Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Lent Reflection 6

Luke 11: 29-32

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, "This generation is an evil generation; it seeks a sign, but no sign shall be given to it  except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the men of Nin'eveh, so will the Son of man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will arise at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them; for she came from the ends of the earth to  hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nin'eveh will arise at the judgment with this generation and condemn it; for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

What would Jesus say to our generation? A generation which desires worldly wealth, whilst others go hungry. A generation quick to comment on the misdeeds of others, without looking at ones own sinfulness. A generation which fights wars based on power and greed, which kill innocents.

Is this generation really that different from the one which Jesus is addressing? God is in our midst and we are so caught up in the world that we miss Him.

So this is Lent, recognising our sinfulness, drawing nearer to God with open hearts, and through any means available proclaiming the Kingdom in an unjust world.

God, the Holy Mystery,
Help me to stop trying to manage you, and rather leave myself open to your direction. May I, albeit reluctantly at times, let you direct my life this Lent and forever. Amen.

Tuesday, 28 February 2012

Lent Reflection 5

Imagine the scene: A small child is playing hide and seek with their parent, the child hides (probably not very successfully) and the parent goes to find them.

The parent feigns surprise "Where could s/he be?" this last for as long as the child can manage until the suspense is unbearable for the child in question (a couple of minutes max). Then the child bursts from the hiding place and calls "Here I am" with pure joy at both the game and being found.

The child is open, desperate to be found, desperate to fix the separation which has occurred through the natural course of the game. I'm here, I'm available to play again/have a cuddle/enjoy your company is implicit in that 3 word response. So simple yet so powerful.
1 Samuel 3:4 Then the LORD called Samuel. Samuel answered, "Here I am."

Lord God, teach me to be open of heart and mind and spirit. Give me the courage to respond "Here I am" when you call. Amen.

Lent Reflection 4

For with you is the fountain of life; in your light we see light. Psalm 38:9

Yesterday I was talking with someone whose relative had experienced a great loss and pain, they were expressing their annoyance with another family member's way of offering comfort to the person concerned.
"You are in a dark place, but you will get through it."
My acquaintance was annoyed by this suggestion, as she saw it, that God was far away and retorted:

"She is not in a dark place, she has always been a child of the light, she still is even in her grief and pain!"

I was quite taken by this, and I think I agreed that even in loss, pain, grief and hardship, the light of Christ has still been there for me. I may have been angry, I may not have been able to recognise and respond to it but God's love grace and light has always been there.

Interestingly in the situation described above the sad, grieving, anguished person's responses to this were not reported to me.

Christ be our light, shining in the darkness which can never overcome it. Amen

Saturday, 25 February 2012

Lent Reflection 3

Luke 5:27-32

After this he went out and saw a tax collector named Levi, sitting at the tax booth; and he said to him, "Follow me." And he got up, left everything, and followed him. Then Levi gave a great banquet for him in his house; and there was a large crowd of tax collectors and others sitting at the table with them. The Pharisees and their scribes were complaining to his disciples, saying, "Why do you eat and drink with tax collectors and sinners?" Jesus answered, "Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I have come to call not the righteous but sinners to repentance."

Ever had the feeling you are not good enough? I certainly have!

What's good? How do we qualify that?

Society certainly wouldn't have classed Levi as good, or his friends at the banquet. Jesus, on the other hand, saw them all as worthy of his attention.

So Jesus requires our openness to connect with Him, our willingness to listen to Him, and our honest desire for forgiveness from the things that separate us from Him.

What's wonderful for me is that God; Father, Son and Spirit doesn't require "good" in the sense that human society views it. As all the secrets of our hearts are known to Him alone, simply being good on the outside is a shallow and insufficient response to His inestimable grace.

Lord Jesus, help me by your grace to be forever open of mind and heart and open to and for you.

Friday, 24 February 2012

Lent Reflection 2

There are very few people who realise what God would make of them if they abandoned themselves into his hands,
and let themselves be formed by his grace. (Saint Ignatius)

My Lenten reflection today has centred on this quotation from St. Ignatius.

