A week of quotes:8

8 days

Ok, I cheated- 8 days is not a week (unless you are the Beatles of course). This quote is the kind of thing I need to read on a Monday when my head has post Sunday hangover (not a real one of course- nary a drop touches my lips …you guessed it- most goes straight down my throat…… Mondays tend to feel a bit like what I imagine a hangover would be 🙂 . ). It’s the kind of thing I need to hear this week; life has been a bit hectic and Christmas is looming. My brain is so furred right now that I’m not sure if I have used this before:-

‘Above all, trust in the slow work of God.
We are quite naturally impatient in everything to reach the end without delay.
We should like to skip the intermediate stages.
We are impatient of being on the way to something unknown, something new.
And yet it is the law of all progress that it is made by passing through some stages of instability—and that it may take a very long time.

And so I think it is with you.
Your ideas mature gradually–let them grow,
Let them shape themselves, without undue haste.
Don’t try to force them on,
as though you could be today what time
(that is to say, grace and circumstances acting on your own good will)
will make of you tomorrow.

Only God could say what this new spirit gradually forming within you will be.
Give our Lord the benefit of believing that his hand is leading you,
and accept the anxiety of feeling yourself in suspense and incomplete’.

 Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, SJ

And for my last hymn, which is actually a 20th century one. I discovered this at a bad time; cos it is a hymn it doesn’t sound trite (I find it interesting that the post I have most hits on is one called ‘We believe in Jesus so everything is going to work out!’…are people hitting as it is a deliberately trite title or because they believe and long for that?)  HP675

‘Have faith in God my heart,

Trust and be unafraid;

God will fulfil in every part

Each promise he has made.

 

Have faith in God, my mind,

Though oft your light burns low;

God’s mercy holds a wiser plan

Than you can fully know.

 

Have faith in God, my soul;

His cross for ever stands;

And neither death nor life can pluck

His children from his hands.

 

Lord Jesus, make me whole;

Grant me no resting place,

Until I rest, heart mind and soul.

The captive of your grace.’

A week of quotes:7

light

(I have this stored – I think it is from http://jonnybaker.blogs.com/jonnybaker/)

I have had this stored for months now. It’s part of a Sunday sermon. And today is Sunday (and if you need to read blogs to establish that you need to get a life). This is long- it needs working over, thinking and living….

‘We all started out with such fervent hopes and dreams. Faith seemed so sure and alive and wonderful. But life has a way of exploding those temples we construct for ourselves into a million pieces. For we find that keeping those marriage vows is not as easy as we were told. And the church is not always a Christian place to be. And the people you believed you could trust let you down. And all that you had ever worked for and wanted to be can also blow up in your face. The day your world fell apart and you thought you were going to die because the place you thought was home – wasn’t. And it seemed as if your faith was slipping away.

But by the grace of God, your life didn’t end; and, looking back, it seemed like a new chapter began. God was turning your disaster into a new beginning. Jesus was asking you to get into the boat with him and sail off to the other side of the lake. It is times like those when faith stops being something firm and unshakable and becomes an adult kind of relationship’.

(direct copy from http://revjph.blogspot.com/ originally from a sermon about Ernst Käsemann entitled “A Confident Wandering” by Barry J. Robinson).

Today I’m going all anglo-catholic with J.H.Newman. HP67- just about avoids Victorian mawk

Lead, kindly Light, amid th’encircling gloom, lead Thou me on!
The night is dark, and I am far from home; lead Thou me on!
Keep Thou my feet; I do not ask to see
The distant scene; one step enough for me.

I was not ever thus, nor prayed that Thou shouldst lead me on;
I loved to choose and see my path; but now lead Thou me on!
I loved the garish day, and, spite of fears,
Pride ruled my will. Remember not past years!

So long Thy power hath blest me, sure it still will lead me on.
O’er moor and fen, o’er crag and torrent, till the night is gone,
And with the morn those angel faces smile, which I
Have loved long since, and lost awhile!

