GET YOU UP TO A HIGH MOUNTAIN

•June 23, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 

solstice sunrise eucharist

Llanmadoc Hill, Summer Solstice Sunrise: Communion in the wild

 

A voice cries out: ‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God… (Isaiah 40.3)
The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day he appeared publicly… (Luke 1.80)

“WILDERNESS or wildland is a natural environment on Earth that has not been significantly modified by human activity. It may also be defined as: “The most intact, undisturbed wild natural areas left on our planet—those last truly wild places that humans do not control and have not developed with roads, pipelines or other industrial infrastructure.” So begins the famous internet encyclopedia Wikipedia’s definition of wilderness.
Like Isaiah and all biblical prophets, John the Baptist was called to “appear publicly” and speak the Word of God; like all biblical prophets, before he speaks he is compelled to dwell in the wild, away from the crowds, away from mainstream programming of any kind. Of course, Jesus too was tested in the desert before he began to speak and teach, and the Gospels are clear that retreating to the wild continued to be a constant feature of his ongoing lifestyle and ministry. Luke tells us here that Jesus’ teacher? cousin? anam cara soul friend? John the Baptist lived his entire pre-ministry in the wilderness; even when he finally “appeared publicly” it was on the border of wilderness in the Jordan river.
Perhaps this week you would like to bring the wilderness into your prayer time, maybe do some walking meditation in Gower or in the garden (street, park in town, just as good!)
Where are the wild spaces in your life? Where can you be still and let God do the talking? What in your heart, mind, soul is real and what is merely worldly program? Who are you, really?

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B Flat A Sharp: Variation in Morning Prayer

•June 20, 2018 • Leave a Comment

2 Church in Wales priests praying without words

LIKE…A MUSTARD SEED

•June 14, 2018 • 1 Comment

 

mustard tree 3

…for I AM does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but I AM looks on the heart (1 Samuel 16.7)
…he did not speak to them except in parables, but he explained everything in private to his disciples (Mark 4.34)

THE ANCIENT CHINESE TAO TE CHING begins, “Tao that is called Tao is not Tao.” The wise master Lau Tsu is opening to the listener that Tao, the Way, Road etc might be something he can point to but it is not something he can manifest in words. Tao is to be experienced rather than apprehended or communicated with the mind. Language cannot transmit the essence but merely signpost the presence. St Thomas Aquinas taught that when we speak of God we speak in analogia, analogy; we can say something about what an attribute of God is like by relating to some human or phenomenal experience but God is always more than we can imagine and are therefore able to name.
That Jesus taught with parable and metaphor is beyond any reasonable doubt. Even the most reason-conservative scholars accept that the parables are “among the sayings which we can confidently ascribe to the historical Jesus; they are, for the most part, authentic words of Jesus” (Dr Madeline Boucher). All Jesus’ major themes, most agree, are to be found in the parables. Why did Jesus teach in this way?
Just like the prophet Isaiah, Jesus makes comment in the Gospels that people often do not understand. In Mark 4.10-12, Jesus references Isaiah 6.9-10 when he says “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside, everything comes in parables; in order that ‘they may indeed look, but not perceive, and may indeed listen, but not understand; so that they may not turn again and be forgiven.” But we can read this not as Jesus being harsh, angry or exasperated but rather as an exclamation born in regretful love. Jesus uses metaphor to flash light into people’s hearts and minds to illumine truth in them about God within and without them. Contemplating the flash and the light away from the crowds of our actions and thoughts, we let Christ take us to the Experience.

 

WHAT SEEMS AND WHAT IS

•June 9, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 

crowd

Even though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day…because we look not at what can be seen but at what cannot be seen; for what can be seen is temporary, but what cannot be seen is eternal… 2 Corinthians 4.16-18

IN OUR GOSPEL reading today (Mark 3.20-35) we hear Mark’s account of Mary and Jesus’ brothers and sisters coming to try to rescue Jesus from a crowd. The people are so keen to hear and see Jesus by now that they are crowding into a house where he and his disciples had been hoping to have something to eat and no doubt a break from the crowds and the teaching. Various translations say that Jesus’ family have gone to get him because they think he’s gone mad but the Greek doesn’t make that explicit, just that the general gossip is that he ‘has gone out of his mind’. But more urgent, no doubt, than the need to respond to gossip is the fact that powerful authorities are getting involved now and they are hostile to Jesus’ teaching and to his growing popularity. Attempts on his life are already brewing, both from the authorities and from within the crowds themselves. Whether or not the family actually think Jesus is mad, his lifestyle has exploded; there are crowds building wherever he goes, so much so that he can’t even get time to eat.
Why are the crowds so hungry for Jesus and why are the authorities so interested in shutting him up? Why do some of the crowds literally want to rip him apart or stone him to death?
Let’s spend some time this week looking deeply into ourselves, with Paul’s teaching about the wasting outer nature and our renewing inner selves, in our hearts and minds. Jesus was teaching about the unseen truth and the illusions of the visible. Deep inside, this resonated with many ordinary people who crowded to get to him; for the powerful and the surface surfers, it agitated and challenged their ‘grip’ on ‘reality’. Hence the transference of ‘madness’ onto Jesus, the source of the crisis. What in our lives are we clinging to in order to try and hold back the decaying of physical circumstance? How far are we really willing to trust the great Unseen? What in us is true and what must we let go?

