Lent 2015 … Day 11.. Lent hymn

Music note lent 2015 Lgod-clef-free-hymn-sheet-music-button-styled

As part of my Lenten discipline, I attended a quiet day at a local retreat centre. The theme of the day was ‘Desert Places’ and ‘Living waters’. I occasionally get inspiration to write a hymn, that expresses my thoughts about a subject. I wrote two hymns to familiar tunes. Here is the first one. The tune is  Kingsfold (I heard the voice of Jesus say ).

Lord, be with me this time of Lent

The shadows lurk around,

I dread the light is fading fast

And I’ll be ever bound.

Send now your Spirit, whirl and dance,

To lift me up on high;

Transform my fear, breathe through my doubt

O Spirit give me life.

………………………

The dry hot winds blow round about,

the desert looks so bare,

The fear inside me welling up

I do not want to share.

But I must walk this barren land,

With Angels and wild beasts.

They meet with me, my thirst increased,

My soul yearns to be free.

………………………….

The Lenten days are now behind,

I see no desert now,

Your grace and mercy were my friends,

Companions till the end,

And now the Living waters heal

around me and within.

The lessons learnt for forty days,

Your love will always win.

………………………………….

©Ruth Dillon 2015

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Lent 2015 .. Day 10 … Being unique

unique-quotes-best-meaningful-sayings-perfectI came across this wisdom story, however I am not sure where it has come from. Since I first read it, the theme of being unique and rejoicing in our uniqueness has been uppermost in my mind. During Lent, we may all undergo specific disciplines, which fit our character, personality and discipleship. Let us never compare ourselves to another person, for God has given us the gifts and talents specifically for us

‘A penguin was standing on the water’s edge when he looked up at an eagle soaring high above his head. He watched him with great admiration for a few moments and then looked down at his own flippers with frustration. The penguin shuffled up to the tallest rock on the beach and flapped his wings vigorously.

“That looks so cool, I wish I could fly in the air like an eagle,” he thought to himself before accepting reality; sliding into the sea and swimming away.

The eagle looked down and saw the penguin swimming gracefully in the water. He watched him with similar admiration for a few moments and looked across at his own wings, wondering if they would work under water.

“That looks so cool, I wish I could fly in the water like a penguin,” he thought to himself, before accepting reality; catching another updraft and effortlessly soaring away into the distance.

Every now and then, I look at the talents and capabilities of others and wish that I was like them. And my suspicion is that many of those I admire have others in their lives whom they envy.And so it goes on, the endless loop of comparison and inevitable disappointment.

A penguin is a penguin for a reason and it is remarkably good at what it was created for.

An eagle is an eagle for a reason and it is remarkably good at what it was created for.

Never compare yourself with another person, for you are you for a reason, and have the capacity to become remarkably good at what God created you for.

God who makes us unique,

You know us intimately,

Know what makes us tick,

Know what presses our buttons,

Know our yearnings,

Know our fears.

As we bathe in your love for us,

May we be able to be true to our calling

of being a person made in your image;

Loved and beloved by you,

Unique and child of our Creator.

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 … Day 9 ….. Anger

Have you ever had days where emotions get the better of you ? Speaking personally, if I am faced with someone who is continually nagging and picking holes in my attempts to do something , eventually , I will feel angry and respond negatively . This is a natural emotion… anger.  It is what makes us human. Yet the aim is to focus on our anger and frustration and to turn it into something positive.

the-angry-christThe Angry Jesus by Filipino artist Lina Pontebon,  is an artist’s attempt to show Jesus expressing Anger.  We read in the gospels that Jesus only ever expressed anger once outside the temple in Jerusalem, where the anger was based on power, that is power over someone else as the Roman authorities over people who could not stand up for themselves

There are lots of incidents where power is witnessed and observed over someone else:- Bullying in the school playground , on a daily basis in a work environment , domestic violence, physical , financial , mental sexual and social abuse… the list can become endless

However, Jesus didn’t only get angry – he acted. He acted by bringing it into the light, to expose it, to speak and condemn it, and for me this is what is behind this picture of the angry Jesus. Jesus expressed righteous anger over the selfishness of the people “He said to them, ‘My Temple will be called a house of prayer,’ but you have turned it into a den of thieves’, (Matthew 21:13), here his anger was directed at unmistakable injustice.

The Bible rightly teaches us to curb or anger yet, have we become numb and apathetic to the power in the world and in society? Are they issues which make you angry that you could do something about in a focussed way e.g. a fundraising event for a charity, sign a petition, get involved in a local project or group.

Although Jesus was tested in the desert , did Jesus feel angry and frustrated about being in the wilderness away from the power and injustice or was he relieved to have left it aside albeit for a short time?

Lord

Turn our anger to awareness

Turn our awareness to action

Turn our action into adoration

To further your kingdom here on this earth.

