Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Sanctus, Holy, Kadosh!

Readings for 3rd June, 2012,Trinity Sunday, can include Isaiah 6:1-8, Romans 8:12-17, John 3:1-17 & Psalm 29

Perhaps the most ‘doctrinal’ Sunday of the year we celebrate the Christian mystery that God is Trinity.
But we misunderstand Trinity if we think it is highly theoretical or speculative.
At the core of the Trinity is the idea that our God is the God with whom we are in relationship.
The language,
Father Son and Spirit is the language of close relationships like a parent and a child
like those with a deep spiritual connection
it is not impersonal or abstract

So this week 

Take a little time to nurture your personal relationship.
Listening and talking is the way to do this

The second dimension that we encounter today
is that each member of the Trinity is there as an agent of Love.
The Father loves the Son, the Son loves the Father, the Spirit is there to enable the love to deepen and grow.
This relationship or rather these relationships
are there to serve each other.
This is the nature of the Godhead
the mystery of the Trinity
each person is there for the welfare of others

  • The Father loves the world so much
  • that he gives his Son
  • the Son loves the world so much
  • that he gives his life
  • the Spirit so loves us that we are filled with love for the Father and the Son.
The idea of Trinity
is that we are fulfilled in community in so far as we give our life for others.

When Isaiah get his glimmer of God’s glory
he is reacting as Godly people have done throughout the generations

“How,” we ask “are others to hear about God?”
“Who will speak? Who will tell?”

The answer is that Trinity life...God-life is about living for others
and we are challenged to say “Here am I send me!”

Where does God call me to live my life for others?

Is there someone who I am called specially to be here for this week?

As part of my call to be a worshipper of the Holy Trinity God I commit myself to this in this coming week.

Do I need to pray the prayer of Isaiah...Here am I send me?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Oh Freedom!

More thoughts for Pentecost 2012: Galatians 5:1 & 16-26

I was once asked in an interview what my guiding principle or manifesto was
I quoted Galatians 5:1
For freedom Christ has set us free
It's somewhat cryptic but it stays with me
both as  what God might be saying to me
about my own life
and also about what Christian communities
could and should be about
Their own freedom
and working for the freedom of others!
At the end of that chapter St Paul exhorts us
to reject the works of the flesh
They are crucified with Christ on the Cross
 and, by contrast,
to allow the fruit of the Spirit to grow in us

This shouldn't be, he says,  a cause for conceit;
it's not a competition against each other
but rather a deep desire to live our lives properly and well.

This is a particularly important reflection for us at Pentecost-Whitsuntide
because Paul begins these two injunctions
with the simple command:
Live by the Spirit.
We fight the battle with sin
by the grace that God has given to us
though the gift of the Spirit
and he is telling us simply
it's obvious what is wrong
 Now the works of the flesh are obvious: fornication, impurity, licentiousness, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these. I am warning you, as I warned you before: those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
(I could, but won't, observe that "homosexuality"
is not on this least this time)

He contrasts this with where our proper focus should be
 By contrast, the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against such things. 
This, Paul says, is the fruit of the Spirit

If we are to understand what God is doing in us
it is growing the good stuff (virtue, character, Godliness) and getting rid of the bad stuff.(sin)
And I would agree with St Paul
--all this is obvious---
it may not be...indeed it is not. EASY
And it is certainly not a competition

Let this week be one of intense spiritual focus as we remember we have a Holy Spirit live and active in our lives.
So there are two focuses:

  • The 'works of the flesh' are least mine are...throw some Spirit power (prayer, fasting, energy) into dealing with the jealousy, anger, impurity, drunkenness, fornication...etc. etc   what ever it is that depletes you...and let the Spirit attend to your wholeness, forgiveness, healing, pain, weakness....this is obvious!
  • Pray for the fruit of the Spirit....which one do you particularly need at this time: peace, generosity, gentleness, self-control....and always Love.  God is growing that in us

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Weeks, Harvest, Law, Spirit and Joy

Readings for Pentecost, 27th May 2012, can include  Acts 2:1-21; Ezekiel 37:1-14; Psalm 104:24-35; Romans 8:22-27; John 15:26-27; 16:-4-15

