Saturday, 26 January 2019

News to share

Mary and I lunched one day last week at our local Further Education college; like many another, it runs its own training restaurant, where we were the subjects of assiduous attention, and ate lovely food in pleasant and quiet surroundings, at a very reasonable price.
And apart from two ladies, whom I guess were regular diners there, and an official party of local mayors who looked at though they were being wined, dined and wooed in a PR exercise by the college's great and good, we were the only diners.
Here's the dilemma; do we keep this  'find' to ourselves, in the hope it retains its quietness and appeal, or do we spread the word, believing this can do nothing but boost this facility and its lovely young people? Privatise or publicise?
Good news is for sharing ( just as bad news is, too, unfortunately- it's usually called gossip). So not only do we intend to go again, but also tell folk about this experience too. It should be like this with the faith, but then buttoned-upness, Englishness, not embarrassing folk, and all the rest get in the way.....

The experience at lunch was good. I have no hesitation in saying that. And, slightly less confidently, lest I should offend, could I say, please, if it's ok with you, that my experience of God is so good, it's almost beyond words. Sorry. I know we're not supposed to talk about God, and all that...…….  

Sunday, 20 January 2019

Resurrection life......

I came across a quote I wrote many years ago in a notebook I found again this week; 'we are not to give passive assent to a fact in a creed, but to participate in the life of the resurrected Jesus.' Ouch! The challenge rings true in my heart; so much of what we take for the faith in the west is a passive acknowledgement  of a credal statement, rather than a vital demonstration of what the faith is about.

I'm as guilty as the rest. And it's difficult to work my way back through all the processes of western thought and its twists and turns, to where belief and lived experience were so intertwined that the gap was negligible; probably a mythical place, I acknowledge, but maybe there was a state, way back when, where apprehension of the resurrection led, sans complications, to a life imbued with that resurrection force.

But I pray that in spite of all the cultural accretions, the intellect, the doubts, the anxieties, which I have put between myself and The Life, somehow I may live it. And that it may be recognised in some small way as having the stamp of God in it.
Is that how it is with you-?        

Sunday, 13 January 2019

The faithful few

A late call to a nearby parish to preside at their midweek communion; this finds me with a congregation of ten faithful souls saying the familiar words, making the familiar confession and declaration of faith. Do not hear complaint in the fact there were ten; for a small village, and midweek, this is nothing to complain about. It is the faith and prayers of these folk which keeps the Anglican flame alive in rural parishes, keeps the churches open, ready to welcome, keeps some heart to villages where maybe the pub has closed, the school is in danger of closing, the bus service is not what it used to be, and community life, such as it is, is increasingly the prerogative of the elderly, as younger families retreat behind their doors for the joys of their home cinema.

And our prayers in the communion service brings all this and more before God. We are not there for ourselves, but as those who seek the kingdom heaven here on earth in our community. Imperfect as we are, and with often competing visions as to what that kingdom may look like here, nevertheless we pray 'thy kingdom come, thy will be done'. And we do our bit, motivated by the love which will not let us go, the different glimpses we have seen of glory, the common understanding of being somewhere in the narrative of redemption for our village, our community, our day, ourselves.

'We adore you, O Christ, and we bless you, for by your holy cross you have redeemed  all the world'. Yes, Lord, I believe. Now, I'll just call and see if Mr. Jones needs any shopping.

Saturday, 5 January 2019

This painting life

Transforming the kitchen from its dark blue to a more welcoming and warmer yellow ('Banana Split' is the official colour; I would describe it as 'custard yellow') has been the major task this week. It has demanded four coats of paint, to obliterate any trace of the blue beneath; hard work in confined spaces above the kitchen cabinets, and when not that, fiddly work around all the electrical sockets. And then there was the preparation, and the cleaning of the brushes; the detailed work with a small paintbrush in those annoying bits the bigger brushes couldn't adequate cover; and work with a razor blade to scrape off paint that shouldn't have covered the window frames etc.

But transformation has been achieved. At a cost of aching bones, as I've stretched into positions the aged body didn't know it was capable of, and sweaty work up close up to the LED kitchen lights. All of which, as I transfer these thoughts into a more spiritual framework, makes me thankful for the infinite patience of God's Holy Spirit as he works with me to achieve something like an image of Jesus to be seen through me. Not just a paint job, but the promised transformation of me ( and indeed humanity and all of creation) into something resembling Christ. In that work, there's a lot to clean up in me, to rub down, to get into the detail.

I'm a work in progress, as I've said before. Expect no 'Mona Lisa' , but do expect something which shows the hand of a master behind it.