God’s Accordion of Time

I recently heard about the ‘Accordion of time’. It had been the first time I had heard it, and so set out to investigate its meaning. Many writers allude to time being linear, as we progress through the decades and age increases as enter each coming year. However there is another line of thought that time is not measured as age, but as ‘experiences’ gained which add flavour and substance to the meaning of life. In other words, time is a Gift.

God has been present with each of us through the dawning of our creation. The ‘Ruach Elohim’, the breath of God, has been a constant witness to our development and experience. An accordion has to have movement to produce sound, and in the hands of the accordionist, the instrument can be quick or slow, soft or loud, intricate or mellow. If it does not move it becomes silent. A little like life really. We need to be active in Mind, Body or Spirit to experience the wonders and the pain of the world we are placed.  

I am drawn to the imagery of the Accordion of Time for three reasons.

  • Firstly, life has to be experienced. Yes, that includes the pain and suffering within ourselves or within the suffering of others. It is only then that we can draw water from the same well, only then can we start to recognize that the tune we are hearing in others is the same tune that is within our hearts and Spirit. We have found a like-minded companion!
  • Secondly, life experiences can bring depth to our life. How many time times have we heard it said it is only by experience and facing our fears that we learn to grow. Growing in wisdom is one of the most important aspects of life and faith.
  • Thirdly, pay attention to how you live. How often have we heard ‘you only have one life, so make the best of it’. Reflecting on the many baptisms I have conducted in my ministry, if there was one piece of advice I wished I had given to the infants and adults, it is ‘pay attention, …for the people and experiences you will encounter, will teach you how to live’!

So yes, time is a gift, and when I struggle, feel weary or get off track and lose my footing, I reflect on the life experiences I have had good and bad, and cherish them… for each has been a learning experience and have shaped me to become the person I am today.

The Accordion or time expands and contracts all the time, however sooner or later it will run out and the gift of our time and our experiences will be our legacy to others.

My friends as our Accordion of Time plays ….do not waste life, but experience it, embrace it, cry and lament with others, be exhilarated, share the journey with friends and strangers, and expand your horizons to see the Ruach Elohim throughout all Creation.  

Prayer

Expand my horizons Lord, so I may witness the fullness of ‘time’

Focus my thoughts Lord so I may open my heart to the diversity of ‘time’

Deepen my faith Lord, so I may appreciate the gift of ‘time’

The Book of Tobit …Chapter 1

I have been fascinated with the apocryphal story of Tobit, for many years. The story of the journey of a Jewish man named Tobit and the Angel Raphael has been depicted in Art throughout the centuries and recently in novels.  So who was this man Tobit and how does he connect to us, living in the 21st century?

Biblical reflection

The book of Tobit is supposedly written by him, when he lived in exile. He was a refugee, and had been taken from his homeland of Isreal, and states that he follows Yahwah in truth and righteousness. He was obviously a man of good standing with his community, and in Chapter 1, he remembers with fondness his times in his own land. He remains faithful to his Jewish traditions, reaffirming that his tithing is overseen by the sons of Aaron in the temple. Even in exile, he keeps the Jewish laws and traditions, caring for those in need.

 ‘While Shalmaneser was still emperor, I took good care of my own people whenever they were in need.  If they were hungry, I shared my food with them; if they needed clothes, I gave them some of my own. Whenever I saw that the dead body of one of my people had been thrown outside the city wall, I gave it a decent burial.’ Tobit 1:v16,17

 These words are echoed by Jesus, as written in the Gospel of Matthew 25:31 – 40  

for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, was naked and you gave me clothing, I was sick and you took care of me, I was in prison and you visited me.’ Matthew 25: v 35,36.

Tobit was prepared to go the extra mile for his people and yes it caused trouble for him, and as he cared for the dead, he was targeted by the authorities.

Contextual Reflection

Refugees who have escaped their homeland in persecution or war can often find it difficult to ‘fit in’ and continue their life. It all depends on what kind of welcome they receive. In Tobit’s case, the Jewish people were forcibly evicted to another land, the land of the people who had overthrown them (now Northern Iraq and southeast Turkey).  Settling in a strange land can be daunting and fearful. Yet the Assyrians gave the Jewish people space to continue their faith. We need to consider the care and movement of people today.

  • Do we allow and welcome people to freely practice their faith tradition?
  • What does it mean to live out an inclusive faith?
  • Should the borders of countries make a difference in how we treat and care for people?
  • Are we respectful and tolerant of other faith traditions and make space available for their faith to be expressed?

Humanity is made up of different cultures coming together. I was fascinated to learn about my own DNA revealing that my ancestors were not all from the UK, and in my mind, illustrates the vibrancy and diversity of the God that I follow.

