Tag Archives: Christian

A glorious mystery

rublev_trinity_iconToday is Trinity Sunday when the Christian Church has a focus on how God has reveled himself as Father, Son and Holy Spirit. This is a sticking point of Christian doctrine that prevents many engaging fully with the faith- they simply can’t get their head around this glorious mystery. How can one person become three and why and where and when?  I am not a learned theologian and have not answers to this mystery that will give doubters the answer that they seek- it simply doesn’t make logical sense- but that doesn’t make it any less real does it? As Nick Fawcett writes in his prayer for Trinity Sunday in Daily Prayer:

 “It reminds us of a truth we cannot afford to forget: that God is beyond the human intellect, defying expression, greater than we can ever conceive. We cannot explain how the pieces fit together but we know that they do, for we have experienced the truth ourselves. If we imagine that we have solved the mystery and that the full wonder of God is firmly in our sights, then it is time to think again, for if we ever think that, then the truth is that we have lost sight of him altogether. Sovereign God, Father Son and Holy Spirit. teach me to live with mystery, and simply to celebrate each day my many experiences of your love. Amen.”

So God not one person but a community of persons made one through their mutual love. The mystics and theologians have speculated long and abstractly on these matters, and we continue to do so until God settles the issue. In the meantime lets draw meaning and inspiration and give thanks by using the words of  the peace for Trinity Sunday:

Peace be to you from God our heavenly Father. Peace from his Son Jesus Christ who is our peace. Peace from the Holy Spirit, the life-giver. The peace of the triune God be always with you. And we continue to give you thanks because you have revealed the glory of your eternal fellowship of love with your Son and with the Holy Spirit three persons equal in majesty, undivided in splendour, yet one God ever to be worshipped and adored.

May you discover peace, comfort and inspiration this Trinity Sunday and see more of the glorious oneness of love, mystery and hope.

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Hearing the truth in love

In the job I do, I have to contend with a number of folks with big egos- sometimes this is challenging. Sometimes these people will ask me “what do you think?” in response to a talk or piece of work they have produced, but they don’t really want to hear any criticism, however constructive. They  just a good old ego massage and the truth is I am not really good at it.. The truth can hurt and few of us find it easy to be honest in an awkward situation, and fewer still relish having the truth spoken to them. In his Daily Prayer, for today Nick Fawcett reminds us the importance of having the courage to see ourselves as we really are and to find the spur to rectify our faults, or to listen to others who have the courage to speak the painful truth to us. Nick proposes this prayer:

God of truth, you know me better than I know myself. You search my heart and mind, seeing me as I really am and confronting me with my true self. Forgive me that all too often I shy away from what is hard to accept, refusing to countenance anything that contradicts my self image. I find it so difficult to be honest, closing my ears to truths I would rather not hear. I avoid those who challenge and disturb me, preferring instead those who sooth and flatter my ego.

Thank you for all those with the rare gift of speaking the truth in love, not spitefully, vindictively, or harshly, not from any ulterior motives, but because they genuinely care. Thank you for those willing to risk my resentment, retaliation or rejection, in order to help me grow us an individual. God of all, give me humility and meekness of spirit, so that i may be ready to listen and examine myself, ready to ask searching questions about who I am and to change where necessary, ready to face the truth.

Gracious God, help me to open my life to your searching gaze and so open my heart to your redeeming love.Through Jesus Christ my Lord. Amen.

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Share your faith journey finished or unfinished

Bishop or bar owner, plumber or police officer, Catholic or Protestant- Christian Research want to hear from you. If you have a Christian faith, you are invited to take part in a major new project- The Faith Journeys Project- which aims to collect stories of how people came to faith. Christian Research is leading the project which is sponsored by an ecumenical grouping of faith-based groups. The stated aims of the project are:

  • To encourage people to talk about their faith journeys to stimulate discussion and response.
  • To help Christian organisations develop more effective strategies for evangelism and discipleship.

 If you’re ready to tell your own unique faith story then register at http://www.faith-journeys.com/

I’m saving mine for a best-selling tell-all memoir to be serialised in the tabloid press. Watch this space!

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This is the big issue

ralph millwardThis week I read that a Church in Westbourne held a special community thanksgiving service for a murdered Big Issue seller. Hundreds of homeless people die or are killed across the UK every year and their passing goes unmarked. Thank God for the Editor of The Baptist Times who made the story of Ralph Millward front page news.

