19 August 2009
Simon Peter answered Jesus, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.”
Eternal life. Where is it? When is it? For a long time I have thought about eternal life as a life after all my birthdays have run out. For most of my years I have spoken about the eternal life as the 'afterlife', as 'life after death'. But the older I become, the less interest my 'afterlife' holds for me. Worrying not only about tomorrow, next year, and the next decade, but even about the next life seems a false preoccupation. Wondering how things will be for me after I die seems, for the most part, a distraction. When my clear goal is the eternal life, that life must be reachable right now, where I am, because eternal life is life in and with God, and God is where I an here and now. Henri Nouwen ‘Here and Now’
26 August 2009
As we prepare to mark Refugee and Migrant Sunday across our Churches, let us pray a blessing together…
God bless our eyes, that we may recognise injustice.
God bless our ears, that we may hear the cry of the stranger.
God bless our mouths, that we may speak words of welcome to newcomers.
God bless our shoulders, that we may bear the weight of struggling for justice.
God bless our hands, that we may work together with all people to establish peace. .
God bless our hearts, that we may be transformed into witnesses of truth, justice and love
And the blessing of God Almighty, the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit, be upon us and and remain with us always.
2 September 2009
…the woman was a Gentile, of Syrophoenician origin. She begged Jesus to cast the demon out of her daughter.
….they brought to him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they begged Jesus to lay his hand on him.
Mark 7: 26, 32
Some people see what is and say, “Why?” Others dream of what could be and say, “Why not?”
John F Kennedy
9 September 2009
Jesus called the crowd with his disciples, and said to them, “If any want to become my followers, let them deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For those who want to save their life will lose it, and those who lose their life for my sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it. Mark 8:34-35
How…can we move from fragmentation to unity, from many things to the one necessary thing, from our divided lives to undivided lives in the Spirit? A hard struggle is required. It is the struggle to allow God’s Spirit to work in us and recreate us. But this struggle is not beyond our strength.
It calls for some very specific well-planned steps. It calls for a few moments a day in the presence of God when we can listen to God’s voice precisely in the midst of our many concerns. It also calls for the persistent endeavour to be with others in a new way by seeing them not as people to whom we can cling in fear, but as fellow human beings with whom we can create a new space for God.
These well-planned steps, these disciplines, are the concrete ways of ‘setting your hearts upon the kingdom,’ and they can slowly dismantle the power of our worries and thus lead us to unceasing prayer.
The beginning of the spiritual life is often difficult not only because the powers which cause us to worry are so strong but also because the presence of God’s Spirit seems barely noticeable. If, however, we are faithful to our disciplines, a new hunger is the first sign of God’s presence. When we remain attentive to this divine presence, we will be led always deeper into the kingdom.
Henri Nouwen ‘Making All Things New’
16 September 2009
Jesus took a little child and put it among them; and taking it in his arms, he said to them, 37“Whoever welcomes one such child in my name welcomes me, and whoever welcomes me welcomes not me but the one who sent me.” Mark 9:36-37
Among the many things that work against interiority today, three can be singled out as particularly cankerous: narcissism, pragmatism, and unbridled restlessness.
Defined simply, narcissism means excessive self-preoccupation; pragmatism means excessive focus on work, achievement, and the practical concerns of life; and restlessness means an excessive greed for experience, an over-eating, not in terms of food but in terms trying to drink in too much of life. Narcissism accounts for our heartaches, pragmatism for our headaches, and restlessness for our insomnia. And the combination of all three together account for the fact that we are so habitually self-absorbed by heartaches, headaches, and greed for experience that we rarely find the time and space to be in touch with the deeper movements inside of and around us.
