walking involves taking a step

For the first time in weeks I walked for my health, not to get from the van to the door out of the rain, not from one shop to another but proper trainers on, face forward walking. I didn’t go far, three miles around the Black Road through Tullig and back to the school, but I did it.

It was tough, another sleepless night last night, my legs felt like lead, my head was pounding from the lump, my breathing still not right so it was not  pleasant experience until…

I crossed the wee bridge for the River Shanowen and the urge started. I managed about a hundred metres to the turnoff, that takes you away from Ballynahillia and over onto the main Cordal road.

One hundred metres where I forgot about the head, the legs, the lungs and just ran, not fast, but running nevertheless and I wasn’t out of breath and my legs didn’t hurt.

But as always “you reap what you sow” or some such appropriate phrase. I now suffer with the pain, very real muscular “OW!” I had been thinking about running for over a week and I guess I have my answer, it’s still no.

By calling this pain real, I don’t mean the others don’t exist but I don’t know how they started. I don’t know why I have a lump at the base of my skull. The breathing is from the smoke inhalation, time will heal that. My legs that have been as weak as water for about three weeks now, I guess more walking will help them.

I am a study couch potato, I need to walk more. I pray that when this little amount of busyness finishes I will find the time to walk each day. In every aspect of my life I need to keep walking, to keep going forward. I am reminded of Wesley saying you can’t be going in both directions (paraphrase.)

Walking in faith and victory, cause the Lord your God is with you.

mountaintalk

        He replied, “Because you have so little faith. Truly I tell you, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed

, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” 

        We have to talk to our mountains to make them move. Direct, honest conversation with the mountain that is in our way.
        For me, doubt in my ability, doubt in my interpretation of signs and wonders. I listen to other people talking about me and I wonder who that person is. They see things in me that for whatever reason I don’t see.
        I am not being falsely humble or trying to hide my light under a barrel, I guess I just see myself differently.
        So today instead of talking about the mountain I am going to stop writing and talk directly to it. I have faith that it will move, I have faith that it will not only move but will be obliterated.

    remembering the moonbows of my life

    moonbow

    I didn’t know there was a thing called a moonbow or whitebow. I saw one, not knowing what it was in the physical sense but I knew what it meant spiritually. It could have been a shooting star, or brighter than normal star or any other night time manifestation.

    But it wasn’t it was something that I could have missed, I could have driven past, I could have dismissed, I could have done many things but I stopped and saw and basked in His love.

    Let me explain a little.

    It was my second day of paid work that week. The previous day I had driven four miles before realising I had my reading glasses on, I had put it down to lack of sleep for the first few miles as everything was a little bit blurred and foggy. The reason for the sleeplessness, an ongoing doubt in my abilities to make the next leg move into a full step.

    So this particular morning, it was seven o’clock. It was dark with the moon setting slowly. I was again in conversation with God. I mean I understand that he has a call on my life but it scares me and I doubt, not him. I truly believe he has in many different ways put this call on me, but it is in my response I have difficulties. I look at the people living out this call and I don’t feel that I can do that.

    So I drove down my lane, turned left and after the first bend the left side of the sky had something weird in it. I immediately touched the edge of my glasses frame to check I had on the right glasses. Next I washed the windscreen. I looked right and saw the moon, huge and clear like the moon in ‘Bruce Almighty’ but on the left was all at the time I could describe as a night rainbow. I stopped the van got out and just marvelled.

    I immediately decided not to photograph it. It was for that moment. I didn’t know what it was and how rare. I also didn’t know that the moon that night was the smallest full moon since November 18th 1994. So what I have is the memory of a beautiful God moment, not the first and not the last but as today progresses one of the many images flitting into my mind.

    As this left leg moves in slow motion to plant itself on the ground to make a step, to test this call and test it against what the church needs I have a “viewmaster” collection. All I am doing today is responding to the call and beginning the testing period, and if I am unsuccessful (if that’s the right phrase) I pray that more doors will open for the next quirky, INTP, God loving, with a massively bad past but who is now dead to all of that and I live for the Lord, he lives in me.

