Monthly Archives: February 2018

Wednesday 29th February 2018

Ephesians 4:2  With humility, gentleness and patience bear one another in love

The Franciscan priest, Richard Rohr, writes of the word Ego
as being an acronym for Edging God Out.
When we are too egocentric, are full of our own self-importance,
or place too much value on our own opinions and judgements,
we leave less and less space for God and slowly edge God out.
The practice of humility on the other hand;
recognising our vulnerability and becoming aware of our limitations,
makes space for God – edges God in.
Lent is a good time to rejoice in our imperfections,
to not take our ourselves and our particular views quite so seriously.
It is a time to make space for God to surprise us and grow in us.
……………………………..
 
More from Richard Rohr:

If there is such a thing as human perfection,
it seems to emerge precisely from how we handle
the imperfection that is everywhere, especially our own.
What a clever place for God to hide holiness,
so that only the humble and earnest will find it.

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Tuesday 27th February 2018

Ephesians 4:23-24 Be renewed in the spirit and put on a new self

One way to bring freshness back to our faith and spiritual routines
is to practise what our Buddhist friends call Shoshin.
Shoshin means Beginners Mind.
The practise of Shoshin is to do whatever we do
as if we were doing it for the very first time – with beginners Mind.
When we have practised our faith over many years
it can all become a bit stale.
What we once loved to do, what once fed us and inspired us,
we suddenly find we are doing out of habit.
We begin to take our faith for granted
and wonder why it no longer moves us in the way that it used to do.
Lent is an opportunity to practise Shoshin;
to pray, read our Bible, go to church, receive holy communion,
as if we were doing it for the very first time.
Try it this lent and see what difference it makes to you.
…………………………….

John O’Donohue wrote:

So much depends on how we see things.
More often than not the style of gaze determines what we see.
There are many things near us that we never notice
simply because of the way we see.
The way we look at things has a huge influence on what becomes visible for us.
 
May we learn to look through the eyes of the soul,
and continuously experience things as if for the very first time.

Monday 26th February 2018

Ezekiel 36:26 I will give you a new heart; a new spirit I will put within you

This season is an opportunity for a spiritual tune-up.
We are all at different stages on our journey of faith.
For some exploring the spiritual life is quite a recent change in life,
it is all still new and we are discovering new aspects to it all the time;
this whole season of Lent, Holy Week and Easter may be new to us.
Some may be returning to the practice of their faith after many years.
For others it has been a part of their life from childhood,
and the danger for them is that it can all become a bit dry;
their worship, prayer and spiritual routine has become a habit
and may no longer seem as fresh and inspiring as it once was.
Lent is an opportunity for us to explore how we can bring freshness
back to our spiritual journey so it all speaks to us anew.
…………………………………

The Benedictine monk John Main wrote:

Returning to our own centre, discovering our own centre,
is the first task and responsibility of every life that is to become fully human.
To be at one with our centre, means that we are at one with every centre.
To be in our centre is to be in God…..
The art of living is the art of living out of the eternal newness of our origin,
and living fully from our centre as it springs from the creative hand of God.

Returning to our centre on a regular basis,
returning to God who dwells at the centre of our soul,
is how we keep our faith and spiritual life fresh and alive.
It is about making our prayer, worship, and times of reflection
a priority in our busy lives.
That is not always easy and we can easily slip away from that spiritual source.
Lent is an opportunity to return to our centre,
and allow that returning to renew and refresh us.
Think of one change you can make in your life that will allow that to happen.

Sunday 25th February 2018

Psalm 42:8  At night his song is with me, a prayer to the God of my life

Ending the day with a few moments of prayer,
allows the day to flow into God and rest in God’s love.
During Lent we meet in church for the prayers of compline each week.
The prayers of Compline are a way to end the day as we began it;
embraced in God’s presence, strength and love.
Compline means: “To make the day complete.”
A day that begins and ends with us conscious of God’s Presence in life,
is a day that is complete and holy.
No matter what has happened during the day, painful or joyful,
whether it has felt productive or frustrating,
we simply allow it to find its completion in God.
we place the day’s events and experiences into God’s hands,
and let them go.
The next day we will find the strength and inspiration to start again.
……………………..

