Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Hows it going?

I was struggling this morning to think what to write for the blog today and then as they do a random thought popped into my head!

We are about half way through lent now (or there abouts) and I started to reflect on how it was going for me. For lent this year I have given up alcohol. Partly because I signed up to do the Thirst for Life campaign and secondly because some of the young people I work with were attempting to give up smoking (for health/finacial reasons) and I wanted to support them and journey with them through that.

Now on first look to ask myself how is it going I can say its going very well. I haven't drunk any alcohol since Lent began. However I have a feeling this random thought of how is it going has a deeper meaning.

The purpose of Lent should really be to deepen your relationship with God.

So today spend some time asking yourself how is it going with God? Are you closer to Him now than you were at the beginning of Lent? Has going without given you more time to spend with God? Have you been having a wilderness experience of God like so many of the Bible characters?

The bottom line is this. Has this time of going without made any difference at all to your relationship with God? And be really honest with yourself.

God bless.

Tuesday, March 21, 2006

Did you know that the poet George Herbert wrote a poem for every day of Lent? You can look at them here:

Today's poem is:


Full of rebellion, I would die
Or fight, or travel, or deny
That you had ought to do with me.
O tame my heart;
It is your highest art
To captivate strong holds to thee.

If you shall let this venom lurk,
And in suggestions fume and work,
My soul will turn to bubbles straight,
And then by kind
Vanish into a wind,
Making your workmanship deceit.

O smooth my rugged heart, and there
Engrave your rev'rend Law and fear;
Or make a new one, since the old
Is sapless grown,
And a much fitter stone
To hide my dust, than you to hold.

Friday, March 17, 2006

One more step

I don’t know about you but I love going on walks exploring new areas, and yes sometimes getting lost, very lost! I am not sure why it gives me such a buzz, I think it is got sometime to do with going form the familiar to the unfamiliar not being sure what is around the next bend!

I’m reminded of the hymn by Sidney Carter with the verse “It’s from the old I travel to the new keep me travelling along with you” The entire bible is about people of faith on a journey with God, God taking them from the familiar to the unfamiliar asking them to trust him, take a risk and believe.

It would be so easy to say NO to God and stay in the familiar surroundings, in what is known as the comfort zone of life. Yet I know in my own life saying NO to God or just putting it off because it’s too hard is not a good idea, God will keep on at you until you give in and say OK God not my will, but your will be done!

At this point, I should warn you that saying Yes to God is risky, as your life will NEVER be the same again! Look at the disciples somewhere fisher-men another tax collector all very ordinary jobs, all very ordinary men then they meet Jesus and everything changed for them there lives would never be the same again!

Lent is a time for us to journey on with God, taking us from the familiar, the safe confines of our lives and taking us to a new place, a place where we can grow as individuals as a worshipping community. I hope and pray that you will say yes to God and that your life will never be the same again, have a nice journey!

Thursday, March 16, 2006

And they wondered the wilderness

Here, here, make way for the good ones.

Wednesday, March 15, 2006

Psalm 3

One of the Psalms from the Lectionary* today is Psalm 3:

Psalm 3

A psalm of David. When he fled from his son Absalom.

1 O LORD, how many are my foes!
How many rise up against me!

2 Many are saying of me,
"God will not deliver him."
Selah [a]

3 But you are a shield around me, O LORD;
you bestow glory on me and lift [b] up my head.

4 To the LORD I cry aloud,
and he answers me from his holy hill.

5 I lie down and sleep;
I wake again, because the LORD sustains me.

6 I will not fear the tens of thousands
drawn up against me on every side.

7 Arise, O LORD!
Deliver me, O my God!
Strike all my enemies on the jaw;
break the teeth of the wicked.

8 From the LORD comes deliverance.
May your blessing be on your people.

I think this can speak to us something about the meaning of lent. I think sometimes it can feel like the whole world is stacked up against us... and it is important we remember to turn to God in those times.

* Common Worship Lectionary, Advent 2005-2006, Church House Publishing, 2005
1. Psalm 3:2 A word of uncertain meaning, occurring frequently in the Psalms; possibly a musical term
2. Psalm 3:3 Or LORD , / my Glorious One, who lifts

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

To know Jesus' story is to be in the story

"The form of the Gospels as stories of a life are meant not only to display that life, but to train us to situate our lives in relation to that life" says Stanley. It is interesting that the gospels, as part of what Andy calls 'God's Big Story', not only invite us to emulate them, but more to actually participate in them. To be a Christian is to be involved with them. In a world of stories that are about escapism, really, the story of Jesus is really the opposite.