Amen

Lent 2015.. Day 8…. Falling upwards

Rohr falling upwards lent 2015I have started reading Richard’s Rohr book. ‘Falling upwards’. It is a book about the two halves of our life. He writes that in the first half, we are naturally and rightly preoccupied with establishing our identities – climbing the ladder of success, achieving and performing. But those concerns will not service us, as we grow older and begin to embark on a further journey that involves challenges. Mistakes, loss of control and seek broader horizons.

In a nutshell he describes how life is like a ‘container’, and we fill the container up with possessions, items, values that we feel comfortable with, and this in turn could hinder our spiritual growth.

As we meet challenges and disappointments, we ‘fall’ down to rock bottom recognising that we do not have the resources to draw on to give us strength in our container. Mostly our container holds ‘items ‘that pander to our cultural identity, rarely to our Spiritual one.

It is only when we reach this point, can we unburden ourselves of the items from the first half of our  life and fill our container with wisdom from time honoured people ,  spirituality , sacred texts to name but a few, and so equip us for the second half . He states we grow spiritually more by doing it wrong than by doing it right. For it is those who have ‘gone down’ are the only ones who understand ‘up’.

Reading this book, I can identify a lot about myself.

We all have faced pain, difficulties rejection, and hurt, yet it is by these wounds that we learn to be faithful people of God, and continue to tread the sometimes weary path of life and discipleship. Our painful events that make us ‘fall down’, are the stepping stones to us being a whole person. We may never see each other’s scars and wounds, but they are the ‘passport’ to the spiritual joys that await us in the second half of our life.

Jesus definitely had two halves to his life, and in the wilderness I am sure it was one of his more difficult moments, being faced with all manner of things. Yet God equipped him with many resources to fill his container up, so he could walk the path of compassion and also sacrifice, as he journeyed through Palestine to his death in Jerusalem.

Take my life and let it be

Consecrated Lord for thee,

Take my moments and my days

Let them flow in ceaseless praise.

©Words from Frances Ridley Havergal

Lent 2015 …. Day 7…. Fasting

Fasting for Lent_medFasting – that means nothing to eat or drink for a fixed period.

Oh dear- this is going to be hard for me.

As you may have read in my blog in an earlier post (see Body Theology), food and I have had somewhat up and down relationship… and now I have come to a point where I eat, when I want to eat. Some days I eat only fruit, some day’s just one main meal, sometimes snack, but most I try to be healthy!!

But fasting, deliberately not eating seems like more of a mental discipline. Having decided to undertake a fast each week, I brace myself and decide which day.

The early Church, Mothers and Fathers of our Faith, fasted to assist them in focussing on God through prayer and reading. Maybe I need to prepare myself the day before, decide the time frame. Some writers say from sunrise to sunset, others suggest from 8am – 8pm.

How did Jesus’ enforced fasting affect  him in the wilderness? Would he have been lightheaded, dizzy, dehydrated, confused, and disorientated?  No small wonder after 40 days and nights without food or water.  And here am I , considering one day a week… yes  it is a mental discipline, and if it means that I learn more about God, the One who loves me and cares for me, then it’s worth it .

Food or fasting?

Lord as I prepare to fast,

remain with me each minute and hour.

Let not my thoughts linger to the cheese and biscuits.

But to your goodness, and love for me.

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 … Day 6….. Fairtrade milk

Reflecting on Lenten themes, one of them is bringing Justice to God’s people, and today is the first day of Fairtrade fortnight. This is when the church and its Fairtrade supporters bring to people’s attention the plight of farmers, growers and co-operatives who are striving to get a fair price for their produce.

Even though the church, and supermarkets usually focus on projects in developing countries , I would like to turn our attention to the UK.

In our land, there will be families who are struggling to get a fair price for their produce. I am mindful of the difficulty dairy farmers are in at the moment.

faitrade milk lent 2015

Milk prices have been cut by up to 30% in the last 12 months, and 2015 looks just as bleak for the dairy industry.  A large milk distributer have deferred payments to farmers  for two weeks , yet cows still have to be fed , children still need food on the table.

In the supermarkets, a milk price war has developed; a 2 litre bottle of milk for £1,cheap to us, but  to the farmer this means a loss of income. To break even, farmers need been getting around 30 per litre, now they getting as low as 20p a litre.

The National Farmers Union has said the diary sector is suffering from ‘crippling price cuts’ and it predicts there could be fewer than 5,000 left by 2025 ( in 2002 there were approx. 10,000 dairy farmers)

Milk is driven by consumerism and by cheap imported milk, however I noted with interest that local milk is being delivered to the doorstep again. I would encourage us to consider this as a way of supporting local dairy farmers in this Country, so they get a fair price for their milk.

Yes it may be a little more expensive, but surely if we can support projects overseas for Fairtrade, then we must also support industries nearer to home.

We need not look to developing countires to encourage Fairtrade, as God sees, hears and feels injustice in this country as well as far off lands.

