Luke | Slow reading | Zacchaeus: Negotiating crowds, making choices

Luke’s gospel tells us that Zacchaeus is a man of short stature; he cannot see Jesus because of the crowd. He is also limited by Roman rule, by social expectations, and by other people’s judgements. Yet he is so desperate to see Jesus for himself that he risks his dignity, climbing a sycamore tree in flapping robes to place himself in Jesus’ path. The next thing he knows, Christ is in his dwelling and at his table. Zacchaeus is so moved that he responds, unprompted, with generosity, justice and joy. Continue reading “Luke | Slow reading | Zacchaeus: Negotiating crowds, making choices”

Ministry | Questions for the end of life

November 1 is All Saints, a day to remember those who have died and gone before us. But before each person dies, of course, they must face the end of life. It is a common misperception that people in life’s final stages are constantly cared for by professionals. In reality, whether at home or in a facility, the vast majority of care and companionship will come from family and friends; and indeed many of us at Sanctuary have already found ourselves in the caring role. Continue reading “Ministry | Questions for the end of life”

John | Group reflection: Intimate grounded presence

Tonight we reflected on John 21:19-31, the story of the Risen Jesus appearing to the disciples as they were fishing. We spent time sitting with the reading and then chatted about our responses: in particular, the sense that after all the chaos and trauma, Jesus helped the disciples “move on and find the fish”, and how much we too need to rest in his intimate, grounded presence. Continue reading “John | Group reflection: Intimate grounded presence”

Isaiah | Awe, wonder and the threat of love

An encounter with God means an encounter with love: and this can be truly terrifying. (Listen.)

Why are you at worship today? If I were to ask most of you, you’d say something like, “I want to be closer to God” or “I hope to experience God’s presence.” These are good and right reasons to be here. They are what we always hope for, and making space for such an encounter is exactly what I try to do. But it must be said: I have never yet curated a service where people have fallen flat on their faces in awe, terror and wonder at the devastating presence of the Living God. Nor have I heard anyone shriek, “Get away from me, Lord, for I am sinful!”, or say they think they’ll die in God’s presence. And I’m not sure any of us here want these reactions: yet in Biblical accounts, such responses are normal. Continue reading “Isaiah | Awe, wonder and the threat of love”

Consider creation

Sanctuary’s taking a summer break. This month, many of us are on leave and outside every day, so here’s a little something from the archives on prayerfully considering creation: a practice some call ‘sensio divina’.

‘Do I not fill the earth?’ says God (Jer. 23:24b).
Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely God is in this place, and I didn’t know it!’ (Gen. 28:16). Like Jacob, people have sensed God’s presence in creation for millennia, and perhaps this is why Jesus so often prayed outdoors. What follows is a simple grounding exercise to help you observe God’s presence in the place where you are. Move through the steps in order, or float between them: they are just a tool. And remember, like all spiritual exercises, it gets easier with practice. Continue reading “Consider creation”

Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder

In response to human suffering, God offers presence and a broader perspective. (Listen.)

God, why was Elephant killed? What about J and K and all our other friends this year? Why is there a plague galloping across the earth, and so many people suffering or dead? How long must we live in fear? When can we see friends and family again? We’re good people, Lord, faithful and committed and true. We try to live ethically; we pray: why is this all happening? Continue reading “Job | Responsibility, awe and wonder”

Driving in pre-dawn darkness

This term, we have been reflecting more than ever on healing, wholeness and integration. Here, Lucy shares a particular terror of hers, and an experience of integration both with her body and with a wider story: that first Easter Dawn. Thanks, Lucy!

Driving in pre-dawn darkness
Draws (for me) a deep shade of terror –
And on this unfamiliar, unlit,
Curving, swerving, hurtling highway,
I can almost smell
The pungent permanent ink of it. Continue reading “Driving in pre-dawn darkness”

When God seems absent

When God seems absent, we need each other. (Listen.)

Did you hear it? The disciples have been sent into shutdown. For the Risen Jesus orders them not to leave Jerusalem. Instead, they must wait for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, which will fill them with power. Then he moves into the cloud which signifies God’s presence, and disappears from their sight. And so the disciples—men and women both—go back to the room where they’re staying, and devote themselves to prayer. They don’t know what the future holds; they don’t know how long they must wait. But in faith they bunker down to watch and wait, pray and wonder: in all these things, together.

Continue reading “When God seems absent”

Blog at WordPress.com.

Up ↑