    I feel like dancing suddenly…

    I think I will…

    After all if there’s no dancing, it ain’t my revolution

    Praising my Saviour in song, word, life and deed all my days long.

    brrr it’s cold

    A few days ago I had one of those moments, backed up by wonderment but in the middle. Well stuff happens!
    I have been around negativity and it wears me down. I understand when someone who has loads to deal with doesn’t want to focus on it. That when incredibly hard decisions need to be made, it is the last thing they want to focus on. They want to keep it light and fluffy, I appreciate it, I really do.
    But I have to be among the negative people. To work effectively in that area there is no point me coming in like Pollyanna playing the glad game. I can play it inside, but to meet someone in their pit you have to dive in and sometimes that means breathing underwater without the joy enveloping for a while.
    In the last few days I have spent time with someone close to me who drains my life force, they are like a Dementor from Harry Potter squeezing the joy from me, not content until every last drip has been exuded.
    When I get away and can breathe again, I get so guilty about running away and yet if I couldn’t breathe fresh air I would not be able to return. There is a sadness surrounding me,a deep regret that things could not be different, maintaining a hope that things can improve, a prayer for the person to find the spiritual peace and strength to face operations and long term treatment.
    I have to spend time with those people whom I find most difficult because in learning to love them I learn to love me. No matter how hard I find other people I still consider myself the hardest to love but then no matter how much a person tells me about their backstory I will never really know them. Even if we have a shared history due to living in the same area or the same house, even then I can’t say I know a person. But I do know me and sometimes…
    I need those moments of encouragement from The Lord because the pit can be closer than we think. I need rainbows and crocuses and pussywillow to remind me that winter is almost over and spring is coming. Some people live in winter their entire lives, I can’t anymore, there are glimpses of winter but the focus isn’t there. The doubts remain about my ability but I stay steadfast because to do otherwise would be disobedient.
    And then there was yesterday, what was that about???

    ever and again

    Sometimes …

    And it doesn’t have to be in church, it can be in the car park or the supermarket, or waiting for a bus

    Sometimes …

    And it doesn’t have to be the sermon, it can be the kid talk, or a song, or a prayer

    Sometimes …

    And it doesn’t have to be a part of the formal service, it can be the tea, or the chat, or the hug

    Sometimes …

    And it doesn’t have to be part of our normal everyday life, it can be the monthly communion, or the yearly covenant prayer, or a moment during Christmas or Easter (maybe you’re a Chreaster)

    Sometimes …

    God makes his presence known to you, just you in a moment, a second, a sliver outside time.

    And

    Sometimes …

    You just know that no matter how terrified you are, no matter how inadequate you feel, no matter how much your default is to run in the opposite direction that He is with you, he is just there to say

    Sometimes …

    Keep going, you are not there yet, there is more to do and

    BTW

    I love you

    Don’t you just love those sometimes moments!

    box ticking

    Box ticking

    Is turning up ever enough?

    For one hour on a Sunday we are asked to attend church, it may be more than an hour it would very rarely be less.

    Is church the place where we tick the box?

    How many boxes? Is that our praise done for the week? Is that the worship done for the week? Is that the prayers done? The reading of the bible?

    At one o’clock on a Sunday are we done with all that for the week?

    Where is the accountability? Where is the discipleship? Where is the mission?

    At the same time we tick the box, people who do not think of themselves as Christian are feeding the homeless, healing, listening to people, meeting people at their point of pain.

    We need to get off the pews and into the street. Do I mean literally? Yes, I actually do. We need to shine like bright stars in this dark gloomy world and as a response to receiving salvation do good.

    Historically that would have meant knitting a hat or baking a cake. But what does it mean today?

