Friday, 27 February 2015

Tall Order

The Tall Order

Words to live by...
Jesus from the cross:
“Father forgive them...”

Jesus to Peter
“Not seven times, but seventy times seven...”

Jesus to the masses:
If they do not repent
“Treat them like pagans or tax collectors...”

Jesus loved the tax collectors
He sought them out
He stayed with them,
Taught them, welcomed them,
Loved them...

So what are we to do?
When we cannot find peace?
Do not know the answer?
Hand it over to Jesus!
We may not be able to love or forgive them yet,
But with Jesus - anything can happen!

based on Matthew 18:15-22 

Tuesday, 24 February 2015

Living Stones


If the children do not shout
these very stones will shout.... 

In the window sits the purple cloth - reminder of  Christ's Kingship 
A candle  tall and strong - Christ's Light
A Stone Cross - copy of one, a strong symbol of our roots in the earth,
in the history of our land
Carved by ancient hands - who vandalised an even more ancient marker of pagan gods...
And Stones... washed and polished rivers stones

Jesus, the stones cry out 
to tell the world 
of your presence 
in the world, in our lives, in our hearts

Lent 6

Sunday, 22 February 2015

Sermon Feb 22: Transformed Through Conflict

Matthew 18: 15-35
Psalm 32: 1-2

It is hard to believe that this time last week I was in sunny Florida! The day after we got off the boat we had a day or so at the beach before flying back home.
I think most of you heard before I went that the topic of the course was “Conflict Transformation!”
Note: transformation; not resolution. Not about compromise but about living through conflict and allowing it to transform us and the situation we find ourselves in.
I arrived home Tuesday; and discovered that one or two things occurred in my absence!
When I finally got around to reading the set readings for today I was a little surprised! God’s ways are not our ways! God works to bring us into opportunities to examine where we are; who we are and what we can do to repair damage in our lives.

I want to share a story of an encounter that happened during our course. It was really interesting I should add; and was about preparing the ground so that when conflict does occur we are best equipped to deal with it. So that when conflict occurs, it doesn’t have to mean to end of everything for anyone.

One of the topics was about what happens when we “discount” another person or group. The premise is simple; by our actions or our words we can do or say something which makes another individual feel bad, or worthless, or unvalued.
As this was explained, one of our number stood up and told the whole group that twice during the last two days she had been discounted.
She then sat down again; with no further explanation.
The whole room was left feeling stunned. And just about everyone was left wondering if she has said or done something.... it was then lunch time; and we departed.

When the next session began, one of the group stood to ask a question of our presenter. What happens when a group is so distracted that they cannot continue? How do we deal with it?
You stop things and name it so you can move on, came the reply.
OK, so I stop things and meet it?
OK, I’m stopping things!
Heck!!! I, just wanted to sink into the floor! Americans have this infinite capacity to meet things head on; to deal and clear and move on.

She proceeded to say that the whole group had been discounted by things said; immediately the earlier speaker stood up to say “you mean me?”
It felt dreadful!
However – what happened next taught me something very valuable.
The gal who felt discounted came forward, explained what the two things had been – it was a group reaction to something she’d said. And the air was cleared.
The issue, suddenly became a non issue because it was out there
It was in the open and it was dealt with.
It had no more power.

Today’s reading is a long one; it deals with discipline; forgiveness; and reconciliation.
It is no accident this comes at the beginning of the Lenten season: Lent is all about repentance, about turning round; about new starts and clean slates. About naming the hurt and moving forward.
There are (for me) three key verses for us to consider: v17: in relation to dealing with a personal sin against us: if your friend will not listen eventually you should treat him like a tax collector.
v. 22 on forgiveness: “Not seven times, but seventy times seven” forgive more times than you can keep tally of.
v. 34b-35 on our own response to God’s forgiving grace: if we do not let it change us: if we cannot forgive others: God will cast us away.

