Holiness

holiness

‘Holiness’ cannot be defined and can never be adequately described, as holiness means that God is present. In exploring the meaning of ‘holiness’ we are not only searching for God, but also the meaning and value of our lives. In coming to know God, we find ourselves, because it is in God that we live and move and have our being. Gerard Hughes book ‘God in all things’, gives indications to our own personal journey and spirituality to seek God and to find holiness.

  • Hunger for Knowledge and Truth is a sign of our holiness, as God beckons us into a deeper communion with him.
  • The gift of awe and wonder, enabling us to sense the sacredness of a particular place, or  glimpse the of depth in another person is also a sign of holiness.
  • Laughter as a sign of holiness is the ability to laugh at ourselves, and see the comedy of a situation. A spirit of joy and merriment has been one of the special hallmarks of those who are declared saints!!
  • Human Love and desire as a sign of holiness. Love can take us out of ourselves, but there is always a part of us where no person, no created thing can satisfy our inner hunger. Loving another person releases us from our self-centredness and draws us into the service of others.

My blog has a sub title … my long struggle to attain holiness…It is a subject  which draws me nearer to understanding God.

Holiness is cultivated, nurtured and emerges , as the more we recognise God’s presence in our lives….. the more our Holiness develops.

 

Holy God ,

May each day bring a new experience

where we can recognise your Love.

May each day bring a new joy

where we can recognise your grace.

May each day bring a new opportunity

where we can claim you as our God.

 

Amen

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Touched by the Spirit

pentecost

Growing up in Blackpool, I miss many things; the Pleasure Beach and walking home with hot doughnuts, the Trams taking me to and back from school, the Sand at St Anne’s and taking my children for picnics on the beach. And finally … the wind. It really does blow a lot in Blackpool.

Sometimes it was a breeze, sometimes it was a gale. Yet the wind to me is fascinating a movement that sweeps over the sea and beyond. Every time walked on the prom, I felt the wind close around me .. it was almost as though the wind was caressing me, I would close my eyes, take a some deep breaths, and feel energized, revived and renewed. I miss the sea air and that feeling of being wrapped and held by the bracing sea breeze. As a new Christian, I remember thinking, I know God is everywhere, and sometimes I would never feel Gods presence. Yet walking in Blackpool and along its coastline, I felt the caress of God.

It’s the wind you see,….  that for me… is a great illustration of the Holy Spirit, the wind blows everywhere.

Christians throughout the ages have found the idea of the Holy Spirit curiously hard to pin down. The word ‘spirit’, when it applies to God is a metaphor. In Hebrew it translates to ruach, a ‘feminine’ word which means breath or wind; and it is a picture of air in movement. Since moving air is invisible it evokes the anonymous nature of the Spirit.

In a book called ‘Participating in God’, written by Baptist Paul Fiddes, he  describes ‘the gentle breath of God moves deep within our being, the Spirit within, and the Spirit beyond us. Both aspects mysterious, for this breath is not under our control, it is inseparable from God’.

This image of how the Spirit affects us, within and us and beyond ….is the God who touches us, intimately. When the Spirit is moving in our life and is creative, a reaction is evoked. The disciples certainly had a reaction when the flames at Pentecost descended on them. I don’t know whether actual flames appeared, but the image of being touched by flames would indeed instigate a reaction of some sort. !!

If God wanted an image to instigate a reaction in someone, well flames are just the right illustration. When I was growing up we had a coal fire, and as a young girl used to stare in the fire and see the flames dance and flicker, jumping about the fire. Imagine if you were touched by a flame, the reaction would be intense, your emotions high, you would feel a physical urge to respond. That is what God’s wants from us, a Physical urge to respond to his call, and the initiator, the encourager in this process is the Holy Spirit.

In Acts2 we hear that the disciples need a kick-start, and the Holy Spirit affected them collectively them and were renewed, the effect of this was the birth of the church. … I think we all need that gentle nudge from the Holy Spirit to kick start us into action, for the Spirit keeps on working, God still keeps on moving us onwards and forwards, it is never static.

The Spirit brings vision; it is how God speaks to us sometimes, with words of wisdom. As Christians we need to channel the visions and dreams into our ministries. It is only then that we will encounter the mysterious God who is ever within us, yet ever beyond us, and alongside us, who is on a costly voyage of bringing love into the world.

We all can lean on the wind, and be carried in the heart of God and be revived, and we can also be carried on the wind, into the future, renewed and energized.

