34 | small kindnesses #Lent2022

Jesus says, “Those who dwell in me and I in them bear much fruit.” (John 15:5a)

I’ve been thinking about the way, when you walk
down a crowded aisle, people pull in their legs
to let you by. Or how strangers still say “bless you”
when someone sneezes, a leftover
from the Bubonic plague. “Don’t die,” we are saying.
And sometimes, when you spill lemons
from your grocery bag, someone else will help you
pick them up. Mostly, we don’t want to harm each other.
We want to be handed our cup of coffee hot,
and to say thank you to the person handing it. To smile
at them and for them to smile back. For the waitress
to call us honey when she sets down the bowl of clam chowder,
and for the driver in the red pick-up truck to let us pass.
We have so little of each other, now. So far
from tribe and fire. Only these brief moments of exchange.
fleeting temples we make together when we say, “Here,
have my seat,” “Go ahead — you first,” “I like your hat.” Ω Continue reading “34 | small kindnesses #Lent2022”

33 | groceries #Lent2022

The Psalmist sings, “The snares of death encompassed me; the pangs of Sheol laid hold on me; I suffered distress and anguish … I walk before the Lord in the land of the living.” (Psalm 116:3, 9)

It may seem odd to talk about what you eat at a funeral as a way of celebrating life, but at every level, that is exactly what it is. Nor do I mean a celebration in that cheery if faintly maudlin sense of giving someone a good send-off, though that is a part of it. Any food is a vital reminder that life goes on, that living is important. That isn’t brutal: it’s the greatest respect you can show to the dead … Continue reading “33 | groceries #Lent2022”

32 | a small shopping bag #Lent2022

Then, opening their treasure chests, they offered him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. (Matthew 2:11b)

I was 19 years old and studying theology at Whitley College. A few years earlier I’d experienced a shift into a way of thinking and feeling rooted in scripture and in the experience of God as understood in Christian faith. Through that experience I discovered deeper meaning and joy in life. I felt driven to learn more, so when I finished year 12 I went straight for theology as my undergraduate degree. Continue reading “32 | a small shopping bag #Lent2022”

29 | powerful presence #Lent2022

Paul writes, “We know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that God has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” (1 Thessalonians 1:4-5)

I remember receiving the gifts of the spirit through a gift from my dear friend Rachel after the birth of my first child.  It came as a powerful force. Continue reading “29 | powerful presence #Lent2022”

The gift of belonging

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break, but here’s a little something reflecting on the gift of belonging: a very significant gift we give children in our atomized society.

As a modern Westerner, I find it hard not to imagine Mary, Joseph and Jesus in a little bubble of aloneness. I see Mary and Joseph wending their way to Bethlehem, and forget they would have been travelling in a group. I see Mary giving birth alone in a stable, when she was almost certainly in a crowded family home giving birth in the warmest, safest, most normal place: near the radiant heat of the animals. I see the couple raising Jesus in a one-child nuclear family unit, when they would have lived in a family compound with aunties, uncles and cousins, and Jesus’ brothers and sisters. As I have learned from my theological studies, and from Middle Eastern friends and neighbours, ‘alone’ is a rather Western concept. It certainly wasn’t a way of life in first century Palestine.

Continue reading “The gift of belonging”

The best gift is your vulnerability ~ Theme for Lent Book 2021

Are you wondering what to offer the church next year? Of course, time and money are always welcome; they keep this boat afloat! But one thing we could really use more of is vulnerability. Because, as I said last week, whenever somebody makes themselves vulnerable, we grow in leaps and bounds. And one powerful way of sharing vulnerability is sharing our true stories. Continue reading “The best gift is your vulnerability ~ Theme for Lent Book 2021”

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