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Showing posts from April, 2014

What is believing? Is it hearing, seeing or doing?

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Today is the 2nd Sunday of Easter. The gospel readings on the Sundays of the Easter season focus on the various ways Jesus' disciples encountered him after his death and resurrection. Today the focus is on an appearance to the disciples in an upper room where the disciples were hiding for fear behind locked doors. The gospel reading is John 20: 19 - 31. I wrote about this for the Big Bible Project a couple of years ago. Here is what I wrote: "The Bible reading is John 20: 19 – 31. It begins with the risen Jesus meeting his disciples in an upper room, breathing the Holy Spirit on them and commissioning them for mission. It ends with Thomas’s declaration of faith and a restatement of the purpose of John’s gospel – that you may believe in Jesus and find Life. I’m interrupting my series on ‘Women of the Gospels’ because I’ve been asked to post on this reading. No woman is mentioned. Does this mean no women were present? I think women probably were present. It’s worth remembering that …

Easter: dawning hope

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Here's a new poem for Easter by J.Barrie Shepherd found here. Easter Essentials Strip away the perfect lilies massed along, across the chancel steps, the bright reflecting sight and sound of brasses, and the white and gold of paraments and stoles. Set aside two thousand years, almost, of holy words and gestures, the jostling flotsam of an epic tidal surge of global custom and conviction, conquest too. Try to ignore this new spring sunlight, the steady warming of the soil, the waking birdsongs, green and early fragrant air. Reject all this and you are left with a report, some blood-stained bandages in a vacated garden cave, several startled temple guards, a gaggle of bewildered witnesses, and through all this a dawning hope, so strange yet sure it drives you to your trembling knees, groping for fresh syllables and sounds to shape this ever new, yet ancient cry. The Lord is risen...risen indeed!
Image Credit: wikimedia commons

Easter Eve: waiting for Easter joy

Good Friday

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This Good Friday I have no words.

Here are 6 posts worth reading from others:

Good Friday Redux: crucify or follow - beautiful photos and very few words, but a challenge

Good Friday? a brief personal comment from a recently bereaved Christian

Friday - the ugly story of the world's ways

Understanding Good Friday - suffering is not beautiful but can have a meaning

Good Friday: the stations of the cross - Malcolm Guite's complete series of sonnets for the stations of the cross

BigRead14: Mysterious Cross - poem by Stephen Cherry

And finally, here is a Good Friday Meditation with no words:



Image Credit: Pixaby, CC License

Maundy Thursday

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Today is the time to remember the last meal that Jesus shared with his friends on the night before he died, the night he was betrayed by a friend and arrested. During the meal Jesus took bread and wine, gave thanks, broke the bread and shared it. He asked his followers to remember him every time they did the same. St Paul describes it like this: "...the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, 'This is my body that is for you.' In the same way he took the cup also, after supper, saying, 'This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.' For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord's death until he comes." 1 Corinthians 11: 23 - 26 (NRSV)Perhaps that is the most obeyed commandment of Jesus. Much harder to obey is the 'new commandment' he gave to his friends that same night: "I give you a n…

Betrayal

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There's a tradition in some places in Poland to throw a figure of Judas Iscariot from the top of a church steeple and then to throw sticks and stones at it while dragging it through the streets. What is left is drowned in a pond or stream. In other places, on this Wednesday of Holy Week, an effigy of Judas is burned or hanged.
How do such traditions start and continue? Is it because there's something in all of us that wants a scapegoat, someone to blame for the evil of which we are all capable? Someone to take responsibility for getting things wrong, as any of us can, even from the best of intentions. We want to say 'it is him', 'it is her', 'it is them'. We are reluctant to search our hearts and ask, 'is it I?' 
It is at the Last Supper that Jesus foretells his betrayal by his friend Judas. Jesus had already washed his feet, along with those of his other disciples. Jesus is sharing a meal with his close companions. He shares bread with them and p…

The Last Journey

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Thoughts on leaving home for my aunt's funeral
Today is a journey one that seems fitting on this 3rd day of Holy Week.
Today is a journey one that is through and to a place of memories.
Today is a journey route planned tyre pressures checked.
Today is a journey shoes polished tissues packed in pockets.
Today is a journey of tears and laughter of meeting and farewell.
Today is a journey there will be words of death and resurrection.
Today is a journey of grief and hope that will be shared.
Today is a journey Elizabeth has made her last journey.

Prayer from Common Worship Funeral Service
Support us, O Lord, all the day long of this troublous life until the shadows lengthen and the evening comes, the busy world is hushed, the fever of life is over and our work is done. Then, Lord, in your mercy grant us a safe lodging, a holy rest, and peace at the last; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Image Credit: Wikipedia, CC License

Monday of Holy Week

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6 days before Passover Jesus shared a meal in the home of Martha, Mary and Lazarus. Martha served it. Lazarus was among other men at the table.

Mary's gratitude to Jesus after restoring her brother Lazarus to the household was enormous. Her love for Jesus was overwhelming. She wanted to express it. She could not have chosen a more embarrassing way do it. In an astonishing intimate gesture Mary of Bethany anointed Jesus' feet with very expensive perfumed ointment. Even more shockingly she wiped his feet with her hair. 

It was inevitable that criticism would be immediate - the immodesty, the stepping out of her expected role helping Martha to serve the meal, the waste of expensive assets instead of giving to the poor. Women simply cannot let their hair down like that in public without being damned by 'respectable' people.

