Saturday, 28 July 2018

Recent rain

Looking at last Friday's weather forecast on Thursday, I let out a cry of 'Fantastic!' The outlook suggested a 60% chance of rain. So welcome, so needed. Especially as the air on Thursday seemed extra close- windows that had never been opened were thrown wide that day. Doors were wedged wider, all in the hope of attracting the least through-breeze.

In the event, there was some rain on Thursday night, and lots of it on Friday morning in several downpours. And no grumbling from this spectator as it pooled on the laughable remains of the lawn.

Rain has a mixed reception in the faith; for the people of Noah's time ( Noah and his family excepted) it was a disaster. At other times the prophets speak of God's blessing as like rain; welcome, refreshing, nourishing, cooling us down. It depends on the context. It always does.

The faith, or rather its apprehension and application, needs a bit of 'nous ' to use a good northern word. A bit of guesswork, a bit of reflection, a bit of familiarity with the ways of God ; an understanding of context. A bit of 'wait and see ,' a bit of patience. A bit like Noah. A bit like us, sweltering in what seems unending heat and drought, longing for refreshing rain.

Sunday, 22 July 2018

Mary Magdalene

For one who is meant to be retired, last week was extraordinarily busy. As a result, God-stuff faded a little into the wallpaper. OK, faded a lot. Rather than a felt and conscious presence, an internal dialogue, it was more like a memory of someone gone, with whom I ought to catch up.

But opportunity for that catch-up came this morning at early service. A quiet gathering, with just a dozen or so, where we remembered the part which Mary Magdalene played in the faith. And the catch-up which came for her as, in the Easter morning appearance, Jesus, who she mistook for the gardener, says her name. That's all. Not 'Don't you recognise me? Can't you see whom I am? Get a grip, it's Jesus talking to you!' or any other possible response. Just the deepest thing that resonates in her- her name.

It's that deep stuff resonating within me which keeps me plodding on in the faith. Somehow I know that I am known by name. in That in spite of not recognising the God in front of me, making all sorts of mistakes about who and where he is, I am still in a relationship with him where I am recognised and known. And that includes being too busy to pay attention, assigning God to the wallpaper of life.

Memo to self; must try harder...….  

Sunday, 15 July 2018

the place of loyalty

A bit later than usual, but her goes...….
My car insurance is up for renewal, and the letter from my present insurer informs me that I 'may get the insurance ( I ) want at a better price if you shop around.' So much for loyalty, and any rewards that might accrue for displaying that virtue, by re-insuring with the sender of the letter.
The websites who advise on family finances and on saving money all tell us to switch providers, to abandon loyalty (although for some it's just inertia, not loyalty) and to practice that supreme virtue of the consumerist society and shop around.

But where should it end? Do we restrict it to money stuff, or has this consumerist 'ethic' (I hesitate to use the word) already infected our personal relationships, the way we treat work, leisure, and a whole host of the networks which make us who we are?

I am reminded again in church this morning that I am to 'love the Lord your God with all your passion, prayer, muscle and intelligence' as a modern translation has it. No wriggle room, no shopping around there! Instead of consumerist, I am consumed by God. But, ironically, paradoxically, free at the same time; consumed by the God who will be loyal to me, and will impart all sorts of virtues over time in this wayward disciple.

Saturday, 7 July 2018

Hearing God.

I knew a lady once who was convinced- no-one could dissuade her otherwise- that she should leave church A for church B. God had told her this was what she had to do. After some time serving at church B, under divine instruction she moved to church C. The story repeated itself again, with all the same elements, back to church A.

I'm not convinced that God works like that. Is God fickle? Temperamental? Restless? Or was there something restless, critical, unmet, in this lady's moving, so closed in her mind to input from others; this input, gently administered, might have been able to address the unmet need. Hmmmm.

I am wary of any statement which I hear when the words 'God has told me.... ' fall from the lips of the speaker. It needs a context. Mostly around the realities of 'is this in line with what God would do? is this tested and approved by wise and mature folk? And the rest...….

We are all prone to self-delusion, this writer above all. Which is where the verse in the Acts of the Apostles keeps us sane; 'it seemed good to the Holy Spirit and to us...….. ( my italics) - there is a wisdom which is perceived in a co-operative way, and which is far from the self-absorption and indeed self-delusion of today's world. We could use it more, cultivate it more, were we not so taken up with ourselves.