Lent 2015 …. Day 30…. Scattering Seeds of Faith

Birdseed-Wreath-2-4785In my garden I have four bird hangers; three are suet balls in a holder and one is a heart shaper seed hanger, full of tightly packed nuts. Over that last few months I have been watching the birds come and feed from them, as I have rested in my room. This morning, as I looked out, the hearts shaped bird hanger was quite disintegrated, and it looked as though a bird had a real feast of the seeds. As I looked closely I saw the seeds had fallen and scattered all over the soil in my garden.

My garden is slowly showing signs of spring, with new shoots sprouting up, do I really want those pesky seeds to sprout and spoil my lovely display of flowers and bushes?!

As I was considering my plan of action, some birds came and explored the bounty in soil. They pecked and took it away, and after a few minutes as if by magic, variety of other birds had appeared. It’s as though the news has spread pretty quickly in bird language, to let others know of the feast which lay in our garden.

Jesus ministry is a little like the birds in my garden, people heard about Jesus and the good things he was doing, and his personality, then they flocked like birds to feast on his presence and word.

Sometimes I wish that good news would spread just as quickly on the media, for it seems to be full of doom and gloom, if only we did not relish hearing it. Just imagine the difference if the news was filled with good news all the time, the world would be a positive and uplifting place.

Let’s do our bit, to spread a little good news and kindness for the rest of  Lent, you never know where a seed of hope and kindness will land , and flourish into faith !

……………………………….

Lord of the seeds,

Blow your seeds of Love and Hope

Whirl them around by your Holy Spirit

And as the seeds land, bless them

And bless those who will pick them up

Amen

RD

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Lent 2015 .. Day 29….Helpful way to understand SIN

right and wrongI have just returned from leading one of my churches Lent groups. We are reflecting on my sabbatical subject ‘Seeking Shalom’, in particular in Body Mind and Soul. This week, we focussed on negative forces that can hinder a person attaining Shalom, and explored ‘demonic forces’ and ‘sin’. These two areas are rarely discussed at length in many church services, however I feel that most people are intrigued as to what they mean, and how they both relate to people in today’s context.

One person gave a very helpful explanation of ‘Sin’…..HPSE.

H- Human

P- Potential

S- Spoil

E- Everything.

The wonderful thing is that even though we have the capacity to spoil everything, personally and globally, the God we worship is a God of love, forgiveness and restoration.

………………………………………………..

God

Forgive me for the relationships I have spoiled,

That have brought about hurt and sadness

Forgive me from the collusions I have participated in

That have brought about vindictiveness and prejudice

Forgive me for the pollution I have contributed to within your world

That have caused injustice and climate change

………………………………

Lord by your grace

We are restored, healed and a new creation.

By your Son who lived died and rose again

We are disciples who strive to put as the mundane and clothe ourselves with mercy

By your Spirt who is the intermediary to your Grace

We are empowered and live in the life and light of your Love

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 .. day 28…. Our Inner Song

stillnessFrom a young child, I have always loved singing. In my early years, I remember hearing the singing at the Salvation Army as I stood near my relatives and being caught up with the music of band (my Dad played the trombone!). Then as a teenager I was in the school choir, and in later years progressed to Amateur Operatic and Dramatic Society in my 30/40’s.

Singing has been proven to release certain hormones, so you have a greater sense of wellbeing.

Singing can be a communal activity, as it is in a Sunday service, when our collective voices soar and expresses a language that we cannot define in words. However we also have an inner song, a song that we only can sing from within. Sometimes that song maybe joyous and full of praise, other times it is a sad lament. It is only when we are still we can hear the song that sings within our Spirit and heart. It is this song that becomes the song of Love. For even when we are joyous and singing praise to God with our voices, our inner song maybe beating a different tune and rhythm. Recognizing the rhythm and beat of our inner song may take a lifetime to identify, and Jesus had many inner songs, from the painful lament on Good Friday, to the hymn of resurrection on Easter Sunday.

Our task is to listen to our inner song and sing it with faith.

………………………….

Songs that wing heavenwards

Are placed before God

Then God takes our songs and listen to all of them.

Some painful, others joyous

Some mourning, others in serenity.

…………………………………….

Lord listen to our songs and bless them

Let your healing Spirit

guide us into singing new songs

to refresh , to energize and to restore

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 … Day 27 .. Faith and Green Olives

olivesIn my office, I have a little packet of Green Olives. They just sit there looking at me, seeing how long I can resist the temptation to gobble the whole packet. It’s strange but at one time in my life, I hated olives with its rubbery texture, and its unusual taste, but now I could eat a whole jar!

The Bible is a bit like the olives , some Scripture stories are easily read and accepted yet others, for example the Rape of Tamar (2 Samuel 13: 1-14 ) are more difficult to digest and can leave a bitter taste in your mouth.

Yet as I get older and maybe a little wiser, I come to read the more difficult Biblical passages with a greater sense of understanding. The Biblical world and the world we now inhabit are not so different, as rape, abuse and violence are present, and also situations where we see courage, love and strength.

