Yes he has risen: but I get tired of the expectation of gleaming eyed certainty. I can sing ‘Thine be the Glory’: I love it, it fills me with new Hope. But Hope for me only means something if it is aware of despair, brokenness- and not just aware, has been overwhelmed by them….. and lives with them. Hope, true hope only ever comes after crucifixion, when bleary eyed with grief you are walking away from Jerusalem, not sure what to believe. Hope is suprising, stunning and it is so much better than a ‘fun family weekend’, your M&S lamb roast or that walk/holiday/fantastic experience with ‘amazing’ friends that you can facebrag about (I just have ‘friends’- I can’t afford the adjective), or even ‘kickin’/”dynamic’ worship (I just go to worship- again, I can’t afford the adjectives).
Hope is stunning- He has risen.
This is an amazing post for its honesty: http://rachelheldevans.com/blog/holy-week-for-doubters ‘And sometimes, just showing up – burial spices in hand – is all it takes to witness a miracle’.
This is a tidied up, web based version of what I said yesterday on Luke 23:50-56.
I have never used the story of Joseph of Arimathea before. I could have said more, but yesterday wasn’t the day for it.
There is Joseph and the group of women: two lots of outsiders.
The men- the disciples had run away. The women: in those days women’s testimony was not valued, had stayed…and watched and just been faithful…. In this reading they have watched and waited…..and gone to the tomb to do what was required, what was commanded by their Faith.
And there is Joseph….who had not agreed. But who had not gone into a corner and moaned….but had gone confidently to Pilate and had done something that cost him. Would people on the Council mutter about his ‘soundness’, edge away from him in social situations? An outsider now to his friends and an outsider to the disciples. And the tomb: that must have cost, financially- perhaps it had been saved for his family. Now it was defiled by a dead body.
What does it take to express faith when you feel nothing and have no hope? When what you trusted is crucified in front of you? When you have lost so much that you depended on?
But they carry on….’in faith’ as the clichés go. Doing what they know what to do even if they feel nothing. They don’t stop, in nihilistic despair, or back off or withdraw: ‘you’ve got to look after your own, you now’. They just carry on.
What does it take to life faithfully having lost everything, because this is final: there can never be resurrection, can there?
‘when you strip it all down to the wood and nails
that’s all we have
wood and nails
and a story of love’
(from ‘Mucky Paws’- google it)
Maundy Thursday….as it gets closer, fewer and fewer words and less music.
The Lent Collect from the Methodist Worship Book:-
‘Because Christ has passed through the time of suffering,
he is able to help those in time of trial.
Rend your hearts and not your garments.
Return to the Lord, your God,
for he is gracious and merciful.’
(and they look nothing like that now….)
Growing is positive, growing is life, growing is hope…….. but growing is also ‘loss’. Well maybe not ‘loss’, but poignant.
I had never fully realised this; maybe it is something that comes with the 2nd half of life (I am 47. Even writing that is a shock: where did the time go?) when you become more conscious that time is finite and not a bank that can be drawn on forever.
I realise it most with my children: one is no longer a child but a tweenager/pre teen (we had a long discussion a few days back about words he and his friends use that I am not sure that even my wife understands) and the other is beginning to change (repeatedly being interupted in my study at 8.30pm to google Tim Vine jokes and then explain them is the latest new development). I rejoice in their growth, I am unreasonably proud of who they are and who they are coming. And I will stop there, lest this become like the bad old blogs and facebrags about how one’s children are amazing and stunning and the only blot on the horizon is that they only acheived 12 A*s at GCSE, but hope that will improve when they resit on their 9th birthday.
But I occasionally get pangs over when they were more dependent, more ‘clingy’ and when they had that small child smell (and when I didn’t have to wind the windows in the car down after the oldest one does prolonged sport).
It has made me think: I can understand now why people resist change and growth in churches or anywhere. Whilst we may look for it, old patterns are threatened and a future is imagined that is not like the past….and that is exciting, but also full of poignancy: growth both is and is not like what is grown from…
I need some lifting, some inspiration. An old minister once said to me ‘Easter is hell’…then stopped and smiled as he realised that it is not hell.
I like Holy Week: it is one of the times I can stop and stay in the story instead of (as it seems right now) relentlessly spinning plates. The services etc are not draining- well they are, but in the ‘right’ way , I am not ‘busy’; I am doing what I was ordained to do and that is glorious and life affirming.