Whatever the ‘name’ we call the God we follow, let us rest in the knowledge that

  • Each moment is holy
  • Every space is sacred
  • Every relationship is blessed

Prayer

Divine light,

That floods our hearts and minds

Permeate our hearts with openness

Permeate our minds with wisdom

Permeate our words with love

Permeate our actions with acceptance          Shalom

Hildegard of Bingen considers ‘Jealousy’

Hildegard of Bingen explains that we must always check our emotions and in turn be cautious in our speech. She writes ‘It is not far from the shores of silence to the boundaries of Speech’.   

Jealousy is a human emotion, and to be honest, when I see someone who creates something beautiful, whether it is a piece of art work, or the patience of crafting a written piece of work, I have to admit, a degree of jealousy creeps alongside my admiration.

Jealousy tells us about our inner-selves, about inner desires, what we yearn for, the issues that have passed us by, and the regrets of not achieving what we think is rightfully ours.

It illustrates what we need to address within ourselves, to further self-development, spiritual and personal growth.

The Jews were jealous and also fearful of Paul and Barnabas, as they brought something new to the listeners of the town therefore the Jews felt threatened. They could not cope with how well they were being received by the Gentiles and their joyful reaction, so the Jewish leaders did the one thing that would stop it. In their jealousy, they ran Paul and Barnabas out of town.

  • How do we react when we find ourselves with feelings of jealousy, when we feel we should have the adulation, not someone else? Do we react like the Jews and aggressively retaliate?
  • How do we react when we come face to face with jealousy, when we want to answer back, but know that we need to shake the dust from our feet and graciously walk away? Do we allow the Holy Spirit to prompt us reacting wisely?
  • Are we aware of the potential destruction of jealousy within us?

The issue of our own jealousy is a difficult one, but one that we must grapple with if we are to stay true to the responsibility of discipleship, and with humility and grace, we can grow and deepen our relationship with God and Gods people.

Prayer

It is not far from the shores of silence

to the boundaries of speech.

The path is not long,

but the way is deep.

You must not only walk there,

you must be prepared to leap.” Prayer from Hildegard of Bingen

Changing times

It has been such a long time since I wrote a blog post, but that’s what happens, life gets in the way.

This picture of a gnarled, twisted tree with branches going everywhere, is a symbol of the transformation i have gone through. Just because life gets messy and busy does not mean that we stop reflecting and asking, ‘Where is God in my Life?’ Moment by moment, day by day, month by month, year by year, God’s Spirit is still with me, silent yet creative, still yet pulsating.

Sadly, I am now retired from full time ministry, where Covid has left its legacy of brain fog, fatigue and lack of mental cohesion. I have moved to be nearer family, yet also feel the loss of my husband who suddenly died during my transition. As if that wasn’t enough, the ending of 2021 brought a diagnosis of Cancer.

So you see, I have never stopped reflecting on ‘Where is God in my life?’.

My thoughts are returning, my theological questioning now present, and yet I am a changed person. The times have changed, and yes I have changed too, but the essence of me is still here. I feel like a candle that has been dipped in a colour and has formed a beautiful pattern on the outside of the wax, but the flame is still burning bright as ever within me, even if it a little lower than it was before.

To be fair, there was a point where the stillness of God was overpowering. I felt the peace of God but not God’s activity. I thought the activity would happen once I started to feel well, but to be honest, healing happened as soon as I moved here.

the sounds of birds in my garden

the view from my window

the quiet painting in my new home

the gentle wind rustling in the trees,

the hospitality of the people and neighbours, as they brought food to my table, during my cancer recovery.

Yes the pace has slowed, and that is a good thing, for God does not want us to burn out …God wants us to relish and delight in all aspects of life and contemplation.

So my ‘new’ blog is still called ‘A Saint in the making‘, for that we still are! ..but my thoughts and reflections will be shaped by the changes that I have undergone.

Prayer

God of change,

cradle me in the crook of your arm when I feel vulnerable,

shelter me from the battered winds when I feel frail,

and when the storm of life pass by,

Paint a rainbow in the showers.

Breathe your presence into my exhausted body,

kiss my cheek and revive my soul.

And may I always dwell in the House of the Lord all my days.

Amen

A Prayer for New Year

Come Holy God,
who has been with us this past year,
who has laughed with us, and cried with us, 
who has cradled us in goodness and love.
Bless us with a joy to continue to seek you.

 

Come Holy God,
As we stand on the cusp of new beginnings
As we stand with eyes fixed on the future,
As we stand with open hands,
welcoming you to come with us,
Bless us with a desire to continue to seek you.

