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A tent or a castle? June 10, 3rd week after Pentecost 2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1

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2 Corinthians 4:13 – 5:1

I am about to go on a camping trip. Most of my friends will be surprised by this as camping is not really my thing, I like flushing toilets and hot showers.! Our reading this week talks about our life as a temporary tent and that it will be destroyed but we are making a house in the heavens. For me I hope it is a castle with all the mod cons!

The thing with tents is they are great in mild weather but when things get really rough, cold, wet or windy or even hot, they don’t serve so well. It is easy in these moments of camping to be discouraged want to packup and go home but it also when you survive these moments you often have the best memories that stay with us a long time.  It becomes one of our treasures, a building block for a divine castle. It is good to be reminded of this as I head out on the journey. It will not all be easy, or smooth travelling all the time. There will be times when my heart will be in my throat and I will just want to pack up and go home, but these too will pass and provide us with more bricks in the divine castle of life.. What was the last brick you remember making?

Sometimes it is easy to get caught up thinking that this world is all that matters, this body, this time and place. My creaking bones and too many doctor visits are a regular reminder this tent isn’t going to hold up forever. I think for me it is making those moments that little more prescious. It also makes me really value the opportunities to see God’s kingdom come here on earth, to be part of the movement of the Spirit of change. Seeing the captives being set free, the hungry fed, the stranger welcomed..

How’s your tent holding up? What about you castle in heaven? It doesn’t take much a random act of kindness, a smile to the stranger, a recognition of the person who is sufferring, an encouragement of a saint, you know the ones, the grotty one who doesn’t even know they have a halo!

Hang in there tent dwellers, this life can be tough and you can get a bit weary but we are buiding something so much better!

 

 

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What is the Sabbath for? June 3 Second week of Pentecost Mark 2:23 – 3:6

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Mark 2:23 – 3:6

Is it lawful to do harm or good on the Sabbath? Our story begins with Jesus in the field plucking wheat, this was seen by the law as working which was not permitted. No form of work was permitted, it was a sacred day for God. No cooking, no cleaning, no travelling.

This reading is the reason we do not celebrate the Sabbath in the same way any more but in doing so have we lost sight of what it was all about. In a 24/7 culture where we never switch off, where it is normal to work long hours and hard, to make sure our kids are getting all they need, tutoring, music, swimming. The idea of being, keeping relationships as a priority, and making space to relax and appreciate God or even just life, is lost.

The leaders of the time had lost their way, the law was more important than the purpose. Jesus turns this around and transformed lives. I wonder whether we have lost what is important about the Sabbath. Have we filled our days in this new found freedom and become slaves in a new way? Does our Sabbath do harm or good?

What does your Sabbath look like? How do you make space for God and for relationships? What things need to wait until tomorrow?

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?

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, 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!

 

 

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Natvit – toy.

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Today in Church our fab team got the kids to help tell the story by dressing up their toys.. It was so ridiculously cute I tried to doodle it! Didn’t have alot of time but it was so much fun and super cute. Joseph was Iron Man, never thought of him as a bit of a super heroe before but I think that he was! After all he was given the guardianship of God’s child!

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

When did I do it? Matthew 25:31 – 46, Christ the King! November 26, 2017

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Matthew 25:31 – 46

This is the 3rd week in a row that the Lectionary compilers are getting us to look at a lifestyle parable. Now sometimes when Jesus tells a funny story you just have to do funny things.. In case you can’t guess this is the parable of the sheep and the goats..

It is interesting what people take away from a parable.. I am surprised how many people focus on Jesus in judgement. For me what I notice is the whole discussion around the sheep and the goats.. Why sheep and goats I wonder? If you work with these animals I would love to know what you think about this and what insights you can share.. For me I hear about ordinary things that helped the people of the time live, they provided food, wool, milk.. It is interesting that sheep are seen to follow along, one goes and they all go. Where as goats most of the time I have seen them more as solitary animals.

But that is not the most interesting bit in the story for me. It is the response from both the sheep and the goats.. When Lord did I help your children and when didn’t I help your children? Neither knew what they had or hadn’t done, they just did or did not..

It got me thinking about my life, when was it in times that I helped that I didn’t realise and when was I so caught up in other things that I missed the chance.. What I hear in this story is busy people like me trying to get on with their life, going about thier business and it was in that way that they got it or missed it. Again like last week I hear a challenge to think about how we live out these values all the time, being ready or prepared, but not as a chore but as a natural way that we live out our lives. We become so used to doing it that we no longer notice when we do it. We see the hungry and give them something to eat, see the thirsty and give them something to drink, meet strangers and invite them in,  see the naked and  clothe them, encounter the sick and look after them, know someone is in prison and go to visit. Because when these become second nature when it is a natural assumption that this is who we are, they are no longer as they are named. When you have an attitude of welcoming the stranger, no one is ever a stranger again they are just the yet to be met friend. When sharing a drink or some food is just having a meal with a friend. 

