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Encouragement for the Journey 22 February 2015

Encouragement for the Journey

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Greetings fellow traveller,

Driven by the wind of the Spirit.

The Spirit drove Jesus into the wilderness for forty days of solitude, testing, formation and preparation, and the season of lent attempts to mirror this in our own life by giving us a space in the year where we allow the Spirit to drive us into a place where we can see more clearly what is needed and what is excess baggage.

That might sound like too much work to you, but I wonder if that is because we so easily let the whole of our religious life become driven not by the Spirit, but by the cultural values of achievement and success. We look for these in all aspects of the spiritual life, whether it is the success of a programme we run or a personal lenten discipline or the value and effectiveness of a service of worship.

In our cultural understanding of what it means to live a full and meaningful life even play and recreation are subject to the drive to succeed. Play has a purpose. When you are playing a game of tennis, or rugby or football you need to train for it, to practice until you have your stroke down or your set play flows smoothly. If you are part of a team, you need to practice so you can know the strengths and weaknesses of your teammates. You need to know who can put on a burst of speed, who’s best at spotting an opening, who has the greatest stamina, who can motivate the rest of the team. This kind of play has a point and a purpose beyond itself in terms of forming a community and in terms of honing skills, providing an opportunity for exercise – but most of all, the purpose of play is to win!

We may have professional players in a sport, but the real experts of play are young children. When you are playing with a young child none of those competitive, driven purposes of a game have any value. When you play with a child, or when you allow yourself to play like a child, then what is important? Play becomes about the relationship, about imagination and about fun. Play becomes allowing the other person to express something of who they are, and to respond by showing something of who you are. Play becomes about possibilities and experiments and invention.

In this season of lent, I wonder what a lenten practice might look like if the Spirit drove you into a place where the cultural measures of worth and value fall away like so much excess baggage and instead the playful values of fun and exploration were your guides?

David Stendahl Rast wrote: “Each string of a wind harp responds with a different note to the same breeze. What activity makes you personally resonate most strongly, most deeply, with the wind of the Spirit that blows where it wills?”

There is a lot to unlearn and to let go of if you are to enter into playful relationship with the Spirit, but there is also the possibility of discovering a deep resonance that has nothing to do with success or achievement, and everything to do with the joyful relationship at the heart of our Lenten journey.

Blessings

Roxy

February 28, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 15 February 2015

Encouragement for the Journey
to love and be loved

My Dad was educated in the old fashioned style, learning Latin and logarithms and excruciatingly correct grammar in all things. We were never allowed to get away with any inconsistencies or inaccuracies around him…different from, not different to; my brother and I, not me and my brother etc. etc. He was particularly scathing about our use of the words love and hate. It was not possible that I hate my brother, no matter how irritating he was being, nor could I truly love chocolate. Frustrating as it was at the time, I have to admit that he did have a point. In the English language we are impoverished for words of love to begin with, only having one word to describe all of the varied and nuanced kinds of loving relationships we might experience. And we continually use of the word ‘love’ to describe our preference for ice cream, sports teams, shoes, cars, etc. – things that we cannot actually be in relationship with. And so our sense of what love truly is has become skewed and reduced.

Reading chapter 13 of Paul’s first letter to the church in Corinth is a good way to reset our understanding of love, but sometimes even this beautiful and profound description slips into ungraspable familiarity. When that happens, sometimes it helps me to dwell in the overwhelming Otherness of Love if I try and put it in my own words – so here’s my version of

Love is….

Love is not limited to the duration of your earthly life or conditional on your positive response. Love does not favour one over another or make distinctions between ‘saved’ and ‘lost’.

Love does not keep a record of wrongs, has no plan to publicly shame you with your failings or question why you did what you do. Love already knows.

Love forgives all things, holds all things, denies nothing.

Love is not bound by rules or constrained by its own purity.

Love allows rejection and rebellion in order to give us complete freedom to choose Love: Love hopes for acceptance and invites us into partnership in love, not submission and obedience in fear.

Love does not control or manipulate either people or circumstances but in all things Love works for good.

Love breaks down barriers, unites and reunites.

Love calls out love, draws out love, longs to be known.

