Trying to think about life and how God makes it full



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)


April 8, 2007 Posted by | god, jesus, religion | 5 Comments



April 6, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, jesus, religion, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stop the Traffik

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.

March 15, 2007 Posted by | culture, god, jesus, mission, people trafficking, religion | 2 Comments

Retreat on the East Coast

101_59691.JPGFor 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:

  1. Contemplative worship, centred around Ps 40:1-3, and helped with Johnny Cash and U2.
  2. Group Discussion questions prior to the input session.
  3. Input session on Liminality and Communitas, based on Luke 8:22-25.

Continue reading

March 9, 2007 Posted by | communitas, contemplative, culture, Environment, god, jesus, liminality, mission, religion, wisdom | Leave a comment

Merton, asceticism, and how it can integrate with Lent

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

March 5, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, culture, god, jesus, merton, religion, wisdom | 2 Comments

Meditation on Temptation

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.

March 1, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion, Temptation, wisdom | Leave a comment

Temptation in The Garden, Part 2: Luke 22:40-46

The passage begins and ends with, “Pray that you may not enter into temptation”. So, being in prayer is another clue, weapon, defence, against falling into temptation.

Jesus spends his last night in prayer. He must be as susceptible to temptation as anyone else. Why else would he be tempted by the devil at the beginning of his ministry? And here he is at the end of his ministry talking about temptation.

Lord, help me submit my will to yours, as Jesus did in the face of temptation.

So, it seems that prayer, purpose, scripture, and submission to God are essential in overcoming temptation.

I thank you Lord that you’re teaching me about these things in life, and teaching me through these things within daily life. I still feel weak in the face of many temptations, but nevertheless, you’ve kept me Lord, on fairly solid ground. Help me to intuitively know the difference between the voice of the Holy Spirit and the voice of the devil, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.

February 28, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion, Temptation, wisdom | Leave a comment

Temptation in The Garden, Part 1: Mark 14:32-42

Temptation was at hand, even in the last hours of Jesus’ life. He didn’t want to go through with the Cross, but he submitted himself to God’s will. Then poor old Peter got it in the neck on behalf of the others, when Jesus found them asleep. He told them to keep awake and pray so that they don’t fall into temptation.

There’s something about being alert to temptation, and being alert and alive to God’s will, even in the face of death. I wonder if I would’ve done any better than Peter, James, and John if I had been there in the Garden with Jesus. They would’ve had a few glasses of red wine at the meal beforehand and were probably feeling the effects of it late at night. I bet they started off in an attitude of prayer, fully intending to pray in solidarity with Jesus – especially when they could see he was so distressed.

Someone else’s pain is never as close as your own. Therefore, its natural that we don’t respond to someone else’s pain in the same way as we respond to our own.

But that’s where God is different to us. He responds to the pain of the world in such a way as to make the world’s pain his own – he feels and suffers along with the world.

Jesus feels the stress of my pain. He is greatly distressed in the Garden, exceedingly sorrowful at the thought of taking upon himself the sin of the world with all its madness and corruption, and because of it, himself becoming separated from his heavenly Father.

Consequently, he has the very human response of wanting God to take it all away from him. And he also has the deeply spiritual response of submitting his will to God’s, and actually going through with it.

Jesus had a big enough sense of purpose to carry him through the temptation, submit himself to God, and complete the task.

February 27, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion, Temptation, wisdom | 2 Comments

The Wilderness, Part 4, Luke 4:1-13

As I think on all this stuff, I keep being reminded of someone’s words to me a few years ago: “You’re a very powerful person”. That surprised me, because I don’t consider myself as such. And I don’t try to be. But as I reflected on those words, perhaps I am – more than I think.

I know that I have a sense of ambition about me that wants to get on and do things, to see things change. I also know that I keep finding my way into influential circles, with some powerful people. So, do I like power? Am I manipulative? Am I destructive to others?

On the positive side, I do try to be pastoral with the people I work with and serve. I do take notice of their feelings, and take time to encourage them as they deal with the changes I may be bringing in their lives. I am keen to see change happen where its necessary, am willing to work hard for it, to argue for it, and to bring it about. I do try to treat with respect those with whom I don’t see eye to eye. Lord, please keep me clean and humble. At least I recognise my tendencies…

I know that I need to keep scripture and the example of Jesus always before me, and to ask the Holy Spirit to keep my ear open to him, and to be about to recognise the voice and tactics of the devil.

I’ve just been reading some of Thomas Merton’s ‘Thoughts in Solitude’. He was talking about the desert being created as a place of no use to mankind, and so it was a place supremely valuable in the eyes of God. That’s what the Desert Fathers thought. The desert offered mankind nothing, and so it could not be wasted or exploited. It was just to be itself.

It was a place, where to go, would be to become totally dependent on God.

But it was also a place of madness, and refuge of the devil.

And now the deserts of today are not immune to the encroachments of technological mankind who seeks to uncreate what God has blessed. The cities that spring up in them are full of corruption, vice, death, and madness – just like being in the house of the devil.

Merton says that the desert is no longer a place to go and fight the devil as Christ did; but the cities in the desert are the smiles of the devil, and the desert itself moves everywhere.

Interesting thought that: mankind used to go out to the desert, but now the desert comes to mankind. The despair of the desert fills mankind.

The Christian task, says Merton, is to live facing despair, but not to consent. To trample it down under the hope of the Cross. And in our fighting, we will find Christ at our side.

Solitude then, it seems to me, is like a place of desert where one can go, be dependent upon and sustained by, God. A place where some perspective can be sought and found.

When I go on Retreat, I go to my desert.

I also wonder whether there is some truth in the thought that the madness of the desert is also in the city where I live and work; hence, I am a continual wanderer in the desert.

I can see why Merton talks about the reality of despair, and why he says that the Christian must not succumb to despair. Christ has defeated despair, as he defeated the devil and his temptations in the desert.

February 22, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, liminality, merton, religion | 2 Comments

Ash Wednesday


For quite some years now, I’ve dipped into the Sacred Space website to help me pray. I don’t use it all the time, in fact, I don’t think I’ve used it at all for the past year. But today, being Ash Wednesday, I did use it again. I find it can be a really good way to stop and be still in front of my computer, and notice God again in my place of work. Below is printed the thought they suggest we think about for the day, and chew on for the rest of the week.

We are at the start of Lent, the time of the year when the church invites us to test our freedom, and to question the notion: I can take it or leave it alone. Try that with grumbling, drunkenness, talking about yourself, stealing, gambling, or other habits that diminish our freedom. What habits make you hard to live with? Lent is about regaining control of our own lives, especially in those areas that damage other people. We don’t admire those whose appetites or habits lead them by the nose. Nearly all of us have habits, or even addictions, that keep us from God, and harm both ourselves and others. These seven weeks before Easter help us to focus our energy on improving.

February 21, 2007 Posted by | contemplative, god, jesus, religion, wisdom | Leave a comment