We live in a world of paradox and inconsistency, where the ‘good and gracious’ sits alongside the ‘despair and desolation’, and it is up to the Holy Spirt to nudge and provoke a reaction, Instead of turning away and ignoring the unpalatable areas of our Life , maybe the Spirit is encouraging us to look and digest, and to face our demons, our prejudices, our fears.

We never embark on this venture alone for we have the Love of Christ to guide us and point the way ahead.

My Olives will one day be eaten, and I shall relish them, just as I relish the diversity, the paradox, the mystery, the pain and the grace of God.

God of the Paradox

We are a people of ordinary substance

Never wanting to rock the boat

To keep things on an even keel,

…………………………..

But your world does have

The delights and the desperate

The have and have-nots

The pain and pleasure

……………………………….

Bless those who suffer in silence

Bless those who are persecuted

Bless those who are oppressed by power

WE ask this is Jesus name

Amen

Lent 2015 .. Day 26… Children and Communion

communion_cup_549697309I have had the pleasure again of conducting Communion at one of my churches. I find communion such a source of peace and welcome. It pains me to reflect on Churches who say they are a welcoming church when restrictions are put on people before they even enter the church door.

This week, I decided to move away from the more traditional liturgy of communion and invite children round the table, so they could see, close hand what was happening. As they gathered, and I talked to them, I sensed a silence occurring, not within the children but also within the congregation;it was one of those Spiritual moments. My language was not towards the adults, but the children, and as they prayed I felt a real sense of inclusivity.

Children can be wonderful disciples and witnesses if we would only let them. Yes my liturgical book when out through the window, but the Spirit took over and she enabled me to speak words the children needed to hear. Thanks be to God

Lord

You call all people to your table

No one is left out ..

Not one person.

…………….

Help us to welcome,

In the real sense,

Not just welcome into our building,

But welcome into your kingdom,

For your kingdom is not made of bricks and mortar

but of love and acceptance.

Amen

RD

Lent 2015… Day 25….. Henri Nouwen on Despair

henri nouwen photoI have just taken a quiet day at one of my churches , I am mindful of the turmoil people face, the unexpected, the mundane routine and the pain of living and illness.

Today, I would like to leave you with a short thought from Henri Nouwen

Who can listen to a story of loneliness and despair without taking the risk of experiencing similar pains in his own heart and even losing his precious peace of mind? In short: “Who can take away suffering without entering it?” 

― Henri J.M. NouwenThe Wounded Healer: Ministry in Contemporary Society

 ………………………

Lord,

I pray for peace within me

And within the world.

Amen

Lent 2015 … Day 24… ‘Clergy does Comic Relief’

CR_RND15_img_v2_0_1Its Friday, March 13th and yes its here.. Comic Relief .!!

I am always amazed at the generosity of people of their time and money… and yes in a very small way I shall be doing my bit. I am part of a ‘Clergy does Comic Relief’ team and tonight I will be treading the boards with a professional comedian to raise money for Comic Relief.

Image0125Over the years questions have been raised in many groups within the community is it really going to people in need, or it is lining pockets?. My only response to that is ‘Bah Humbug !’. Over the last  24 years , I have been visiting Zambia , and supporting projects and I know from first-hand experience what a small amount of money can do to transform lives, transform villages and there give hope where there maybe none at present. Even a bicycle for HIV aid workers to travel the villages, bicycle ambulances, or mosquito nets may seem nothing to us, but Hope is offered and Hope is received.

So if you would like to enjoy watching the telly this evening, please do so … but please give some money and be assured that it all goes to transform people lives.

What would Jesus do if he was here today? . I am sure he would put on a red nose, and say ‘Please give… not for yourself, but for your brothers and sisters in need’.

Prayer for Comic Relief

For those who have the gift of making people smile

For those who are passionate about your kingdom coming here on earth

For those who will be touched by watching events today

We give you thanks

………………………….

For those who will wear red noses and bring a chuckle to people

For the children being sponsored for their silence

For communities raising money

We give you thanks

……………………………………..

For those who will now have clean water

For those who will sleep and not get malaria

For babies and children who now have a future

……………………………………….

For those who will wear a red nose as a reminder of the haves and have not’s

We give you thanks

Amen

Lent 2015.. Day 23… Cherish each other

cherishI have always loved it when my friend calls me ‘sweetheart, mind you he says that to all the women he knows! It’s a real term of endearment and lets the other person knows they are cherished. To feel ‘cherished’ has a lovely warm glow about it, images of being held, embraced, tenderness, yet it is much more than that. It speaks of respect, value and worth, qualities which to my mind are qualities which we should all adhere to not just as Christians but people of humanity.

The only time we talk about ‘cherishing another person’ is during a marriage service, yet for a variety of reasons, 42 % of marriages will end in divorce. So where does that leave the phrase, to ‘cherish one another’.

