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Tea and Theology

One Body

This is the week of the year dedicated to Christian unity,
a time to join together to pray for the possibility
that one day we will be a whole body or community
which celebrates and commemorates catholicity.
A week where each of us align our intentionality
to that of God our maker our creator, and the reality
of the body of Christ which draws such responsibility
from each believer regardless of individual sensitivity.

It is so much easier to focus on matters of disparity
rather than actively seek those areas of commonality.
How happily we slip into ‘them’ and ‘us’ in our humanity
and quickly identify those points requiring conformity.
We fail to remain awake to worldly ways of destructibility,
instead straying like sheep, we are allured by animosity.
Previously indistinct notes become matters of legality
further severing bonds which bind with fierce brutality

What if one week became two, three or four of generosity
of spirit to our fellow believers? If we espoused the ambiguity
of the mysteries surrounding people and God’s interactivity,
and perhaps laid aside the centrality of certainty or clarity
on issues often known to divide like gender or sexuality?
Intent on establishing a universal and obligatory morality
which ignores God’s upside-down justice for austerity,
with the God of surprises does it not all lack reliability?

I pray for unity which extends beyond human probability,
one which disciples to favour quality over quantity
and places Jesus’ example and gospel of inclusivity
at its heart – Jesus of the marginality not the majority!
I pray for unity of the body of Christ where vulnerability
is held and cherished, with division hidden by invisibility.
A unity which recognizes Christ Jesus as superiority
and all who make up the body as existing in equality.

Fingerprints of God

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I have been really struck by someone’s words to me: “the fingerprints of God are all over the place.” Later someone else made a reference to the imprints of God on our hearts. I’ve been left with some really powerful images, and continue to ponder where I see the fingerprints of God, both around me, and within myself. How about considering these images throughout the week both in the world that surrounds and within the hearts of those we meet.

20+C+M+B+18

Over Epiphanytide there is a custom to bless the home with a prayer and chalking in the year and initials of the wise men who journeyed over a long distance to meet the Christ-child. This custom is about welcoming the Christ-child and the unknown visitor into your home.

Using the blessed chalk (I still have some if anyone local needs it), mark the lintel of your front door (or front porch step) as follows:

20 + C + M + B + 18 while saying:

The three Wise Men, Caspar, Melchior, and Balthazar followed the star of God’s Son who became human two thousand and eighteen years ago. May Christ bless our home and remain with us throughout the new year. Amen.

Then offer the following prayer:

Visit, O blessed Lord, this home with the gladness of your presence. Bless all who live or visit here with the gift of your love; and grant that we may manifest your love to each other and to all whose lives we touch. May we grow in grace and in the knowledge and love of you; guide, comfort, and strengthen us in peace, O Jesus Christ, now and forever. Amen.

Importance of History

“And let thy feet millenniums hence be set in midst of knowledge”

Tennyson

Never Again

What if Adam and Eve had not been tempted by the serpent to eat fruit
if humanity had not got so self-obsessed that there was a huge flood
a flood to end all floods followed by a rainbow promise of never again
yet again and again we got it wrong so much so the Son came along
not only to show us how it should all be done but also to die in a way
which would bring life eternal to all who believed and repented

What if the ‘never again’ had been adhered to by all of humanity too
if we had not created our ‘in’ groups and ‘out’ groups for the sake of
safety in numbers and battled brutally and bitterly one against another
with no sign of the beauty of selfless loving mercy grace or forgiveness
previously shown through the rays of the rainbow promise shining bright
yet we prove again and again that our propensity for hate not love reigns

What if our default first thought or factory settings were love not hate
if we could look at the other standing before us and see their beauty
bursting out of them not in the way the world judges beauty but real
unavoidable beauty of the soul not seen but known intuitively whole
celebrated by being recognised acknowledged and held rather than
punished with jealousy envy and disdainfully offering a look of dislike

