Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Cleverly devised myths

This is the Last Sunday after the Epiphany this year and a selection of readings are :Exodus 24:12-18;Psalm 2orPsalm 99;II Peter 1:16-21; Matthew 17:1-9

On this last Sunday before Lent we are directed to the story of the Transfiguration (here)
St Peter in his wonderful exposition of this event (which we also read today)
reminds us that this is not 'a cleverly devised myth'
Now this bears thinking about
because it has a lot of mythical qualities...flashing lights, supernatural figures, voices booming from heaven, mystery clouds ..and so on
What Peter says is that this is his experience of who Jesus is.
And this is a reflection that we might be invited to make today
as we come to the end of this Epiphany season
Who is Jesus for me?
This, on one level, is a straight forward question
on another it takes us into this realm of uncertainty and the supernatural.
At the very least
this story of the Transfiguration
helps us to realise
that God transcends the natural world and the supernatural.
Indeed this is really the whole point of understanding who Jesus is...
The Word made flesh
The reality of God in human form.
So we might usefully cast our eyes around our day to daylife
and ask where we encounter Jesus
where are we aware of the dynamic presence of God acting in our life
in the ordinariness of our life.

Who is Jesus for me? - Some reflections
  • Take time to be aware of God's sustaining presence
  • Where have I been aware of God with me today?
  • What does God could cause me to do, be and think today?
  • Is there an invitation to live my life in a way different from that which I often choose?
  • Give thanks to God for insight and pray for grace to be faithful
  • GLORY TO GOD: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; as in the beginning so now and for ever. AMEN

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Signs of the covenant

Readings for Sunday 27th January 2008 the Third Sunday after Epiphany (Year A) can be taken from Isaiah 9:1-4, Psalm 27, 1 Corinthians 1:10-18, & Matthew 4:12-25

The early disciples got a curious glimpse of something different:
what it might be like to follow Jesus.
For two thousand years people have got a glimpse of the same thing.
For some it has been very clear
for some it has been a gradual realisation

The question we ask ourselves today is
what makes me a disciple of Jesus?
Why do I follow, what do I seek to be and do?
You may remember that last week's question was:
What are you looking for?
This is what Jesus asks those who pursue him.
The two questions are not unrelated

But the mature realisation of the disciple is that it is not a job description
rather it is an invitation to a relationship
This is not unlike a marriage
I could be tempted when preparing a couple
to say "This what a husband does"
and "This is what a wife does"
as if it were some sort of job description
(this is, incidentally, why some people get Paul's teaching about marriage all skew-whiff,
they mistake his comments about the nature of mutual relationship as  a role descriptor for spouses!)
in reality what is important is not the job that we do
as a spouse
or as a disciple
but the sort of relationship we have.
With each other, and with God

This week
  • You might reflect whether the idea of having a relationship with Jesus is one that works for you
  • How might you deepen that relationship, or (perhaps) discover what it means?
  • Pray for yourself and your friends that you may have beeter relationships.

What are you looking for?

Readings for Sunday 20th January 2008 the Second Sunday after Epiphany (Year A) can be taken from Isaiah 49:1-7, Psalm 40, 1 Corinthians 1:1-9, & John 1:29-42

In these weeks after Christmas and Epiphany we are invited to explore how Jesus is understood and made known to people.
This is what the word "epiphany" means.
So we have seen Jesus, as the baby born in Bethlehem who is not just a fairy tale for the Jews, but also the fulfilment of the hopes for the world.
The Wise Men who initiate the season are the signs of the wider world, and that this revelation of God is for all people.
Last week as we thought of Jesus's baptism, we were introduced to the idea that Jesus is the Beloved of God, here for a purpose. A purpose that is full of hope and expectation.
Today we hear not only about who Jesus is, but about who we are.
And we are invited to understand that who we are is, of course, tied up with who Jesus is
and who God says we are and he wants us to be.
So picking up (not quite at random) we are told
You are my servant in whom I will be glorified
and that
the Lord formed us in the womb, to bring the faithful back to him

and we hear Paul speaking to the Church in Corinth and also to us
we are made holy in Jesus
we are called to be saints
we are not lacking in any spiritual gift
and the Lord will strengthen you to the end
This is powerful and hopeful language and we should take a while to breathe it in.
But it as we look to what John says about Jesus that we are given an insight into how to explore this in our own life.