Ralph was an alcoholic and Big Issue vendor in Westbourne whose pitch for sales and sleep was outside the town’s Marks and Spencer store. His battered body was found outside the store on the morning of Friday, May 8th. Three youths aged 14 and 16 have been remanded in custody after appearing in court charged with murder. Ralph was well-known in the area and his brutal murder has sent shock-waves through the streets of this close-knit town. West Cliff Baptist Church has a well established ministry of reaching out to the local homeless community and Ralph had regularly used the services provided since their inception. The Revd Richard Burfoot, Ministry Team Leader at West Cliff said the church was ‘’privileged’ to have known Ralph- a gracious, gentle and polite man who lived a broken existence.”

 At Friday’s weekly breakfast drop-in candles were lit and a two-minute silence held to remember Ralph and a memorial service began with a community processions from M&S attended by hundreds from the community. This community seems to me to bestowing Ralph such dignity, respect, compassion and love. It reminds me of the episode in The West Wing when Toby Zeigler organised a full military funeral for a homeless ex-Vietnam veteran who had died wearing a coat Toby that had donated to a homeless shelter. Zeigler was profoundly moved by the plight of the man who had served his country with such bravery and honour.

On behalf of the Christ who showed love and compassion to the outcasts, the scorned and the rejected- I’d like to thank the Christians and people of Westbourne for showing similar respect for the life of Ralph.

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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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This is the word of the Lord…thanks be to The Times

thetimesI get The Timeseach Saturday, but due to a very busy day yesterday, I didn’t get chance to read it until this morning. Imagine my surprise when I opened the Saturday review section and page after page was full of faith issue material. The front page  and page 2 was a feature on  ‘Spread the word, God is Back’. Page 5 contained a tour of European sites featured in the  film Angels and Demons based on Dan Brown’s book. Page 7 the visual arts column features Alan Frank’s reporting on Sister Wendy’s search for the icons of the virgin Mary. The book of the week on page 9 was ‘Blood and Mistletoe:The history of the druids in Britain’(ok this may be stretching a point!), and Christian J.R.R. Tolkein’s The legend Sigurd and Gudrun is reviewed in the fiction section on page 11 (mentioning the faith of C.S Lewis in passing) ,alongside a smallish write up under audio book of Nick Warburton’s ‘Five Plays from the Gospel of St Luke’. Even the crossword got in on the theme with  49 down (5) “Second verse that’s in Exodus for example.” and 23 across (23) “Devout pronouncement for religious leader.” Answers to these clues in your comments please! I didn’t find God in the Su Doku, but wait, if you divide 27 by 3 and then add…….

Oh, and the main section of the Times- well there’s usually a credo column and register feature , but also on page 47 under the World section, we had a report on the real Garden of Eden in East Africa- mentioning along the way the discoveries of Noah’s Ark, the Hanging Gardens of Babylon and the tombs of Jesus and Mary Magdalene!

See http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6204239.ece and http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/uk/science/article6207399.ece

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Maybe today…buy it today

maybetodaycoverloWhen I began this blog one of the first people to link to it was Tony Miles the media chaplain and broadcaster based at Methodist Central Hall in central London. Earlier this week I got hold of a copy of Tony’s new book Maybe Today which is a collection of 70 days of  reflections which help the reader to unlock the secrets of how to live a more authentically Christlike life. It provides a gentle- and often homorous- daily nudge that encourages us to examine our actions, even the very smallest. It’s pressure free and Tony ,typically for him, choses to live and struggle with his readers whilst also encouraging and inspiring us to hope for more.

The book comes with endorsements from Diane Louise Jordon, Andrew Graystone, Andy Frost, Peter Kerridge and others and it really is a great read from one of the most optimistic and positive Christians I know. Whenever I see Tony he always gives me a lift and makes me smile and I know he had provided invaluable pastoral support and direction for others.  Maybe Today is divided into sections covering themes such as God’s mysterious presence; the pace of life, breaking bad habits and learning to live God’s way and each brief reflection includes a prayer, suggested bible passage and an action for maybe today. Over the next 70 days Maybe today will be my companion and I am looking forward to walking with Tony and discovering more  about myself, God and why Tony remains so cheerful as we walk together. I’ll leave the last word with Diane Louise Jordon from the foreword:

I highly commend Tony and I highly recommend Maybe Today. It reminds me of an advent crown stacked with goodies you want to devour in one go but know you’ll get more benefit from savouring one succulent bit-size a day. So if you’re looking for a regular injection of spiritual nourishment in a practical, engaging and contemporary way then this is the book for you. Oh by the way, just in case I’ve not made myself clear, I really love this book!”

When will I start it- Maybe Today!

Read more of Tony’s musings at http://www.tonymiles.co.uk/blog/

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