Posted in Easter, Lectionary Yr B, Uncategorized

Love the Parent love the Child,1 John 5:1-9

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1 John 5:1-9

I have been blessed with an incredible group of friends, varying in ages and situations. I love my friends, some of these friends came with children some had them along the way. In this collection of children we have been blessed with a rich diversity of personality, character and on occasions issues. I have grown to love these children in such a profound way because I love their parents and through thier love I delight in the magnificence of who these children are. Some children are easy to love, some it has been a journey as I have learnt about disability seen and unseen  and how that affects children. I have been blessed to find great treasure in every one of them.

This reading also made me think of God as our mother, the one who loves us where she finds us, carries us on her back, holds us to her chest, holds our hand, lets us hide behind our skirt and sometimes just lets us stand alongside for a while. The love that God has for each of us is such a rare and profound treasure.

“Everyone who believes in Jesus has been born of God and everyone who loves the Parent loves the child.” This reading follows on from a long stretch of John speaking on love. As part of that we are told that if you love God you love God’s children as well. This is not always easy, loving God is like loving our cool friends, sometimes it takes a bit of work and understanding to love the children as well.  Yet this is what John encourages us to do, no more than this John sees it as essential. I think of a number of the churches I visit who are conflict and I wonder what would happen if people took the time to love the child like the mother  God loves the child.  We really have no excuse, when we are so blessed to be unconditionally embraced by God as we are needed maybe we need to change the way our sibling relationship work..

Who is a child of God that you would like or maybe need to know more about?

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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!

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 Lectionary Yr B, Lent reflections

Unless we let it fall to the ground, it will not grow. Lent 5, John 12:20 – 33

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John 12:20 – 33

I have been pondering this reading all week, it is funny the things you remember from the text.. The key theme for me has been the exploration of the seed falling to the ground and dying so that new life can be created from it.. I was reminded of my lemon tree at home, overhung with fruit, with much of it landing on the ground and no use to anything but the worms.. rotting and dying, mouldy.. But that rot and death is actually what feeds the seeds for new life to grow, or feeds the tree that drops the fruit. Ideally I would love to have used every lemon. I made gelato, lemon cordial, lemon butter and jams. But they just kept coming! Many of them hand not grown properly due to the heat and dry spell we had over the summer. As more and more fruit came, more was left on the ground to feed the life around it.

What I think is useful and the “best” things for my lemon and the vision of God’s creativity are two different thing.. Those rotting fruit did feed the ants, butterflies, caterpillars and worms. They put nutrients back into the soil and added to the eco system. My useless was actual very useful to the world beyond me.. But even more those fruits, when left to rot on the ground provide the opportunity for new life to grow, a new tree that can produce hundreds of more fruit.

Again we find ourselves in the season of Lent so how does this relate to how we think about our own life? I was wondering about the things we need to let go of.. The things we have a certain plan for and expectation around what would be useful, or tasty or right or correct. How often do we keep trying to make the most of these even when we have reached a point where we have exhausted that vision, those lemon cordial bottles, the jam jars. How do we know when we have reached a point where we have to just let it go? Leave things to sit, maybe even to rot a little to see what is the next way that God uses that beautiful fruit. Is this going to feed a butterfly? Is this going to help a whole ants nest?  or maybe even still left longer, does this piece of rotting fruit  sprout into a new life a new plant?

How ever it happens, there are somethings we just have to let go of. They were never ours to hold.. Like Jesus says this can be scary.. it can be hard and it can be heart breaking there is grief in letting go.. There is grief in not being able to use every piece of fruit. But it is not my fruit, it is a blessing from God of which I was given, it may have come from my branches, it might have sprouted under my effort and care, but I cannot make a fruit come to fruition. I am merely part of the journey..

Jesus uses the wheat as an example, it gets one shot, has only one head of wheat. Each seed has the chance to grow another, will it feed the birds? Will it make a loaf of bread or a cake? None of that can happen if we do not let it go to die.

I wonder what it is that I am holding onto tightly that I might need to let go? Why won’t I let it go? Do I not trust what God is going to do with it? Do I think that if it doesn’t look the way I think it should it is not as good..

