I sent this image out with our weekly rota this week, I had some nice feedback and thanks from the staff I sent it to. Within the different teams I am a part of, we do a reasonable amount of staff support and care. One aspect that comes up on a regular basis is how we see and treat ourselves. It seems we are rarely gentle or as kind to ourselves as we are to others. This is what I had in mind when I added this to our mailing, not to focus on on our deficits, but our assets. For the reader to remind themselves, I am loved unconditionally by God, made in that God’s image, I am at least reasonable at my job and seek to do my best by my family and friends. God is for me, not against me, and most of the time, I desire to do God’s will and fulfill His purposes. I am a human being entitled to being treated with respect and dignity. I am sure I am not perfect but I am more than my weaknesses. So, how about this week, we concentrate on the positives God says about us, rather than the small voices in our heads or the oppressive voices without.
God can not love you any more or any less.
“The spiritual journey is a struggle to be ever more available to God and to let go of the obstacles to that transforming process. The gospel is not merely an invitation to be a better person. It is an invitation to become divine. He invites us to share the interior life of the Trinity”. Thomas Keating
This week I was facilitating a teaching day on Trinity. It is one of my favourite days teaching of the year. Least you become confused, not because I think I understand it any more than the next person, but I have reflected upon the insights and implications of the applied principles of the interaction between the persons of the Trinity.
I enjoy and concur with Keating that one of these implications of the Trinity being a community, is that we are invited in to and not excluded from. This is so exciting to become included in the most secure, affirming, dynamic interrelationship going. Personally, I don’t think this means we become God, the divine, but join with the divine, to belong, interact from within an including, welcoming, got room for all us communal God.
There are so many ways in which we seek to make sense of miracle blessings and inconceivable evil. As some of you may recall, I am a big a fan of the book The Shack, and while away recently away reading, I read Randal Rauser’s reflections called Finding God in the Shack.
In one part he reflects on the thoedicy of the story.
“By the same token, God could have created creatures that could not choose evil. But instead He created free creatures with the potential for evil, recognising that ultimately the good of truly free creatures would more than offset the limited dissonance……Papa explains that ‘all evil flows from independence, and independence is your choice. If I were to simply revoke all the choices of independence, the world as you know it would cease to exist and love would have no meaning’” (p109-10).
This is one of the ways in which I can at least, if not go as far as say’ng makes sense of suffering, enables me to go back to work tomorrow ready and prepared to come alongside those in some of the saddest situations life can bring and be able to say that the God of love is with and for you.
I spend a reasonable amount of time thinking about what the main purposes, objectives etc of self-care and wellbeing are. This is a quote I read this week attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt.
“Happiness is not a goal… it’s a by-product of a live well lived”.
I have spent a lot of time thinking about goals and consequences, I am not eloquent enough to put this opinion so clearly, but I do find it sums up what I suspected for some time. We have been selling the opposite for a while now and it has been bought by many. Don’t get me wrong I would like everyone, including myself, to be happy, but how fulfilling and healthy is that to have that as humanity’s ultimate goal, and at the expense of what? Faithful service, seeking to follow God? I am not even sure I have always known what will make me happy, some things certainly have not been as fulfilling.
So, let’s go and live our lives well and fully for God or at least for the greater good and let’s trust God for the consequence.
Sally and I have just got back from our annual reading weekend. Over the next few weeks, I will share some of the ideas, quotes etc that struck or inspired me from the 10 or so books I read or flicked at.
One of the books I read a lot of was Pete Ward’s nlatest book, Introducing Practical Theology. He quotes Bonnie Miller-McLemore
“Theology”, she argues “is more like liturgy, it is the work of the people, praising, arguing with, and turning to God in many contexts for diverse purposes” she explains her own approach as a “low sacrificial Christology, high incarnation, non-creedal, non-patriarchal view of God”.
I am sure we would want to know more about what she means in and by these phrases, but I like the work she has done to bring together the essence of her beliefs about the nature, role, identity of God. It got me thinking about what mine might be, but at the moment I am too chilled out to have that much brain! I will shortly have a go and perhaps share it. What might yours be?
Introducing Practical Theology Pete Ward Baker Academic 2017 p. 44
This article was in yesterday’s Times newspaper. It discusses the results of a UK survey that showed over 50% of people regularly pray and they do it doing activities such as exercise and cooking. Someone told me recently that they feel different when they pray with someone else than when they talk to them. It seems we are more experienced at practising the presence of God than we think.
I wonder how I might relate to people if I assumed half of them already pray. God is already at work in our world, country, homes and work. In junior church today we had the children repeat God’s affirmation of Jesus by name to each other, …….God loves you. This is the part we can play.
As some of our regular readers will we both like to use a new daily devotional book each year. This year Sally gave me The Daily Reader for Contemplative Living by Father Thomas Keating. This quote is from our first weeks readings. I liked the way it was put at the beginning, but it became less resonant, more “really?” as it went on. I have not heard it put this way before. Here it is, what do you think?
The spiritual journey does not require going anywhere because God is already with us and in us. It is a question of allowing an ordinary thoughts to recede into the background and to float along the river of consciousness without and noticing them, while we direct our attention towards the river on which they are floating. We are like someone sitting on the bank of a river and watching the boats go by. If we stay on the bank, with our attention on river rather than on the boats, the capacity to disregard thoughts as they go by will develop, and a deeper kind of attention will emerge.
Desiring a slow attentive journey into 2018