All those who have died in warfare, as combatants or civilians.
Today we remember.
All those scarred by warfare, physically and mentally, and by the challenges of returning home to a world that just doesnt’t make sense any more.
Today we remember.
All those areas where war is still life, reality, daily existence, and we cry out for peace in those lands.
Today we remember.
All those campaigning tirelessly to end weapons production and sales, politiking and economic trading where lives of innocents are seen as acceptable marginal risk.
Today we remember.
May we never forget your call to be peacemakers, God, and may we always seek to speak truth to power, represent what is just and folow your call on our lives, in the hope we never again have lists of names, wasted and thrown away, to remember.
I am so very tired right now. The world is exhausting. The news is relentless and overwhelming. Shepherding my family through this season is taking so much of my strength, and I thank God for Their well of replenshment freely offered or I don’t know what I would do quite frankly!
God got sick and tired too. I mean, even though They are eternal and all powerful, They took a day off after making the world just to rest and enjoy it. Just to be with it, experience it, vibe with it. What was the point otherwise? If that were me, I have no doubt by hour 3 I’d be annoyed at myself at the crookedness of Cornwall, or wishing I’d made Japan bigger, but thankfully God is bigger than just one number on the Enneagram list!
They also got fed up of the news coming from the world, and what the people were doing in it. A good old twitter thread wasn’t invented in the time of the ancient israelites of course, so God sent Prophets to share Their opinions and tell Their people to change. In Isaiah 1, God tells Their people They are fed up, of offerings that weren’t ethically sourced and not fully intentioned (v.13), of man made festivals (Talk like a Pirate Day anyone?) and that ‘even though you make many prayers I will not hear you; your hands are full of blood.’ (v. 15, Lamsa’s translation from the Peshitta).
So what is the solution? ‘Come now, and let us reason together, says the Lord’. (v. 18). This passage also contains the more familiar passages about being washed as white as snow (v.16) and pleading for the fatherless (v.17), but it is underlined by the invitation to come and sit with God. To talk.
I am reminded of when my own children are absolutely driving me to despair, and the only thing left to do is call a family film, curl up on the sofa, draw us all together and reunite in a calm and peaceful way so we can then move forward on the other side.
So, I need to write, but I also need to rest. I need to give God my worship in my blogging, but I need to do so authentically. Much of the time at the minute, we are just sitting together in stunned silence at the world around us, and that’s perfectly ok.
God, you are good. You are so good. Goodness is you and goodness is in you. I thank you for goodness, for all that is is and all that you are.
God I thank you for all the expressions of your goodness. For all the ways you tend to us when life isn’t good. For those angels who walk among us as friends and neighbours. Our fellows and our friends.
Let us not just pray for blessings God, but be them.
Let us not just ask for goodness God, but practice it.
Let us not just cry out for justice God, but strive for it.
For Yours is the kingdom, the power and the glory. Forever and ever.
As the conversations around reopening Church buildings get more and more intense, so do the conversations around Online church. Has it been the poorer relation all along. Is it sustainable? Or has it been fully embraced? Has it been recognised for the power and inclusivity it has in it’s own right? How can we balance both, to meet all needs, recognising neither model can work for every soul out there?
For those of us who have firmly found our solace and home, for long term or for now, online, it is deeply distressing to see the language, often thoughtless and not ill intentioned, but still dismissive and diminishing, around Online church. Language such as “if only online”, “all be it online”, “sadly for now, online” (courtesy of @Ord_Off, 19/10/2020 Twitter).
Yes I miss a beautiful Church building, singing praises in community, developing friendships. But actually, I’ve learned these are all things I miss about life, experiences, not actually things that grew me on my walk with God. I just thought they were important because I’d been taught to think that way, and once I had to stop and experience anew for myself God without physical Church, I learned so much more, mostly with support from Online Church, than I ever dreamed I would.
When physical Church couldn’t understand my anger, and were repelled by it, Online church held it, recognised it, empathised and offered a space where it could be shared, softened and released.
When physical Church had no direct experience, understanding or expertise to offer me, Online church had a plethora, freely offered and generously shared.
When physical Church expected theological adherence and behaviours that strained me to the core of my personhood, Online Church only expected kindness and respect, whatever I believed and however I expressed it. Freedom as long as there was no harm*.
When physical Church couldn’t connect me with fellow ‘Wilderness Theologians’ (my term!) at the incredible Evolving Faith Conference 2020, Online church had it spectacularly covered
Online church is more than what one priest achieves in their parish on a Sunday with the resources they can bring together, with no training, no additional funding, many with no technical acumen or inclination. Quite frankly, for what was asked of them, they all deserve recognition, and a seriously big reflection from their central management as to whether that was really the right call once this is all over …?