Sermon for Second Sunday of Lent

Falling is one of the most common and recurring facts of life.
Each and every one of us have experience of what it is like to fall.
Our granddaughter has begun to walk now with a vengeance,
but she learned to walk by learning to fall.
Falling was a vital part of her learning to walk.

We encouraged her to walk, knowing she would fall.
We watched her begin to climb things, knowing she would fall.
We watch and we cringe at every bump and graze she picks up,
but we cannot prevent her from falling again and again.
Falling is part of the process.
To stop her from falling would be to stop her from living and developing.

When our own children were young
we seemed to be regular visitors to Lewisham casualty.
Fractured shoulder, bumps, and cuts.
As parents you feel awful, embarrassed, careless………
But you know deep down you can’t stop them falling
without stopping them living.

I can remember my own falls very clearly, I expect you can remember yours.
Getting a closed black eye playing British Bulldog;
A broken collarbone trying to doing wheelies on my bike;
Crashing my motorbike driving too fast.
More embarrassingly, a more recent fall when tripping up while jogging.

And they are just the physical falls.
Other kinds of falls have been much more numerous.
Mistakes I have made; poor decisions I have taken; giving in to temptation;
deliberately breaking rules, arrogance, thoughtlessness, weakness –
these are all contributory factors to the regular falls from grace in my life.

Do I regret my falls?   Yes and no.
I regret the pain I have caused others who I have hurt when I fell.
But my falls have been a necessary part of my life.
They have been a part of my growth process in becoming who I am created to be;
a journey I am still on, with no doubt more falls to come.
My falling is important and necessary – and so is yours.

The reason I mention all this is because in my sermon last week on temptation,
I mentioned the creation story in Genesis,
and how God set up Adam and Eve for a fall
by planting a particular tree and then telling them not to eat its fruit.
One or two people have asked me to elaborate on that and so I will.

That story of Adam and Eve eating the forbidden fruit
and being thrown out of the garden of Eden is known as The Fall.
The trouble is, it tends to get called The Fall in a negative sense –
in that they messed up, spoilt paradise, introduced sin into the world;
and everything that has gone wrong in the world since
is a result of that Fall.

I’m sorry but I can’t buy into that kind of thinking.
Yes, they fell. But they were meant to fall.
It was part of God’s plan that they should fall, part of the creative process.

If they had not been meant to fall,
God need never have planted the tree of knowledge,
or draw their attention to it.
If God did not want them to eat the fruit
God could have placed angels by the tree guarding it,
making absolutely sure they did not go near it.

But God did plant the tree, God did draw attention to it,
and made absolutely no attempt to guard it. Why?
It seems to me that God knew they had to disobey him,
and eat the fruit, in order to become fully human.

Part of God did not want them to fall, to eat the fruit, and leave the garden;
in the same way that we do not want anything bad or hurtful
to happen to our children.
But God knew it was necessary for them, and necessary for creation,
and for God’s relationship with creation to deepen and be made real.

The Fall was not the worst thing that has happened to humanity,
but it was the most important and most necessary.
It was the beginning of our wonderful journey to become fully human,
and towards a beautiful and complete relationship with our creator.
A journey that we are still on.       Falling is a vital part of life.

There is a story that says
we are all attached to God by long lengths of thread.
Each time we sin, mess up, each time we fall,
it is like we have cut the thread and fallen to the ground.
But, the story goes,
each time we cut the thread God picks it up and ties a knot in it.
We cut it again, and again,
and God picks it up each time and ties another knot.
The more we clip the thread, the more we fall, the more knots God ties,
and the thread becomes shorter, and the closer we grow to God.

