You are Enough

enoughTonight at HTGP I led a meditation rater than shared a homily. I was inspired by a photo from a friend, Tracey Affleck, who kindly gave me permission too use it tonight in our worship (its the one I’ve pasted next to the icon in this post). Thank you Tracey!

The photo has profound and important words and I have placed it next to the icon that shows Jesus with a disciple resting their head on Jesus’ shoulder. I think that disciple realised they were enough. I wonder if meany of us are able to realise that truth?

Tonight I wanted people to leave knowing they were approved of, that they are enough… not because I say that they are … but simply because I think God and Christian theology says so and that tonights reading in John 15:9-17 says so. I feel quite strongly that we hear too often that we need to improve, that we need to do better, that we will only be acceptable when we do something, or achieve something, or look or sound a particular way. We have taken on board a lie that says we will be more acceptable to God when …..

There is no when.
We are all acceptable to God.
More than.
Jesus says ‘You did not choose me, I chose you!’.
You can’t get much clearer.
As we are …. we are enough
You are enough.

Anyway you can hear the meditation here … and I’ve printed the text below for those who like to read as well.

Meditation John 15: 9-17   You are enough 

‘As the father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.’

Abide in my love
Abide …. meaning: accept, acknowledge, consent, 

concede, submit or live with

Accept you are loved by God

acknowledge God loves you

consent to receive God’s love

concede that you don’t have to earn God’s love

submit to knowing you are great in God’s eyes

live with the knowledge that you are enough

How does the sit with you?

can you believe it?

Being enough

not having to change to be loved

loved as you are

because

you are enough

How do you view your relationship with God?

a servant?

a subject?

God watching and waiting to catch you out?

or a friend

a friend willing to lay down a life

for you

Is that strange?

undeserving?

difficult to embrace?

uncomfortable to hear?

but hear 

‘as the father loved me, so I have loved you’

because

you are enough

God knows you

totally

the good and the bad

as well as the ugly

the habits and stuff you hide

embarrassed over

bathes in God’s light 

It’s easy to love someone at the start of a relationship

in that idealism and infatuation

but then it becomes more difficult

as you notice stuff

different views

different niggles

harder to turn a blind eye to those irritations

God knows you

totally

all of you

even the stuff you hide from yourself

and yet

God still chooses to love you

You did not choose me but I chose you’ says Jesus

Jesus chose you with eyes wide open

knowing everything

there is about you to know

embrace that thought

tell yourself

in your mind

that God loves you

God loves you

God loves you

Because 

you

are 

enough

Amen. 

Tears as Sacrament

aHR0cDovL3d3dy5saXZlc2NpZW5jZS5jb20vaW1hZ2VzL2kvMDAwLzA5NS84NjIvb3JpZ2luYWwvbWFuLWNyeWluZy10ZWFycy5qcGc=It’s been a long day …
As most of you know I subscribe the Richard Rohr’s daily meditation
The day today has meant I have only just got around to reading today’s …
or I would have posted this earlier
with just a big …. YES!

I found todays post so powerful that I have cut and paste it here in it’s entirety. You can see it online here and you can subscribe too … tho quite frankly I really do not understand why any of my regular readers are not already subscribed …

I find today’s post so powerful
so real
so …. umm .. life giving
and yes …. ‘we need to teach all young people how to cry’
anyway … go read …. (and I’ve love your comments too)

Blessed Are Those Who Mourn
Thursday, February 1, 2018

Blessed are those who mourn: they shall be comforted. —Matthew 5:4

Tears are therapeutic and healing, both emotionally and physically. Crying helps the body shed stress hormones and stimulates endorphins. Weeping is a natural and essential part of being human. Eknath Easwaran writes:

We can spend the better part of our lives attempting to construct the perfect personal environment, a kind of bubble that will insulate us against everything that is unpleasant. But sorrow is woven into the very texture of life. Pain, disappointment, depression, illness, bereavement, a sense of inadequacy in our work or our relationships . . . the list could go on and on. . . .

