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. 

Suffusing soul?

IMG_0301Most of you who read this blog will know by now that I subscribe to Richard Rohr’s daily thoughts. Some of you will have subscribed yourself and some of you have been meaning to for a while …. and others have expressed there freedom to not subscribe.

As with all ‘stuff’ sometimes the words of the thought really resonate, sometimes they are way off mark and you forget them quickly, sometimes they challenge and sit .. and you don’t quite no why.  Today is a day when the words are just there and do not shift … even though I am in the midst of essay writing, the words of this morning’s thought keep winding their way back into my conscious thoughts.

In a post about listening to our bodies, Richard Rohr quotes these words from John O’Donohue:

Your mind can deceive you and put all kinds of barriers between you and your nature; but your body does not lie. Your body tells you, if you attend to it, how your life is and if you are living from your soul or from the labyrinths of your negativity. . . . The human body is the most complex, refined, and harmonious totality.

Your body is, in essence, a crowd of different members who work in harmony to make your belonging in the world possible. . . . The soul is not simply within the body, hidden somewhere within its recesses. The truth is rather the converse. Your body is in the soul. And the soul suffuses you completely.

As I said, I don’t really know why they are sitting and hitting today … but there is something in that image of body being a ‘crowd of different members’ working in harmony. An ordered harmonious crowd is quite a challenging image to grasp.

It’s a bizarre image, but a deeply provocative and maybe even disconcerting image of who we are …. and that image of soul …. I’m not even sure I can grasp what that means entirely, and what the implications are for how I be myself …. but I will continue to contemplate and see what arises ….

Be ….

beThis week at Agapai we started our Lent study using Paula Gooder’s material based on the gritty TV series Broken. Prior to our meal we had all agreed to watch episode 1, entitled Christine,which like others in the series, is hard hitting and full of moral dilemmas.

We shared how the episode made us feel … there were a variety of emotions expressed, my own personal one being anger. Anger that those who are vulnerable and in need of support are deprived of it. Others, again, felt great sadness as we tried to get our heads around the subject finding it difficult to understand how being desperate someone becomes when they find themselves with the choices that  Christine faced on a  daily basis.

I love discussing stuff but anyone that knows me understands that somewhere along the way, somewhere in any conversation or in any teaching, I will eventually get to a point of asking:
‘So what?’
‘What is our response as people, as Christians?’
‘What are we called to do?’
‘What can we do?’

In desperate situations of poverty it is hard to know how to support or help and we talked around this for quite a while.  There are no easy or quick fix answers and that makes answering the question the much harder.

After the meeting one of the group found and pointed us to this link. In this Kerry Hudson writes of her return to the towns where she grew up. Some of her comments hot hard and may point to some of the answers as to how we can respond. They all involve getting involved. Getting hands dirty. Being vulnerable. making a difference.

Today, the Richard Rohr thought for the day really resonated with me as I was pondering the Agapai discussion again.

Today Rohr quotes Beatrice Bruteau

we bear some responsibility. We have to take our part in the work. We, for instance, are now in a position to do something about all the suffering. . . . We are agents within the system and can have causal effects on other parts of the system. We have intelligence, we have empathy and capacity to feel for others and to care about them, we even have insight into the Ground present in every being and calling for an appropriate form of absolute respect.

What will we do? . . . What does “God want us to” do? Not a good way of putting the question, because it distances God from the world, but the answer I propose is Be! Be creative, be interactive, be agape, give being, unite, be whole, be in every possible way, be new. The self-creating world is unpredictable. It’s like a musician’s improvisation. . . . But the artwork will always resemble the artist. So the cosmos will somehow be like the Trinity, the vast Person-Community that is Agape, inter-being. . . .

The answer of ‘Be’
That is real
That is intentional
That is us.

 

 

 

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

vulnerability again!

logo2A little while ago I was persuaded by my good friend Anna to join Sion College … who have a strap line of ‘supporting the education and fellowship of church of England clergy in London’.

Each month Sion College hosts seminar suppers amongst other things. I really enjoy the chance to meet new people, and old friends, and engage with some great thinkers and practitioners…. and eat good food and drink wine!

At the last Sion Supper, we listened to Hilary Ison speak on ‘Priesthood and Leadership’ and I found myself, once again, resonating with a lot of what was said.

I found myself sitting up and tuning in quite intently (despite the abundance of red wine) when Hilary said ‘priesthood is about the quality of presence’. I love that phrase,

Quality of Presence

and it sums up what I wish to do and be as a priest …. to be present …. really present …. really and fully present to those that I meet with and come across. I believe wholeheartedly that great quality of presence, where you have time for one person, and totally devote that time to being with them, to showing them they are worth your time and, even more, communicating through that presence that you are actually wanting to be with them, not just being there because you have nowhere else to be. Sometimes I have got that so wrong … and I have learnt the hard way that when that happens massive genuine regret doesn’t cut it! Sometimes quality of presence with strangers seems to be a lot easier than quality of presence with people that really matter on a personal level to me. I wish I could do so much better on that.Unknown

Hilary went on to say that we needed to have the confidence to reclaim the priestly role of being present with both God and people which inevitably needs a massive level of vulnerability.

