Category Archives: faith

The Emmaus road: a reflection

Walking home, its been a long week. You talk about everything that’s happened, its the only thing you can do, how else can you even try to understand it all? Even so, nothing makes sense any more. All the things you’ve believed in, given your time for, fought for, for the last three years. Gone, just like that. Nothing for it now but to go back to life as it was before, try to rebuild the life you had before he came along. Before you heard him speak those words.

Such amazing words, such wonderful things he said. You had to listen, you couldn’t help yourself, he had a way with people. And when he said he was from God, and had come to save his people, you believed him. Why wouldn’t you? The miracles he performed, the conviction with which he spoke in the temple. He had to be something special. Well perhaps you were wrong, along with the rest.

Walking home all these things run through your mind, again, for the hundredth time. And then this stranger appears as if from nowhere, seems to be the only person for miles who doesn’t know about these events. How could you not have heard?

There’s something comforting about his words though. He seems to know what he’s talking about, as he responds to your worries with words from the prophets. You’re still not sure, but something about the way he speaks soothes your mind a little. And when he tries to walk on from your home, you beg him to stay and eat.

You sit down at your table, and this man, this stranger who you barely know, takes up the bread. Ordinarily you’d feel a bit put out, after all, it’s the role of the man of the house, not the invited guest, to give thanks for the food. But before you can think, before you speak, you see the way he holds it, and you begin to see something that wasn’t there before. When he lifts it up and gives thanks to God, you know. He breaks it and gives it to you, and before you can respond, before you can take it, he’s gone.

Walking into the night

On Saturday night a small group of us gathered in Sketty Methodist church to hold vigil through the night, something which has become a tradition in the church, and an event I value greatly for the fellowship and communion which it brings. This year will possibly be the last one I attend, and therefore was also special for this reason.

For the last couple of years I’ve contributed by preparing one of the prayer times which we hold at intervals during the night. Richard has been kind enough to blog the liturgy I wrote for the midnight slot this year. The idea is based around walking into the darkness of the night, knowing what it will bring, looking beyond it to the light, but also accepting that the darkness has a part to play.

Jesus knew what was waiting for him when he went into the city that day, he knew it would bring pain and suffering to himself and others. But yet he went, accepting the struggles he would face, and knowing that when they came to an end, they would bring new life for all.

Positive lenten thinking

Ok, so I think ee beat me to it in the ‘this is a lenten blog’ stakes. But still, I shan’t let that put me off 😉 I was thinking about wanting to challenge myself this lent, and do something that would both help me to grow as a person, and also maybe help those around me.

Recently, I’ve been less positive than usual, if I’m honest. The job situation gets me down, more than I usually let on. There are *lots* of good things going on in my life as well, and when I remember and notice these, I feel better, lift myself out of it and carry on with renewed enthusiasm. So, this lent, I’ve decided to be positive. To make myself focus on one or two things each day that have been good. A kind of ‘count your blessings’ blog if you like. I know that when I’m feeling ok this will be easy, but harder when something gets me down. I hope that by concentrating on the good stuff, I’ll be reminded of the ways in which life is good right now, and of God’s presence with me through it all. And I might even be easier to cope with for those who take the force of my more negative moments..

So, starting in that vein, yesterday I had a day of work (no, thats not the positive!). I had a good chat over coffee about the start of my studies for the Local Preaching course, which was exciting and not too scary! I spent a pleasant half hour having my hair played with as part of my bridesmaids duties for a certain bride and in doing so managed to have a nice chat with said bride, and see my Godson who is more and more like a littler person everyday- the things I never noticed when I lived under the same roof suddenly amaze me each time 🙂 Oh, and then the other man in my life came all the way over from Brizzle in the evening, bringing me some choccies from home as well as his lovely self, which was very grin-worthy after 3 weeks apart 😀

There, how’s that for a start? I’ll see what today brings, and be back later.

A time of preparation

At this time of year, there’s always someone moaning about Christmas being taken over as a commercial event, more to do with how many presents you can buy than the reason you buy them. And not only that, it seems to start earlier and earlier each year, the decorations go up sooner. Though the point of buying a real christmas tree at the start of december escapes me..

So amid all this preparation, the church sits smugly saying we’ve got our own separate season of preparation, untainted by all this commercial rubbish. Hmm. But is it separate? Or do we immediately switch to Christmas mode at the beginnng of December. No sooner is it advent than we’re planning and preparing carol services, rehearsing nativity plays, ordering traidcraft Christmas cards and singing hymns which talk about christmas day.

All this talk of preparation, and the natural tendancy to think about new beginnings around the end of the year, has got me thinking. Dangerous I know. I recently made a big decision, took a step into the unknown, and went to the preachers meeting to ask for a note to preach. To the non methodists out there, this is the first step on beginning the Local Preachers training course, which is the way lay preachers are trained in methodism. The course is varied, challenging (for which read very difficult and hardgoing at times) and stretches over a number of years. My excuse for about the last year is that my future is too uncertain. But I realised thats all it was, an excuse, so I’m going ahead anyway. I’m excited, confused, unsure and downright terrified, probably in equal measure. But who said these things are meant to be easy?

So this advent, I hope I’ll be able to separate this period of preparation from the build up to the day itself. And I hope I’ll be able to prepare myself for this most important of responsibilities, for which I don’t think I’ll ever be completely ready, and I trust I will be given the strength I need. With my faults and failings, my doubts and fears, I am ready to try. Here I am, send me.

As it was in the beginning?

I recently wrote a bible study for SCM, in connection with this years theme; Small World, which looks at the connections between different parts of the world, and the impacts various changes in the environment will have on every individual, regardless of faith, class or social standing. In this study I focussed on the creation story at the beginning of Genesis.

The theme I was trying to follow was the question of where the creation story ends. The account of creation stops at the end of this passage, but what happens then? God the father, the creator, is beginning and ending, he is ever present, so we are told, so we believe. Does he stop creating at the end of the second verse of Genesis chapter 2?! Reading this passage it is easy to think so; the world came into being, God was pleased, and stopped to rest and admire his handiwork. And that was that. But the world we live in is far from constant. It has changed in many ways, some more rapid and more noticeable than others, and continues to do so. This is something we cannot dispute.

I find it hard to imagine, or to believe in, a God who is involved in the creation of his world over a finite period of time, and then steps out of the picture, having nothing more to do with it as it grows. If we profess a faith in a living, omnipresent God, who listens to and answers prayer, and is ‘pleased’ with his creation, surely this God is actively present in our lives, and consequently, in the evolution and continuing development of this world? And if we accept that God is still creating, changing, shaping our world, then we also, as his creation, as his followers, have a part to play. The creation is documented, in the form of a story (which you may or may not believe to be literally true, that doesn’t matter), in the beginning chapters of the bible. It tells how the earth was formed out of the vacuum of space, something from nothing. Inspiring stuff. But still more inspiring surely, is the possibility that this description of the creation is there to show us the continuing story of which we are part. The first chapter of Genesis tells not the whole story of how the world was made, but the first chapter in the life of this planet. The next chapters are being written now, by you and me.

An Intercession

From the Methodist Prayer Handbook 2006/2007. Seemed appropriate.

God of all lands and peoples,
we pray for those whose work takes them to distant places,
to help with relief and development
among needy and damaged communities.
Grant them safe journeys
and sustain them in their ongoing work
at the interface with other cultures.
We pray for their parents
and for all who carry burdens of anxiety
about distant loved ones.
May they find support and succour in their communities of faith.