 

Come Holy God,
In anticipation of what may be waiting for us,
In anticipation of what memories we will make,
In anticipation of the surprises that await us.
Bless us with wisdom to recognise you
in the new days, weeks and months ahead.

©Ruth Dillon

Christmas day 2017

advent star smallGod Immanuel. God is with us!

The day has arrived when we celebrate with all humanity and creation the birth of the brightest start in heaven and earth. This is the day we have been waiting for, the day which will bring the Hope, Promise, Joy and Love.

On that unique night, I wonder how many people knew about the birth of Jesus, God Immanuel? Did the word spread quickly that shepherds were visiting a stable?

A bright star in the sky may not have been noticed by many as they were busy with the census, yet for some, it heralded the start of a new chapter of faith and belief.

The expectation of a wonderful Counsellor was now evident;

The yearning of Prince of Peace had been born;

The longing of a promised Messiah had now been fulfilled.

Thanks be to God !!

 

Christmas Day Prayer

 God Immanuel

May we marvel at the heavenly stars,

made by your creative Spirit;

yet recognise that you are the brightest star laying in a bed made of straw.

As the stars continue to shine in the night skies,

we no longer need to look heavenward to search for you,

for you have come to us.

 Bless as our eyes move

from the heavens to the earth.

and join in the angels song of Proclamation

Glory to God in the highest heaven

       and peace to those on earth. 

Amen

 

 

 

The Grace and the Impatience to Wait – An Advent Poem by Walter Brueggemann — Godspacelight

I have been reading this beautiful Advent poem by Walter Brueggemann every day this last week and wanted to share it with you. It is published in his book Awed to Heaven, Rooted to Earth. In our secret yearnings we wait for your coming, and in our grinding despair we doubt that you will. And…

via The Grace and the Impatience to Wait – An Advent Poem by Walter Brueggemann — Godspacelight

Christmas Eve – Sunday 24th December  – Matthew 2: 1-4

advent star small

People who have been ‘shining lights’ and ‘stars’ in our lives, have enriched our faith and lighten our loads. These unique people show the goodness and truth that the Christmas message gives us. As the dirty shepherds and expectant visitors look towards the smelly and dusty manger, waiting for the birth of the Babe of Bethlehem; their affirming presence would have been a sign of encouragement for the parents of Jesus.

God has been very astute in giving us the ability to sense the good, (and not so good traits) in others. In the story we have just heard, the noble and wise men, come face to face with the evil and craftiness of King Herod. Herod’s fear is palpable and he calls for reinforcements. Yet the wise men are still open and aware of the presence of God, they support and trust each other knowing that the star will guide them to the place of fulfilment and wholeness.

As the fourth candle is lit today on the advent wreath, may it represent the people we know who put their trust in God, to enable fulfilment in their lives and in the lives of others; the light of Joy is nearly upon us.

Prayer

God of the stars

As we journey through life ,

may we always recognise the people who trust you

whose faces radiate with your Love

whose words resonate with your Spirit

whose actions respond to the needs of others.

Amen

 

Advent 4 – Stars that point to Jesus – Saturday 23rd December – John 7:40-52

advent star smallWhen they heard these words, some in the crowd said, ‘This is really the prophet.’ Others said, ‘This is the Messiah.’ v 40, 41

The crowd was asking about Jesus. As a result, some believed, others were hostile, and others disqualified Jesus as the Messiah, because he was from Nazareth, not Bethlehem. But he was born in Bethlehem, just grew up in Nazareth. If they had looked more carefully, they would not have jumped to the wrong conclusions. This Christmas, let’s not jump to the conclusion that we know the truth about the nativity. Let us allow the gentle Spirit to illuminate a star and reveal the infant lying in a manger.

Amid the clamour of shopping, let us pause to remember the cry of a new-born infant, who is truth and called Jesus. Amen

 

Advent 4 – Stars that point to Jesus – Friday 22nd December – Psalm 89:1-4

advent star small

You said, ‘I have made a covenant with my chosen one,   I have sworn to my servant David: v3

Too many times promises have been made to us, only to be broken, and we feel let down and disappointed. However, this Psalm is a reminder that the line of David will stay strong and all humanity will benefit, as a shining star pointing to Jesus.

This Psalm indicates that God will promise to preserve David’s descendants, and this is fulfilled in Jesus Christ. The opening verse of Psalm 89 is a proclamation of the love, tenderness and compassion of God which is steadfast, in other words, it means unwavering.

To know that God will stay resolved, firm and committed to a promise, gives us hope as well.

Lord, You kept your promise to David, and keep your promise to us, for you are a dependable, constant and dedicated God committed to doing the best for us, for we are you people. Amen