Questions get me thinking, I like their use in liturgy. I keep a communion set in my office as well as at home. One of the things I enjoy is reflecting on which Eucharistic prayer to use. There are two prayers the Church of England have authorised to be used when there are children present. I use them both but particularly like the one which asks three questions (echoes of the beginning of passover meals I have attended):
Why is it right to give thanks and praise?
Why do we share this bread and wine?
How do we follow Jesus?
To each question the response is ‘Listen and we will hear’ and part of the prayer is prayed.
I am daily reminded of the answer to the first question as I seek to see God in creation – the world and humanity:
Lord of all life, you created the universe, where all living things reflect your glory. You give us this great and beautiful earth, to discover and to cherish. You give us sun and moon and star-lit sky, everything that gives us light, light for our eyes, our hearts, our minds. You made us all, each wonderfully different, to join with the angels and sing your praise.
At a time when I am facing challenges in different settings I continue to ask for God to give me light in my eyes, my heart and mind and to value each wonderfully different person who crosses my path.
I walked out of college yesterday morning to catch the tram to the city centre. These fragile blooms caught my eye – cyclamen in what is in effect a patch of scrubland at the entrance to college. I wondered how they got there and if at one time it had been a more carefully tended patch of ground. It reminded me of conversations I have had recently where ‘fragile blooms’ could be seen as an appropriate metaphor of where people are at. It is so easy to do one or two things, not spot the fragility or trample on it. There are times when I am fragile, where I am grateful not to be crushed or trampled on but to continue to bloom and grow and perhaps even bring a touch of beauty (again metaphorically) to a situation. It reminds me too of Isaiah 42.3 which talks about a bruised reed he will not break, an encouragement that God sees me in my fragility too and treats me with tenderness.
I took this picture on Monday evening when I was sharing in some teaching at the Birmingham Diocesan office. Interestingly it doesn’t say where the quotation is from and a quick search didn’t help either. I am fascinated as to how and why this was chosen. I think it was perhaps the first sentence that drew me. With God’s power we have created much out of little – that is true of many endeavours we have been involved in. I am constantly delighted hearing stories of what God is doing in unexpected places, in unexpected ways, through people who are sometimes surprised at what transpires. I am grateful to God for the paths he has guided me to tread and look forward to continuing to walk them with God.
I am wondering what I might write on my wall? I sit with a whiteboard behind my desk with plenty of room for an encouraging message..
We drove for miles up this little road in California, deep into the forest to find a monastery with a little shop selling things to support the ministry of the nuns there. This is one of the things I bought. I am sometimes distracted, my head full of things I need to be doing and I am not always as fully present as I would like to be. I regret this as it means I don’t always do these smallest things which make such a difference when someone does them to me.
At MCYM we started a new academic year on Monday, each one starts with a community week. Today we finish with Communion. At that service we like to present achievement awards to two of our graduating student and we value the two different awards equally. Choosing one is easy – it is the person with the highest average grade. Choosing the other one is much tougher, it is for personal achievement and that can mean all different sorts of things. That it is tough to decide reflects the challenges many of our students go through to get to graduation. We have a very diverse group of students from 18-50 something, some career changers, others who have felt they have always failed in education and some who choose to do a second undergraduate degree because they appreciate the course structures and learning styles. On the first day we have a session on ethos where we talk about our seven strands and they are all important: community, ministerial, spiritual, academic, personal, theological, professional. It reminds me of Paul’s analogy of the body of Christ and his discussion of gifts in 1 Corinthians 12 and 13. We are a community of learners, staff included and we bring different gifts but together we are stronger. As one graduating student emailed me, I didn’t do this on my own!
Why is perhaps the most difficult pastoral question I ever get asked or ponder on for my own life. I found this poem/reflection really helpful, I found it on a chaplaincy discussion list and I am using it here with permission of the author. I don’t think it needs further comment from me.
I know it well.
I’ve kind of got used to it,
my “why?” being around.
I can hold it, contain it,
walk with it,
even run with it,
but mostly sit with it
turning it over and over,
until every bit of goodness
has been absorbed,
or sometimes spit,
but always take another bite,
even if out of habit.
But your “why?” I do not know,
it has grown in a different place.
Even though I may think
and see something of myself in it
it is yours and is a song of gods
and adventures that is yours
Your “why?” is a different fruit?
So I listen
and use my hard earned gifts
to contain, walk,
run and sit.
And together we bring into daylight
a hidden honesty,
take a bite
David Buck (c) 2018.
I am always fascinated by the pictures you come across in churches. I assume, quite possibly wrongly, that they are deliberately chosen to communicate a message or offer an insight in to the ethos of that church. I was thus fascinated to find this picture in the rest room at Anaheim Vineyard. I love the reciprocity of it; the lens it gives into the ministry we engage in sometimes. Each time we sing make me a channel of your peace, the line ‘for it is in giving that we receive’ resonates and often at our team prayer times we give thanks to God for the blessing and privilege it is to serve in our context. If you come to our house I wonder what you would make of the postcards we have up in our rest room!