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Encouragement for the Journey 28 July 2013

Encouragement for the Journey

Peaceful Trees Picture

Greetings fellow traveller, 

Here I am, sitting at my laptop writing another Encouragement for the Journey. I ask myself a recurring question: What is it I am seeking to do in writing this weekly reflection?

An obvious answer is; I write to encourage you the reader on your journey of life. But like much in our lives, the obvious, may also hold other layers of meaning. So it is, with my question, there are other layers of meaning waiting to be explored.

Last Monday on my day off, I was reading some poetry of C. Day Lewis. In his introduction he wrote these words: “we write in order to understand, not in order to be understood.” He uses this statement in the context of poetry, which I readily accept. For the poet is seeking first to make sense of their own inner and outer world.

His statement, offers a way of discovering meaning in why I write these encouragements for the journey, week in week out. I do so first for myself, to understand what is happening in my own inner world and the variety of experiences I may encounter during any given week.

I feel comfortable with this approach, for what this humanoid encounters and experiences, may indeed resonate within your own world and experience. We are all on a journey; we never arrive at some point, where we have all the answers. Life is an ever unfolding experience of living moment by moment, within the embrace of love.

So to this week, what have I discovered which I seek to understand and then offer to you? Today is Thursday, I am enjoying my week, I attended four meetings, listened to and spoken with some interesting people, made a few pastoral visits, arranged a ministry review for a ministry colleague and dipped into some books I have not read for awhile. Have I had profound insights, alas no.

However, within the ordinary everydayness of my life, I seek to be fully alive and AWAKE to the beauty and wonder of the eternal dance called life. This is what offers me unexpected moments of meaning and delight.

Meanwhile Peace within the dignity of difference

Alf

 

July 26, 2013 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 21 July 2013

Encouragement for the Journey

Pentecost Dove

Greeting Fellow Traveller, 

Today at our Cafe Church we celebrate ‘The Bible’.

The Bible is at the heart of our Christian tradition.

Unfortunately, for many the Bible is used like a literalistic yardstick to measure the lives of others against, consequently it has become a stumbling block for many.

For some the Bible is uniquely divinely inspired, the infallible and inerrant Word of God. If it’s in the Bible it must be true and right, no need to question or doubt kind of response to what is written between the Bible’s covers.

There is another way that I have discovered on my journey, which is very well outlined by Professor Marcus Borg in his book The Heart of Christianity. I offer the following quotes which I hope will give you a taste and flavour of another way of looking at the Bible:

 The Bible tell us how our spiritual ancestors saw things – not how God sees things.

 The laws of the Bible need not be understood as God’s laws for all time, but as the laws and ethical teachings of (ancient) communities. 

Inspiration refers to the movement of the Spirit in the lives of people who produced the Bible. The emphasis is not upon words inspired by God, but on people moved by their experience of the Spirit, namely these ancient communities and the individuals who wrote for them. 

The Bible is thus both sacred scripture and a human product……a clear vision of the Bible and its role in the Christian life requires seeing it as both sacred scripture and human product. It is human in origin, and sacred in status and function. 

The Bible comes to us from the distant past. It was not written for us, but for the people who lived then. 

Believe whatever you want about whether it happened this way ; now let’s talk about what the story means….a preoccupation with factuality can obscure the metaphorical means and the truth of the stories as metaphor.

Meanwhile Peace in our Bible reading and reflection

Alf

 

 

July 17, 2013 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 14 July 2013

Encouragement for the Journey

Candle Flame

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

Last Sunday we celebrated grandparents and grandchildren. During our service we shared some of our stories and I mentioned how within this community of faith there is a storehouse of stories that needed to be told, shared and heard. Later in the year, I will mention a way we may do this.

For this week’s, Encouragement for the Journey, I want to mention an old saying my mother would often say to me: ‘familiarity breeds contempt’. I occasionally remember this when the word familiar comes into a conversation or into my awareness. This saying is used in the context of relationships. Where we may hold another person as contemptible, a response to one whose behaviour we no longer respect or we may know someone so well, we no longer respect them as a person we treat them as an object.

Terry Pratchett, (author) in his novel: ‘I shall wear midnight’ says:

Evil begins when you begin to treat people as things.”

He is so right, it is very easy to lose sight of people as human beings, and see them as an object to manipulate and to control, to satisfy our own needs and desires or ideology. The history of our World is filled with many instances were human beings have treated others as objects instead of people. In our time, the Holocaust, the atrocities in Bosnia, Civil wars in Democratic Republic of the Congo and Angola to name a few.

In case we may be tempted to see ourselves as very different and totally respectful of other humans. Let us be aware. We can very easily drift into ways of being which are not always respectful, which may lead to treating another as an object instead of a person.

Treating people as objects can easily be applied to stories. We may quickly dismiss a story because we have heard it before. When this occurs, the magic is gone and we miss out on hearing an aspect of what the story may want to say to us.

Stories are meant to be told and told again and again, to be listened too with an attentive and responsive ear, to be savoured, and allowed to warm our heart. In this way, they may teach us to treat each other with care, compassion and respect as fellow human beings, no matter our race, gender, sexual orientation, religious practice or ethnicity.

Meanwhile peace in our story telling and hearing

Alf

 

 

July 17, 2013 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 7 July 2013

Encouragement for the Journey

Gandhi Quote

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

I recall on one particular morning a few months ago, while I was on Study leave in Salisbury, England there was a real pea soup fog. I could hardly see my hand in front of my face. A fog may be a useful metaphor to remind us that on our journey of life, we don’t always see the way ahead clearly. We might even wander off the pathway and find ourselves going round in circles and at other times we may feel we are on the road to nowhere.

This week while idly channel surfing, I came across that classic UK comedy series ‘One foot in the grave’ with that accident prone Victor Meldrew played by Richard Wilson and his long- suffering wife Margaret played by Annette Crosbie. The episode I came across has Victor unable to sleep, so he wakes up his wife Margaret who is fast asleep and in his usual manner complains to her, how the past has gone and future is not yet here, there is only the present.

This interaction reminded me that we often forget that life is a journey, not a destination. Sometimes, we want to be somewhere, anywhere but where we are, but Victor reminded me, there is only this present moment.

How then do we want to live in this moment? One way that may help us to live fully in this moment is to remind ourselves that we are not perfect, we will have down times, moments of frustration and anger, along with being uncertain of where we are on our journey. James K Baxter has these two lines, which I say often to myself:

I haven’t found a cure

For being human

(cp 400) 

Also what may prevent us from living fully in this the present moment, is that occasionally we succumb to temptation and revisit the past, we may play ‘the what if game,’ and attempt to re – imagine our lives differently. In these moments, we have to be on our guard, for an invitation to attend a ‘pity party’ will almost certainly arrive in our mail box. I find the following poem from the North American Chippewa Tribe a healthy reminder:

Sometimes, I go about pitying self,

and all the time

I am being carried on great winds across the sky.

 The great wind within our tradition is the Ruach or Spirit of God, whose presence is present in each and every now moment of our journey. In particular, in those ‘fog’ moments, when we are uncertain about our next step on the journey, we are not alone; we are being carried and held within the divine embrace.

Meanwhile Peace within a Spirit of Generosity

Alf

 

July 17, 2013 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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