Love is able to take pain and suffering and transform them into wisdom and compassion.

Love never gives up, never holds back, never turns away. Love works patiently and gently; Love overflows itself, bubbling out; it’s joy cannot be contained.

God is Love; Love is not a choice God makes or an attribute of God, but God’s very nature, and Jesus came to show us, in his living and his dying and rising, the depth and height and breadth of this Love that chooses us, has always chosen us and will always choose us.

 

I wonder what would your version of a description of Love looks like?

Blessings,

Roxy

February 28, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 8 February 2015

Encouragement for the Journey

love hands

Greetings fellow traveller,

Many of you will be aware that alongside my ministry here at St Aidans, I am also involved with our Northern Presbytery, this requires working with congregations in various situations and the supervision of ministers.

To offer this ministry is a privilege, yet comes with responsibilities and demands upon my time and energy.

The word energy is pregnant with all manner of descriptions. I like what Diarmuid O’Murchu (priest and psychologist) says in his book Quantum Theology: ‘ Energy is the substance of life, the unrelenting wellspring of pure possibility, escalating as in a great cosmic dance.’

Describing energy in these terms, will ultimately lead us to reassess how we describe the One we name as God. For God’s divine energy, works through and embraces the whole of creation, on this spinning orb called planet earth. This divine pulse or energy of life is not outside, or detached from us, rather, is present and sustaining, embracing all of life within a relational passionate embrace of love.

Another way of looking at this is to consider the wonderful possibility that this infinite universe is being sustained by an energy, which pulsates within itself, and that same energy is within all creation.

Surely all of life is interconnected, interdependent and mutually reliant. For in some mysterious way, we all are participating in the great cosmic dance of life. The name of this dance is love. I like to imagine that love is the life energy that animates everything that exists.

Whenever we love, we allow the life energy of the universe to flow, bringing healing, compassion and hope to all we do, when we refuse to love, we create a barrier within us, and we are malnourished. For in giving and receiving of love, we too are fed and blessed. I leave you with these words from Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

‘The day will come when, after mastering the winds, the waves, and gravity, we shall harness for God the energies of love. And, on that day, for the second time in the history of the world, human kind will have discovered fire.

Meanwhile peace within the energy of love

Alf

February 28, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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Encouragement for the Journey 1 February 2015

Encouragement for the Journey

Greenstone Moebius Band

Greetings Fellow Traveller,

This week Fleur and I saw the movie: ‘The Imitation Game.’ It is the story about the British mathematician, logician, cryptanalyst and pioneering computer scientist Alan Turing, who was a key figure in cracking Nazi Germany’s naval Enigma Code which helped the allies, win the Second World War.

The film spans the key periods of Turing’s life: his unhappy teenage years at boarding school; the triumph of his secret wartime work on the Enigma codes; and the tragedy of his post – war decline following his conviction in 1952 for homosexual acts, when such behaviour was still criminalised in the UK. He accepted treatment with oestrogen injections (chemical castration) as an alternative to prison. He died in 1954 from cyanide poisoning. An inquest determined his death as suicide.

In 2009 following an Internet campaign, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown made an official public apology on behalf of the British Government for the ‘appalling way he was treated.’ In 2013 Queen Elizabeth granted him a posthumous pardon.

In 1999, Time Magazine named Turing as one of the 100 Most Important People of the 20th Century and stated: The fact remains that everyone who taps a keyboard, opens a spread sheet or a word processing program, is working on an incarnation of a Turing Machine.” That is an amazing legacy for a man that in later life suffered rejection and ridicule because of his sexuality.

I like the word Legacy, it is such a wonder – filled word, which offers us so much, and yet at times is not always appreciated in our instant, “I want it now” culture. Today, in our Kids N All service we celebrate New Zealand. I remind you that in different ways we are always experiencing in the legacy of others. In the good things and not so good things.

Transferring the concept of legacy to our Community of St Aidans, I ask you what kind of legacy do you want to leave those who will follow you? I hope it will embrace compassion, offer acceptance of difference, openness to creativity, all wrapped around with extravagant love.

That is a legacy…. What do you say?

Meanwhile Peace within our communal legacy

Alf

February 28, 2015 in Ministry Team's Blog by

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