There is no limit to rich analysis on this: Thomas Merton once said that the biggest spiritual problem of our time is efficiency, work, pragmatism; by the time we keep the plant running there is little time and energy for anything else. Neil Postman suggests that, as a culture, we are amusing ourselves to death, that is, distracting ourselves into a bland, witless superficiality. Henri Nouwen has written eloquently on how our greed for experience and the restlessness, hostility, and fantasy it generates blocks solitude, hospitality and prayer in our lives. They are right. What each of these authors, and countless others, are saying is that we, for every kind of reason, good and bad, are distracting ourselves into spiritual oblivion. It is not that we have anything against God, depth and spirit, it is just that we are habitually too preoccupied to have any of these show up on our radar screens. We are more busy than bad, more distracted than non-spiritual, and more interested in the cinema, the sports stadium, the shopping centre and the fantasy life they produce in us than we are in church. Pathological busyness, distraction, and restlessness are today major blokes within our spiritual lives. Ronald Rolheiser ‘Seeking Spirituality’
23 September 2009
If any of you put a stumbling block before one of these little ones who believe in me, it would be better for you if a great millstone were hung around your neck and you were thrown into the sea. If your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed than to have two hands and to go to hell, to the unquenchable fire. And if your foot causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life lame than to have two feet and to be thrown into hell. And if your eye causes you to stumble, tear it out; it is better for you to enter the
The Church of England's Bishop of Reading, the Right Rev Stephen Cottrell, said the church must shed its middle class "Marks & Spencer" image and become more like "Aldi", welcoming to the masses.
"Even today I meet people who think you have to be highly educated or suited and booted to be a person who goes to church. That's so frustrating," he was cited saying by The Times.
"How did it come to this, that we have become known as just the Marks & Spencer option when in our heart of hearts we know that Jesus would just as likely be in the queue at Asda (a British retail chain) or Aldi?
"Jesus got us started with church simply. Like this: sitting us down in groups on the grass and telling simple stories - not simplistic, but certainly not complicated. All his first disciples were down to earth people who wanted to know what life was all about.
"I wish I could take everyone round our churches in my area. Places of warmth and honesty. Sanctuaries of deep conversation, of tears and laughter. Not a hobby but a way of life." http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/comment/faith/article6842742.ece
30 September 2009
People were bringing little children to Jesus in order that he might touch them; and the disciples spoke sternly to them. But when Jesus saw this, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to me; do not stop them; for it is to such as these that the
In me there is darkness, but with thee there is light.
I am lonely, but thou leavest me not;
I am feeble in heart, but thou leavest me not;
I am restless, but with thee there is peace;
In me there is bitterness, but with thee there is patience.
Thy ways are past understanding,
But thou knowest the way for me.
7 October 2009
As Jesus was setting out on a journey, a man ran up and knelt before him, and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” .Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone. You know the commandments: ‘You shall not murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; You shall not defraud; Honor your father and mother.’” He said to him, “Teacher, I have kept all these since my youth.” Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said, “You lack one thing; go, sell what you own, and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; then come, follow me.” When he heard this, he was shocked and went away grieving, for he had many possessions. Mark 10:17-22
If we dwell in the presence of God, we shall be led by the Spirit. We do well to remember that being led by the Spirit depends not so much upon God, who is always there to lead us, as upon our willingness to be led.
14 October 2009
Jesus said, “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Mark 10: 45
The Paradoxes of Being a Servant-Leader
Strong enough to be weak
Successful enough to fail
Busy enough to make time
Wise enough to say “I don’t know”
Serious enough to laugh
Rich enough to be poor
Right enough to say “I’m wrong”
Compassionate enough to discipline
Mature enough to be childlike
Important enough to be last
Planned enough to be spontaneous
Controlled enough to be flexible
Free enough to endure captivity
Knowledgeable enough to ask questions
Loving enough to be angry
Great enough to be anonymous
Responsible enough to play
Assured enough to be rejected
Victorious enough to lose
Industrious enough to relax
Leading enough to serve
Brewer, as cited by Hansel, 1987: from a booklet, “Servant–Leadership Characteristics in Organisational Life” by Don De Graaf, Colin Tulley and Larry Neal http://home.earthlink.net/~denmartin/slc.html
21 October 2009
As Jesus and his disciples and a large crowd were leaving
My soul is not asleep. It is awake, wide awake.
It neither sleeps nor dreams, but watches, its eyes wide open, far-off things, and listens at the shores of the great silence.