When Jesus talks about the seeds it is actually about our whole lives. Do we try to control our lives and have a way that we think it is going to turn out? Do we have it sorted? or are we willing to let it go, follow the leading of God in the general direction we are heading and let God sort it?

There are so many areas I can think of where I think other people need to let it go and let it die.. The harder challenge is to sit honestly with my own life.  Yet my experience of the journey with God is that God has it sorted, probably not the lemon cordial I was thinking of, but boy those ants are grateful!

Posted in Lectionary Yr B, Lent reflections

Can you hold my broken pieces gently? Lent 1, 1 Peter 3:19-22

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1 Peter 3:13-22

This reading for me cut a little close to home, it has taken me 3 days to get to a point where I am willing to put it up on the screen.

Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good.. When I was young, in my naive happy place, I would have believed this whole heartedly. Tragically some decades later, after a series of major soul-destroying conflicts, I find it much more difficult to say amen to this statement.. The second line of this reading I hold to like a spiderweb is the spiders’ lifeline – But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. I wish I was able to easily hold onto this, deeply in my soul, so that it fed me and kept me strong in those difficult times. But the truth is in the middle of suffering for doing good, I do not feel blessed. I feel alone, weak, scared and vulnerable. Yet in some weird way, I am driven to speak the truth, over and over again, despite the pain I experience in doing so.

It is in the stillness of Lent that I reflect with you on why.. usually this reflection happens in the post event, a couple of months / years later, when I start to see the tiny, tiny fragile tips of green shoots from the seeds of courageous action (post the living through the rotten fruit ), that I can really take comfort. It is with time when I see the freedom found in those oppressed, the courage they discover in being honoured and listened to, that I realise that this is what Jesus is talking about. This is the blessing of preventing ongoing systemic family abuse, the hungry fed, the oppressed free, the naked clothed, shattered self-esteem, rebuilt like the Japanese art of Kintsugi, where broken pottery is put back together with a lacquer containing gold or silver.

I think one of the hardest things with doing good and acting in an honourable way is that sometimes that gives people even more freedom to say what they like, in not fighting back or gossiping, you are relying on good people to ask the question is there more to this story than the side I am hearing? Does this ring true to what I know? Why is this person remaining silent in the face of all of this? It is hard when they accept just what is said particularly when they are people you love and trust..

Now I wake daily, aware of how deeply I am blessed, yet it is hard for me when people I knew who want to just skip to the here and now , without hearing the pain of my journey on the way. The pot is back together but the gold is still a little warm in places. You can’t rush this and if we want to have truly deep relationships with integrity we need to hear this. I can’t tell you the blessing of a deeply listening ear, reflecting back the depth of a situation, one’s suffering being acknowledged. It is gold, truly gold.

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect” So I continue on the journey with God, allowing the gold cracks to shine beautifully in the sunlight, in the hope that others who are broken may see this and ask – How do you remain hopeful in this?  and then I tell them about the God who loves me so deeply, that I am never truly alone. The God who puts beautiful people in my life in the moments I think I am only shards left for the garbage, who hold me gently and place the pieces back together, sharing their gold so that they begin to stick. How I have seen my courage change people’s lives and I have been blessed with them, to see the results of thier own beautiful pots with the gold seams sparkling in the sun. And I tell them the story how God knows my pain because he felt it while he was on earth and like the season of Easter we are journeying to, death and destruction are never the end of the story.

As we journey through Lent we must reflect how we too are part of the destruction of our world. Where are we holding so tightly that things are smashing rather than us moving to find a place of hope that we can build together. Where do we only want to hear one side because it is easier for us, because we have a deadline to reach or because we just forget there is another human being in this situation? When do we jump to conclusions or listen to gossip or tell gossip, thinking we know the truth.. Is this really our story to tell?

Tragically I think that often things don’t need to be as damaging as they are, but I think it requires us to tell the truth when things are just a little out of whack, but also for it to be heard. This is hard because we are vulnerable fragile people, our self, controls us in ways sometimes we don’t even see or understand. Often we don’t even realise the parts of ourselves that hurt others. It is hard to hear painful truths about ourselves.

Lent is the season to stop, to check out our pots and see what needs some work. Where are the sharp edges that need smoothing, what are our chips that need refilling? This is not work we can do alone, it takes courage to sit with God and ask these hard questions, much harder than giving up chocolate. The honour it brings to God and humanity and the healing it brings to ourselves is so worth the sacrifice.

