I love the raw honesty of this story.. The weariness from the storm and travelling all night. The sense of delusion that comes with seeing something in a way it does not fit.  This is faith .. The bizarre knowledge that we are not alone, that there is something profoundly deep and calm in the middle of our storms. That our God jumps in the boat with us and remains with us to see the journey through..

My prayers for you and yours, who may be being hammered by the constant thumping of the waves, in it all may you notice out of the corner of your eye, the One who journeys to meet you and stays with you, till your journey is done..  Blessings K

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Fishes and loaves! Untapped potential, Pentecost 9 Matthew 14:13-21

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Matthew 14:13-21

A couple of weeks back I was asked to provide food for an event. We had 5 people registered the day before, I had a feeling we might get a few people turn up that had not registered and it was for a light dinner.. I took a stab at overcatering to cover 15 and was willing to wear the consequences. We stopped off on the way to the event and picked up the BBQ chickens and I bought one more just in case.. When I got there we had 21 people at the event. To my surprise (seriously!) we had enough food for everyone, nobody went hungry and they had their fill, there was even a little left over. It really was my fishes and loaves experience!

I know that my experience was nothing like what happened with the disciples and Jesus , they fed 5000. I truly have no idea how that happened and there are many theories on that, but I want to think for a moment about those fishes and loaves in the disciples hands, about how each of them had the potential to bring about so much more. Each fish 100’s more, as with the loaves, placed in trusting hands, blessed by God, given away..

I wonder what we have in our hot little hand that we might be hanging onto that Jesus is asking us to hand out. There wasn’t even enough to feed the 12 disciples, and yet they started.. What fish do we look at and think how ridiculous and futile is that, there is no way, 2 fish and 5 loaves are going to even dent the sides of these starving hoards. I wonder, both as a church and individually what these things might be, that we stop from even starting because we don’t believe it can really make a difference.

I think for me this lectionary doodles is a bit like this.. I just doodle what I see when I sit with the text.. Sometimes the drawing feels incredibly lame and my reflections like a luke warm cup of tea. I wonder whether it is useful to anyone and then God sends someone along to remind me that it is not all about me. That I just need to put my fish and loaves in the mix, pray it will be a blessing and give it away. Those leaps of faith are not always easy, some can seem so trivial but when you’re giving up your dinner for the night for the sake of everyone it can make sense to want to totally hang onto it. What about me and my family? What if I put it out there and it is just left in a smelly pile the next day rotting in the sun? It’s funny to say the most extreme isn’t it, cause we know that if nobody needed it the disciples would have just picked it up and eaten it themselves, we all know that nothing is ever wasted when we give it over generously to God.

Jesus didn’t ask them to do the equations, or source the supplier, he just asked them to use what they had to make a difference and somehow it works. So I pray this week that you will be brave and courageous to hand over those fishes and loaves with amazing potential and see what God will do.. What is the worst that can happen? You’ve got dinner already sorted for tonight! Nothing is every wasted with God. What’s your fishes and loaves?

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Weeds and wheat, let them grow! Matthew 13:24 – 29,36-42, Pentecost 7.

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Matthew 13:24 – 29, 36-42

I spent a couple of weeks reflecting on this passage. I have heard many interpretations over time,some say you couldn’t actually tell the weeds and wheat apart at first until it was too established, maybe, maybe not.

The thing that shocks and surprises me is, who would go and save the seeds from weeds so that they can sow it in another’s field.. Surely people would not really do that. Tragically, like most things in humanity that I struggle to  beleive a human is capable of, they are..  I wish it wasn’t true, but it is.. I don’t understand how or why, (mind you when my pup wees on the floor in the middle of the night and I walk in it I kind off can!!). A friend once told me it is a good thing I don’t understand. The truth is, we all have days when we make a mess of things and it often has  bad consequences for others, and even those we love.