I wonder how often we read this reading as almost a welfare understanding of the world, I must do this good to help that needy person. They are the victim, I will be the saviour.  This reading is not about saviours it is about sheep hanging out together. It is interesting when you spend time with people who have hit hard times you realise very quickly this could be me. It could have been me that couldn’t pay the rent for whatever reason, who’s clothes are missing, who are sick or have ended up in gaol (yes it too could happen to us). They are not victims to be pitied or rescued but people who are loved and it is hard not to love them when you get to know them (well mostly sometimes God needs to help alot with this!)..

This is why I think the sheep don’t notice because these people aren’t naked or sick or hungry they are their friends who need a hand..

I feel for the goats, I feel for me on my goat days.. Those moments when I am too busy to see, too caught up in my own stuff to know. It is moments like this that I am so grateful it is Jesus on that throne, not me or others, because I would be in trouble. Jesus on the other hand taught us about grace.. So you might have had a goaty kind of day or maybe you have been a goat for a long time.. Good news if you are still breathing there is a chance to open your life to the world of generous hospitality.  The irony you’ll probably find yourself guest alot more often than you actually get to be host. I wonder who my next new friend will be ?

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Dig it up and hand it round! Matthew 25:14-30, Pentecost 24, 19th November.

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Matthew 25:14-30

Another one of those challenging readings for the week! It’s funny how you can read a reading over and over again and it just doesn’t seem to make any sense then one day, it is like you see the story through a new lens and it makes sense.. It was like this for me with this reading.. I never understood why the master got mad at the guy who buried the treasure. In an economic sense, investing can always be a gamble, it is possible to lose money, as well as gain it.. So at least the guy protected what he had. The master ended up with exactly what he had..

Some people read this being about social justice.. The master was a hard man harvesting where he did not sow, some see that the servant was trying to give the master a lesson on what is fair and ethical.. Maybe, maybe not..

In the last couple of weeks I have had an interesting insight into this reading.. What if this reading wasn’t actually about money.. What if it was about treasure, the sort of gifts and treasures that we all have that God has given us.. and what if that treasure is not actually your treasure but God’s and in turn the communities.. It was left with the community, you are given stewardship of it but it isn’t just for your benefit it’s actually for the community’s benefit. By burying the treasure we might hold to the authenticity and integrity of the treasure but it’s true purpose was not served.

I would be really annoyed if that happened to me. If I gave someone a gift, trusted them with it, expecting that my generosity would be shared with others, like I had been generous to them and then they bury it or hide it or hang on to it so that we are the only ones  who benefit from it. What a waste!!! I would be so mad!! I finally get why the master was angry, the stewardship was not about taking care of the gift for only the master, but taking care of the gift for the whole community. Even if he had lost all of the money someone in the community would have benefitted or at least he had given it a go..

I wonder if this is what it is like for our faith.. We have this gift that we treasure so much we want to hang onto it soooo tight or bury it so that we can keep that special gift.. But buried treasure quickly loose their appeal and get forgotten or turn us into Golum..”It is mine unless you are just like me you can not have it!!”

The treasures from God are God’s not ours, we are merely given stewardship of them for our time.. So if they are God’s and God intends them for the benefit of all how can we lose? Because surely if it is God’s and we share it with all of God’s beautiful children it will grow and change and multiply. It will inspire others to share their treasure or maybe even help them find a treasure they did not even know they have. Life will be invested in and in God’s economy we cannot loose!

So friends dig up that treasure box, pass the gold around and see what God can do with your treasures when freed to change the world.. Be warned it will probably not end up looking the same as what it did when you buried it, but boy will the world be richer for sharing and so will you!!  I reckon that’s what really makes the Master happy, because all of a sudden you will be reaping where you did not sow and enjoying fruits from trees you did not plant, but that is what happens when we are generous!

 

 

Posted in Lectionary Yr A, Uncategorized

Just can’t keep my eyes open, Matthew 5:1-13,Pentecost 23,12th November 2017

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Matthew 25:1-13

Whenever I read this passage in the past, I imagined it was about staying awake far beyond your bedtime! I envisioned a bunch of women with matchsticks in their eyes staying awake to meet the Bridegroom..  The message it gave, which for me as a woman was not a very healthy one, you have to be ready even if it kills you!

With a bit more wisdom, I come now to the text a bit differently.. It wasn’t that the other women went to sleep that was the problem but that they were not prepared.. They assumed this was going to be a quick problem to solve or more likely they just hadn’t really thought that much about it at all.. They were just excited and caught up in the moment..

I was trying to think of a modern example and thought of those people who line up all night for tickets to their favourite show or concert.. I am always so impressed with those people who are super organised with sleeping bags and beanies..

I wonder how this relates to our faith and being ready for the return of Jesus? I wonder how often our faith is about making sure we pull of those special moments, the impressive bits that we can get caught up in. The all night spectacular waiting for the concert tickets. I wonder if this parable is a reminder to us, faith isn’t just about that moment or that place but about the everyday faith. The one where we try to live it in the little ordinary things, being prepared to act in a God way whenever the opportunity arises.

So people put away the matchsticks, it doesn’t matter if you need to rest. It is important that when the moment happens where God asks you to show someone the way, you have enough oil in your lamp that you can show them..

Shine those lights you beautiful people – Our world sure could use it!