So if I have hurt you in my passionate enthusiasm, I am sorry.

If my committment to what I love has meant you feel I have not heard you, I am sorry.

If I have got frustrated with you because I feel like you are not hearing me, I am truly sorry.

Know that at all times I seek to act in love and will stick up for the weak and vulnerable and try to make the best out of a situation. I am trying to live a Jesus life.

I’m still learning, a work in progress.

broken pottery gold Kintsugi

 

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr B, Uncategorized

Cosmic love, Advent 4, Luke 1:26-38

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Luke 1:26-38

The last reflection in Advent for me is that of Love.. That moment when Mary finds out that she is with child from the angel Gabriel. Not just any child but a cosmic child that would impact throughout history. An ordinary woman in a simple place, a no body..

I got to see the new star wars movie this week and there is a line in it where someone says “you are nothing, you have no important bloodlines, you are a nobody, you are nothing to this story..”

It got me to thinking about how often God chose the nothing, ordinary people to play such an important part in the story. Even the listing of the lines of Jesus includes a bunch of women who were not from the best blood line. See God does not see who or where we have come from, but sees what we choose to do with where we find ourselves. Are we humble, are we adaptable, do we act in love? When we don’t are we willing to try again and learn from that. Money, power and privilege are hard things to put aside. Yet God came to save everyone..

That, is love.. A cosmic love that is so great it is beyond our vision and comprehension. It comes to us from the creativity that began the Universe and has a hope for the whole of creation; people, creatures and the planet.  We see it in the ordinary, that mystical moment of creation when cells divide and it eventually takes form to something amazing. God steps into this, this grotty, sweaty, ordinary world and trusts human beings with something important..

God still trusts us now, the young, the nobodies, those from obscurity. God trusts us with the most precious thing, life and love. When we have courage and trust ourselves into God’s hands, God changes the world. In the ordinary that we do every day..

So as you wait , still (has this baby not come yet!!!!!) may you see the love that is offered in the ordinary. A son who cleans up without asking, a husbands compassion, a daughter who in a moment calms down and chooses not to fight but to listen, a friend who reconnects unexpected, may they richly bless your heart as they have mine. In your moment of waiting I pray you see the love you are surrounded with even if you are alone. If it is not around you, maybe you could be that for another.

Merry Christmas friends. Love eternal is yours, mine and ours. How blessed are we!

 

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr B

Lovely Day, Joy and John the Baptist, Advent 3B, John 1:6-8,16 – 24

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John 1:6-8,16-24

Still in the season of waiting, I have had to do alot in the last week. Waiting in traffic, waiting in shopping centres, waiting for important people to arrive and then here we are back with John the Baptist again, two weeks in a row!! More waiting!! It can be so frustrating to have to wait, don’t people know I am important and have important things to do! It has been a great reminder that in Advent it is about waiting and looking out! So I have been trying to intentionally use my waiting time for looking out and rebooting myself in those moments of frustration!

This week we are in the week of joy.. Where is Joy with John the Baptist? It’s funny the whole time I was drawing this week’s doodle I was singing Lovely Day by Bill Withers..  When I read about John and I wonder about Joy, this is what comes to mind..

The good news John was singing out about is to remind us that we are loved and held with God. Forgiven for any transgressions and everyday is a new day.. When we repent, turn around from a life of selfishness ( I want to translate that into individualistic consumerism) it gives us time and space to appreciate the lovely day we have to be part of every day..

Just one look at God and everything is alright, no matter how hard the challenge, it will be alright.. This is the joy we find as we rise out of the water, washed clean and fresh.

Then I look at you
And the world’s alright with me
Just one look at you
And I know it’s gonna be
A lovely day
A lovely day

Thanks God!

Posted in Lectionary Yr B

Taming the wild angry beast, Advent 2B, December 10. Peace.

Scan_20171207Mark 1:1-8

“The beginning about the good news of Jesus.” This is how the text starts this week. It’s funny how you remember text differently. I had always thought about John being a bit judgemental and Jesus was the compassionate one. Yet here we are reading the text of John in the week of Peace. What does John tell us about peace? How does judgement bring peace? So I went back again, read it again and it begins with saying up front in Mark, this is about the good news of Jesus.