 

A week of quotes:6

questions

It’s Thomas Merton again….being a politics graduate I pride myself on my use of secondary sources, without reading the original. Being a theology graduate (did you notice the subtle ‘I am very brainy’ thing going on there?) I know I need to take time to listen and not just hear my sources. I really should have a go at reading a Thomas Merton book and not just quote him…

‘I am not so sure of myself and do not claim to have all the answers. In fact, I often wonder quite openly about these “answers,” and about the habit of always having them ready. The best I can do is to look for some of the questions.’

Source: Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander

That could almost be one of my proof texts for life…so onto a hymn. Today’s hymn is HP739 ‘May the Mind of Christ my saviour’

May the mind of Christ, my Savior,
Live in me from day to day,
By His love and power controlling
All I do and say.

May the Word of God dwell richly
In my heart from hour to hour,
So that all may see I triumph
Only through His power.

May the peace of God my Father
Rule my life in everything,
That I may be calm to comfort
Sick and sorrowing.

May the love of Jesus fill me
As the waters fill the sea;
Him exalting, self abasing,
This is victory.

May I run the race before me,
Strong and brave to face the foe,
Looking only unto Jesus
As I onward go.

A week of quotes:5

ThomasMerton

The shortest quote in this series:-

‘Humility consists in being precisely the person you actually are before God’.

By Thomas Merton

I remember a phrase that I heard a few years ago that is a variation on this. It goes something like;

‘At the end of time God will not ask you why were you not Moses, St Paul, Mother Theresa, etc etc. He will ask you why you were not Graham Peacock’ (obviously- insert your own name at the end there. I can think of nothing worse than a world filled with me).

If you have been following this series, you will note that I end with a traditional hymn (and if you want to know why, check out http://diggingalot.org/diggingalot/?p=2385) that either follows this quote or takes it wider.

Today’s hymn is HP673 ‘Dear Lord and Father of Mankind’ (yes I know- not gender neutral, but beautiful nonetheless. I also know that the hymn as we sing it today was originally much longer; the longer first part being a diatribe against Anglicanism). A lot of hymns/songs seem to express striving in a negative way. This seems much more gentle and accepting of who you are -flawed and failing sometimes, but also accepting…

Dear Lord and Father of mankind,
Forgive our foolish ways;
Reclothe us in our rightful mind,
In purer lives Thy service find,
In deeper reverence, praise.

In simple trust like theirs who heard,
Beside the Syrian sea,
The gracious calling of the Lord,
Let us, like them, without a word,
Rise up and follow Thee.

O Sabbath rest by Galilee,
O calm of hills above,
Where Jesus knelt to share with Thee
The silence of eternity,
Interpreted by love!

With that deep hush subduing all
Our words and works that drown
The tender whisper of Thy call,
As noiseless let Thy blessing fall
As fell Thy manna down.

Drop Thy still dews of quietness,
Till all our strivings cease;
Take from our souls the strain and stress,
And let our ordered lives confess
The beauty of Thy peace.

Breathe through the heats of our desire
Thy coolness and Thy balm;
Let sense be dumb, let flesh retire;
Speak through the earthquake, wind, and fire,
O still, small voice of calm.

A week of quotes:4

kierkegaard3

I love this quote so much that I am not sure if I have posted it before. Give me anything by Kierkegaard as well…

‘The matter is quite simple. The Bible is very easy to understand. But we Christians are a bunch of scheming swindlers. We pretend to be unable to understand it because we know very well that the minute we understand, we are obliged to act accordingly. Take any words in the New Testament and forget everything except pledging yourself to act accordingly. My God, you will say, if I do that my whole life will be ruined. How would I ever get on in the world? Herein lies the real place of Christian scholarship. Christian scholarship is the Church’s prodigious invention to defend itself against the Bible, to ensure that we can continue to be good Christians without the Bible coming too close. Oh, priceless scholarship, what would we do without you?’

Source: Provocations: Spiritual Writings of Kierkegaard, ed. Charles Moore

Thinking of moments back in theological college when people gathered around the pool table arguing theology when all I wanted to do was play pool and ‘hear some sounds that recognised the pain in me’.