John tells them that Jesus is "The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world", and also that he is the one who will baptise people not just with water but also with the Holy Spirit.
We can't imagine that the early disciples
were able to put all this together
like some elaborate spiritual jigsaw
which as long as they found the pieces and had enough time
would ultimately become clear.
It is enough however for people to be entranced
and so they go looking for Jesus and try to see what he is going to do.

Now this is a pattern of our life
and indeed of most people
they are captivated by Jesus.
They do indeed see
in the stable, under the light of the star
on Palm Sunday, in the miracles, on the Cross
and at the Garden of Gethsemane
something which they do not quite understand
but which, nevertheless,
captivates them.
It grabs our attention.
and for a brief moment
we run after.

Jesus says to us
what he said to those first searchers
.....What are you looking for?
This is a telling little remark
it says apart from anything else

that we have to do some digging for ourselves, even though we are often content to do nothing and then wonder why the holy God seems silent or distant.

What are you looking for?
Take some time to think about this question.
It may be that you need to think about the question behind the question
I just want a quiet life...but what does a quiet life mean...a quiet life means a life without worry...but what worries are of concern to you....I want my children to be happy...what would their happiness look like

So you see what one such chain might look like.

The initial attraction that we (or anyone else) might feel towards Jesus
invites us to dig!
What are you looking for?

It is worth spending the time
to identify what we really want
and asking Jesus to speak into that situation.

Monday, January 07, 2008

Jesus is baptised-If today you hear his voice

Sunday 13th January ...The Baptism of Jesus see Matthew's account in 3:13-17 below

Matthew 3:13-17 ...

Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptised by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptised by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now; for it is proper for us in this way to fulfil all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus had been baptised, just as he came up from the water, suddenly the heavens were opened to him and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting on him. And a voice from heaven said, "This is my Son, the Beloved, with whom I am well pleased."

Much (too much seems to me) is made of Jesus's Baptism by John the Baptist.
The point that is usually made is that
  • Jesus did not need to be baptised but he obediently responded and expressed a certain humility in so doing
  • It initiated the start of his ministry and the public recognition of who he is begins to unfold
These points are reasonable , but maybe too subtle and/or theological
Baptisms are rich occasions, they mean a lot to people
and they are often multi-complex in meaning.
They do not just have to be one thing or the other.
At the very least we see here Jesus making a deliberate act of openness to God
and act which we are invited to share in.
There is a recognition that however he conducts himself
he needs to do it in accordance with the way the Father wants things done
and so we rejoice when we see this happening.

As we watch Jesus being baptised
however this story impacts upon us
the same journey/opportunity
is set before you and me.
  • To allow our lives to be deliberately open to God
  • and to commit ourselves to walking in the way of God
In these last few weeks I have been particularly drawn to the verses of the daily invitatory Psalm, often called Venite after its Latin title. In the latter part of that psalm where God speaks to the singer/pray-er
If today you hear God's voice
do not harden your heart
as in the Provocation and the day of Temptation in the wilderness
when your ancestors tempted me, put me to the test
even though they had seen everything I did.
Forty years long I was grieved with generation and said
"It is a people who err in their hearts, for they have not known my ways"
Unto whom I swear, in my anger
They shall not enter into into my rest.

This is not a threat, it is the way things are.
We are tempted to ignore God, and even though we see what God is doing.
Yet we still go our own way.
The call to Baptism
is the call to do what God wants
and to commit our lives to that cause