Often when I have heard this story before, people highlight the getting bundled up and thrown into the fire bit, this time I noticed the life time of opportunity.. A chance to have things different.. This is the God we worship, the one that says don’t you mess with the good work that is being done, those weeds, they may take a bit but do not weaken the goods opportunity to bear fruit..

I wonder too whether there may be just a little bit of lets give those weeds a chance to turn things around, a whole lifetime no less, but know that in the end justice will come. For those who have been harmed and damaged by the weeds in our world there does need to come a point for justice, a hope that their suffering has been seen and noted and understood. I don’t want to see anything thrown into the fire and hope for everyone to produce much great fruit but I also longingly pray that justice will be done.

So this week I hope that if there are weeds in your field that the are not taking too much, stay strong in the value of the fruit you are producing and pray that people take the chances given before justice must come.. Grow well friends!

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Seeds sown.. Matthew 13

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Matthew 13

Hi all! I am back at it again.. This week was the parable of the sower. If you are anything like me you have heard this story often and sometimes I think the fact we are given an explanation of this text means that we can easily sit back and categorise ourselves, ticking the boxes and feeling like we are done for the week.

It has proven to be a great discipline again to draw the text.. So what did I notice this week? I started with reflecting on the rocks..  I was thinking about how hard rocky soil is.  My front garden is quite a rocky bed, it was designed to keep the weeds out but has meant that it is really hard to establish any new plants in it. I almost have to get a pick ax to it smashing away to get to the good soil underneath. This got me to thinking about my life. Where is it in my life that is an absolute no go zone for God. What practices and habits do I have, assumptions that I am so tightly wedded to that no see however strong it is can penetrate, and even if it did it would last long. As I ponder this question, I am moved to ask do I want that rocky soil cracked open anyway or am I happy with it providing the barrier  to areas I am not willing to face.

When reflecting on the seeds on the path, I was reminded of an article I read about original sin.  Now I am not a big fan of babies being born in sin, they are not even aware to make choices. The author (sorry I don’t remember who you are) suggested that we are all born into sin, we are born into a specific culture and world view, all of these are human constraints and none of them are perfect.  Now before you say hang on Karen we are a Christian household and live perfectly according to the Christian understanding of the world and it is from God. If this had no taint from humanity we would all be in total agreement about how to do this and there would be no need for denominations. But that is not the reality. All of us are part of a culture that teaches us the world is a certain way and none of them bring life in abundance fully to everyone. There are some parts of us that we don’t even notice when the seeds are bouncing to the side and being eaten by birds. I think it s great to hear from other cultures about faith because they can show us those areas we cannot see.

So then we get to the weeds..  In a ponderous state as I was, I began thinking about the things that threaten my ability to let the seeds of God grow to full fruition in my life. What are the weeds that steal the things I need to really make my faith blossom. I am amazed how often following this trail I get to a place of fear. What will people think? What if I pray and people aren’t healed? What if I say something about faith and it threatens my friendship. I can’t afford to be generous as I need to be able to support myself and my family.  It would be nice if faith was simple, if I just do this and it will all be good. But it is complex,  the reason the weeds are there and they stay is because sometimes it can be hard to tell the difference between the weeds and the plants. Fear has power because sometimes it is true, sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard we pray people still die, sometimes if we are generous with our last penny we can have to go with out. But sometimes people are healed and sometimes when you think you are not going to make it something unexpected and generous comes back to us.

Which brought me to the reflection on the good soil. It was interesting as I drew this image, the flower with the seeds actually overcame the weeds. They were still there, looming but the joy of being whole and present actually shows the true place of those fears which can stop us. When we have what we need and we stretch our roots deep and our leaves high towards the sun we can blossom. Note I said need here, not want. I have found myself recently being grateful, grateful in the morning on waking, grateful as I go to sleep. It took a while for this habit to kick in, at first it was hard to silence the weeds and notice the good, but it has worked, now it is no longer a discipline but a beautiful habit of naming the things that have impacted my day.

You may have noticed the footprints across the bottom of the drawing this week. It was a reminder that no matter where in the field the seeds of God have landed the footprint of God is present. May you notice the footprint of God with you this week.