The last few days of the Easter season are filled with high points.
The Ascension (on Day 40) is really a great expression of God's desire to trust humanity
to be agents of grace and goodness (see the previous post)
This week we celebrate Pentecost which is the 50th Day after Easter.
In the Jewish tradition it is called Shavuot (sometimes called the Feast of Weeks) and is essentially a great Harvest Festival
The Jewish religious tradition holds that this is the day God gave the Law (the Torah) 
to Moses
So it is a day full of possibility, optimism and hope.
The Christian events of that day are described in Acts 2
The early disciples would have been in the Temple for this great festival.
 What  happens at  Pentecost is of great significance 
because it prepares us for our life as Christians
the gift of the Holy Spirit to the faithful and expectant disciples
is the gift of the Father to live the life that Jesus, the Word of God calls us to live.
It is "become what you receive!"
The Body of Christ for the world and for the love and worship of God.

The readings talk of many things:
    Life being breathed into what looks as though it is dead
And each of these deserves its own individual treatment.
Indeed this demonstrates to us that the Holy Spirit is not a quick fix...
but is about God dealing with us comprehensively and completely.
Why would we expect anything else?
This is about the whole of our life and the whole of the world.
Indeed a prayer we often pray is 

Come Holy Sprit and renew your whole creation
So often we seem to think that God is just dealing with my little patch
It is about "the whole creation"
It is also about God dealing with us deeply
and not just tinkering in a titillating or superficial way.

This JOY that the Spirit brings
which is so evident in the Acts of the Apostles 
each time the Holy Spirit is encountered
is not merely an amusement or an entertainment 
it is about the absolute delight and sense of privilege 
that we know in being caught up in the mystery of what God has been doing 
since before the foundation of the world.
It is perhaps the surest sign of the Spirit’s activity in our lives.

Where do you experience the deepest joy in your life?
It is a challenging question.
So often we mistake amusement for joy
yet often joy is about difficult stuff
about working through the challenging issues of life
and realising that although we are often confronted with danger, struggle, weakness
that the Joy that the Spirit brings transforms our life

This week
●Where has God given you the greatest JOY
●How can I nurture this?
●What is God inviting me to be, know and do, by this active power and presence of the Spirit?

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Getting to the guts of it

Thoughts for Sunday 20th May ...easter 7 or the Sunday after the Ascenbsion  (this is a rejigging of some of my previous blog material and I will be adding more material later in the week about thoughts I have been having recently)
Readings can be from Acts 1:1-11, 15-26; Psalm 1, Psalm 47, Ephesians 1:15-23; 1 John 5:9-13; Luke 24:44-53; & John 17:6-19
Now this can either be hard or easy!
Because, either the point of the physical removal of Jesus
that we call The Ascension
is an insurmountable obstacle to 21st century rational-scientific minds
or it is as easy as recognising
that in order to mature
we cannot go on having others
doing for us what we need to do for ourselves!
I opt to think, today, about the Ascension
in this latter way!

In the most obvious sense
God wants mature men and women.
People who will have depth and understanding
that is not achieved
by always stepping in making up for our inadequacies.
Any parent knows the truth of this.
Indeed anyone in any relationship whatsoever
needs to understand this,
we are not called to step in and make up
for the inadequacies, mistakes and failures
of others.
However well-intentioned,
this breeds immaturity and over-dependence,
rather than freedom, initiative
and sophisticated maturity.

There is a difference between supporting people in difficulty
and in not allowing people the opportunity to make their own mistakes!

The withdrawal of the physical presence of Jesus
rather than being an expression
of God's disappointment and heartbreak with the world
can and should actually be seen
as a statement of faith by God in you and me.
God believes that we have within us
the means to be effective people
God believes that we have within us
the means to be effective church
God believes that we have within us
the capacity to fail and to know that failure is not the end

This is what is going on

Two encouragements
This is something about the very nature of what relationship
with God is all about
We are not passive observers
of a world in which God is active
but we are ministers of God's presence to the world.

Now what does a minister do?
A minister acts on behalf of someone
So, a Minister of the Crown exercises authority of behalf of the Queen and the Government.
A minister of the Church
acts on behalf of God.
And we understand that Baptism
confers upon you and me
the responsibility
to be Minister of Jesus
We will say We are the Body of Christ
So Jesus can say to the Father...