God in whom we live and move and have our being,

On this day we are mindful of people who are

Financially abused at the hands of others.

We pray for

Wisdom within meetings

Insight within negotiating

Compassion within conversation

So that Justice will flow like a never ending stream.

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 … Day 5….Celebrate

new shoots lent 2015My garden needs a bit of TLC.!!

I tidied up before winter, and now it is looking very soggy and sorry for itself! However the blooms of primroses under my bare cherry tree are very cheery, and now as different shoots sprout from the earth, I know that spring is not far away.

The winter can be long and dreary, yet as soon as new life appears we feel much better.

Life can be similar to the seasons, winter nights when we stay indoors, pace of life different, a little slower, in fact some people feel down right miserable in the winter. Yet celebrate we must, for as the seasons move from winter to spring, we realise that all is not lost, that the God who encourages growth when all seems lost ,is the God who loves us unconditionally.

As Jesus wandered alone in the wilderness, when he must have thought at times all hope is lost, God sent angels to tend and care for him.

Let us not just celebrate the coming of Spring, let us celebrate the One who sends us angels, to tend and care for us, when we feel in the depths of ‘winter’ and despair

God who sends angels to care for us

We thank you for the many times

small gestures of compassion and kindness

have meant so much to us.

The smile of acceptance

The gentle touch of reassurance

The phone call at the ‘right’ time.

Lord we pray,

That even though we may not immediately recognise your angels,

Enable us to be alert to their presence,

And may you use us to be angels to others.

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 …Day 4…Water

Living water day 4 lent 2015It’s easy for us, we can just turn a tap on, and fresh clean water trickles then gushes.

The image of water is used often in the Bible, to illustrate the blessing that God bestows on us.

  • A fountain of gardens, a well of living waters, and streams from Lebanon.” (Song of Solomon 4:15
  • |He| shall lead them unto living fountains of waters: and God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes” (Revelation 7:17)
  • They have forsaken the LORD, the fountain of living waters” (Jeremiah 17:13)
  • “Living waters shall go out from Jerusalem. . . . And the Lord shall be king over all the earth” (Zechariah 14:8-9).
  • The water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14).

One of my favourite Gospel narrative is the woman at the well, where Jesus engages in a dialogue with water at the heart of the conversation.

However what about dirty, polluted water, or where countries have a scarcity of water? How do they hear these passages from scripture that describes water as clean and life giving ?

I am sure Jesus did not have a hip flask filled with clean fresh water, although he may have had a ‘skin’ to carry some water, we shall never know. However this we do know, that where people do not have access to clean water, disease, illness and possibly death occurs.

The water that God brings is a ‘Living water’… not the water from a tap, but one that comes from an eternal fountain found within the heart of God; and the guide to this fountain is the Holy Spirt.

God who is the fount of clean water

God who is the stream of righteousness

God who is the well that is deep and calming

Enable us to bathe in the Life giving water.

Amen

 

RD

Lent 2015 .. Day 3… Possessions

possesssions Lent 3This morning I looked in my purse and found I had no money not even any change, so the next step was to the local ATM machine. As I waited in the queue, it was clear that frustrations were rife; the ATM machine had no money.

As I gazed at my card, gripping it tightly in my hand. I wondered how would it be if I had no or little money, if I had no card, or no bank account, and no access to any form of money. Just for a moment, I shuddered.

Could I live on a Living wage of £7.85 per hour or even the minimum wage of £6.50 per hour ( 21yr old and over).?

As Jesus entered the desert he had no possessions with him, yet entered the wilderness with the greatest possession of all, the gift of the Holy Spirt

Money, notes and coins !

Lord, they rule our life

Yes we need them to exist

To buy food and shelter.

Nevertheless wealth has been used to corrupt your world Lord.

As Christ stood on the precipice

Looking outward from the desert

May we always be mindful of the men, women and children

that stand on precipice of life.

Hovering between oppression and isolation

Possessions may stand for power

possessions also stand for people.

Yet all people are precious in your sight Lord

Amen

RD

Lent 2015…Day 2… Conversation

conversation-lent 2Yesterday I was part of a Jewish and Christian conversation discussing the conflict and tensions in the Middle East. Even though respect was present on both sides and by all people, the conversation was heated and passionate.

As Jesus approached the wild desert plains, I wonder how he felt not be able talking to his friends and family? The conversations about the Romans occupying his beloved Land, and the heated discussions with the Rabbi in the synagogue. Jesus was entering a new and challenging realm, for God was his only listener, and the wind and weather was his companion.

Was he frightened?

Was he strengthened by the Spirit?

Did he have doubts?

Prayer

Abba ,

Stop me when I may hurt people by barbed words

Strengthen me as I walk the path of humility

Enable me to listen not just with ears, but using my whole senses.

So I see before me a child of God made in your image

Amen

RD