granny’s garden

 

the dying daffodils reminded me

of a long ago tended garden.

Each flower had a place

Reds on the left and yellow to the right

 

Granny pulled their heads off

and stomped on each stalk

frenetically each day she roamed

the rows of yellow daffodils

 

grandad could kill nothing,

not even a slug so he slunk

behind and gathered the leaves

tying them all together

with ribbons of concern

weeping as the willow by the pond.

 

I used to think granny hated

like hated every thing

but I think she was broken hearted

for the man she knew before

 

Grandad’s heart was aching

for all the men he’d known

who laid down their lives

in the war to end all wars

 

Granny played a lot of things

taking the role of winner

She hated the name granny

Preferring formal Grandmama

 

But I loved this statue of

ice cold tendrils

I was never scared like the others

She brought fear to every one

But I heard her pray once

For me and R and J

And for the two H’s in her life.

 

Two broken hearted people

Living in a box

Unable to talk or even to listen

Forever bound in silence

On reflection of the pond’s surface

Of a childhood long ago

The only way they could converse

Was having red on the left

And dying daffs on the right.

Sermon 25~~~Upon our Lord’s Sermon on the Mount~~~Discourse 5

“Think not that I am come to destroy the Law or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil. For verily I say unto you: Till heaven and earth pass, one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till all be fulfilled. Whosoever therefore shall break one of these least commandments, and shall teach men so, he shall be called the least in the kingdom of heaven: but whosoever shall do and teach them, the same shall be called great in the kingdom of heaven. For verily I say unto you: That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the Scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven.” Matt. 6:1–15.

I was struggling with one of the commandments, it caused me to walk away from church as a teenager and when I returned it was still there: Front and centre. Joining a Bible study didn’t help, we were studying the Sermon on the Mount and so I heard what fulfilling the Law by Jesus meant and that it wasn’t about following the letter of the Law but following the explicit and implicit nature of the Law. So not only the act, but the first iota of an inkling of the act.

I spoke to one of our Local Preachers about it and they said and I quote:

“oh don’t worry about them that is why we have the New Testament we don’t have to worry about the Old Testament at all.”

Now young as I was in my faith walk this didn’t make sense, firstly if we weren’t to worry about the Old Testament then why was it still attached to the New physically in our bibles. Secondly we hear Jesus himself saying

“I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.”

The LP in question were themselves living a precarious life – preaching without call and preaching when preaching itself was contrary to their beliefs, but I found this out later.

But it raised queries for me and sent me on a journey of discovery of how to ‘without a shadow of doubt’ be following the ten commandments, I left the 613 other laws alone as I am partial to a fried prawn curry and my friends were not abominations.

Two things I discovered in my journey and these are vital for spiritual growth:

1. you have to ask, not just of God but of godly men and women whom you trust and listen to their replies with discernment. The wisest of the wise of humans can get it wrong sometimes too.

2. this is not a solitary journey, people walk alongside, some for a season, some for a season or two but all who walk have their own backstory and motivations.

Jesus did not land on this earth so we can read his words and go – “oh that’s nice.” No he came to change the world, change history, change us, individually – you and me.

March 2014 a vid was shown in church, to show a model of mission and specifically shown to me to raise questions about where is the mission field. Like the questions weren’t there already. A few years ago I had the privilege of viewing and touching some of the modern art held by the Methodist Church in Britain. Yes I did say touch, I couldn’t help it, it was so tactile it drew me in and I touched.

It wasn’t the Diwali madonna or the graphic depictions of the death of Christ, it wasn’t five and chips on the mountain. It was “Cross over the city,” a mixed media (Polyester, brass and mosaic, relief panel) conceptual depiction of The Cross over a city. For me it spoke missionally of housing estates where God is not known. No Pharisees live there and the law is that of the concrete jungle – the hierarchical nature of crime- controlled by the older but carried out be the very young. How do we reach those children, whose light quickly fades and is not present from the age of eight? How can hope be found for those that see life as endless drudge of pain and painkillers? Where the rite of passage into adulthood is not a ritual of confirmation into a church but a gang rape for her and needle for him and where that ritual takes place in ever lowering ages. What age will it stop?

These people do not know the commandments, do not know anything about the Lord and his saving grace, do not know anything about right from wrong. I call them people because children are humans too. How can they even hope to have the righteousness of a Pharisee with no knowledge of the Lord?

And where are we? Tucked up safely in our homes, barricaded in – lest they take out. Where we have no concept of how others live. Someone told me once that everyone has a choice. But not if they are living without choices – where children are groomed to accept whatever is thrown at them.

Jesus came for all of us, not just the twin set and pearls and suited ones, but the raggedy ones, the ones like me and you.

I may have openly struggled with one of the ten, but I was struggling for more secretly with others but until I sorted the open one I was held in grace until such a time was right, timing is everything with the Lord.

Sermon Twenty One On prayer

john                                          audio clip

This part of the Sermon on the Mount can be tricky for people. People do love to give but they want everyone to know about their giving – the ostentatious €50 note on a collection plate, the biggest box at a birthday party. It is part of the rush of giving – the kudos you receive.

Well Jesus didn’t see it like that. He calls us to give, and give generously but to do so quietly, without fuss and fanfare. Back in his day the rich folk would have someone blow a trumpet, according to John Wesley, in order to announce their giving to the poor.

Nowadays we have celebrities being photographed giving to the needy, the photogenic needy. You don’t see them kicking a football on the field in Knocknaheeny but you will see them gently rolling a ball to an angelic child in Cope. The giving of alms on Maundy Thursday buys into this “being seen.” Every year a bin liner of stuff goes from Kerry to Cork, it is full of knitted garments for people without homes, there are various people who put stuff in the bag and it arrives at the Simon Community. They always ask where it came from and I merely say Kerry. I don’t go into any more detail. When one of the people who had contributed heard, they were not pleased, they wanted it to be known where it came from specifically. But that is not Jesus’ way.

