Tuesday, 25 October 2016

Some pondering on grace.

Theology Everywhere - a weekly blog with a range of contributors reflecting theologically.

Wednesday, 5 October 2016

How beautiful you are
(Written for my children some years ago - but seems even more relevant now, particularly the last stanza.)

I catch myself watching you
as you play in the garden,
bend in intense concentration over your latest craft activity,
mess up the kitchen making a sponge cake.
You look up and smile
but if you find I'm watching you too often
you ask what's wrong
and I tell you for the thousandth time that
I cannot believe how beautiful you are.

Amidst mud or glue, or clouds of flour
you giggle and grumble and grin your way through life.

The distance between us grows
but so does the love.
Letting you grow up and be whole
is the hardest of all privileges.

I want to protect you,
to make everything perfect, precise, safe and sound.
I want to heal you, help you, hide you and guide you
but I do you no honour if I make the world
a saccharine place of empty security.

So live a real life, a full life,
a life with scratches and disappointments
that mark the truth of living in abundance.
Live a whole life, a generous life,
a life with ups and downs,
heartaches and joyful celebrations.
Live a human, glorious life,
and fly safe in the knowledge that I will love you
when the landings are smooth and
I will pick you up and love you still when the landings are rough.
Live a real life.

Monday, 3 October 2016

Reflection – two glass panels. Orlando/Good Friday and Lampedusa/Pieta

(First used at the Connexional Leaders Forum of the Methodist Church, meeting in September 2016)

Image 1
I invite you to reflect on two images – these are glass panels and soon I hope to make a third and they will hang in our District Meeting Room at Central Hall. The first was originally to be called ‘Good Friday’ but it came out of the kiln on the morning that the news broke about the massacre of dozens of gay men in Orlando, Florida – so now it is called ‘Orlando Good Friday’. The second image is called Lampedusa pieta.There is something about the geography of grief that grounds it in our experience – place names change their meaning when dreadful events take place there: Dunblane, Piper Alpha, Nice, Paris, Orlando – we seek to glimpse one iota of incarnational love as we ask again and again, ‘Where is God in all this?’We have asked for 2000 years, ‘where was God on Good Friday?’I’ve often bemoaned the fact that Christians dash from the phoney cheers of Palm Sunday to the fulsome cheers of Easter Day, without paying sufficient attention to the narratives of complex love that weave through Holy Week. Yet I only have to watch the news today or any day of the year, to find myself located by the cross; transported again to exist in a constant Good Friday – watching, transfixed, unable to look away. I stand helpless and dazed by the enormity of loss and the reality of crucifixion that is happening every day in our world.Image 2

We keep on asking ‘where is God?’ as the little ones drown in an azure ocean whipped to a grey froth and frenzy.I see a thousand pietas today – the traditional blue of Mary’s robe becomes the turquoise of the Mediterranean and the mothers bend in anguish over their children and the grey robes of needless death overwhelm attempts to bring a glimpse of humanity or divinity in the midst of the chaos.How do we live as people of the resurrection, as people of good news in a world drowning in violence and grief? That is a proper question – not how do we survive and get through each day, somehow keeping a semblance of mental and social health – but how do we choose to live as people of the resurrection? How do we make it real, not for our private, exclusive holy club’s sake, but for the poor, the oppressed, the blind, the lame, the prisoner… for the refugee, the asylum seeker, the voiceless and the condemned?How do we respond to the God of grace, who lies face down on a beach?
How do we respond to the God of love, slaughtered for love’s sake?
How do we respond to the God of peace, who calls us to love our neighbours as ourselves?To what do we choose to pay attention, as people who have moved beyond despair to hope?How do we choose to act as people of resurrection?How do we choose to pray as those who believe in good news?