The hymn is HP522- it is a pearler- the shortest and most realistic hymn I have ever heard about human nature.

‘Dear Master in whose life I see,

All that I would and fail to be,

Let thy clear light for ever shine,

To shame and guide this life of mine.

 

Though what I dream and what I do

In my weak days are always two,

Help me, oppressed by things undone,

O thou, whose deeds and dreams were one!’

A week of quotes:3

Jesus Bless Children I Komang Wahyu

(Image from http://jesuschrist.uk.com/download/)

Continuing with the theme of yesterday:-

‘Jesus truly was dangerous. He was creating a following with a kind of thinking that was much more on the side of inclusiveness than exclusiveness…. Jesus is always moving the boundaries out while still respecting the center. That’s the key to wisdom: being grounded in the center and still, from that deep foundation, knowing how to move out’.

Source: Jesus’ Plan for a New World- Richard Rohr

Today’s hymn is HP745 ‘O thou who camest from above’

O Thou who camest from above,
the pure celestial fire to impart
kindle a flame of sacred love
upon the mean altar of my heart.

There let it for thy glory burn
with inextinguishable blaze,
and trembling to its source return,
in humble prayer and fervent praise.

Jesus, confirm my heart’s desire
to work and speak and think for thee;
still let me guard the holy fire,
and still stir up thy gift in me.

Ready for all thy perfect will,
my acts of faith and love repeat,
till death thy endless mercies seal,
and make my sacrifice complete.

A week of quotes:2

The Great Traveller

Love the idea of travelling, of going beyond known securities, of going into a different place and seeking a hearing in the languages and cultures of that place. Hate the idea of ‘outreach’ (cos it often means ‘indrag’), of ‘getting ourselves ready for mission’ (so what exactly are you doing when you are not in church?…and in practice this often seems to mean a lot of ‘getting ready’ to the extent of never actually attempting anything) or ‘we need to be built up first’ (many of us are so built up we have become fat and are unable to get out of the door: we need exercise not sugary snacks).

Love the idea: occasionally put it into practice. Here is the quote:-

‘Jesus does the impossible: He travels to enemy territory and converses with the enemy as if he loves them. In fact, he does love them. In fact, he heals and liberates his enemies. He is bold and provocative, and he expects his followers to do as he does; he wants them to risk their lives, to reconcile everyone, and so radiate the truth of nonviolence. He urges them to go “to the other side,” to meet their culture’s enemies and to carry forth the good news of God’s reconciling love. He believes they will do greater works than he…. Have we ever travelled to enemy territory? Have we ever faced the fear of entering a war zone and conversing with the enemy about peace? Have we ever been invited to walk the stormy waters of reconciliation?’

Source: Jesus the Rebel- John Dear

And here is the hymn:-

HP437 ‘Guide me O thou Great Jehovah’

Guide me, O Thou great Jehovah,
[or Guide me, O Thou great Redeemer…]
Pilgrim through this barren land.
I am weak, but Thou art mighty;
Hold me with Thy powerful hand.
Bread of Heaven, Bread of Heaven,
Feed me till I want no more;
Feed me till I want no more.

Open now the crystal fountain,
Whence the healing stream doth flow;
Let the fire and cloudy pillar
Lead me all my journey through.
Strong Deliverer, strong Deliverer,
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield;
Be Thou still my Strength and Shield.

When I tread the verge of Jordan,
Bid my anxious fears subside;
Death of deaths, and hell’s destruction,
Land me safe on Canaan’s side.
Songs of praises, songs of praises,
I will ever give to Thee;
I will ever give to Thee.

A week of quotes:1

spinal_tap

A rich, rich weekend: catching up with some excellent friends and hearing their story, watching a favourite film (Spinal Tap since you ask- hence the picture) after years of quoting it to each other, late night funeral visits, preaching in a church that was not my style but so liberating and welcoming, meeting another old friend for a ‘swift’ drink and hearing an elderly lay preacher through whom the light shines through- yet he has no awareness of this fact.

