Henri Nouwen used to say that there two voices competing for his attention inside him. One encouraged him to succeed and achieve, while the other called him simply to rest in the comfort that he was the Beloved of God and it was only in the last decade of his life did he truly listen to that voice. Continue reading
These are a series of short reflections and prayers to be used preferably during the Sunday evenings of Lent 2017. This week I attended the Ash Wednesday service at the village’s parish church. It was a moving and powerful start to Lent for me. It prepared me for the journey of repentance Christians are invited to take as Easter Day approaches.
Here’s an idea for the Ending of the Year: collect all your left-over candles and place them around the room.
A request too far?
In John’s account of the death of Jesus there is a moment when the frail humanity of Christ breaks the silence. He cries out: I am thirsty. It is the thirst of the dying. But when the drugged cloth is offered him he refuses. Was there another sort of thirst he need quenching?
This is another in a series for Before the ending of the day where I am considering each of the last words of Jesus as he died on the cross. I wonder what meaning they may have for our own contemplation of death and dying. Continue reading
The last words of Jesus were My God, my God, why have you abandoned me?
This is the first in a series for Before the ending of the day when I will consider each of the last words of Jesus on the cross and their meaning for our own contemplation of death and dying.
In Mark’s gospel 14:33-39 Jesus’s final words are full of fear and puzzled anger. He is dying terror-stricken and alone.
He might have saved others but he cannot save himself from the inevitable.What can a God-forsaken Christ say to us about dying?
This meditation appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I follow it with some of my thoughts as I tried to compose it and some suggestions for reflection and prayer. We pick up the story of Mary, mother of Jesus sometime after his ascension as the disciples gather in the Upper Room. (Acts 1)
Mary, the Mother of Jesus
Mary quietly left the room and made her way to the wall of the city where she could see Olivet. She sat down carefully and lent against one of the great stones left by the builders. The pinnacle of the temple soared above her and she watched the birds launching themselves into the wind as it swirled up from the valley below. She could smell the desert – heavy with heat.
So she would see him no more. He spoke of a return but she did not think it would be tomorrow. Where had the years gone?
I offer this brief series for anyone who would like to have some material for their prayer or reflection on the meaning of Jesus Christ over the Christmas season. This meditation on the story of the shepherds appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I have added some questions and back-up material.
Let us imagine that two shepherds who had gone to Bethlehem to see the child in the manger and wake up the next morning. We listen to their conversation …
I told you to let me sleep. All that running across the hills isn’t good for me at my age.
Well I don’t know how you could sleep after what we had seen. Angels. Mysterious voices. A baby in a manger. It was wonderful.
I know, pass the water I’m as dry as dry. So what? What does it all mean? It’s a miracle to me that the sheep are still here. They could have been half way to Jerusalem with all that noise and fuss. I expect we’ll have some still-borns later this season.
We’ll deal with that when it happens. You’re right though, what now?
We could ask the Rabbi.
Him! He would take so long to work it out the Messiah would be with us. In any case that’s what it all meant. The time of waiting is over; the exile is finishing. The Land is going to be ours again. No more working for others. No more stewards lining their pockets whilst the bosses are all down at the coast with the Romans. People didn’t need convincing last night. Once we told them what the angel said the party started.
Yes, but that was last night. You know what people are like. Last night’s party is today’s hangover. Can we really believe it all? After all it’s only a baby.
I am writing this brief series for anyone who would like to have some material for their prayer or reflection on the meaning of Christ over the Christmas season. This meditation on Elizabeth appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I have added some questions and back-up material.
The case of Elizabeth, mother of John the Baptist?
She had spread the washing on the rocks to dry. The wind was getting stronger. She had placed stones from the stream on the clothes to hold them down. The other women still kept her at a distance. It was time for a brief rest. Shading her eyes she looked up across the valley to see if he was in sight.
People used to tell her he was God’s blessing. She would smile but kept her thoughts to herself. Zechariah insisted they call him, John. She did not argue … much; but she would have chosen Aaron, an ancestor. John was always wandering to edge of the wilderness. He spent more time there than their house. It was as if it were his home. He had his ancestor’s blood in him.
She worried. She couldn’t relax until she heard him calling her name from the hillside.
This meditation appeared in the Baptist Times recently. I am imagining what a Teacher of the Law in Jerusalem might have thought about Herod sometime after the massacre of the infants in Bethlehem. I follow it with suggestions for reflection and prayer.
Herod the Great
I turned my back on the Temple and made my way through the crowded streets. It would soon be the Sabbath and I wanted to be in my home long before it started. I had to struggle because there were still visitors gawping up at the Temple walls. I hated the look on their faces. Didn’t they know the cost in human life this building had exacted just because of one man’s desire?