Tax Collectors: the very epitome of unwanted, outcast: the least worthy member of the community.  Yet. Who did Jesus choose to eat with? Who did Jesus welcome as one of his own? Whose gospel are we reading today? Yep! Matthew, the Tax Collector. So, when we find we cannot live with, or work alongside someone, what do we do? Hand them over to Jesus to do the loving and living for us!
Sometimes the hurt goes too deep; it is too new, too painful.
God knows
God understands

If we skip forward to the parable of the unforgiving servant: this servant has encountered the King; has been forgiven a huge debt; has received unconditional grace. Yet he doesn’t allow it to change him; to touch him. It doesn’t help him to see his own behaviour in the light of the King’s generosity. Remember, a few weeks back? Blessed (happy/ lucky) are the merciful? For they will be shown mercy.
Yet the servant in the parable cannot move forward; he is stuck in his old ways.
God’s grace is ours
God’s forgiveness is ours

Our capacity to forgive, to act with grace and love and generosity needs to be filled by God. Sometimes we are not ready to take the step
God knows
God understands
God takes our own hard hearts and will gently hold, soften, warm us, until we can move forward.

Go back to Peter’s question.
Peter, who needed to understand for himself what a truly godly disposition can be:
Peter, the silly, impetuous, hasty, loving, loyal buffoon.
Peter – who got it so wrong, so often, but was still considered worthy of trust
He thought he could quantify love and grace and forgiveness
Keep a tally
Keep count
How many times?
Seven seems enough – yes?
No, Peter. No. Not seven, but seventy seven; seventy times seven – more times than you can keep count of; more often than you can ever imagine.
Because – God knows.
 God will forgive you anything and everything Peter
So, you should try to do the same.
And so should we.

I know that words have been said in the heat of the moment.
I know that some of these words felt personal, hurtful, unforgiveable

Here’s the things
Not only seven times
But seven times seventy times
Jesus showed us the real capacity that grace gives for forgiveness

Hanging on the cross
Dying for sin
Dying for pain, and hurt, and hasty words and broken hearts
Jesus, bleeding so that all sin
All sins
Are washed away

Jesus’ words: Father, forgive them

Jesus managed it
Treat each other like tax collectors: like Jesus treated tax collectors
Love unconditionally and forgive without count

So will our Father in heaven treat us


Saturday, 21 February 2015


Words are a powerful tool
healing and hurting
inspiring and crushing
simple things
so easy to
let out, let off
so difficult to
pull back, hold in.

random words
put together
create mantras to live by

Lent 4

Friday, 20 February 2015

Where to next?

The path leads on
taking me into the wilds
the wilderness

In these wilderness, desert days
where will you lead O God?
Where will we walk together?
What will I learn and who will I meet?

In these wild, wilderness days,
the conversations, the words, the ideas
Will be yours, and mine
take me, lead me, show me
How I can make the best
of the wilderness time of Lent

Lent 3

Thursday, 19 February 2015

Hope Springs

Everywhere I tread
there are signs
Signs of the new season
of new life
snowdrops give way to
crocuses - purple and yellow - jubilant
and in little pockets - anenomes
triumphant bells
of brilliant yellow

No... winter is not done with us yet
but in the garden, 
are the harbingers of Spring...
and where their heads bob in the breeze
so Hope springs eternal 

Lent 2

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Ash Wednesday

Ash all over the keyboard
and the screen keeps freezing
and the internet keeps dropping out
and  the keyboard is inter    mittently wworking....

This is the beginning of the season of reflection
God, help me in my distractions
Aid me in my frustrations
keep my resolve - if not strong, at least steady 

Remind me of the possibilities
the positive things
(I have the sweet little dish bought especially for ashes after all) 
and remind me, this is the time for preparing
not for finishing
this is the time to slow down
not to rush

Remind me where I come from

and where I go to

and who I am...

dust to dust
ashes to ashes.... 

(Lent Day One)