There's a literary theory called 'Carnivalesque'. Apologees to real lierary theorists, it never was my strongpoint, but many stories invite you to participate in them. It came from medieval times when once a year one of the oiks of the village would dress up as the landowner, and the vice verse, and everyone would do lots of naughty things they never would normally get away with. They became part of the drama. However, in the end it wasn't real, it was only a story, one that ended. Other parts of this theory talk about the 'lack of footlights' when there is no boundary between say, actors or audience. Somewhere like Disneyland gives you the experience of being part of a story. But again, it's not really happening, it's a fantasy. It's escapism. The story of Easter is that Jesus knew he had to play his allotted part. And the Good News story is one that we can, and must, actually be a part of the story.

(Maybe someone with more insight might like to explain better)...

Monday, March 13, 2006

To Know Jesus is to Follow Him

The form of the Gospels as stories of a life are meant not only to display that life, but to train us to situate our lives in relation to that life. For it was assumed by the churches that gave us the Gospels that we cannot know who Jesus is and what he stands for without learning to be his followers. Hence the ironic form of Mark, which begins by announcing to the reader this is the "good news about Jesus, the anointed one, the son of God," but in depicting the disciples shows how difficult it is to understand the significance of the news. You cannot know who Jesus is after the resurrection unless you have learned to follow Jesus during his life. His life and crucifixion of necessary to purge us of false notions about what kind of kingdom Jesus brings ... Only by following him to Jerusalem, where he becomes subject to the powers of this world, do we learn what the kingdom entails, as well as what kind of messiah this Jesus is.

(Stanley Hauerwas, The Peaceable Kingdom, 1983)

Saturday, March 11, 2006

Resurrection Blues

I'd just like to recommend a fabulous play I went to see last week at the Old Vic, (London) called 'Resurrection Blues'. It was the last play Arthur Miller wrote before he died: directed by Robert Altman (Gosford Park etc.) and starring the likes of James Fox and Neve Campbell.

It's about the impending televised crucifixion of a peasant who claims to be the Messiah. It's own blurb says it "brilliantly satirises misguided global politics and the predatory nature of a media-saturated culture" and that's true, but for Lent it really connects because it constantly refers back (how could it not) to the Easter story. The play is really watchable but also makes you think about all the ideas crammed in there. The most powerful scene for me was when the director of the TV show arrives, and no one has told her WHAT she is directing. Her total shock at the idea of crucifying someone really hits home.

There is so much in this play that I think I'd do it dis-service to try and explain any more. Go see.

Thursday, March 09, 2006

Finding God in garages

Apologees to this lovely lady pictured - Councillor Lisa Spall (Islington). She's not the focus here. To see those beautifully painted garages, Andover Estate, Islington, 2 of each colour alternate, with no graffitti almost 2 years after they were painted like that, was, frankly, my dream come true when this picture leapt at me from the Islington Gazette this week. As part of the 'Soul in the City' project two summers ago, I helped to dust those garages, mask the locks, prime and paint them, pray over them and their owners. We hoped that they'd stay clean, untarnished. They hadn't been painted since they were put there. And their owners (when they noticed) said it was a waste of time and thought we were insane. To be honest, we all wondered what would happen. And fair enough, we didn't turn that estate into a bunch of Christians (and we didn't intend to). But to me, those garages are like finding Jesus in the wilderness.


A friend recently told the story of meeting a Black Pastor in one of the southern states of the USA. This Pastor said to him, “the problem with you white folk is that you focus on the one hour of Jesus’ die’n to the exclusion of his thirty years of living”.

I guess there’s some truth in this, especially during Lent and Easter time. There are probably many consequences for the death of Jesus becoming detached from his life but one is that we detach the humanity and divinity of Jesus. Our conception of who Jesus is becomes more rooted in our own preferences than in the narrative of the gospels, and our discipleship becomes shallow as if all we know of Jesus is that he died then there’s no journey to go on with him.

So during this period of lent, yes I want to think about why Jesus died, what his death has accomplished. But I also want to reflect upon the Word becoming flesh, his teaching and his life….his resurrection an it’s implications for our lives now.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Searching for God

This morning while I was doing my quiet time a thought came to my mind about the purpose, function and reason for going without or giving something up for lent. Now I know this isn't going to be any groundbreaking theology or radical new discovery, but I just felt that it was God prompting me and maybe you too.

As a youth worker each year we seem to ask the young people what they will be giving up for Lent and the responses are often very predictable. "Chocolate" one cries out and another pipes up "biscuits" and the next speaks of "meat". The smart one is 'giving up giving up"! Every year it's the same, giving up something that is seen as bad/harmful or that would have a positive result for their appearance. All these things (well almost all) are not bad things to cut down or give up, but how does giving up these things for Lent help you with your walk with God. And then the thought hit me. We shouldn't be giving these things up for "Lent" but for God. Its not about observing some ritual or event in the God calendar, it should be about making time for God.

