Category Archives: Hope

A bold benediction

 Let’s face it, we all like to be blessed. It makes us feel affirmed, valued, loved and included. It’s not often that we’re challenged as we’re blessed so in the spirit of Jackie Pullinger who would encourage us all the look for every opportunity to reach out to the broken, the unloved and the excluded, I offer you this Franciscan benediction and the thought of what would happen if this was said at the end of your Church service this week.

May God bless you with discomfort at easy answers, half truths, and superficial relationships, so that you may live deep within your heart.

May God bless you with anger at injustice, oppression and exploitation of people, so that you may work for justice, freedom and peace.

May God bless you with tears to shed for those who suffer from pain, rejection, starvation and war, so that you may reach out your hand to comfort them and to turn their pain into joy.

And may God bless you with enough foolishness to believe that you can make a difference in this world, so that you can do what others claim cannot be done to bring justice and kindness to all our children and the poor.

Amen.

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Breathe and slow down

I first met Rob Bell a couple of years ago when he visited the UK and premiered this film Breathe-it was the first time I’d ever seen a Nooma film. It was called breath and it blew me away with its proposition that the name of God could be the sound of breathing. I just loved the way Rob unpacked the paradox at the heart of what it means to be human- “all come from the dust and then die and return to the dust.” I thought about this film today when I reflected about how quickly I get frustrated  and angry and forget about being breathed into with the divine breath of our mighty creator God- a sacred divine dirt clod. Is there anything right now that you need to breathe out or breathe in?

You can get a glimpse of this from the You Tube video below. I hope you enjoy it. As Rob says, may you come to see that God is here, right now, with us all the time and that the ground that you are standing on is holy and that as you slow down may you become aware that you live, move and breathe in God.

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Hot potatoes

Today a guy called Peter Andrews told me about a great idea for sharing faith called hot potatoes. Peter hosts a regular event at a local pub where he provides a free baked potato meal to punters who call then decide from a menu of ‘hot potato’ issues which  they’d like him to talk about. All the issues on the menu such as debt, relationships, love, honesty provide Peter with the opportunity of introducing a Christian perspective to the issue. He says people go away with full tums and nourished souls. Now I wonder if the local Harvester could add this to their early bird menu?

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Who’s calling your tune?

For years I have loved the song Lord of the Dance by  the late Sydney Carter. I find it so profound, timeless, uplifting, moving and yet simple. The image of  Christ leading us through the dance of what life is or is meant to be. It  just works for me- and I have two left feet!  I was reminded of it again when reading Maybe Today by Tony Miles  see an earlier post of mine at https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/04/27/maybe-todaybuy-it-today/  . In his section on prayer Tony makes a pleas for us to listen to God’s heartbeat through prayer:

Almighty God, help me to keep close to Jesus, especially through prayer and devotions. May I lean upon my Lord and listen. help e to hear his heartbeat and live confidently knowing that He is my living Saviour. Guide me that I might live a way that is in harmony with Your Holy Spirit and NOT dance to the world’s tune. Rather, release me to discover Your holy rhythm of life. Then as I let the Lord of the dance lead me, may my steps take me through the difficult places to the place of Your glory, peace and eternal joy. I ask this in the name of my companion and Lord. Amen.

This little video has some interesting imagery but takes me right back to singing this song with such joy and hope as a child. I hope something in it connects with you even if it feels at times that the church has lost the steps to this most wonderful of dances.

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Saying sorry…should we do it more often

sorry1I read yesterday that the Pope had apologised to native Canadians who were physically and sexuallyabused at church-run boarding schools they were forced to attend and it got me thinking. What if all denominations decided to hold a “we’re sorry” service once a year? This could  provide an opportunity to formally and symbolically apologise to anyone who has been damaged in any way by the church; it may be even something that the church could take on the road. After all, we have an annual  Back to Church Sunday event here in the UK where the focus is to invite folks back to something they have loved but just grown out of the habit of attending. What about the scores of people who don’t go to church because of some desperately bad experience they have had, and for which individual ministers or the church corporate has still not apologised? I realise that sorry is often not enough, but it is a start and probably the place Jesus would like to see us begin. 

See full report at-  http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/europe/vaticancityandholysee/5245526/Pope-apologises-to-native-Canadians-over-boarding-school-abuse.html

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What does good news look like?

Last week I was sharing something of my spiritual restlessness with a friend over lunch. You may well have had the feeling yourself, God stirring up things inside you, thoughts, images and plans that seem to be affirmed by others who say things to you lie; “Would it be good if you did this….or, “We could really do with something like this round here..”Well, over lunch, I was sharing some of the things that I thought God was doing to help complete my unfinished Christian walk, when my friend chipped in with a number of profound questions which stopped me in my tracks.  He asked:

  • How will you know what it takes to lose the sense of restlessness you are feeling?
  • What will the good news of the gospel look like for those to whom you feel called to work?
  • Why do you think God is calling you and not others to this task?

I can’t tell you how helpful it was to have a friend asking these questions and gradually helping me to draw from them something of God’s purpose, rather than anything of self or personal ambition. I began to realise that for the past couple of years I had been looking for a pillar of cloud or fire to help direct my path- the specific and defined answers from God to my heart searching. Last week’s conversation encouraged my to continue to rely prayerfully on God’s leading, and the prompting of others but to start by describing what my sense of calling will mean for other people, for they, not me, are the most important factor in this and I need to spend some time in prayer and reflection working out and imagining what Christ’s good news will look like for them.  Praise God for the advice of honest friends and as T.S Eliot said; “Oh, my soul….be prepared for him who knows how to ask questions.”

Lord Jesus Christ, my the good news of the message of your gospel continue to stir in my heart and change lives today and tomorrow, just as it has done down the ages. May we discovered the role you have for us to play in the telling of this good news as we draw closer to you in faith. Amen.”

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He is risen

the-empty-tomb

In his short novel The Man Who Died , D H Lawrence  had an alternative explanation for the resurrection- that Jesus didn’t die and revived in the cool of the tomb.Lawrence himself summarized his story in a letter to a friend:
“I wrote a story of the Resurrection, where Jesus gets up and feels very sick bout everything, and can’t stand the old crowd any more – so cuts out – and as he heals up, be begins to find what an astonishing place the phenomenal world is, far more marvellous than any salvation or heaven – and thanks his stars he needn’t have a mission any more.” Does this have any basis in truth?
As Christians we see things differently, and to celebrate what this Easter Day means to many of us, I once more borrow from Ronald T Haney’s Stations of the cross, which has encouraged and sustained me through Holy week.

“The Word is risen. The word made flesh, made sin, made passion, mad death is risen…Jesus of Bethlehem. Now the eternal man. Jesus of Nazareth. Now the everlasting Galilean. Jesus of Jerusalem. Now the Lord of the universe. Jesus of Palestine. Now the saviour of the world. Jesus of Golgotha. Now the cosmic Christ…

He has risen! Creative words. Words of life.Immortal words. Words of destiny.Living words. Words of good news. And the good news is that he is alive.Now. This very moment. In my life. “I live, yet not I, but Christ is living in me.” (Gal 2:20)

He persuades us with his resurrection power to cause resurrections in the lives of others. help others to come alive. To God. To the world. To people. To themselves. To draw others to that fullness of life for which he laid down his life. “Christ now raised from the dead will never die again” (Rom 6:9).”

May you come to know the blessing of his resurrection power in you this Easter Day and may you have the faith to call on him to renew this blessing each day of your life.

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