Tag Archives: integrity

Week 4: Thursday Matthew 22:34-40

A sideways look at the pain and privilege of loving and being loved.

The Great Commandment

The first time was unexpected
I thought it was a one-off
But now  …
One after another the burdens come
Crowding in
Jostling, fighting for attention.
Each heavier than the last

Everywhere I turn
Need
Hunger
Despair

I bring it all to
You
Offer it all to
You
Increasingly
You
Give it back,
You
Offer it to me to
Carry for a
Time

A compliment, I’m told
A sign of
Your trust
A reward for a job well done
Or at least for a job
Done

Some reward!!!

And yet
And yet

With the
Burden comes
Blessing,
To bear the
Pain brings
Privilege

Not privilege as the world would understand it
No Nobel prize here!
No accolades
No public praise
No medals
No honours
No glory…
No, the glory goes to others and
Ultimately to
Him,
To the ultimate
Source

Instead,
Privilege far greater than any the world could bestow
Privilege beyond measure
Priceless treasure
Privilege of sharing in the
Hard, heavy work of
Redemption
Privilege of entering
Daily
Hourly
Moment by moment
Deeper into the
Mystery of the
Cross

Experiencing from within the
Depth
Height
Breadth
Of the love of
Christ
Christ who said
“I love you”
Christ
Who opened His arms wide and said
“I love you this much” as He
Died
Christ
Who rose to new life
Christ who raises us to new life
Christ who loves with
Boundless love
Who said “go, love others like that”

Living in the ocean of His love
We also are
Healed
Who bring
Healing to
Others
And this is
Glory enough

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For all who are not yet ready for Christmas…

Christmas is coming…

Christmas is coming, the goose is getting fat…
Time to go out shopping for the tinsel tat.
Don’t forget the turkey, the pudding and the cake –
Better buy the mince pies, there’s no time left to make…
Stilton, cheddar, camembert, brie and Roquefort too –
Better get some port and whisky, red wine, white and – phew!
‘most forgot the stuffing, brandy butter, clotted cream –
And walnuts and pistachios, almonds, pecans also seem
Essential for the feast, with salmon, smoked, and sausage rolls.
But where, in all this great long list, is succour for our souls?
…..
All this to celebrate the birth
of He Who made the universe
yet left His throne and came to us,
was born in poverty?
How can we feast when others starve?
When prisoners still aren’t freed?
When sick still suffer, can we laugh
And dance and shout with glee?
Why, yes, we can – for so He did,
At weddings and at feasts.
And we rejoice for He has come
For all of us, not just for some,
To cleanse and heal and bring release
And calls us now to share our feast,
Our riches, with all those who still
Are captive, sick and hungry.
…..
For still He comes to earth, is born
In humble places – hearts so torn,
And binds and heals and brings release
And calls us on to share His peace,
To feed the hungry, heal the lame,
To give, and never be the same
As all the tinsel-tangled world.
And so His standard is unfurled
And flies above the dirt and shame
And through us others hear His name
And the whole world will be aflame
With Love come down at Christmas.

Week 3: Friday Matthew 18:21-35

Forgiveness.

In the face both of unspeakable atrocities in the world – the grand-scale ones we witness in the news and the hidden personal ones of abuse, cruelty, simple unkindness – I offer you these two poems, which begin to explore the Mystery at the heart of the Gospel – the response of Love to unspeakable, unthinkable darkness and destruction.

 

Justice

“Love, love, love”… the music croons eternal truth
“love, love, love”… the hopeful zeitgeist of my youth
“love, love, love”… all-pervading sentiment
“love, love, love… love is all you need”

The years roll by
Bring sorrow and joy
Hope and despair
But always there
In the background…
“love, love, love… love is all you need”

And down the years
Love becomes
Warped
Twisted
Sullied
The word used to
Abuse, to
Accuse.
Pain unending
Clouds my days
I become
Scapegoat
For the sins of others
Bearing the unbearable.
Guilty for being.
Until
At last I hear
God’s whisper in my heart
At last I hear
His verdict –
“Not guilty!”
“Never guilty!”
“Innocent victim!”
Then
At last
My heart cries out,
My soul screams out for
Justice!