Kindness is catching, there is wave of passing it on going through our nation. People want codecils on their giving though. I give you this if you give me that. Personally I love to give, none of it tax deductible, just plain old giving. And I do like to do it secret. And I do like to give to my utmost and I do like to do random acts of kindness. There are people who do all this but give only to people they know, or people they think aren’t looking for an angle or whatever reason, they add codecils. It is not about being Lord and Lady Bountiful, it is giving something from God via us to another human.

The same principle Jesus applies to praying. Pray in a press, don’t be like the Pharisee with the loud prayers. God is interested in relationship, with communication not with how doctrinally sound or theologically correct our prayers are. He doesn’t need our prayers to be full of passages from the bible. He wants us to be honest and sincere, he wants our very hearts.

Prayer is one of those things that as a new Christian you think everyone has been to prayer school, they have words you’ve never heard of before, they talk of sanctification and justification or intercession and extempore. Words that trip off their tongues and tie yours in knots. As a Christian you have yourself as a living proof of his transforming power. So a prayer might begin Dear Lord…and go on to say … thank You ..and end..Amen. When we say thank you to God it encompasses everything we are thankful for in our hearts, it is a prayer of thanksgiving in five words. Like wise – I’m sorry is a prayer of confession. Yes God wants to hear more but he can hear our hearts so if we are saying sorry from the heart he knows. And in time we get our voices so we can pray to God.

I met a woman a few days ago from my neck of the woods and we talked in our dialect for a while and then we prayed and her voice changed into a different pitch but also a different voice. I am left wondering should I change my voice when speaking to God, if I change my voice am I changing something of my story too, do I change my voice when I pray to God. Just questions, no answers yet.

Wesley then comes to the Lord’s Prayer and expounds each phrase in great detail and I have nothing to add, he put it so well. In response to his writing, I see how perfect that prayer is, it covers everything we need in a prayer, we should say it more often, we should mean it more often, we should live it – always!

Sermon Twelve the ways of obtaining God’s blessing

john                        audio clip

 

We have a God of abundance, he is not skimpy in giving blessings to us. He is generous and abundant.

Now for me blessings are the tools given by God in order that I can be steadfast in the storm with his help and guidance. Wesley goes at it from a different angle.

He begins with the rituals of the church, specifically the sacrament of Holy Communion. He begins at the beginning of Christianity, when believers lived together with a common purse. He often comes back to this model of living and I concur with him that it is the ideal. When streetpastors go out on a Saturday night there is a core group praying for them and praying for the people they meet. When a remnant, or core group gets together in fellowship, great things can be done for his glory. The people in the New Testament, the early church were blessed and they blessed others and because they blessed other they were blessed more and the more they reached out to other.

But people like hierarchy, they like power, human power and the church became a monstrous edifice mirroring the world, it was not set aside and blessed. It was grunt work, a struggle, weighed down by the centuries of ritual. The reformation blew new life into old Christians. It shook up the world first in Europe and then spread. It threw away the pomp and ceremony and became simple again, referring back to the early church. Different factions grew up into different denominations of which Methodism is one.

There are things done in a Methodist church that are not done elsewhere and likewise there are things of other churches not done in the Methodist church. BUT…

God’s Blessings for us Has Always Come Through Faith in Christ

It is not about bricks and mortar church, it is about the body of Christ church. People. So denominations don’t mean squat.

The church now and in the past has mistaken the means for the end. Mistaking outward performance of ritual rather than seeking the truth in the renewal of our lives in the image of Christ.

It is all about Jesus.                      Not you.                       Not me.

Whatever rituals we go through from ceremonial footwashing, to raising our hands when we sing. They don’t mean anything if it is a habit alone, or ritual, or because everyone else is doing it, we have to be free in the Spirit to learn the way God wants us to worship him, it may be the same way as the person next to us but it might be different. My balance is impaired, I cannot clap in time to music, watching me dance is painful, a mere shuffle at the edge of a dance floor and then in my kitchen as I scrub my floor my toes are tapping in time to imagined music in my head, I stop to clap, I stand to jump up and down, I fall on my knees and cry out to the Lord, thanking him for immeasurable blessings in my life, I count some but there are too many to mention.

Reading the bible and understanding how those ancient words can apply to our lives – that is a gift of God’s grace

Praying, communicating with the Living God – that is a gift of the grace of God

Baptism by the Holy Spirit – that is a gift of God’s grace

Holy Communion – that is a gift of the grace of God

If we are ritualistic or habit forming in our worship then we are not free to change, to move as the Spirit wills us.

We place our trust in the Lord not in the ceremonies. We take part in the ceremonies to remember what Christ has done for us, that it is his blood that was shed to free us from the slavery of sin.

In Christian circles Methodists are seen as people who do. We seem to be seeking salvation through good works, but the outside does not see what motivates us. We do not do good works to outweigh our sin on the eternal scales of justice.

We do good works as a response to the change that has taken place in our lives, we give, we feed, we visit, we live simple lives as a response to the immeasurable love of God.

A person who has been convicted by the Holy Spirit so they become an unwilling sinner sitting under the law, suddenly needs to find a church, suddenly needs to begin studying the bible, suddenly begins to hear more and seek more and read more and pray more until they come to the realisation, possibly through the taking part in the Lord’s supper, they are using all the means of grace, until they fall on the ground before the Lord and give their lives to the Lord, they are then living in a state of grace.

Let our song forever be of the lovingkindness of the Lord