People have been doing this for years! Disability theologians have a massive toolkit, yet their expertise is widely untapped. Why is this? Come and join the conversations here where they are happening, instead of reinventing them, I implore you! Online church is alive and well, it is amazing and bold, exciting and innovative, local and international, not ‘sadly a substitute’.
Embrace it as an additional expression of Christ working his Kingdom out into the world and what Joy lies there for you to find!
Peace be with you
*I am not so naive as to think this is 100% infallible, and I know that to some my words have caused harm for which I am sorry and have sadness. I do believe absolutely in the difference between intentional, direct attacks in communications and expressed reflections which stir up responses in the reader that then cause pain. The former I am always striving to avoid, the latter I am always open to conversation about. Either way, if I hurt you through my words, you can’t find a way through that hurt and there is a conversation to be had, then through the the Grace of God it is always better to have it and my inbox is always open. Peace be with you.
She rests. Watches. Waits. Her brood continue their merry lives around her, oblivious to the weighty responsibility of feeding and caring for the pride that she bears. She holds still, conserving the energy she will need for the moment …
She rises, bolts. Runs like the wind, fiercly, boldly. Grabs her prey, wrestles it, doggedly, determined, again and again, as it falls or should it evade. As she has success or as she must return to her wait.
For as she rises, as she runs, as she pursues what she aims to take for the benefit of her people, her family, her loved one, she roars. Oh how she roars. Have you ever roared? Have you connected to that place within you, where there is nothing left to feel but that deep sense of ‘I HAVE to do this’. This MUST be. This is NOW.
Last night, after a particularly challenging time of prayer and lament, my tears turned almost imperceptively into cries, and then into deep, deep roars, from somewhere within me I’m not sure I’d found before. Wrapped up in a blanket, I had the soundproofing to just go with it, so I did. How liberating! How joyful in the midst of the pain! What a glorifying release, to be led to that place in prayer and then be gifted a way to let it go in such a profound and spiritual way.
When God called the world into being, was it with a gentle whisper, or an almighty roar? When Jesus turned the tables did he do so with a polite ‘Excuse me’ to please the Tone Police, or with an almighty roar? When the Spirit fell on the Apostles on that first Pentecost, was it with a gentle ‘Peekaboo’? Of course there is a place for a whispering movement of God, but no, it was with an almighty roar!
As Kamala Harris so deftly showed the world in the 2020 US Vice Presidential Debate, women are used to being silenced, and doing so with dignity. I say, the time for politeness is over. I say, let us practice and get used to hearing our voices in an almighty roar as the Lionesses of the Pride of Judah that we are!
This weekend was a hard one. I could barely walk. My neighbour, a lovely gentleman who cares for his Mother, had noticed I had been struggling and came round to gift me a three wheeled walker his parents had bought but barely used. The enabling gift to help me was the first set of tears. The shock that he had seen I needed it was the second.
On Friday some workman had been to our house and damaged our son’s wildlife garden. In managing his disappointment I had promised him a trip to the Garden Centre for more plants. So despite hobbling along like Yoda at his finest, off we went. Cue the third set of tears at the joy and seriousness H took planning and choosing the materials for his new garden. And the fourth as I couldn’t get up the tiniest of inclines.
As we reached the top of the outdoor area, where the trees were, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the most beautiful tree stood on it’s own, by the path, in an unusual place by the logic of the displays. Almost as if it was put there for me to spot. The label peeked out at me from within the branches. Photinia. I caught my breath. The fifth set of tears, and a deep sense of love and calm. This time, I didn’t try to hold them back. This time, I didn’t bury them, or tell myself I was silly to have them brewing. This time, they flowed.
Photinia is derived from Photine, which in the Eastern Orthodox and Eastern Catholic traditions is the name given to the Samaritan Woman at the Well we hear about Jesus meeting in John 4. She is one of my absolute favourite Bible characters, someone I relate to, have great affinity with, find greatly misrepresented and come back to time and time again. To have a reminder of her, and all she represents to me, there in the centre of one of the most painful weekends I’ve had in a long while, was so special, and the wrapping of pure care and adoration I found myself in as I wept in while the world turned around me just made it all the clearer. Jesus was meeting me there. I didn’t need to hide any more. He had living water there for me, there, immediately, and He wanted to share it with me in that moment. Whatever the world thought of that.
Of course with two children who want to get home and plant their alpines and a distinct lack of balance, just standing there in the presence of God wasn’t an option for long. But it was enough. Set of tears no. 5 were the last ones that day. But oh were they precious. And no, we didn’t buy the big Photinia tree. But we did pick up a smaller version to bless our home with, to remind us as she grows that God came to walk with me when I could barely put toe in front of toe, to stand with me when I had no strength to hold up on my own, to call forth the tears that needed to flow and to dry them once they were done.
“Many of the Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony”(John 4:39 NIV). May you believe that God has love for you because of what you read in this blog, too.