Tom Wright suggests this is an incident that demands that we ask, 
"where are you in this picture?" *So I have to ask, am I "with the shamel…

Palm Sunday Thoughts

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I love this fresco by Franz Plattner of Jesus' entry into Jerusalem. It is in the choir of the parish church of Zirl, Tyrol, Austria. Jesus straddles a donkey and its colt, neither of which you can see. Unused to being ridden, they bear the burden of Jesus' weight and his heavy heart. Unseen they cope with the press and noise of the crowd.

The mixture of emotions in Jesus and the people with him is not what you might expect for 'Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem'. This is no triumphant procession. Jesus looks calm, but as if he is grieving for the city he enters, or steeling himself to face the trials he knows must come. He rides to his death. There is nothing triumphant about this picture. The people are not cheering 'hooray'. Most look confused or fearful. Some seem to be crying out to God 'save us now!' There is a powerful sense of things coming to a head, a point of no return, or as N.T. Wright puts it in an article in Religion and Ethics, On…

What is a decluttered life?

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What is a 'decluttered life'? A life free of clutter?
Will I get one if - I get rid of junk, tidy up, sort the jumble, clear stuff out and spring-clean? Will I get one if - I create order from disorder, ditch the hoarded stuff, create a minimalist environment?
Is living simply just about things? Will I get simplicity if - I have less, use less, recycle more?
Does simplicity depend on a simple spirit and what is that anyway? An interior grace? Something seen in people - like Ghandhi, Mother Theresa? A transparency through which beauty is glimpsed God's grace glows?
What is a 'decluttered life'? Do I really want one?
This question and my responses were prompted by the prayer/poem Simplicity by Stephen Cherry published in Barefoot Prayers, a book I've been using during Lent. It begins
"Lord, make me simple - for I have become too complicated."The full text of this short poem is on Big Read14:Simplicity and you can hear it read by Maggie Cherry. It isn't really about what might f…

Thomas's Story: for 5th Sunday of Lent Year A

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I was so scared in Jerusalem. The things Jesus said there made some think he was crazy. They nearly stoned him - tried to arrest him. We escaped with Jesus. We could have gone to Bethany where Lazarus and his sisters Mary and Martha lived – only 2 miles away - always a warm welcome there. But it was too near Jerusalem. We were relieved to retreat with Jesus out of Judea, back across the Jordan river - much safer. It was good to get away.
Then Jesus heard Lazarus was sick. He didn’t set off immediately to see him. Even with the danger we thought that odd. He loved that family - but he stayed put 2 more days. Eventually he said 'let's go back to Judea'. We tried to talk him out of it - afraid he’d be killed - but Jesus was determined. He said Lazarus was asleep. He had to go to wake him up. It didn't make sense. It made even less sense when Jesus said Lazarus was dead. You can't wake the dead! And we'd be too late for the burial. Why not stay safe - visit Mary and…

Gender and marriage

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I've read and thought a lot about the issue of marriage between 2 people of the same gender. Some things I've read have infuriated me, especially those written with an assumption that marriage as a social institution has always been the same. It hasn't historically. And for those of us who take the Bible seriously, it is misleading to use terms like 'Biblical marriage' or 'marriage according to the Bible'. As a woman I'm grateful not to have been one of King Solomon's numerous wives and concubines. I'm grateful not to be considered the property of my husband as was the case in England and Wales until the 19th century. 

The Church of England is engaged in a debate about same-sex marriage. It has been for a long time and there are sharp and painful divides, just as there were in relation to owning or profiting from slavery, remarriage of divorced people, marrying deceased wife's sister and - in some areas of the Anglican Communion - marriage be…

500th Post

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Starting a personal blog can be daunting. When I began on 2 May 2009 I had no idea what I was doing or why I was doing it, except perhaps that I enjoy learning new skills. 

Clicking 'publish' on that 1st post was a leap in the dark as so many other of my major life decisions have been. There are some things that you can only learn by doing, however much prior research you do - cycling, swimming, marrying, praying - to name a few that come to mind. I have enjoyed learning to blog, but still feel like a beginner.

After almost 5 years this is the 500th post. To be more accurate it is the 500th published post. Many others haven't seen the light of day, often because I didn't finish them before the relevant moment had passed. They remind me of the 'rough book' we used to used at school - useful for getting your thoughts in order but not to preserve for evermore. Many of my blog post drafts get deleted, but some are stored in case they prove useful later. A bit like th…

April Fool's Day

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It's amazing the new things you learn by idly browsing Flickr images with a Creative Commons License.
I've just seen this beautiful photo by Robert Couse-Baker of a 1st April harvesting from a tree in Northern California. The tree is locari stultus var.filcrus whose lineage can be traced back to the original vine stock that grew on the shores of Lake Lugano in Switzerland. I'm so glad the photographer and tree owner is happy for this photo to be shared with the world - especially this morning.
In many Western countries, there's a tradition of playing jokes on people on 1 April. In my childhood we were always very strict about only allowing jokes and hoaxes before noon. After that anyone trying one would become the 'April Fool'. 
The BBC usually manages to incorporate an April Fool's Day joke in one of its programmes each year on 1 April. They don't seem to worry about what time of day it is. Perhaps the most famous  BBC April Fool's Day hoax was back i…