 

LAW AND FREEDOM

•June 2, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 

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But they (religious/political authorities) were silent. He looked around at them with anger; he was grieved at their hardness of heart and said to the man, ‘Stretch out your hand.’

JESUS, BEING WATCHED, to see if he would break the law by healing, and therefore be guilty of doing work, on the Sabbath, had asked the simple question to those who would punish him under the law, “Is it lawful to do good or do bad on the Sabbath, to save life or to kill?” For Jesus, their silence speaks loud!
It is hard to imagine in our society there being a law against working on any day, let alone a day set aside to be still with God. The sabbath must certainly have been a God blessed day each week and we can only dream of such a day being enshrined in our laws. However, the Pharisees in the Gospel reading are not upholding the virtues of a law given to set people free to pray, rest and worship. They are using the letter of the law as a tool of oppression while hiding behind its institutionalized authority in order to wield power, shrinking from any responsibility to think about its meaning or intention. But Jesus has come “to proclaim good news to the poor… freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4.18). For him, hiding behind laws or using them to inhibit or enchain is not an option and he will not bow to those who administer such. The question the Pharisees cannot answer in their twisted hypocrisy is the question the Christ within each one of us asks: “Is this thing that I am doing or am about to do, life giving or life damaging?” If we are bound by the letter of law and not free to think and act in the Spirit of God, then we cannot answer this question. Our conscience may yet nag but the chances are we will make big efforts to blot it out, and a self-righteous interpretation of law is a powerful sedative. Jesus says, “The sabbath is made for humankind, not humankind for the sabbath”. Listen to him. He sets you free!

 

TRINITY, THE DANCING

•May 24, 2018 • Leave a Comment

 

Trinity Dance

Do not be astonished that I said to you, “You must be born from above.” The wind blows where it chooses, and you hear the sound of it, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

BORN AFRESH IN THE MAYIM AND THE RUACH ~ the Water and the Spirit ~ we are set free, like the wind, like the breath of God, to dance in the beginningness, to return home to whom we really are. Every time we remember, each time we touch beauty, life, being, suffering, nature, the elements, and know that we touch them, we return to the time before time, moment before moments, the original dance in the mind/heart of God. It may just be for an inspired flash or we might stay longer, but we do return. Parent, Child, Breath dance then in self-emptying, eternally replenishing Love. We can do this because God has put Godself in all of us, in the very DNA of our being and all being, physical, spiritual, eternal.
Alright, for sure it seems easier to cover up the Dance with our fears and the pressures on our lives to conform with systems and structures, social, political, religious and philosophical, than it is to trust the freedom of the Holy Dance. But Christ has shown us how to do it and Christ empowers us to do it. Jesus of Nazareth lived in the Dance. John’s Gospel is perhaps the best attempt by any writer in history to meditate on how and why this was so, as well as how and why, through the risen Christ, we can do it too. This is our calling and our destiny. Through our baptism in the primordial Mayim and the Ruach Haqodesh (Spirit of Truth) we are already dancing. All that is necessary is that we let go the fear and the pressures to conform, and dance! Yes, those fears and pressures will fight back, you can be sure. They put Jesus to death after all. But they could not destroy the Dance.
Christ lives and in Christ, so do we.

Freedom!

 

PENTECOST – THE DANCING AND THE PAINTING

•May 19, 2018 • 1 Comment

 

spirit

” I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away רוח הקודש (ruach haqodesh – spirit of truth or Spirit of JHWH) will not come to you; but if I go, I will send her to you …When the Spirit of truth comes, she will guide you into all the truth…”

THERE ARE SO MANY WORDS in our readings this morning, so many I had to keep reducing the font to let them all in. Some of the words are packed with theology. The Greek word, παράκλητος Paraclete, translated in our version today Advocate, for example, has had many books of theology written about it, theologians over the ages striving to unpack it’s meaning. Who knows really why the writer of the gospel chose that word and would he or she be amazed, amused or bemused by all the fuss and mental gymnastics it has inspired? So many words! Dry bones animated, right judgement prayed for, fishermen and desert travelers speaking simultaneously in the diverse tongues of ancient Afro-Eurasia, promises of “portents in the heaven above and signs on the earth below, blood, and fire, and smoky mist”, dark suns and moons of blood…where do I start, what words can I write and hope to make sense? Words, words, words…
What if Pentecost isn’t just something that happened a long time ago, that we remember each year 49 days after Easter, forgetting again its Judaic root of 50 days after Passover, fondly call it the birthday of the church, then sing some hearty songs and go home? What if Pentecost is still going on? What if God is still saying something to the world, to the people, to creation? What if God hasn’t just given us a history book of fairy stories and a set of religious rituals and rules to make us “behave” and left us to get on with it? What if our very lives and being are infused with the ruach hagodesh, the spirit of Truth, spirit of JHWH, spirit of What Is, of I AM? What if our lives and being are the very canvass on which God paints? What if we just shut up and let God paint?

 

 
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