John is out there living a simple life in poverty. What is he offering that is so attractive to people? That is when I found it. That beautiful treasure I had so often skipped over in my reading of the text. “repentance for the forgiveness of sins”. I had often heard the repentance but I had forgotten that even John was about the forgiveness of sins.. actually so was the law.. God has always been trying to give people a chance to do it better. It would seem the disease of guilt has been an issue through all of history.

This last week I watched the movie Moana with my daughter. I love it, it is one of my  all time favourite kids movies. Warning if you haven’t seen it I am about to ruin it for you.. (Still watch it though it is great!) The story is about Moana trying to return the heart of  Te Fiti ( a good goddess) to her that had been stolen. Along the way they are attacked by Te Ka an angry volcanic god who was determined to stop her on the way.. When they finally get past Te Ka they discover that Te Fiti is gone. It is at that point that Moana realises (this is where I am going to ruin it!) that Te Ka was Te Fiti but without her heart her gifts of creativity and life had turned into violence and anger.

I think that guilt is one of the creatures that can steal our hearts and leave us in a place of being angry destructive beasts. If it doesn’t make us angry it can make us lock ourselves away afraid and no longer sharing the gifts we have with the world. God is right to help us to find ways to transform us back from this place. When Moana returns her heart to Te Fiti she is at peace and is able to use her gifts again for good.

John was out in the desert. He was giving people a physical way to cleanse away the guilt that came with the mistakes we make in our lives, but more than that he gave them ways to turn them around, repentance. The physical act, the reminder of God’s love for us, the returning to who we were meant to be, it does truly bring a peace that is beyond understanding. But John knew there was more, there was one who was coming that would bring the Spirit.  One who not only returns us to how we were but one that amps it up to the next level , that shows us who we can truly be and works with us to spread that love, joy and new hope across the whole world. Just like Te Fiti when her heart was returned. Disney does an amazing job of the animation and to watch the life return accross the whole of the world is a beautiful thing..

My prayer for you this week friends is that you might find the peace that comes from repentance and that the life God has put in you, may spread across the whole of your world, restoring it to the beautiful creation God had in mind when you were knitted together in your mother’s womb.  Peace friends!

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr B

The final word is love.. Advent 1B Mark 13: 24- 37 December 3

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Mark 13:24- 37

I must confess this week it has been quite difficult to make sense of the reading.. We have just arrived in Advent (the beginning of the Church year). Happy New Year! The theme for the week is Hope, yet when I read this reading I find it difficult to find hope. In this moment Jesus is very doom and gloom.  The sun will go out and the moon will stop giving off it’s light and the stars will fall from the sky.

Nobody knows the time when it will happen, not even the Son, only God, so be ready!! More than hope this just increases my anxiety level and kicks in my doomsday prepping plans!!

But after a week of struggling there are a couple of key words that have come to the fore.. In those days following that distress, or suffering, then all this stuff will happen. Things are going to get really bad before all this happens. Great I’m off the hook! Really???

We are in a time of great struggle and suffering and for those that are facing the worst of it I can understand that this reading would be a relief..

This week in the news Robert Mugabe was overthrown in Zimbabwe. The tension and chaos as the nation waited to see an end to a terrible reign, the relief when it was finally over, it was such a change and the country’s whole politic life will have the chance to start afresh..

In my own country this week, people who were and sometimes still are persecuted , were supported by the people of our nation to marry.  For some of these people it has been a lifetime of suffering to now get to  a place of  respect and freedom is an amazing relief.

These changes in both these places are so radically different to what was,the understanding of the world is totally flipped and can seem like it has all fallen from the sky.

Jesus steps into this place, on a cloud ( I wonder if it is witnesses) and the angels gather God’s people from the four corners of the earth and Jesus words will not wear out..

The call to love at all times and in all places and all situations, will never run out.. As we prepare for the story that reminds us that God steps into this crazy world of ours (or God’s actually) and remind us we are not forgotten, we must be sure that in all things and in all our actions even when it is truly difficult and feels like the end of the world.. We must remain as Love, embraced by it, embracing others with it,  scattering it like a farmer sowing seeds. We don’t know the time or place of change so just love!