    In this post-modern society where a hat is likely left on a park bench, what does it mean to take church with us when we leave the building?

    More and more Christians all over the world are leaving church not because they have been offended but because the box ticking isn’t enough.

    So how do we balance the tension of being amongst box tickers and not being box tickers.

    Is it possible to move from one view to the other. There is a pastor’s wife in the States who is very disheartened by the box ticking congregation. She writes:

    “Our church is full of people who say they love the Lord but are content with their weekly attendance of filling a pew. My husband who loves Jesus so much is preaching the word of God with all His heart, trying to propel the people out of their pews and into the community to minister and win them to Jesus. We both believe in and love the church. We feel to gather together in the church is God’s command. But rather than being a local club that meets together and is so inward focused, it is to be a place where we come together to get encouraged by fellow believers, challenged by God’s word and receive strength from knowing we are all in this together. Then we are to use all this to go out into the streets, the workplace, our homes and wherever God leads and share His word, do His ministry, teach His way of doing things and then invite others to be apart of the family of God. But instead, sadly we feel this is not is what is happening. People are so consumed with the world and what it has to offer that the church to them is just a place of old times, a place to have your name on a roll, they want no accountability. They want just enough Jesus to get to heaven. Some attend regularly but do very little. Some attend on special occasions. So many have no real commitment to Christ or the church. And so we are discouraged, we are searching for encouragement and direction from God has to what to do next…I feel most do know what it means to be a Christian or a committed church member.”

    Each of us should be spending time daily reading God’s word, spending time in prayer – talking and listening with God, be open to the leading of the Spirit, daily seek Jesus, meet the needs of people within the church community and meet the needs of people in the general community. Let the church grow organically, and glorify God in every thing we do, say and think.

    If we can only imagine what the disciples felt, then we are not disciples. If we can only imagine what it would be like to invite a homeless guy to dinner then we haven’t done it. If we can only imagine being with someone dying or someone drying out or someone in the depths of pain then we haven’t been there. It is time to stop imagining and it is time to be there…

     

    compliant children?

    Lectionary Christmas 2A January 5th 2014

    Ephesians 3:3-14

    Reflective notes – possible sermon ideas

    Is the wish of all parents to have compliant children? Not obedient because if we are aiming for that surely there is dominance and submission and we want our children to grow into independent, free thinking adults.

    But who comply with our requests when we need them to. So picture a scene before Christmas, the week before or maybe the eve of Christmas Eve. The scene is the local multinational supermarket and the main characters are a parent, we’ll say a mother but the story would work equally well with a father, and a multitude of children, we’ll say four because that is more than is usual, even in Ireland, but not excessive so it is hard to imagine. So mother and children, a teenager, a prepubescent, a just found out the truth and one still happily sitting in the myth of Santa Claus, ages are unimportant.

    On entering the scene the main protagonist notes how busy the tills look, lots of harassed people, screaming children and flustered checkout assistants. Oh she thinks, it’s busy but doable, the kids will help, they are the best and she sets out her stall to the kids. There is a list and she heads into the fruit and veg section, sending the two older ones in forays down the next aisle to bring back bananas and clementines whilst chatting amiably to the smaller ones about sprouts and carrots, colours and shapes.

    Onto the meat section, still reticent after the horsemeat scandal, she chooses carefully. The older boy chooses this time to tease the shy teenage girl and blood, death and slaughter of lambs. At the same time know-it-all number three decides to tell “The Truth” to the wee one. Almighty war broke out with two sets of battle commencing. Hush children, she could just about muster some control when a strange looking man rolled over her foot with his trolley and completed his move by putting the back wheel over it too.

    It was too much, she couldn’t cope and joined in the age old siren scream of exasperated parents everywhere. “Will you just behave, this once.” As if they had never behaved well.