Cherishing is a way of behaving, cherishing each moment and person in your life, because you never know when it will be the last time you see someone.

Jesus cherished the people he met, the outcast, the women, the children, the disadvantaged, the poor, the poor in spirit and the dispossessed. In turn God and God’s spirit  cherished him, enabled him to feel the tenderness of others, which made Jesus fully human.

…………………………..

Cherish means to inspire

Cherish means to accept

Cherish means to show tenderness

Cherish means to love

Cherish means to respect

Cherish means to value each other’s worth

Cherish means to walk the mile with you

Cherish means to wash your feet

Cherish means to look into the eyes of another human

And see the face of God.

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 .. Day 22 …. Dementia Spirituality

dementia-2I have just been accepted to take part in a Dementia research Study for at least 10yrs. Dementia is a tragedy, especially to those whose family member is affected with this degenerative disease. It is a painful experience to watch, as I personally can testify, as the person we love disappears before our eyes.

One question to consider regarding dementia is ‘What makes us human’?  Does losing one’s reality and grip on life mean that we become less human, less whole?

Being connected to the things that are important to us is indeed important, and as observers we feel helpless when that connectedness becomes ever so thin at times, yet tragedies happen throughout our life. Not being able to speak, express ourselves or communicate is a usual way is very disabling and distressing.

Being bound to earthy matters and concerns are how we establish our identity. We are linked into many social networks, relationships, communities and also God. Some of our boundedness is earthy, and some is Spiritual.

Living with the ‘memories of God’ is an internal journey, and it is a ‘re- membering of God’ within that person. I know that at times I saw a flicker of the person I love come to the surface, yet even though as a person of faith I would want to say that God is holding them, I think there is more, much more to say. When I used to visit a Dementia residential home, I found that saying the Lord’s prayer or singing a familiar hymn would often lead to some sort of communication with the person.

Does that mean that a person with dementia is less loved by God, or less aware of the Divine? If our journey with God is ‘internal’, then I would want to explore the concept of God still communicating and beingin communion with the person who we as humans cannot communicate with.

Jesus had two major periods in his life where he withdrew from being in communication with people and his disciples. The first is the period in the desert, and the second is when he was arrested in the Garden of Gethsemane till his crucifixion. On both occasions he seemed isolated to humanity, yet internally was in ‘communion with God’ where Jesus gained strength from God the Divine and God the Creator.

I think people with dementia have a lot to teach us, as dementia is only part of their story and their identity,,, They are still the same person who has lived and laughed, enjoyed life’s experiences. More research is needed to find out why dementia is increasing, but until then I hand  the people with dementia with whom I cannot communicate with to God , and be assured that God is still in communion with them.

………………

Communion God

When my memory dims,

And the voices I hear are unfamiliar to me,

Be close and whisper the words of love deep within my heart.

………………………………….

When the faces are unfamiliar

and fear engulfs me

Be close and touch me with your Spirit

…………………………………..

When the world around seems ever distant

And I feel lost and alone

Be close and guide me to a safer environment

………………………..

When I lose my grip on reality

And I wander through the dark cold corridors of life

May your Holy Spirit be my Friend,

and guide me to place of peace.

Amen

RD

Lent 2015 … Day 21 … Being in the ‘mood’ for God

woman stressedThe person that we see standing or sitting in front of us, holds a myriad of experiences and feelings, however when we look at someone we can only judge how they are feeling by what they present to us.

The mind can play tricks on us, it controls our thoughts and processes, and some people even can hear voices. It can control our behaviour, our emotions, our relationships and yes even our faith.

It’s easy to think of a God who is loving, accepting and caring when we are receptive, yet how do we respond when we are not receptive, when we are gripped in the spiral of depression, stress, or anxiety?

As people, we are social beings, and whether we like it or not, how or what people think about us, can affect our behaviour. For example, if we are constantly being told “you look tired”, you will eventually start to feel tired, whether you are or not.

How we feel about ourselves, can directly affect our relationships with other people and also with God. How often have we said to ourselves” I am not in the mood for ‘them’ today” . Is it the ‘mood’, or is it the person?

Depending on how we feel, this can also depend on whether we are in the mood for God. Many people say that their faith is their Rock and a sturdy foundation, however what happens we feel that our faith is on shifting sands and we sense that instead of a sturdy foundation we are standing on precarious rocks?

For people who are stressed , anxious or depressed, Faith can be a source of anxiety for they feel they have to be in the mood for God, yet the revelation is that is does not matter to God if we are not in the mood for a one-to-one chat with Him, God is always ready and willing to love us …as we are , even if it means we are not in the mood for God.

Believing in God does not mean that we will have a trouble-free life or that we will not succumb to stress in our lives. It simply means that a life without faith and without a God of Love makes coping with stress an impossible and often debilitating task.

God ,

Help me

When I feel alone

When I feel sad,

When I feel anxious

When I feel afraid

Send your peace

A peace that is truly beyond my understanding

And lift my sadness and replace with hope

Amen

RD