I am no longer in the world but they are in the world.

Now this 'they' who he is talking about is you and me

We may feel as though this is too hard sometimes
Jesus prays for our protection
he prays that we may be united to each other
and that we may be filled with joy

He does not pray
that we should be relieved of responsibility
or taken out of the world.
But rather that we should exercise this responsibility

It is a great statement of the trust that God put in you and me
as ministers
to act with confidence in the name of the God who equips us for ministry.

May this be ours too

This week
  • Can we look for opportunity to a faithful minister and commit ourself deliberately to God's care and protection as you seek to be more faithful
  • Look at the circumstances in which we live and see where God is calling us to serve others.
    Pray deliberately for joy where ever we find ourselves to be

Wednesday, May 09, 2012

What do we want? when do we want it?

Readings for Sunday May 13 2012 include Psalm 98, Acts 10:44-48, 1John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
St John in the section of the first letter that we read today
reminds us that we come to understand 
what life is about
and how things fall into place
by faith.
This is the victory that conquers the world,
our faith.

This is a seemingly innocent, even predictable, statement
which we may gloss over.
But it is also in a real sense the key.
We proceed to live life in a different way because of faith.
This is about a decision that we make to choose to live life in a deeper
more authentic way.
John hammers home Jesus’s bold assertion that everything flows out of the reality that God loves us.
It is not the declaration of rules and laws, but the reality of a commitment to live life in a radical and deep way
So we are confronted again by the challenge to go out and bear fruit
and we hear the promise
that this fruitfulness will be undergirded by God’s provision of whatever we ask for 
and need to be fruitful.
Notice (as last week) this is not 
wish-fulfilment (the new bike syndrome)
this is purpose-driven   
God makes provision 
out of his love
for everything we need
to live the kingdom life
which brings us the promise of abundance
—–let’s not play games with God
thinking God is a slot-machine
—–we are trying to live the life of faith
so we are likely to need:
—–forgiveness, love, reconciliation, patience, generosity
much more important than 
a new bike, or even wealth

Abundant, eternal life
will in the end seek to draw out of us
a life of faith 
This is the victory that conquers the world...our faith

What do we want  and need  to live a life of faith?

What is to stop us asking for it?

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

True life, true vine!

Readings for today (6th May 2012...Easter 5) might include Acts 8:26-40; Psalm 22:25-31; 1 John 4:7-21, John 15:1-8

South Australians in particular appreciate this image of the vine that Jesus uses in John 15
Because we live in the premier wine state of Australia
and one of the greatest vine growing areras in the world.
I am proudly South Australian!
It is a sumptuous and engaging image
and bears much thinking about, with reflection and prayer.
God wants us to be fruitful
he wants us not to have meagre lives
but abundant lives.
Some times we need to understand that fruitfulness comes about by a process of pruning
that is by cutting back
by curtailing ourselves
This process is for long-term fruitfulness
even though in the short term 
it may limit or even seem like it hurts
The passage from 1John reminds us that God’s sole motivation is  love for us
We are not the puppets of a dictator
we are the lovers of a God
who wants only our welfare.

All this prompts us to think that what is being suggested here
is deeper rather than shallower.
It is long-term transformation
rather than short- term titillation.

So when we read (as we do twice in this chapter) 
“ask what ever you wish and it will be done for you” 
we should realise that this is more than just wish-fulfillment.
God is seeking to respond to our deepest need.
I suspect that our deepest need is not to have more stuff or money
It is about attending to this, our need to be loved
and to love
In the end ...this will always be what we want
it certainly is what we need

However we name it, even if we have to begin with 
               “But I really want a new car!”
God is offering more than just to be Fr Christmas.
We know this because of John’s assertion over and over again
               God loves me! God loves you! God loves us!
So much so that he is prepared to confront death for us.
There is more being offered here than a new bike, a big house or a pile of cash.

Can you sit with the question...what do I really want?
Can we wrestle about that with God? (Why do I want more? Why do I need trouble to disappear)
What, God, are you offering?
Probably much more than we think!