There comes that word again!
It seems I cannot get away from it.
May I refer you again to Brene Brown’s TED talks on vulnerability

She went further to say that when working with others, leaders of presence needed to be confident in their wait … in holding ‘negative anxiety’ (which occurs when things are taking a while to happen) … the vulnerable bit coming in the holding of that anxiety (both personal and communal) as they wait for God to act and for vision to emerge.

Sometimes that can be hard when the pressure is on to deliver results, or increased numbers or maybe even to do something very different …. but as painful as it is …. bearing that vulnerability of presence when needing to balance tensions of anxiety and waiting for God to reveal a plan is really the only thing to do. Maybe that can be easier to do when we remember that church is family and community, rather than business with business ways of working.

But …
the vulnerability if that waiting and holding …
anyone else wish God would sometimes just be that teeny weeny bit quicker tho ….. ?

 

 

radical & obscene … that’s my God!

Luther-posting-95-theses-560x366-2Every term or so the ‘clergy / reader team’ of the East Greenwich Parish get together for a theological discussion which someone at the previous get together agrees to lead. Last year I ran a discussion on Eucharist while other shave looked at salvation and other great topics to get us talking.

 

Today Tim led us as we considered Luther and the Reformation with Tim asking us to think around two pretty interesting questions:

(1)  What do you consider to be the most significant or relevant of Luther’s ideas for you personally in your spiritual life/walk?
(2)  What do you consider to be the most significant or relevant of Luther’s ideas for the people of the Parish of East Greenwich in 2017?  (You may have different thoughts for our different Churches)
For me, for both questions, there is one over-arching answer that I believe I have centred my ministry on.
Obviously having the bible in the ‘vernacular’ is key and central and has been important.  I spend a lot of time thinking around language to use in the various settings that have to teach the Bible.
Way at the top of the list, however, for me is the theme that ‘salvation is a free gift of God’. By this I believe that to mean that we can do nothing to earn salvation. We can do nothing to change how God views us. God created us, loves us, and … well kinda loves to hang out with us!
When I have met with people in the hidden places that I spoke of yesterday, so many of them have felt that they are not good enough for God. Others have felt that what they have done simply means they are condemned by God. Still others have tearfully said to me that they are too insignificant for God to even notice.
My believe my role as a missioner, as a servant, as a priest …. is to tell people the truth … that God flipping loves them, that they are totally acceptable … and not that God is only interested in them but that God id actively looking out and searching for them … continually and without fail.
I have seen people literally ‘grow’ when they have heard, really heard, those true words of acceptance.
Sometimes it seems to me that the church and christians have forgotten this radical grace and acceptance that God offers. I remember having a conversation with a colleague a few years ago in pub theo (how I miss pub theo!) as we chatted around his view that there was a need for a person to change their behaviour to follow God and my response that if we have to do something then that is not ‘grace’ or free salvation. WE went around in circles and the truth is somewhere in there.
The fact, and I use that word deliberately, that acceptance, salvation, or whatever term we wish to use, from God is totally free is, quite frankly, a crazy notion.
But it’s true.
It’s crazily radically mad.
It’s pretty offensive to some.
It’s obscene to others.
Maybe that’s why I love it so much …. I follow a God, The Creator, incarnated in Jesus Christ … who is a God that obscenely radically totally unequivocally offensively accepts those God has created.
I think that’s a God worth following!

glad I went …

saviours-g-w400This week I attended my first Sion College Seminar Summer. I was put on to it by my good friend Anna who I trained with at SEITE.

Lincoln, the speaker for the evening, (and one of my lecturers as well as my personal tutor at SEITE) spoke well and provocatively on how we do theology and how we express and develop our views. There was so much to think about and I may well take him up on his offer to visit him at St Mellitus and chat more over coffee.

I was struck, though, by the warmth of individuals at this meeting. Often new things i visit, in my experience, are cliquey and hard to move into. This was not the case at this meeting. Everyone was lovely and welcoming and I look forward to the next stimulating event.

One of the highlights of the evening was meeting and chatting with some of Intermission Youth Theatre. This group of young people were stunning in their ability and skill of acting; and the act they performed for us was profound and thought provoking. They would be excellent to have in school if you are looking for a theatre group to bring a message to school.

This was a great evening and so glad I was persuaded to go!