But I need some inspiration: right now Methodism feels like a ‘pointless meetings and admin fixated’ junkie, badly craving the next hit. I try and make it go cold turkey during this week, but it resists.
I stored this from a wonderous mailing called ‘Friday night theology’ back in October and is written by someone called Roger Sutton. Most of this could as easily be read by a person with faith or no faith. I love the way that it points us to the other and is not the usual motivational self, self guff. Great for Holy Week:
‘When you believe life is limited, with only so many resources to go round then you naturally hold on to what you have, you grasp and hoard and defend. It’s an ugly place to live, with fear and anxiety at its heart. But if you believe life is unlimited, abundant and providential then you can respond with a grateful heart for the bread we receive each day knowing there will be more bread just around the corner. We can give and bless others and take care of those who are the most vulnerable, knowing that true compassion knows no limit, it has no fatigue element. Stewardship then replaces control, where we take responsibility to make sure the resources are allocated in fair and just ways, but always knowing that we bring our small offering of loaves and fish. It’s simply what we have, and the force of abundance adds to those humble gifts and multiplies them.
We need to challenge our propensity towards anxiety, believing that life is out to get us. We need to trust again in the God of harvest time, the providing abundant force in the universe. The future, as Daniel O’Leary in Passion for the Possible tells us: “is a mother waiting for us with outstretched arms, and a father who is crazy about our freedom and our fulfillment and longs only for us to let him love us”.
I found a lovely quote from Henri Nouwen on one of my on-line friend’s blogs:-
‘But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them’.
It made me punch the air and go ‘yes’….’yes this is what I want to do and am about’.
On Friday I was at a funeral. The one before me had finished and almost as soon as it was finished, after a handshake or two-maybe a minute- the vicar/priest/minister left and got into their car. Maybe he had an urgent appointment, maybe someone else was close to death, maybe he was against the clock; I do not know. But the image of a someone like that rushing is not an image I like to carry with me into this week.
Like Rob (and his post is better than mine) I am coming to the idea that presence is all we have. Maybe, like Eugene Peterson suggests, the words ‘busy minister’ should be held in as high esteem as the words ‘unfaithful husband’; a sign that we have allowed ‘the work’ and not people to dominate us.
I really like this hymn; old though it is. I am only using the first 3 verses today. I love the poetry and the explicit statement of missionary intent: ‘Love to the loveless shown’.
We ain’t there yet. A couple of weeks back I heard report of a presumably regular church attender who sai of their church ‘If ‘they’ take the pews out I am not going again’. We have truly come a long way since Jesus of Nazareth gave his life for love. I am not sure where ‘keeping things like we like it’ came in that…
- My song is love unknown,
My Savior’s love to me;
Love to the loveless shown,
That they might lovely be.
O who am I,
That for my sake
My Lord should take
Frail flesh, and die?
- He came from His blest throne
Salvation to bestow;
But men made strange, and none
The longed-for Christ would know:
But oh, my Friend,
My Friend indeed,
Who at my need
His life did spend.
- Sometimes they strew His way,
And His sweet praises sing;
Resounding all the day
Hosannas to their King:
Is all their breath,
And for His death
They thirst and cry.
The next time someone posts some trite cliche on facebook/twitter; usually, but not exclusively from someone rich and American, I shall scream (in a very British, passive aggressive way). In fact you have my permission to write ‘this is crap’ in the ‘comments’ field of such a post.
A new album arriving that has been waited for a long time is a delicious feeling. Mostly the cds I buy have been trawled from sales, charity shops etc on the basis of ‘this looks good and doesn’t cost too much’. Few are planned and preordered. Maybe one day when incomes rise….. but that is a bit like saying, as Jews say after Passover Seder, ‘Next year in Jerusalem.
However, the new ‘Low’ album arrived this week: I had preordered it a couple of months back and forgot about it. Then it popped through the letter box and I was content. I am still getting to know ‘The Invisible Way’, but it is wondrous; like Low but with the addition of a little more to the sparse backing. It also has more tracks with the drummer, Mimi Parker singing.
I facebooked a friend who was trying to find out more about Low and I said something like it was music for late at night, for stillness and with a glass of single malt to hand.
I like this one:-