Prayer

As disciples we need to accept the Spirit,

the Paraclete,

the one who will stand alongside us with of Jesus

the challenges she may bring us,

the movement she creates ,

the wisdom she instills , and

the opportunities she generates

to be alongside us… in Spirit and in Truth .

Amen

Prayer… hints and tips.

BXG_JasonHouse

Over the last number of years, I have never ceased to be amazed at how prayer can be answered, although often it is in the way we least expect it!!

Prayer is something of a mystery. (p.s thanks to Jason Ingram for reflective  artwork )

We don’t know exactly how it works but we can pray corporately in church if we are church attenders, as a small group or friends praying spoken or silent prayer, or as privately as individuals, yet in faith we pray!!

I often find that I am praying ‘on the hoof’… let me explain. Sometimes I can pray in the car driving to a meeting or a visit, asking God just to be with me and the situation that I will find myself in ; sometimes I can pray while on the phone being a listening ear to someone’s pain and hurt, other times I can be gardening thanking God the world we live in , or listening to the news on the TV or radio, to the  Suffering and Injustice, or the Joys and laughter. Jesus often spoke about prayer He gave examples of prayer, of occassioanly seeking solace, of discussing what prayer is , and even instructing his friends with what words to say.

I am no expert on Prayer, but prayer has been my companion through difficult times and joyous ones

Here are some hints and tips that I have used to help people in their prayer life

  1. Prayer is the means by which we can deepen our relationship with God. It is like a telephone line, and when we pick up the phone we have a one-way trunk call to God.
  2. Prayer is not just talking to God about people or situations for which we have concern; we also need to give God time to speak to us … and that means we need to listen as well.
  3. Prayers can be said anytime during the day or night…whatever you are doing.
  4. If it is helpful, praying can be done alone quietly in a room, or as a group.
  5. 5.   I doesn’t matter too much about the quantity of people praying, but what does matter is the quality of prayer … it needs to come from the heart.
  6. If we are serious about our relationship with God then we must be serious about prayer.
  7. Sometimes we may know individuals who cannot pray because they are bereaved, depressed, or ill. It is up to us as disciples of Jesus, to pray for them on their behalf. We should pray for God to bless them and give them strength and an inner peace.
  8. Other times we may see issues in the media, e.g. conflict, injury, and global disasters. Here we should pray to God for guidance, and wisdom.
  9. We must remember that God knows our hearts before we even ask, so even if we struggle to find words to describe what to pray for, God is there already.

10. Stick with Prayer.. even if you feel as though it’s a waste of time !! God never gives up on us !!

God that breaks bounds of time and space

In our prayer life Lord sustain us ,

when the words are hard to find ,

With your gentle Spirit ,

enfold us with your grace

as we open our hearts to you

Amen

Tent people or Temple people

5_tent-church

The other day I was visiting a parish in Madras. After the service I was talking with the elders. I asked them ‘What function does this church perform?’ They were a bit embarrassed. Then one of them said, ‘It caters for the needs of its members. I said, “Then it should be disbanded.'” (Bishop) Lesslie Newbigin, 1974.

This quote certainly makes you think about the purpose of the church in today’s context. However unfortunately, many people still think the church is a club for ‘do-gooders’, and a place where we can just care for each other inside the four secure (or maybe crumbling ) walls.

This quote from Leslie Newbiggin , addresses the fact that the Church is not about looking after the people who attend this so called ‘exclusive club’… but the primary function of the church is to walk with those who are outside the church, to address injustice, and to reach out to the unlovely.

Whether we like it or not, many Christian churches have developed into  ‘Temple People’, putting their efforts into maintaining buildings, looking inward when we should be looking outward. One church I know removed some beautiful stained glass windows and replaced them with plain glass … so they could see the world buzzing about outside the church building during their Sunday service.

The early Church in the New Testament focussed their energy in gathering, praying and discerning, a ‘Tent People’ looking outside as to where to pitch our so called ‘Tent’. Some Churches can be excellent at addressing the needs of people outside the church … they are very switched on and aware of what needs to be done, nevertheless, ‘Tent people’ are not just about doing the caring and serving; Tent people need to be with God , listen to what God is calling them to be, and be flexible and be open enough to move with the times.

‘Tent people’ are nomadic, as they sometimes can be seen as doing things a little differently, nevertheless the words from Newbiggin area real challenge to all of us, … not to be complacent, not to assume we have the right answers, but to listen to the guidance of God’s Spirit that moves deep within us.

God of the Tent and Temple

Help us to be aware of the needs of your world

to Listen , and not to assume we know best.

to Encourage , and not to assume we can do better,

to Love, and not to state conditions .