Is there meaning in this pattern, in the inescapable mingling of sorrow and joy? The mystics say there is. If tears are a fact of life, they have several lessons to teach us, and the first is to learn to keep on an even keel through life’s inevitable storms. . . . [1]

The Syrian Fathers Ephrem and Simeon weren’t as familiar in Western Christianity as the Greek and Latin Fathers after the early centuries of the Church. The Greek and Latin Fathers tended to filter the Gospel through the head; the Syrian Fathers’ theology was much more localized in the body. They actually proposed that tears be a sacrament in the Church. Saint Ephrem went so far as to say until you have cried you don’t know God.

Most of us think we know God—and ourselves—through ideas. Yet corporeal, embodied theology acknowledges that perhaps weeping will allow us to know God much better than ideas. In this Beatitude, Jesus praises those who can enter into solidarity with the pain of the world and not try to remove or isolate themselves from its suffering. This is why Jesus says the rich person often can’t see the Kingdom, because they spend too much time trying to make tears unnecessary and even impossible.

Jesus describes those who grieve as feeling the pain of the world. Weeping over our sin and the sin of the world is an entirely different response than self-hatred or hatred of others. Grief allows one to carry the dark side, to bear the pain of the world without looking for perpetrators or victims, but instead recognizing the tragic reality that both sides are caught up in. Tears from God are always for everyone, for our universal exile from home. “It is Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted” (Jeremiah 31:15). I am grateful that the new emergence of hospice work, bereavement ministries, and formal “grief work” seems to indicate we are beginning to understand this. In Men’s Rites of Passage, the “day of grief” is often the turning point toward a man’s initiation. Men finally discover that so much of what they thought was anger was actually sadness, loss, and grief. [2]

Tears seem ridiculous in a culture like ours which is so focused on diversions and entertainment, and are especially a stumbling block to men. Crying will make us look vulnerable. So many men hold back tears. Is it no wonder men don’t live as long as women, on average? We must teach all young people how to cry. Now, in my later years, I finally understand why Saints Francis and Clare cried so much, and why the saints spoke of “the gift of tears.”

© 2018 | Center for Action and Contemplation
1823 Five Points Road SW
Albuquerque, New Mexico, USA

imagine what is was like for the shepherds ….

shepherdsTonight, the third of our Advent meditations was based on the Shepherds.
You can read it below and hear it here.

can you imagine

for a little while

what is was like for the shepherds?

They were outcasts

not merely living on the edge of the city

but totally outside the protection of its walls

the lowest

worthless

alone

no one wanted to be near the shepherds

Have you ever felt

unappreciated?

or worse

unwanted?

hear the words of God:

‘I am bringing YOU yes you

you sat there

you thinking you are worthless, ignored, alone

I am bringing you good news of great joy’

How does knowing that God comes to you

that God searches you out

make you feel?

When you get that good news of great joy

what would be your response?

would you run home and share it with those close?

would you keep it to yourself?

would you tell everybody you could find?

What would that good news of great joy look like for you today

Spend some time now

talking to God about what that would look like

(pause)

tonight …. how do you respond to what you have heard?

imagine what is was like for Joseph

st-joseph-icon-727
The second of our meditations, this time from the character or viewpoint of Joseph.

The meditation is shared below.

You may can hear the audio version here.

can you imagine

for a little while

what is was like for Joseph?

A righteous man

a kind man

a person that would never want to embarrass anybody

definitely not Mary

even if he felt incredibly hurt

or let down

How do you react if you feel let down by someone?

Do you seek revenge?

or do you try to keep things quiet and dignified?

talk to God about that

People must have thought Joseph was daft

maybe a bit of a mug

believing a ridiculous story

how did he cope with that pressure?

how do you cope with the pressure

of others talking about you?

others laughing at you?

others not trusting you?

Joseph had his own visitation

from an angel

in a dream

with that message to say Mary was telling the truth

God spoke right into Joseph’s life

And Jospeh listened and acted accordingly

Do you believe God speaks today?

Do you think God would want to speak to you?

Have you had a dream and wondered

whether it was God?

Have you listened … or dismissed it?

thinking it to be your imagination?

When was the last time

you gave yourself a chance to hear God?

Sit now

and listen

ask God to speak ….