This week is going to be manic; an advantage of what I do is that I can work flexibly- last week I had parental cover and did loads; in a week’s time ditto. This week- it’s me, working full time and childminding my sons whilst my wife tries to breast the 100 hours a week mark teacher training.

This will be a rich spiritual experience (it is so much crap equating ‘sprituality’ just with the warm and peaceful…if God is God he can surely be discerned in the busyness). It means that my in depth blogging will be less indepth….it may even be short.

..so here is the plan: a quote (most sourced from the excellent http://www.inwardoutward.org/ which is currently down for repair) a day and an old Methodist hymn to go with it. The hymn may be related, or it may take you in another direction.

Why an old hymn? Well it is rare that I agree with that fine chanteur Mr Christopher Martin of the top r’n’b group Coldplay (you may have heard of them on the Light Programme on the modern contraption that is the valve wireless), but he felt that hymns of the eighteenth century and thereabouts captured joy and pain together better than anything else. I must admit and here I sound like a crusty curmudgeon (guilty m’lud); I’m finding it harder and harder to sing hymns/songs- a lot is sounding like ‘Jesus is my boyfriend’, ‘trust God and life will be fandabedozee’ or just plain twee.

Quote for the day, used yesterday from George McLeod:-

‘too often we have made your church an institution,
when you want it to be a chaos of uncalculating love’

And the companion hymn, number 267 in our current hymnbook: ‘Love Divine’ (and if you don’t know the words and you have been around a church for more than 5 years, I want to know why).

 

Sunday cartoon

keep-the-faith

This is one of my favourite cartoons. It is, unsuprisingly ‘Naked Pastor’ again. I’m using it this morning. I’m going to a church where they have asked me to preach on the story of the older brother in Luke 15.

One of the things I want to look at is why he had little awareness of Grace. And why that is manifested in this passage and the verses around among those who should have had lots of Grace: the religious.

Still wondering why Grace is poured out so freely and us recipients can’t quite get it into our heads that we are meant to reciprocate that by pouring it out….instead of giving into temptation and storing it up, measuring it and categorising it.

Seems to have been a problem from Day 1 though; or why else tell the story of the prodigal son/the waiting father/the bitter older son?

 

Saturday album review for you sir…

Folgate

You know that moment when a band you have liked for years release an album? That slight fluttering feeling that you get: will it be any good or will it be a ‘conservatory album’ (album released for no other reason than the singer/group want to build a new conservatory)?

If you have read this blog in the last two weeks you will know that I am going to a gig in December: I’m going to see Madness. It will be my son’s first ever gig. As part of my extensive research/education programme I have been trying to source a cheap ‘Madness Greatest’ (Done….£2 since you ask) so he can catch up….a father’s love knows no bounds… I must have heard ‘One Step Beyond’ and ‘Baggy Trousers’ in excess of fifty times in 2 weeks.

I thought I better try and find the latest CD: ‘The Liberty of Norton Folgate’. I felt it had a chance of being a ‘conservatory album’. I thought wrong. You put the CD on, expecting what you liked to be 30 years older, except bloated and less interesting. This is completely brilliant: recognisably Madness, but facing up to advancing years. It is what a witty, lyrical, British, pop album should be. I can’t stop singing the tunes or being amused and sometimes moved by the lyrics.

Sometimes, I will be staggeringly honest, I buy a CD cheap and half listen to it as it doesn’t hit me. I have been really suprised and delighted by this. I have revised my opinion: you can write happy and good pop songs.

‘I’m sliding down rainbows

Out into the wild uncultivated child’

Wow…what a lyric to sing when you are late 40s/early 50s….. I can see a link about receiving the Kingdom as a child all over again. I think I have a new anthem and a new desire…and a new problem in devising my all time top 10. I’m not writing anymore: you have to discover it- especially if you ever liked Madness, Ian Dury, The Kinks…even Blur.

Finding something new to say, yet being comfortable with your past and honest about aging/mortality. When I discover something like this and when it is so well done I am a happy man…