Honest Christianity – what are you waiting for?

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This question gets asked in several ways. Sometimes it is when we want someone to get on with something, when it is unclear why they are waiting. I use this one frequently to the car in front at the green traffic lights or the empty roundabout. When it comes to discussing what Christmas means to us, what events and services we are helping, going to, we can sometimes be a bit slow, hesitant. For many for us it is because we do not want to be pushy, but perhaps we have backed off too much.

The benefit I have found in facilitating multi faith celebrations, is that I can be clear, transparent, when explaining a Christian celebration such as Christmas. Unashamedly remembering the reason for the Season, celebrating the gift of Jesus to our world. what are we waiting for?

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Friday photo – another year, another garland

I am amazed every year at the creativity and commitment of those who grow and arrange these flowers to form the Cotehele garland. This year it is very bright and to me radiates hope. The flowers are largely the same every year but the way they are put together changes creating a different feel. It is now part of my Christmas celebrations, sitting in the hall, a log fire burning, looking and marvelling and being filled with wonder. Little rituals of rest and reflection among much of the busyness of Christmas nurtures me and connects me to the waiting dimension of advent.

Wondering Wednesdays – supporting Frontier Youth Trust

Yesterday I spent 10.5 hours out of the house in order to attend a 4 hour meeting.  That is something I don’t mind doing because of how passionately I believe in the cause I was supporting.  The meeting was the board of Frontier Youth Trust, an organization I have been involved with for more years than I can remember. If anyone is involved in work with young people on the margins then FYT is an organization I would commend to you – if you follow this link you can check out the website and sign up for a newsletter.  We are currently looking for a Treasurer to join the Board so if you have those sort of gifts and may be interested then do get in touch with me (revsally12@gmail.com)!

The picture for this blog is the front of a small booklet which has details of some of their resources. One of the pages is devoted to this liturgy of hope which was co-created at one of the gatherings of practitioners:
Finding Hope in a Famine of Hope
There is a heavy weight upon us.
Austerity is around us
People are hungry
and we are in a famine of hope
It’s a struggle to get out of bed
While others have no place to rest their head
I will climb into the pit with you
Will you climb into the pit with me?
And we will find each other there
As we descend into our memories
We will remember when…
(Take the time to remember moments of hope)
And we will remember that,
hope is dangerous,
So we will Hope dangerously
Dream naively
Disrupt construtively
Slog tirelessly
Climb together
Carry each other
Shake each other out of our despair
Hope will lift us out

This reminds me of the sort of thing we share around the fire on Easter Saturday at Hodge Hill.  FYT offer hope to workers who are present in challenging situations with young people that often the church isn’t working with.

Honest Christianity – not much time to prepare and wait

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I understand this year, the season of Advent is the shortest it can be as Christmas Day is a Monday. So, tomorrow, we only have 3 weeks to go until Christmas Day! So, we have less time to get ready physically and spiritually. I am not sure if I have come across this poem before. It was read by our vicar Al Barrett as part of his sermon this morning. It brings into focus most of the objectives and themes of Advent and draws us in to our current realities as well as our future hopes. As a children’s hospital chaplain, this poem is particularly poignant, there are always families who get world ending news at Christmas. An awakening Advent to you.

Blessing When the World is Ending by Jan Richardson
Look, the world
is always ending
somewhere.
Somewhere
the sun has come
crashing down.
Somewhere
it has gone
completely dark.
Somewhere
it has ended
with the gun
the knife
the fist.
Somewhere
it has ended
with the slammed door
the shattered hope.
Somewhere
it has ended
with the utter quiet
that follows the news
from the phone
the television
the hospital room.
Somewhere
it has ended
with a tenderness
that will break
your heart.
But, listen,
this blessing means
to be anything
but morose.
It has not come
to cause despair.
It is simply here
because there is nothing
a blessing
is better suited for
than an ending,
nothing that cries out more
for a blessing
than when a world
is falling apart.
This blessing
will not fix you
will not mend you
will not give you
false comfort;
it will not talk to you
about one door opening
when another one closes.
It will simply
sit itself beside you
among the shards
and gently turn your face
toward the direction
from which the light
will come,
gathering itself
about you
as the world begins
again.
The original post by Jan Richardson with this poem in can be found here.http://paintedprayerbook.com/2016/07/18/blessing-when-the-world-is-ending/