That is why it is important we fall.
So God can pick us up and help us grow. So we can grow closer to God.
Remember that the next time you fall.

Saturday 24th February

Colossians 4:2 Continue steadfastly in prayer

The season of Lent is a season of prayer.
It is season for renewing our life of prayer, which is the heartbeat of life.
I do not think any of us truly grasp the power and significance of prayer.
Prayer is our connection with the holy, our connection with God.
Prayer does not have to be complicated or fancy;
prayer does not have to be pious or long.
A moments lifting of our awareness to God’s Presence in life will suffice.
Prayer at the beginning of each day can truly enrich the day’s quality.
It is like sending out supplies into the day to aid us as it unfolds.
It creates a refuge when we need strength and comfort;
a signpost when we need guidance and wisdom;
a watering hole when we need renewal and inspiration.
A few moments lifting our heart to God, especially at the start of day,
will make the day richer, will make the day holy.
……………………..

Kallistos Ware writes:

Like a drop of ink that falls on the blotting paper,
the act of prayer should spread steadily outwards
from the consciousness and reasoning centre of the brain,
until it embraces every part of ourselves.

Friday 23rd February

Ecclesiastes 3  God has made everything beautiful in its own time

Purple is also the colour of fasting and simplicity.
How many of us get ourselves in a frenzy over Lents call to fast?
We give things up, and then feel guilty when we indulge in them.
We often make fasting into a battle, so it becomes a negative discipline.
But if we link our fasting with our creativity and things we enjoy doing,
it actually makes much more sense.
Fasting is not just about food and drink, it is about use of time.
Fasting from television, social media, social demands,
can free up time to be creative and enter our purple patch.
How often do we consider doing something creative on an evening,
but end up just watching the telly instead because it’s easier?
Why not fast from instant, cheap, and often dull entertainment this lent,
and make space for that neglected creative gift?
Or simply to try something different.
…………………………………….

Things in life that are supposed to help make it richer and more interesting,
often become the very things that eventually dull our intellect
and become a kind of prison that limits us
and prevents us from doing the things that would truly enrich us.
There is nothing wrong with television, phones, social media,
or enjoying social engagements –
but they are there for us to use and not be used by.
Fasting from them every now and again puts them in perspective
and helps to stop them taking control of our time and lives.
We can then return to them in a more positive way.

Thursday 22nd February

Song of Solomon 1:11 We will make ornaments of gold and silver

The colour purple is also a colour we tend to connect with creativity.
We often hear the phrase “a purple patch”
Describing someone going through a particularly fruitful creative period.
A footballer who is scoring a lot of goals is often described as
“going through a purple patch”.
Likewise authors with a string of successful books,
or anyone who is “on a roll” with their particular gifts.
Lent, I have always found, is a good time for creativity.
It comes at the springtime of the year
when new life and new possibility is springing up all around us.
Why not use Lent as an opportunity to revive your own creative gifts?
What do you enjoy that you have neglected?
What creative side of you is waiting to be recognised?
Why not allow Lent to bring you into a purple patch?
………………………

We do things for all sorts of daft reasons.
Out of habit, false sense of loyalty, because we don’t want to feel excluded,
because we are concerned about what others will think,
because it gives us a sense of self-importance,
even because we can’t bear the thought of someone else doing it,
or because deep down we like to play the martyr.
When we look at the things we do, and reflect upon them,
we need to be honest with ourselves about our motives.
Most things we do out of mixed motives,
but to do things for the wrong reason when we don’t enjoy it, is madness.
For creativity to grow, for new or old loves to begin and flourish;
to enter a purple patch;
we have to create space in our lives and be reflective, discerning, and honest
about the things that we do and why we do them.
May this Lent be a time when we reflect on what we do, and do not do;
a time to find the wisdom to make the changes that we need to make,
and allow our creative gifts to flourish