Advent ….Seeking the ‘thin places’ where earth meets heaven

The statement would be do you prefer Christmas or Easter?It’s a little like that joke, which came first the chicken or the egg.You see you cannot have Easter without Christmas, and you cannot have the meaning of Christmas without the impact of Easter.

Christmas, and more importantly Advent is about waiting to find that special place where God creeps bedside us, where he slips into the world. Advent is a time to prepare for that moment, and in the gospel of Matthew Jesus states, we should be ready and prepared for the moment.

Can you remember when Jesus came and crept in beside you ?

I can recall many instances this year where God slipped in beside me. You see advent is not so much about the arrival, but the journey we take to arrive at that, moment. It is important that we travel, spiritually, emotionally and some physically through the seasons in search of that ‘thin place’ where God is waiting.. I say thin, because we may miss it.

‘Thin places’, where earth and heaven merge even for a short time are all around if we are prepared to look.

As a nurse I remember a women who was dying , she did not welcome visitors, but she would always want a chair pulled up next to her bed. Everyone was really concerned that she deterred visitors and even refused visits. Her room was always one of peace and tranquilly, yet none of us could work out why until she told us. She said that she imagined that all her family and friends who had gone before her were sat close, very close to her, and Jesus sat there too, talking and laughing with her.

Are we prepared to look for the thin places and find God?

In Advent, many people seek a mountain top exhilaration, and excitement of the Christmas season, however you may feel it has been an uphill slog for quite a while. If you have been ill, unemployed, bereaved, disappointed and especially at Advent we remember those people who have been affected by the HIV/AIDS Virus…  yet it is in the mundane and ordinary where God shows his face, I want to recall two such incidences that I have met God in a thin place .

For me Zambia is a place where I have always felt God presence, not in the wealth, for there is little wealth, but in the poverty. I have been truly blessed to meet God in the thin place, that veil of a place between heaven and earth , the heaven showing the reality of God’s love ,and the earthly poverty of human selfishness and greed . At home I have a pot, a clay pot, similar to the clay pot recalled in Jeremiah, where God breaks a pot and then puts it back together. The pot was given to me by Maria , an elderly Zambian lady who lives in the bush. In her I see all the hope for her family, the joy of her grandchildren and the pain of living with a deadly Virus, HIV/AIDS. She has brought up her 13 grandchildren, as her children have all died of the virus. In that pot… she holds her dreams, her hopes for the world she lives in , she hold the pain, and suffering , but she also hold the love and peace of God , and she waits… she knows she waits with God.

Yet in her face, I have meet God,

her eyes crinkled with joy of motherhood,

and yet eyes that have cried so many tears,

her skin and hands rough from working the land,

are the hands that held me in warmth love and genuine affection.

As I looked at Maria, I truly felt the love of God enfold me through the pain of her living.

Secondly, on a dark August night, I undertook a 24 prayer vigil at church. As I waited patiently for the hour and minute  hand to move around , a wonderful thing happened, I felt a peace,  a tranquillity, an unhurried presence , where I rested in God’s presence.My calling a minister was affirmed that night , where as a looked a mirror to aid my prayers , I stared at my reflection and  felt God say to me  you are my daughter with whom I am pleased.

Our calling through Advent  is to stand firm to our promise and our calling as disciples… to be faithful to God and all that God asks of us.  As you stand on the brink of waiting for God to creep beside you, remember that God delights in you, and for you who wait and stay alert….. glorious things will happen .

We are always waiting for what God would want of us, and God creeps besides us in the ordinary and the mundane.God may present an opportunity, a thin and spiritual place may occur and he will see who is awake and who is sleeping !!! As we light the Advent candle each week , I pray that God will continue to lightened our journey, not just as individuals but as people who are committed to serve and to allow Jesus to serve you, through the many people who work in his name

Which statement do you prefer, Easter or Christmas, don’t forget that you cannot have one without the other, you cannot have the waiting without the result.

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Hymn to sustain our Prayerlife

Lay your healing hand upon me,

When my heart seems all alone;

Give me Strength, through Prayer and Praise

Accept the Love, that you have shown.

 

In my prayer life, Lord sustain me,

When the words are hard to find.

In your stillness, come be near me,

Tenderness to fill my mind.

 

When the world around is hurting,

and the pressures fill my time.

In my service and my witness,

Prayer enriches life, in kind.

 

On life’s journey, still my mind-

my heart, till I am one with you.

Then in one with all Creation

Hope and Love will bring me through.

 

©Words Ruth Dillon

Tune Servant song 8787

Hymn for journeying and discovery

O Gracious God, your love for us is yearning,

Deep in our hearts, you still our doubts and fears;

Blessing with love, so great and so abundant,

Come to us now and be with us, so still.

Come now and rest your blessing in our Spirit,

Come now and rest your blessing in our hearts,

You are our God, and we your loving children;

Who travel on life’s path and find in you our goal.