The origins of lent seem to stem from individuals or nations spending time wandering around in deserts and wildernesses looking for, or being shaped by God.

Lent should be about looking for God in unexpected places and to do that we need to create space for it... so if you have given up chocolate, next time you are in the shop, look for God, talk with him and be open to His call on your life.

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Wearily we await
Our fate.

We have listened
For three years-
But what comes now?

…We do not understand…

We should trust him:
Before we were weary
And before he came through…
But this…
This is different.

Is this different?

He seems sad of late

…what is this?
…what can this mean?

We should trust him…
Shouldn’t we?

Wearily we await
Our fate…

Monday, March 06, 2006

Lent and Noah

Some interesting thoughts on the paralells between the Lent story, and the story of Noah here on the Monastic Mumblings blog, which I read quite regularly. Always worth checking out.

Saturday, March 04, 2006


What will God provide, and if we're abstaining in devotion?

Friday, March 03, 2006

Just (don't) try harder

From Maggi:

It's a common misconception that Lent is about self-improvement. Somehow a half-remembered custom of giving things up has been mixed in with our society's obsession with self-help and self-improvement, so that we've blurred the true meaning of the fast into a rather individualistic concept, more like a New Year Resolution to detox or de-clutter.

Lent is not about giving up luxuries, not about losing weight or gaining other benefits, not about food per se, not about de-cluttering or Feng Shui or about ay other kind of feel-good, de-toxifying exercise. In the end, it's about denying yourself some of the essentials of everday life in order to focus on the reality that we depend upon God for life itself; about re-aligning ourselves with God and his purposes in our world; about reminding ourselves that all we have is a gift from God in any case.

And neither is Lent about achievement. We cannot earn God's love, nor save ourselves. If our Lenten Fast is understood well, it will relieve us of the need to try harder, achieve more, feel worthy. It will ground us in the firm and unshakeable knowledge that we are human - we are but dust, and to dust we shall return - but that to be human is enough, under the loving gaze of God.

Thursday, March 02, 2006

sign up for lent blog (updated 13/3)

Our lent blog will start next on march 1st.

Feel free to blog anything as long as there is some kind of link to lent.

Try not to make your posts too long ...

Looking forward to see what happens ...

Please indicate a day or days (in comments) when you would like to, or be happy to, blog / don't worry if someone's taken your day, we can have 2 blogs a day ...

Mar 1 - andy goodliff
2 - anderson
3 - maggi dawn
4 - laurence
5 Day-off
6 - ash beck
7 - ash beck
8 - jon bishop
9 - brodie mcgregor
10 - helen swinyard
11 - helen swinyard
12 Day-off
13 - andy goodliff
14 - helen swinyard
15 - ash beck
16 - laurence
19 Day-off
22 - jon bishop
26 Day-off
apr 1
2 Day-off (Mothering Sunday)
3 - andy scott
9 Day-off (Palm Sunday)
10 - andy scott
13 (Maunday Thursday)
14 (Good Friday)
16 Easter Sunday (end of blog)

Stop,Look and Listen!

When I was about six or seven I would go to the Tuffty Club to learn about Road Saftly, every week we would recite in parrot fasion what we should do before crossing the road, STOP,LOOK and LISTEN. As we journey through Lent I’m reminded that as Christians this is something I should be doing:

We should STOP being so busy, have more time to reflect. Slowing down for God is important, we can be so busy thinking we are serving God that we are truly failing to do what is important to him!

LOOK at what God has and is doing in my life. If we can’t see where we have come from it’s difficult to see where we are going

LISTEN to what God is saying to me and act on it, he may want to change a long held believe, or get me to look at something from a different angle, may be take me deeper into something and show me more of him!

May I wish you all a happy and a holy Lent, don’t forget to STOP,LOOK and LISTEN!!!

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

we ask you to create space ...

How shall we spend these Lenten days? Will we make space in our lives to pray and fast, to journey with God through the wilderness as Israel and Jesus did? Lent reminds us that our God is the one who forgives and makes all things new.

A prayer from Walter Brueggemann

The pushing and shoving of the world is endless
We are pushed and shoved.
And we do our fair share of pushing and shoving
in our great anxiety.
And in the middle of that
you have set down your beloved suffering son
who was like a sheep led to slaughter
who opened not his mouth.
We seem not able,
so we ask you to create space in our life
where we may ponder his suffering
and your summons for us to suffer with him,
suspecting that suffering is the only way to come to newness.
So we pray for your church in these Lenten days,
when we are driven to denial -
not to notice suffering,
not to engage it,
not to acknowledge it.
So be that way of truth among us
that we should not deceive ourselves.
That we shall see that loss is indeed our gain.
We give you thanks for that mystery from which we live.