Releasing the Spirit …

As we approach Advent and Christmas we celebrate the birth of Jesus yet as sure as eggs are eggs we will also be on the path which leads us into a deeper understanding of God . We have celebrated various Christian festivals in recent weeks All Souls day, All Saints, day and concluding with Remembrance Day

As a young 18yr old student nurse, one of my first jobs was to prepare the body of a person who had recently died. The sister told me to talk to the person as though they were still here, then tenderly touch and wash them.

After washing, we wrapped the body in a white sheet, tightly…and it has been this image that has stayed with me all my life … the image of being encased, ‘womb like’, waiting for something to happen … the physical body in a state of slow decay.. Yet the spirit being released …soaring to its final destination… to be a new creation

01-14-Divinegrace

I have never seen a soul take flight… yet I have felt what is like to be so overwhelmed with awesomeness that my inner body responds in wavelike motions… it’s a though my Spirit is wanting to reach some ‘outer part’ that I can only glimpse at… yet she can see and feel the Creator God more intimately than I can.

There will be opportunity to reflect on the birth of Jesus through the following weeks, yet I think the final word needs to be with the image of the Spirit soaring to merge with essence of God who is Creator, Redeemer and Comforter… what a happy occasion that will be. !!

The song is one I remember singing as young child, then I heard it sung again in Jamaica at a graveside during my ministerial training … the image of a bird, the Spirit flies to be be in completeness and oneness with God.

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Weaving the ‘Resurrection story’ in our lives

easter day

The more Easter sermons I share with congregations, the more I pay attention to and am amazed by the loud voice of the women on Easter Sunday !!! They play such a central role on this great day. They stand in such stark contrast to the disciples, all who had fled, and now declare that the women’s story is an idle tale or outright nonsense.

Good news is what we hope for, we long to hear it but it often requires a leap of faith, a willingness to believe what we have not seen with our own eyes.

As Martin Luther King once said Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase.” Good news can transform us and everything we know, but……. sometimes we are not quite ready for it.

Resurrection is seen and experienced in the quality of the lives of those who live out their faith in the Risen Lord We see it most clearly in the transformation of Peter, who went from misunderstanding the Scriptures to interpreting them through the lens of the Resurrection. We see it in Paul who had set out to put Christians to death, only to become the champion of “dying and rising with Christ.”, but the resurrection is not just for people… it is also situations and relationships, where all seems lost , then a new spark or light rays shines through and shatter doubt , fear and injustice, and replace them with strength and hope.

Such lives are evidence that Jesus has risen from the dead and is alive in the world today. By this I mean we see with new insight , we see the world through Jesus eyes, not through our own , if we accept that at Easter something happened to transform, renew, and enthuse the disciples… well I want some of that, and I expect we all do . This is the resurrection. Making a brand new start today …through the eyes of the resurrected Jesus

God has woven resurrection into our daily lives so we can learn the shape of it and perhaps learn to trust the strength of it when our own time comes.

We are “Easter people”……. when we put on brand new lives, not merely brand new clothes.

Easter Day is the key to our faith and to our hope,

It is central to everything that Jesus taught, concerning himself and the Kingdom of God

It is central to everything that the church has proclaimed, since the day that Jesus ascended into heaven.

Alleluia .. Christ has risen !!

Prayer

Loving God

we thank you today

for that which we cannot understand

but which we can appreciate, and experience.

Pour out upon us, a renewed faith in your power

and the peace that comes with hope in you

and in the resurrection of Christ our Lord.

Amen

The ‘scent’ of Love

 

annointing woman

 

My favourite perfume is Green Tea, by Elizabeth Arden … Not that I ever wear it a great deal, apart from special occasions, however I also love to have aromatherapy burning in the house. I adore the many scents and fragrances and often will mix them up and see what will develop. Although it has been a while now, I used make bread, which can evoke such memories of warmth and comfort, yet I feel one of the most tangible ‘scents’, is the scent of Love. I have been in a room where I have felt the magnetism in the air between two people, and again when I read the reading of the woman who anointed Jesus from the Gospel of John, I wondered what the atmosphere would have been like.

The onlookers would have been shocked and disgusted, that Jesus allowed her to anoint his feet; not a slave, but a woman of status, and her hair not bound and tied up like a good obedient Jewish woman would do, but let down, flowing locks for all to see, so she could wipe the excess oil from his feet. This act of true devotion has been discussed many times, and yet again, I too am reflecting on it. Recently, I thought that the smell of the oil would have been with Jesus for a long time. I know when I spilt aromatherapy oil on my fingers, the smell lingers for ages. Jesus knew that this caring and tender act would be a ‘final goodbye’, for now he faces Jerusalem; the city that is full of betrayal, deceit, bitterness and death.

He can smell the tension in the air, yet…. The overpowering scent which he will take with him is one of Love.

A scent which will sustain him through the difficult days ahead.

A scent which will calm his nerves

A scent which is just for him

And what does Mary get in return?…As she anoints his feet with oil, and the fragrance permeates every pore between them, she wipes his oily feet with her hair, and as the oil sticks to her hair it becomes drenched, so she unwittingly anoints herself on her forehead with the same oil . That simple, yet important act of courage and faithfulness, has been blessed by God.

As disciples, we serve the God of Love, and it is that Love which will be our ‘scent’ in the world, a scent which will linger, a scent which means devotion, a scent which will carry us through our difficult and sometimes tortuous journey of life.

God who is Love

whose Love for us is overflowing,

whose Love for us is eternal whose love for us is seen in the act of a woman

Bless us with the oil of gladness and faithfulness

So all may know that we are your disciples

Amen