Blessings

A spider busily weaves his web over the glass as the sun shines through the pane, lighting up the windowsill. The crackled, peeling paint doesn’t look shabby in the sunlight. It looks somehow blessed – as if the light shining on it gives it new character; makes it beautiful. In the distance I can see dark clouds. Rain is probably moving our way, but right now the sun is shining.

Sometimes folk say, “aren’t I lucky?” and their Christian brother or sister nods sagely and says, “ah, but are you lucky? Or are you blessed?”. I know what they mean, and I know they mean well by pointing out that God is the giver of all things, but aren’t we blessed in the good times and in the bad times? Do we really believe that the bad times are because God withholds His blessing? Should we go around during the good times praising God for His blessings, but not in the bad times? Doesn’t that make it seem as if God favours some (i.e. those He has ‘blessed’) more than others? Isn’t that the same lie that underpins the prosperity gospel? Isn’t that the same lie that says I can earn my way into God’s favour?

The world is good. The world is bad. Life is good. Life is bad. I don’t understand why some suffer so much more than others. I do know that in suffering we can learn more about God, and more about our dear Jesus and His Passion, than we ever could without suffering. We’ll never know the whys and wherefores in this life. Ecclesiastes tells us:

For everything there is a season,

and a time for every matter under heaven:

a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted…

a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance…

Ecclesiastes 3:1,2,4 (NRSVA)

I am thankful for all the seasons of my life. I am thankful that when I desperately needed help, the hands and hearts of my brothers and sisters in Christ were there for me, especially those in Celebrate Recovery. Without Celebrate Recovery I wouldn’t be here now.

Carry each other’s burdens and so live out the law of Christ. ….

Galatians 6:2 (NRSVA)

Thank you.

I don’t know why I continue to be so surprised at all the good things that we have been granted in the past few years. Why am I surprised to not be suffering for the first time in decades (I don’t consider this illness as suffering – far from it)? God is good. God is always good. But when life is good we must never become complacent. We must love our suffering neighbour all the more, all the more. As Ann Voskamp says, all is grace.

This song is not written about God, but it’s the one that makes the most sense to me today. It also serves a dual purpose of saying thank you to God, and thank you to my beloved husband, who has shown me God’s love with such generosity and patience through the good times and the bad. I hope you like it, too.

 

The Lies We Tell Ourselves

I did not grow up in a culture that defined and labelled people by their skin colour, or their ethnicity, yet Britain is becoming increasingly intolerant towards those who are ‘foreign’. We who represent the body of Christ would do well to consider for ourselves the question who is my neighbour?

 

Very interesting post today over on Rachel Held Evans’ blog: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/the-other-lie-lisa-sharon-harper-ferguson

 

the man, wanting to justify himself, continued, “But who is my ‘neighbour’?”

And Jesus gave him the following reply: “A man was once on his way down from Jerusalem to Jericho. He fell into the hands of bandits who stripped off his clothes, beat him up, and left him half dead. It so happened that a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him, he passed by on the other side. A Levite also came on the scene and when he saw him, he too passed by on the other side. But then a Samaritan traveller came along to the place where the man was lying, and at the sight of him he was touched with pity. He went across to him and bandaged his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he put him on his own mule, brought him to an inn and did what he could for him. Next day he took out two silver coins and gave them to the innkeeper with the words, ‘Look after him, will you? I will pay you back whatever more you spend, when I come through here on my return.’ Which of these three seems to you to have been a neighbour to the bandits’ victim?”

 

“The man who gave him practical sympathy,” he replied. “Then you go and do the same,” returned Jesus.

Luke 10:29-37 (JB Phillips)

As you read this probably very familiar bible passage, and after you have read the guest post over on Rachel Held Evans’ blog, consider this: in the parable of the Good Samaritan, is it the Jew who took pity on the Samaritan, or the other way round? In other words, did the ‘privileged’ show compassion for the ‘oppressed’, or did the ‘oppressed’ show compassion for the ‘privileged’?

Reblog: Love for the One Who Said, “See Me in Others”

 

Oh, I like this quote a hundred times!

Why, I wonder, is it that as I (we?) move closer and begin to reflect the Light more, I also see my flaws more and more, and my unworthiness to reflect any part of Him? Does always God deal in paradoxes, do you think?

For some reason Winnie the Pooh comes to mind. Maybe because the God of the universe delights in our simplicities just as we might delight in Winnie the Pooh… Maybe I’ll just have to think about that some more. There’s already been a Zen Book of Pooh. Maybe there’ll be a Theology of Pooh. Or Bagpuss. I can definitely envisage a Theology of Bagpuss.

 

Bagpuss and Emily

‘…Bagpuss himself, once he was asleep, was just an old, saggy cloth cat, baggy, and a bit loose at the seams. But Emily loved him.’

Contemplative in the Mud

When we do not love God as we should, we are wanting also in the love of our neighbours, for we feel neither compassion for the sorrow nor joy at the happiness of those who are very near and dear to God… We do not behave toward them with due charity, because we are imperfect in our love for Him who said, “Just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me” (Mt 25:40).
Saint John of Ávila

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How Do I Love God? (or: How Do I Love, God?)

Our Lord asks but two things of us: Love for him

and for our neighbour.

These are what we must strive to obtain.

I think the most certain sign

that we keep these two commandments

is that we have a genuine love for others.

We cannot know whether we love God,

although there may be strong reasons for thinking so,

but there can be no doubt about whether we love our neighbour or no. 

~ St. Teresa of Avila, from ‘The Interior Castle’ ~

 

Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.

Philippians 4:5