And on that day
I turn to
Christ my King
I petition
Christ my King
For
Justice.
Not for
Vengeance
But for
Justice

And Christ my King
Hears my cry
Says
“Rise up! Stand tall!
Your petition is granted.
You shall have the justice you seek.”
And I know that
Christ my King
Never lies
Christ my King
Never dies
Christ my King
Will look them in the eyes
And they will know
They will know
They will know
What they have done
To me and so to Him
And I know that
Christ my King
Will judge them
Christ my King
Will pronounce their guilt
Christ my King
Will pass sentence
Christ my King
Will open wide His arms,
Show them His wounded hands,
Speak to them words of
Forgiveness and healing
Pass His sentence of Love

For that is the
Justice
He bought
And that is the
Justice
I sought.
For
Christ my King
Reigns supreme,
Reaches out His wounded hands,
Gathers me to His wounded side,
Heals my wounded heart,
Breathes His truth into my soul –
“Love, love, love… love is all you need –
My love”

Father, forgive

Crown of thorns on piercèd head
Eyes dark with pain, deep wells of dread
Knowing too well what lies ahead –
To hang on cross until He’s dead.

On mountaintop with vision vast
The choice was made, the die was cast
He nailed His colours to the mast,
Chose God – and still to God holds fast.

Now nails will bind Him to the tree
A banner raised for all to see
He hangs and dies in agony
By cruel death to set us free

He trusted God – now God is gone
What price now faith? He hangs alone
There’s naught but pain – temptation strong
To curse, deny, hate – not atone

And yet, though blind with blood and tears
He conquers hate, He quells His fears
“Father Forgive” rings in our ears
His cry still echoes down the years

For we make the same choice as He,
Embrace God’s way on bended knee
To live, love, die to set all free
And “Father, forgive” is still our plea

For we, like Him, must bear the weight
Of others’ pain, uncalled-for hate –
Yet still to pray “Father, forgive”
That Christ in us may help them live,
To find in Him their own true state
As by His grace love recreates
What was destroyed by evil’s might –
That darkness may give way to light

And though it seems too hard to do,
With strength nigh gone, resources few –
Yet He who died in agony
Now lives in us, empowers, that we
May live, love, give – and give some more
Drawing on His unending store
Of grace, of love, of life divine
Grafted in Him, the One True vine.

Week 3: Thursday Matthew 12:15-21

Gentleness and patience – that’s what today’s passage speaks to my heart.

We are quick to justify ourselves, to confront those who seek to undermine us, to stand out ground, to fight our corner, to be assertive, to win the argument.

That’s not what Jesus does when personally threatened.
He withdraws.
And here’s a thought… in the context of the situation, who are the damaged reeds and the guttering lamps? Surely not his disciples, nor the crowds following him for healing. No. Those who need time and space and opportunity to grow strong and tall again, to burn straight and true, are surely the religious leaders – those who are currently plotting against him.

We look at those who seek to do us down and see an enemy who needs to be fought and subdued.
Jesus looks at those who seek to do him down and sees someone who is broken and in need of healing.
We are impatient for idiots to realise their stupidity.
Jesus quietly continues to live out the truth of the Kingdom, giving time for the broken ones to realise their own need and come to him for healing. As some of them did.

Peace in conflict.
Hope in despair.
Courage in danger.
Faith in doubt.
God of paradox and miracle.

And what of us?
We bring our brokenness to him for healing.
We live out our own lives true to kingdom rules, regardless of societal norms – feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, healing the sick, releasing the prisoner, sending blankets to refugees, accepting the stranger into our community.

Week 3: Monday Matthew 8:14-22

I can’t make any sense of Wright’s commentary today.
The words seem to be, as it, were, jumping up and down on the page and re-ordering themselves into random syllables.