(pause)

what do you hear?

through the darkness …

2017-09-03_header1Beautiful words here to sum up the Richard Rohr weekly meditations of last week; particularly
‘Through darkness and doubt often come the greatest creativity and faith.’

Go read … and subscribe!

gpcu pt 5 … mindful(l)

mindful-jpeg

Each Tuesday for the last 6 months or so we have been holding a meditation class in the NOW gallery. One of the struggles for someone like me on the peninsula is finding space that is suitable to offer stuff from … and the gallery staff have been amazing in supporting what we are trying to achieve by letting us use some space to offer a free meditation class for anyone that wishes to come. We get anywhere between 2 and 12 people coming to this class each week, although recently numbers have dropped off as a lot of things seem to do in the summer months.

Following on from yesterdays happiness/Ravensbourne post I was asked if I could run a mindful meditation class in the college for students and staff to attend as part of Mental Health Awareness Week. I did and we had nearly 40 people turn up. The majority of people were students, some were staff.

Most of the 40 had not tried any form of meditation before. I shared that I have used the John Main style of meditation a lot and they were happy to try that using a word to repeat over and over again for 20 mins. John main suggests ‘Maranatha’, which means ‘Our God comes’ … I also offer ‘Metanoia’, which means ‘change my heart / mind’. I like to offer this alternative (or any other word people may be comfortable with) so people with no faith feel comfortable to join as well as those with a particular faith.

I find that 20 mins is a good length for introducing people to silent meditation … and often I give a reminder at the 5 or 10 min markers to remind people to re focus on their word and let them know how much time has gone.

Although the meditation lasted only 20 minutes I was then questioned by students for a further 30minutes as the majority of them could see that what they had just been involved with connected with them spiritually and had a positive impact on reducing their level of stress. (I should have mentioned that before the meditation started I gave everything a credit card size piece of paper with the words foe and after on. I asked them to rate their stress level out of 10 before we started and then again after the 20 min silent meditation. Everyone had decreased by at least 2 points… e.g. 7 out of 10 to 5 out of 10).

It’s been great to hear that both the college staff and students have requested that I return to run another meditation class, and some are asking whether it could become more regular. So .. that is a case of watch this space to see what further impact we can have here in supporting students and the college.

It’s just amazing sometimes how God opens up little opportunities for us to be able to have a positive impact in our local communities and individual lives.

Meditation continues every Tuesday at the NOW gallery from 6 … we usually start at 6:10pm, finish at 6:30pm and sometimes some of us go for a bite to eat or a drink … or go home a little more de-stressed then when we arrived …. why not come try it out!

Contrasts

contrast-zebraLast Tuesday was a difficult frustrating day.
The kind of  day when you ask whether you even know what you are doing as nothing seems to work.

Last Tuesday after months of planning I went somewhere to start a project and myself and my colleague were not expected. So the project never got started. (It will in a  few weeks!)

I then led a meditation class later that day and no one came!
These two events are lynchpins in the hypothesis we are testing here to engage with people, so the very fact they stumbled felt quite major.

This Tuesday was completely different!

Today I attended a great meeting with others at Ravensbourne College where people were gathered together to see how we might work together to make a difference. I guess the roots of this meeting came form a regional RSA meeting where I take about how we build community in places of new builds such as Greenwich Peninsula.

Today we gathered as architects, research staff, innovators, entrepreneurs, developers and a vicar! WE chatted fir two hours united in our desire to name a difference, to help people, and to spark community development. It was a great meeting and one where people shared ideas and displayed a  willingness to come together and try things together.

Following that I led this weeks meditation session in the NOW Gallery. We had 6 people which was a surprise after last week.  At each session I ask people to record how stressed they feel on a scale of 1 – 10before we start. We then have a simple breathing exercise before we silently meditate for 20 minutes. Each person felt their stress level dropped by at least 3 points and one person even wrote a thank you on their record!

At the end of the meditation I received lots of messages about Agapai tomorrow and it looks like we will have 6 people …. which I think is the largest number ever!

My day ended with having dinner with an amazing friend … so a pretty cool day really!

It’s strange how one day in a week can be so polar opposite to the same day in the next!