What if we were patient and kind with one another and did not need
to record each others’ wrongs for protection and self preservation
if suspicion were not one of the first feelings to be roused following
acts of random kindness from those whom we do not know or know
but know we do not like or know but know they do not could not like us
it seems impossible to merely accept the act with grace and move on

What if we could move on and take people’s words and actions at
face value rather than forcing everything through our own unique
filtering system a system shaped by experiences of actions and words
of others others who fall into similar categories to those who stand
before us now others who have influenced our long held stereotypes
formed from one persons cruel act now the act of the whole out group

What if we could really say and stick to never again
Would it be an instant end to dictatorship
The use of nuclear weapons
The rise and rule of Donald Trump
Stomping over all that is good and wholesome

NEVER AGAIN?

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This Flame of Peace is a fire of hope for eternal world peace at Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park.

The Wilderness

A few people asked me to share my sermon from the third Sunday of Advent – have a listen and see what you think…

Let the eyes of your heart guide

For our patronal festival I preached about letting the eyes of our hearts be a guide to the need within our community – a need which we can meet in a simple way, yet which feels huge to the person on the receiving end!

If we let the eyes of our heart guide, what do we actually see? I have been reading Peter Wohlleben’s The Hidden Life of Trees. He writes about trees as social beings with a sense of community and has literally brought trees to life for me! I was incredibly struck by the apparent echoes there are in creation as so much life was created to be in community…and yet it feels like we don’t do community as well as we could. How often do we help for no other reason than for the good of someone else? How often do we forget looking out for ourselves and bettering our own ends? How often do we see need and respond to it?

This led me to think about the film Pay it Forward where a young boy responds to his Social Sciences project of ‘Think of a way to make the world a better place and put it into action’ with the idea of doing something for three people that they would not be able to do for themselves, and asking only that they similarly do something for three other people. The exchange of help becomes about hundreds of people rather than just between a few individuals.

What if we lived more like this? What if we gave for the love of giving and loved as Jesus loves? What if we seek love not war? Would it make a difference? #actofrandomkindness

Beholding!

I have begun a journey with a book titled Eyes of the Heart – this is an eight week journey into contemplative photography. This is something that I have almost instinctively found and begun to develop independently, but it is marvellous to read about how someone with a very similar heart to my own has made sense of using photography as a form of prayer.

This week focuses on beholding aspects of life. There were two main meditations to complete: the first to take 50 photographs of an item that you are familiar with and; secondly to limit yourself to one photograph a day which truly beholds a shimmer of God  in our world. It has been amazing to have such a focus on my contemplative prayer, and I chose to behold my pen.

After taking the first 20 or so photographs, I wondered how I was going to find 50 photographs to take of such a small object – I think it was shortly after this that the beholding really began. I started to think where and how I used my pen, and photographed it with those items as well. I also began to think about my relationship with my pen – I often feel that my writing is divinely inspired and I wanted to find a way to depict that divine meeting the material in some way. I began to play with shutter speeds and focus of lens, and it produced some pictures that I really felt brought that divine inspiration to light. Equally I thought about my own emotions when trying to write: sometimes there is flow, other times impatience, others still there can be a lack of inspiration.

By the time I had got to 50 photographs, it felt like I was just getting started! Here is a selection of the photos – 50 seemed a few too many. What do you see when you look at them? Is it just a photograph of a pen, or do you see more to it? Could you try this meditation with something which is important to you? Good luck if you do!

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Space

The following was written as a response to accompanying someone in the last moments of their life. I have remembered it this week in response to leading an All Souls service where the veil between heaven and earth felt quite thin at times…

Liminal space
One meets another
Heaven Earth
Time Stillness
Light Darkness
Human Angel
Vast expanse
Empty…Complete

Stillness prevails
Light shines forth
Electric sensation
Fear subsumed
Breath in
God’s scent
Protector
Guide

HaShem with us
Then gone
Leaving darkness
surrounding seeping
Ticking clock
Furnishings trappings
Restoration complete
except…

Changed
Less one life
Journeying soul
Hand in hand
Side by side
Adonai
Earthly home fades
Eternity awaits

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