Come to that, most of my brain-cells seem to be doing the same thing.
So here are some random responses to the passage itself, as they strike me.
And I offer you this as the widow offered her mite and as the little boy offered his packed lunch to Jesus when 5,000 were hungry – all I have. If there is any blessing for you in my thoughts, then that’s up to the One who takes and blesses and breaks and distributes our meagre offerings.

  • Jesus’ encounter with Peter’s mother-in-law was, in a way, random. She didn’t go to him and ask for healing. Peter didn’t ask Jesus to heal her. They simply went to the house and according to another, slightly fuller, gospel account found,   instead of dinner on the table, the cook in bed poorly.
  • Jesus reached out and touched her – not what I do when faced with a sneezing/ coughing pupil… I keep my distance!
  • Her healing was immediate and absolute.
  • Jesus healed all who were sick or demon-possessed (probably mentally ill in today’s understanding).
    • a question I can’t answer – why doesn’t Jesus heal all who are sick today? I’ve heard it argued that healing isn’t the same as curing – but in the gospels there is no such distinction. My brain is fuzzy (along with quite a raft of physical symptoms which, according to two different weekend out-of-hours medics, cause serious concern when taken together, so seeing emergency GP later for urgent referrals for procedures to try to find out why) so I can’t get my head round this at the moment. All help welcome.
      • I would add that, as I sit in silence before God these past few days when the symptoms have really begun to rack up, thought is impossible. Prayer is being in the Presence of Being, utterly as I am with the mental fog and physical neuropathy. And somehow, at a level far beyond thinking or feeling, I’m being granted a deep, deep knowing and the gentlest of shifts in perception – eyes opened to see God in all things, one thing at a time.
  • Two potential followers – the same response from Jesus. How say? they appear to be different….
    • to the over-enthusiastic one – a word of warning and of challenge. “Make sure you know what you’re offering – following Me won’t be easy or comfortable. It’ll strip all your security from you.”
    • to the reluctant one – a word of warning and of challenge also. “You call me Master… but you’re living as if I’m only 2nd in line, other priorities come first. Which is it? Am I truly your Master? choose…”

There you are. That’s my offering for today. As someone who’s used to having an extremely active and sharply analytical brain, this brain fog is disturbing. And yet, and yet… the cessation of the usual fizzing-over mental activity which has always been my lot is bringing a kind of peace. And in the absence of earthquake, wind and fire I am more aware of the still, small voice soothing and comforting.

Week 4: Friday Matthew 22:1-14

First, a point of interpretation, and to clarify

I’ve always understood the following to be the case:

“The framework of the parable probably presupposes the Oriental custom of providing garments for the guests who were invited to a royal feast. Wardrobes filled with many thousand garments formed part of the wealth of every Eastern prince, and it was part of his glory to bring them out for use on state occasions. On this assumption, the act of the man who was found “not having a wedding garment” was one of wilful insult. He came in the “filthy rags”  of his old life, instead of putting on the “white linen” meet for a kingly feast which had been freely offered him.”

Which puts a whole new slant on the King’s anger.

“Wilful insult”.

So – thought for the day.

Choices have consequences.
If I wilfully choose to live in a way which is not in accord with the kingdom, I am wilfully choosing exclusion.
Teachers frequently have that kind of conversation with pupils… putting the responsiblity for their behaviour and its consequences firmly on the shoulders of the pupil.  See Graham Hartland’s post mentioning the direct correlation between effort in and results out.

Question for the day – from what today will I repent? or to what will I repent?

Prayer for the day – “Lord, the evil that I would not, that I do, and the good I would do, that I do not. Have mercy on me.”

Week 2: Thursday Matthew 15:10-20

poohjar6

sweet and true
through and through
to the bottom of the pot
nothing mars
nothing jars
what you see is what you’ve got
right down to the bottom

rules are tools
only fools
think can replace liquid gold
Spirit fills
toils and tills
in the soul ’til all behold
naught in me but pure gold

refiner’s fire
funeral pyre
of all secret, hidden sin
scars revealed,

transformed, healed
grace, love, peace, joy reign within,
bursting forth into the world

Amen, Lord – make it so
deep within