Yes, I’m still alive and kicking. I’ve just got no interest or inspiration to blog at present. For some of you who have traveled with me over the 18 months that I’ve been blogging, you’ll know that this is no new thing. I’ve kept the blog in the blogosphere, as it may well get resuscitated at some future point.
Thanks to those who continue to look in. In the absence of new posts, and for those who have just discovered this blog, please take the time to wander back over previous posts and (re)read what’s there – you may find something of worth.
In the meantime, I wish you all every blessing.
On the first Easter morning, the apostles and holy women did not see a ghost of Jesus. They saw him in the flesh, but in a different flesh, as the oak tree is different from the acorn that was its origin. We touch on the mystery of a body, not just Jesus’ body but our own; a body which will express us at our best, will not blunt our spirit with weariness and rebellion, but express it with ease and joy. This is a mystery beyond our imagination, but it is the centre of our faith. When we wish one another a happy Easter, it is not just three days in an armchair, but deep joy in the knowledge that the best part of us will cheat the grave. Our weary bones, heavy flesh, addled brains, already hold the seeds of that resurrection. We are none of us mortal. (from Sacred Space, and pic from Jonny Baker)
Martin Wroe, a writer (and mate from theological college) has written an excellent article here in The TimesOnline about modern day slavery, sex-trafficking, and the new abolitionists. Here’s a snippet:
“Fancy it?” asks one, a pair of long legs in fishnet stockings and suspenders lassoing male eyes. The small print was less beguiling: “Knowing that I was trafficked into London, sold to a brothel, put to work to pay off my ‘debt’, told they will beat me if I try to escape and that you’re one of 30 men I’ll have to service today. The truth isn’t sexy.”
You can aso click on the Truth Isn’t Sexy and Stop the Traffik logos on the sidebar for more info.
“Contemplation is a gift of God, given in and through His Church, and through the prayer of the Church. St. Anthony was led into the desert not by a private voice but by the word of God, proclaimed in the Church of his Egyptian village in the chanting of the Gospel in Coptic—a classical example of liturgy opening the way to a life of contemplation! But the liturgy cannot fulfill this function if we misunderstand or underestimate the essentially spiritual value of Christian public prayer. If we cling to immature and limited notions of “privacy,” we will never be able to free ourselves from the bonds of individualism. We will never realize how the Church delivers us from ourselves by public worship, the very public character of which tends to hide us “in the secret of God’s face.”
Seasons of Celebration [SC]. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950: 26-27
This is mesmeric, and so beautiful in its simplicity. But what a fabulous talent. Let the Spirit of Peace hover over your soul as you watch this. And have look at more of her work via YoutTube. Thanks to Ambs for the Tip.
As the 25 March gets closer, this video reminds us that people are more than commodities to be bought and sold.
I will be leading a group of people from church in attending the Making Your Mark March on 24 March through central London. We’ll meet at Walthamstow Central tube station at 10am, so bring your own food and drink, comfy clothes and shoes, and a spirit that sees the image of God in everyone.
For the past 3 days I’ve been staying at Tollesbury, doing the spiritual input for the combined Retreat of 3 Christian Outdoor Centres: Fellowship Afloat Charitable Trust (FACT), Christian Youth Enterprises (CYE), and St. George’s House (SGH). The 3 Centres try to get together twice per year for mutual learning, encouragement, and relationship building. There are real synergies that develop where groups doing similar things in different contexts get together in intentional ways. They’re all such good people too, friendly, open to new learning, passionate about the outdoors and the Creator of the natural playgrounds that are also their places of work.
Naturally, there was also sailing to be done (my foot handled that very well, I’m pleased to say), along with 5-a-side football competition (won by FACT), quiz, and the usual FACT abundance of good food. The weather
was fabulous, and the photos are taken on Thursday morning as I sat on the deck of one of the accommodation boats enjoying coffee and sunshine while the tide came in – bliss!
Below, I’ve put the note I did for the 3 sessions I ran:
- Contemplative worship, centred around Ps 40:1-3, and helped with Johnny Cash and U2.
- Group Discussion questions prior to the input session.
- Input session on Liminality and Communitas, based on Luke 8:22-25.
Christian asceticism is remarkable above all for its balance, its sense of proportion. It does not overstress the negative side of the ascetic life, nor does it tend to flatter the ego by diminishing responsibilities or watering down the truth. It shows us clearly that, while we can do nothing without grace, we must nevertheless cooperate with grace. It warns us that we must make an uncompromising break with the world and all it stands for, but it keeps encouraging us to understand that our existence in “the world” and in time becomes fruitful and meaningful in proportion as we are able to assume spiritual and Christian responsibility for our life, our work, and even for the world we live in. Thus Christian asceticism does not provide a flight from the world, a refuge from stress and the distractions of manifold wickedness. It enables us to enter into the confusion of the world bearing something of the light of Truth in our hearts, and capable of exercising something of the mysterious, transforming power of the Cross, of love and sacrifice.
Seasons of Celebration [SC]. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1950: 131-132
The temptations of Jesus I’ve looked at on this Retreat were at the beginning of his ministry, and at the end of his life. Temptation is there in the midst of life, ministry, and even in death. There is no ‘fair play’, there is no neutral ground. There is only God’s will, or, other than God’s will.
But there is also grace, forgiveness, fully human life, and life after death. Thanks be to God, through our Saviour, Jesus Christ!
Brother Ramon says, “…if Jesus is brought nearly to death in the Garden of Gethsemane, and is actually brought to death on the Cross of Calvary, then there is no need for me to be ultimately afraid – as if this world were ever threatening and meaningless. If the gospels tell the true story, and if the Saviour entered into the darkest depths of Gethsemane and Calvary for me, then he gives the lie to all the bleakest and darkest experiences of humankind as the ultimate end.”
Temptation, failure, and death are not the end.
Jesus endured all of life and death, and came out the other side as a resurrected Saviour promising the same resurrection to us, and giving weight to the promise by showing it in himself. Amazing!
I’m so aware of how easy it is to write these words in the comfort and beauty of this place. I’m not one who endured the Holocaust, or the Twin Towers, or the Viet Cong, or the mind-numbing pain of grinding poverty every day with no hope of escape.
But if the gospel is true for me in this place, it must also be true for everyone in every circumstance. I have not had to die a hideous death. But Jesus has, and so brings the hope of the resurrection to all those who do die hideous deaths. And he is able to bring this hope because he didn’t succumb to temptation. He submitted himself to God’s will in those instances of time, and in doing so brought hope to all of humanity for the rest of time. Hallelujah! What a wonderful God….
Brother Ramon prays:
Soul of Christ, sanctify me,
Body of Christ, save me,
Blood of Christ, inebriate me,
Water from the side of Christ, wash me,
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me,
Within thy wounds, hide me,
Suffer me not to be separated from thee,
From the malicious enemy defend me,
In the hour of my death, call me,
And bid me to come to thee
That with thy saints I may praise thee
For ever and ever. Amen.