    We are worst at parenting, when we are harassed, rushing, jostling. Whatever the reason we are rushing, we just expect them to comply, because we are rushing. Imagining the ideal parenting scenario of shuffling through leaves in the park, followed by collecting the myriad of colours and shapes to take home and make crayon rubbings or a collage whilst sipping hot chocolate by the warm fire.

    What is the difference?

    Time.

    In the second scenario there are no time constraints, no chores, no dinner to make, no laundry to clean, no work to go to or study to complete. The parent has all the time in the world to spend nurturing, educating and parenting the children. Those children might still have battles but when there is no external time pressures or stresses, the parent is well able to cope, stop battles, listen to the children as individuals and love spend time with them.

    But in reality how often do parents think of the gift of kairos time. Infinite God given time. We are not in time, we are in Christ. What is the point of gracefully tip toeing in khronos when we can be grace filled in kairos.

    The reading today comes from the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians. In it he explains the marvellous plan God has for the Gentiles. It is full of the imagery of mysteries made known, of the fullness of God and God’s perfect goodness.

    Our children, when we allow them, pull us out of time and Christ if we allow him pulls us out of time. When we rush about doing things in our own strength we get exhausted, we need lots of rest, we can’t cope, we become anxious and panic sets in. Doing things in God’s time, means we see each moment as an opportunity. An opportunity to fellowship, an opportunity to draw closer to the Lord, an opportunity to share the Good News, an opportunity to thank God, an opportunity to revel in his love, an opportunity to repent. Each moment is full of possibilities.

    But I can hear you as I hear myself but there is x to do, and y to do, the dinner won’t make itself, the shirts won’t iron themselves, work, study, chores.

    Stop.

    Get off the merry go round of khronos and jump into kairos.

    Verse 12 says “In him and through faith in him we may approach God with freedom and confidence. We are free. We have been set free from the chains of sin and we now live in Christ and he in us. We should be celebrating that in each moment.

    This passage is about the revealing of a mystery, the things that were hidden are now seen. Paul never says he knows everything, but that he has been given an insight into the mystery of Christ.

    This Sunday is a time to reflect on our journey, it is a time to perhaps re-engage with the gospel, to reaffirm our covenant with God.

    I think back to the scriptures portraying that first Christmas when Jesus was born and ask us all, do we follow the example of the shepherds who went from the stable to tell about Jesus, and ‘all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds told them.’

    Or are we caught up in our own lives so much that we relegate God to an hour on Sunday.

    Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ, for he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ in accordance with his pleasure and will, to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the one he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us with all wisdom and understanding.

    That’s the best news of all, isn’t it. God lavishes grace without boundaries; we merely receive. The best reminder of grace is Communion. Communion, can be seen as the sign of God’s promise-his promise to forgive. God offers us His son.

    God cannot accept unholiness, so Jesus steps in. Jesus takes our place, so that when God looks at us, He sees Jesus instead. So it’s Jesus’ blood-spilled on the cross as He suffered and died.

    It’s Jesus’ body, beaten, tortured and bruised by soldiers and a mocking crowd – nailed to the cross to take our place. The women, oh how they wailed. The crowd, oh how they watched. The rulers, oh how they sneered. The soldiers, oh how they mocked, and even a criminal on the next-door cross how he insulted him.

    Jesus took our place, because God loves us, and God is willing to do anything to buy us back from our sin. That’s what redeemed means, to buy back a slave, to free a prisoner for ransom. Jesus’ body and blood literally set us free.

    So we come back to freedom and time. We have time to be free. And having that time means we can be free.

    Free to listen to the nudgings of the Spirit, free to praise and worship, free to pray, free to love, free to shine all for the glory of the Lord.

    We have been set free and live in Christ and because of this we have to share the Good News, not have to like have to do the washing up but have to because we can’t possibly think of not doing.

     

    Lectionary readings:

    • Jeremiah 31:7-14 & Psalm 147:12-20 (or Sirach 24:1-12 & WisSol 10:15-21)
    • Ephesians 1:3-14
    • John 1:(1-9), 10-18