Friday photo – spot the kingfisher

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Trust me, there is a kingfisher in this picture, it is just so hard to spot! My 8x camera setting on my phone didn’t capture the beautiful colours and shape of a bird I lost spotted over six years ago. In a completely unexpected moment of joy we were having a coffee on a break from writing and I saw this amazing turquoise thing glistening in the sun, hovering above the water. I am always on the lookout for kingfishers when I am by some water but they are elusive. I wasn’t playing with my phone over my coffee I was looking out the window at the view and taking in its beauty, it is a bit of a lesson for me – and one of the reasons I post a photo each Friday, I want to engage in the discipline of noticing but am easily distracted by what’s in my head and what’s on my phone!

Wondering Wednesdays – conspiring

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I commented on a Facebook post recently that I do some of my theological through blogging although I don’t always show all the working that goes on in my head. I also enjoy reading books which are in essence largely pieces of theological reflection Breathing Space by Heidi B Neumark is one such book and was recommended by our Vicar. It is the story of her journey as a church minister in the South Bronx.

The paragraph I want to share offers a more spiritual understanding of the idea of conspiracy than some of the political headlines we are reading all too often at the moment:
The creation of breathing space is an act of conspiracy. I have come to see ‘conspire’ as a word with profound spiritual resonance. Like most people, I associated the word with its political meaning: to conspire in the sense of formulating secret strategies to overthrow some public power, person, or nation. But the word ‘conspiracy’ is rooted in deeper soil. It means, literally, conspiritus, to breathe together. To be of one spirit, one breath. Con-spiritus. Conspire. To be of one breath is to pray and to labor as one. In the Epistle to the Romans, Paul refers to such conspiracy:
For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the children of God…We know that the whole creation has been groaning in labor pains until now: and not only the creation, but we ourselves… Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words (Romans 9.19.22,26). p106-7.

I wrote that for me what was important about theological reflection was the so what at the end. The so what for me on this is to appreciate the power of working together and as someone who can be a bit independent at times to appreciate the potential and blessing it is to be able to conspire together. I chose a photo of Paul and I together as that is what we spend a lot of time doing!

Honest Christianity – sinister sleeping beauty

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Some of you may have heard the report of a parent this week requesting that the story book of Sleeping Beauty be removed form the school library. This was because the parent felt it encouraged inappropriate, uninvited sexual contact, a stolen kiss. While some of us will respond with “what the heck, leave it alone, its only a children’s story book”, some might go “em, not thought of it like that before, perhaps she has a point”.

On further research, the original story is much more sinister (trigger alert).
“Sleeping Beauty”: In Giambattista Basile’s tale (which is the actual origin of the Sleeping Beauty story), a king happens to walk by Sleeping Beauty’s castle and knock on the door. When no one answers, he climbs up a ladder through a window. He finds the princess, and calls to her, but as she is unconscious, she does not wake up. Well, dear reader, he carries her to the bed and rapes her. Then he just leaves. She awakens after she gives birth because one of her twins sucks the flax (from the spindle) out of her finger. The king comes back, and despite him having raped her, they end up falling in love? However, another big problem: the king is still married to someone else. His wife finds out and not only tries to have the twins killed, cooked, and fed to the king, but also tries to burn the princess at the stake. Luckily, she is unsuccessful. The king and the princess get married and live happily ever after (despite the fact that he raped her). Perrault’s adaptation of Basile’s updated adaptation of the story (a much tamer version) is probably what was used for the Disney adaptation, as they are much more similar. http://www.huffingtonpost.co.uk/entry/the-real-story-behind-eve_n_4239730

I have not finished my theological reflection upon these bits of news, but it seems that both women in the story are very wronged and sinned against, respond in totally different ways and continue to be misrepresented in today’s culture. I am left wondering, when does a story become misrepresented and when does it it become reinterpreted and redeemed? Its only a story, right?