Lent reflection…

562980_10151350427449132_120154424_nWe live in borrowed time,
says Lent.

i have lived on borrowed truth for a while
as well,
and borrowed faith when necessary
i know I have taken certainty from places that shouldn’t have given it to me
and probably wouldn’t have, willingly.

I have tried to make it my own.
all of it.
i have given it the names of my gods,
and scratched in deep to its essence my name and my claim
that it’s mine
and it’s me.

i have held it fast with fear and determination,
and close as to make it mine forever

but here now
you ask for it back
and i give it.

the left over shape of a life
and a faith
tarnished, scratched and battered
with the indentations of my clasping
grasping
fingers

and i say
sorry for messing what was beautiful
and
thankyou for trusting me with what’s yours.

From Cheryl at holdthisspace

Eternal perspective…

My previous blog was called “Rumours of Angels”  and it carried the strap line “all is in flux turn, but a stone and an angel moves” taken from this prayer (Man is made to rise) written by the Very Rev Dr George Fielden MacLeod, Baron MacLeod of Fuinary (founder of the Iona Community).

It is about seeing the world through the eyes of faith, seeing beyond the earthly to the eternal:

 Invisible we see You, Christ above us.
With earthy eyes we see above us, clouds or sunshine, grey or bright.
But with the eye of faith we know you reign:
instinct in the sun ray
speaking in the storm,
warming and moving all creation, Christ above us.

We do not see all things subject unto You.
But we know that man is made to rise.
Already exalted, already honoured, even now our
citizenship is in heaven
Christ above us, invisible we see You.

Invisible we see You, Christ beneath us.
With earthly eyes we see beneath us stones and dust and dross,
fit subjects for the analyst’s table.
But with the eye of faith, we know You uphold.
In You all things consist and hang together:
the very atom is light energy
the grass is vibrant,
the rock pulsate.

All is in flux, turn but a stone and an angel moves.
Underneath are the everlasting arms.
Unknowable we know you, Christ beneath us.

If you have never read any of George MacLeod’s prayers then I commend them to you – a great place to start is this book Daily Readings with George MacLeod.

(Photo is of pebbles on Chesil Beach from davesdistrictblog)

Stripped down

A reflection as Sunday approaches…  from Roddy at Listening to the stones.

It seemed appropriate for a week which saw the resignation of an Archbishop and in which some personal priorities are being examined and reassessed.

What pads your faith?

What will draw you to worship?

What needs laid aside?

………………………………………………………

Lord Jesus

when you strip our faith down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails

all the glamour of robes
all the wealth of the church
all the comfort of cathedrals
is worth nothing

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

all the great ministers of the church
the cascade of church history
and mighty holy empires
and reformations

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

and the many theology books written
and the great universities of divinity
and the councils that fashioned creeds
and the world wide web of religion

when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

Here is our corrective
our moment to lay aside
that which pads our faith
and affirm that which draws us here

for when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love

May we let go
and be held instead.

Image is ‘wood and nails’ found here at deviantart.com

Incarnation

No priest, no theologian stood at the cradle in Bethlehem. And yet all Christian theology has its origins in the wonder of all wonders that God became man. Alongside of the brilliance of the holy night there burns the fire of the unfathomable mystery of Christian theology.

(Dietrich Bonhoeffer)

… ride the river

“I baptise you with water, but he will baptise you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 1:8)…

I was ‘playing away’ today… doing a pulpit swap with the Presbytery Clerk (who is a Reader). I was celebrating a baptism in the church where he is interim moderator and he was preaching in mine.

Celebrating a baptism (for only the second time this year) made me think again about the liturgies we use and the complex theology behind them.

Baptism is initiation. It is the outward symbol of our inner newness of life in Christ… of our becoming part of the eternal community of God’s people. It is a meeting of heaven and earth in one profound sacramental moment. And when the baptism is of an infant, it also speaks of all the potential that is wrapped up in one young life at the beginning of faith.

So in honour of this morning’s baptism…I thought I would post this snatch of liturgy from Hold this Space. It is from an interactive worship event which had water as an underpinning theme.

We baptise with water … Jesus with the Spirit. And this liturgy captures the dynamic power of water and (for me anyway) symbolises the roller coaster nature of life lived in the guiding power of God’s Spirit:

Water has the power to carve valleys out of mountains.
It has the force to shape the landscape of the world.
It’s terrifying and exhilarating, fierce and beautiful.

If we have the courage to ride this particular river
– to jump into this faith that we’ve talked about this week –
then at times it’s going to feel like we’re tumbling,
like we’re being pummelled and shaped;
like we are at the mercy of the water.

It can be a wild ride, an adventure
or it can feel like it’s dragging us under,
that we are no longer able to breathe.

So, if you need it, here’s a branch…

In this space – and in every moment – you have a choice:

grab the branch, pull yourself out of the river
climb to the side and get re-oriented;

grab the branch, take a breath,
launch back in and let the river take you where it will.

I liked the change of emphasis in the middle… from the wild flow of water to the option of calm. The idea of being able to grab on to a branch and to rest a while. This is so important… taking time out… drawing breath… resting in the stillness of God.

So at the beginning of another week on your particular roller coaster, I hope you manage some moments of calm in the heart of the chaos 🙂

(Picture is no1 son on the beach in Galle, Portugal.)

Faith is…

“Faith is different from theology because theology is reasoned, systematic, and orderly, whereas faith is disorderly, intermittent, and full of surprises….

Faith is homesickness. Faith is a lump in the throat.

Faith is less a position on than a movement toward, less a sure thing than a hunch.

Faith is waiting.”

(Frederick Buechner )

(Picture is Coldingham Bay)