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Pentecost, Uncategorized

The fire of God, present within us. Pentecost

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John 20:19-31

I have done a lectionary doodle closer to the reading here  if you want to take a look. This year I decided to reflect on what happened as a consequence of the coming of the Holy Spirit.

I was pondering how the disciples hidden and afraid defeated from Jesus death, not knowing how to move forward, were miraculously transformed from the encounter with the Holy Spirit.  They were no longer ruled by fear and instead were so confident in the faith they would not stop proclaiming the Good News that Jesus delivered to the world that for most of them, it cost them their lives.

I don’t know what the church is like where you are, but a lot around me are seeing the church aging and the lack of young people coming or staying in the church and they are very afraid. What will  the future become? What about this church? What are we to do? This weekend we celebrate Pentecost, one of my favourite seasons, swarming with red and orange and flames. The symbol of the spirit that of fire from the acts reading.  The promise that God chooses to remain with us even today!

We have pretty bad fires here in Australia they are really powerful. They destroy homes, lives and property and move so quickly that you cannot out run them. I discovered recently that Churches are particularly bad in a fire they burn very hot and very quickly because of the big open spaces in them. Last week I talked about the Spirit as companion but this week I want to reflect on the Spirit as fire. You cannot control it, it changes the landscape in a moment. This companion who journeys with us  is not one we can control but holds within the fast paced powerful creativity of God that transforms.

I wonder what would happen in the people hidden in their churches afraid if this weekend they were blessed with the reminder of the Spirit that was within them, one that blows thier thinking in a whole new way, one that gives them the courage to speak where for so long they have been silent. What have we got to lose people? The land is barren and dry the seeds cannot sprout until the heat and the flames pass over it. That breathe that fire is still with us today. The disciples lives were so transformed they were never the same again, no longer hidden in fear, but courageous in action and word. I wonder what would happen if we stopped holding the spirit so tightly as our companion who journeys with us alone and let ourselves be open to the courageous acts of love service and word that maybe we have been too afraid to do. My prayer is that small hidden frightened band would transform my city, which would spread the fire of love across the planet. Wouldn’t that be amazing!

May this week as we sing and celebrate how brilliant it is to have God’s presence with us  may we have the courage to let it go a little and see what God can do even within us!

Blessings people!

Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

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

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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 Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

In my Father’s House there are many rooms. John 14:1-14, Easter 5

inmy fathers house there are many rooms

John 14:1-14

I don’t know about you but often when I have heard this reading in the past I have thought of God having a massive hotel and all the rooms were exactly the same you checked in and there you had it. This time when I read the reading I wondered what would an ideal room to God look like? I got to thinking  how my idea of a room and everyone elses idea of a room would be different.  Which of course changed the whole design of God’s house, because I don’t think God is limited to only my experience.  The more I played with this idea, the crazier it got, Asian architecture, African, Indian, Pacific islands.

Then I got to thinking why does it matter to us or to the reader about where God has room for us? For me it is about belonging, Jesus and God are making room for us, they are helping us, making their home our home, for the rest of eternity. I was thinking about how different each of our concepts of home would be, from what we eat, to the habits we have. God has space for us and our world in God’s world, I am guessing because I love the diversity of what the human race is, God would love it even more so, not something to be wiped clean so you have a clinical hotel room but a rich and beautiful homely place that we belong.

As if that is not enough Jesus says you don’t even have to worry about how you are going to get there, Jesus will meet us and show us the way so we don’t get lost. The entrance would be easy with ramps and lifts because everyone is welcome. It’s just about trusting Jesus.

It can be really scary going to  a new place, might be fun for a visit but if we pick up everything and move there, there comes a time where you just need your Vegemite! Jesus tells us not to worry, God knows our needs and is with us all the way. This trip is really worth investing in!

As you colour today you might like to draw your idea of home in the gap at the front.  I would love to see it!

Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Abundant life, Easter 4, John 10:1-10

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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!