 

O Jesus Christ, you walk this earth, as we do;

Making us whole, with every step you take.

Teaching all people, with the words of healing

And reaching outward to the lost and loved.

Come now and challenge all our social boundaries,

Come now and challenge all that comfort brings;

You are our God and we your loving children,

Who travel on life’s path, abundant with your love.

 

O Holy Spirit, breathing through creation,

Touching all life with energizing power;

Guiding us through the trials and temptations,

That block our journey on our way to God.

Come now and breathe your gentle breath,-enfold us;

Come now and breathe your comfort when it hurts;

You are our God and we your loving children,

Who travel on life’s path, to our eternal home.

Tune Londonderry air

Words Ruth Dillon

So what is a saint ?

I have been fascinated by the meaning of what it means to be a ‘saint’ .. hence my Blog title .. The making of a Saint

However for me there are at least three ways of categorizing saints.

 1. All people are saints, since all, not just Christians, are children of God, whether we are straight or LGBT, young or old , able or disabled we are bound into the love of God  However the world we live in is not perfect, for we experience suffering, poverty, injustice and many are persecuted, thirsting to know what it is like to part of God’s love, however the world often praises ‘dead saints’ and ‘persecutes living ones’.

2. Another category of saints is that of those ‘special people’ who are placed on the ‘calendar of saints’, people like Lazarus, Mary, Joseph, Matthew, Francis of Assisi or Theresa of Availa.

However every one of us is called to be extraordinary, and still live in the ordinary world, even if history does not remember us.  We can be extraordinary mothers, nurses, teachers, shopkeepers, carers, retail assistants or just amazing people… aside from our jobs.

3. Thirdly, there are saints not yet born for God is not bound by our time. Right now God is blessing these people not yet born into sainthood, into holiness, into happiness.

All three together, those from the past, those of us alive now, and those yet to come, we call the communion of saints

So what does the word ‘saint’ mean ? The Greek word we translate as saint – hagios – means the ‘holy ones’: those who have dedicated themselves to God – those who are set apart from what is ordinary – those who have claimed God’s blessings in a deep and profound way. That means that the saints are not only those who gave up their lives for the love of God as martyrs, but those who lived their ordinary lives with an extraordinary awareness of God’s grace… that means you and me !!
Saints are not just old and dead souls who have made something of God’s light visible in the darkness in their time, saints are also those we have known in our own time who have been open and alive to making God’s love real.

Saints are those who have been blessed by God, whether we are straight, LGBT, young, old, able or disabled, and whatever our skin colour.

“Blessed are you,” Jesus said to all of his disciples in Matthew –when you find yourselves at the end of your tether…. for with less of you …..there is more room for God and God’s blessings.”
Blessing and grace is mystical – not linear; it is of the Lord – not you and me – it is from God: it is about God’s compassion, God’s peace, God’s justice – and all we can do is open our hearts and minds and souls to embrace it.

So what does it mean to live as saint or in other words a holy person ?

It means love your enemies.

Let them bring out the best in you, not the worst.

It means live generously,

For here is the way to experience God’s blessings:

Give away your life; you’ll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing.

Giving, not getting is the way.

Generosity produces generosity.

To be blessed by God, seems to me, is to be opened to grace and to respond by giving shape and form to the way of God in our ordinary lives. This is what saints do – and saints are you and me. !!
Yes , being a saint IS hard, too demanding, too high – that’s why Jesus told us we cannot become saints – or disciples – or people of faith all by ourselves. We have to open our hearts to God when we are empty.

And that is why opening our hearts to constant prayer is so important …. When we have exhausted all our words, when we only have sighs too deep for human words, the presence of being with God in the silence and stillness alongside the cloud of witnesses who have gone before us  – can be so healing.

We don’t have to do it all – that great cloud of witnesses is praying for us and encouraging the Lord to meet us ,where we need God the most.

waiting …

I am quite frustrated ..as I am waiting for some personal news. However the waiting has come to the end for women Clergy in the Church of England as they have received the results for the Synod on Women Bishops . It is over .. for the moment … but many in the Anglican communion will be feeling hurt , sad, angry and disillusioned with the result . It means that women will have to wait a bit longer to have their rightful place alongside men in the hierarchy of the Church of England .Let us remember ..’ in God their is no difference with gender or  sexuality only that we are all made in the image of God , and that all are called to disciples. The woman in the Early Church were crucial t0 Paul’s ministry  and indeed Jesus’ too. I pray that justice will prevail and that true equality may happen in the one establishment, that has a woman as the head of ‘the Church’.

In the beginning ……

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Hello…. Is’nt it strange .. I have been meaning to blog fora couple of years, however after a few sleepless nights, I decided I had better get on with the job ! Its amazing what will prompt you into actually doing things. I hope who ever reads this will find some useful snippits of information and find some words of encouragement, to sustain us on our Spiritual journey together.