It's wonderful, abandoning all to God, terrifying and makes a person vulnerable, but wonderful.

As Michael Leunig the Australian poet wrote:

"Let it go. Let it out.
Let it all unravel.
Let it free and it can be
A path on which to travel."

I pray for grace, this Lent and always to abandon self and allow myself to be formed by God.

Thursday, 23 February 2012

Lent Reflection 1

I plan to blog my bible reading daily during Lent. Blogging particularly on the line in each passage which speaks most clearly to me.

I'm hoping this will help focus my thoughts and prayers on the word and instil a sense of discipline in my study of the Holy Scripture - well one can but hope ;-)

Today Luke 9: 25

This is the verse that spoke most to me this morning. The verse I came back to, used for further meditation, and used as memory verse today.

Jesus uses language that the disciples are familiar with. He uses language of the time; that of traders. "Gain" "castaway" will have been used in the context of trading. It is therefore probably unsurprising that this verse speaks easily to me as a child of the 21st century. Jesus is as accessible to me as he was to the disciples and I have the double benefit of hindsight, and many brilliant Biblical scholars to fall back on.

On social media recently, I have seen some friends and acquaintances bemoaning their financial situation. They, like many others myself included are feeling the pinch of this government's financial decisions. All are on a low income or no income, existing on benefits, most are young adults. They feel cheated by the government, they feel their future financial situation is in jeopardy, they fear for their future. They're watching the rich getting richer and the poor getting poorer.

This Sunday, the first in Lent, Rupert Murdoch returns with Sun on Sunday, it appears to my cynical mind at least that those with money and influence can buy their way out of trouble. I can only pray that it doesn't sell, that the piles of the Sun on Sunday remain stacked on the shelves, and the general public makes a conscious effort to avoid supporting this venture.

These two not unconnected present day situations are what has been brought to my mind from that verse in Luke chapter 9.

I can imagine the conversation:

Rupert Murdoch: "Oh goodie, I have a new Sunday paper, just another branch of my global empire."
Jesus: "What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, and yet lose or forfeit their very self?"

This is not the end of the post, this verse issues a challenge. Not just for the big business of this world but to us all. Keep a handle on that love of worldly possessions, that greed, that self interest Siobhan. Do you need those shoes? That book? That CD?

Saturday, 4 February 2012

Abstinence, got me thinking...

I have just had a course of antibiotics for an abscessed tooth, and as a result I have abstained from alcohol all week.

This got me thinking...why not ditch alcohol in Lent? OK, I thought, sounds straightforward.

A friend from a few years ago used to give up alcohol every year, but didn't abstain on Sundays. This sounded even better! Sundays are busy in this house, and they are also the evening before my husband's day off. A glass of wine/beer/gin/whiskey is very much appreciated on a Sunday evening.

So I started to think about the Lenten fast a little deeper. Why are Sundays ok? Is it just an easy get out clause for me? Will I not be fasting 'properly' if I have a cheeky Rioja on Sunday nights?

I have decided that for me, the answer to all of these questions (except the first obviously) is no.

These are the reasons for my decision:

1) When I attend a Eucharistic Celebration, Christ is present. When the bridegroom is present the guests do not fast. Mark 2:19-20 "How can the guests of the bridegroom fast while he is with them? They cannot so long as they have him with them. But the time will come when the Bridegroom will be taken from them, and on that day they will fast."

2) Each Eucharist is for me a celebration of Jesus' resurrection. We proclaim "Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again". Therefore each celebration, although muted in Lent, is a mini celebration of the Resurrection, a mini Easter so to speak.

3) I will not be abstaining from receiving the consecrated chalice, I receive Christ's blood and as such participate in His once for all sacrifice.

4) As Canon law dictates that communion wine is to be alcoholic. I shall already have (very technically) broken my fast on a Sunday morning. I realise this is the weakest part of my argument as my aforementioned cheeky Rioja is rather different to consecrated communion wine.

They are my reasons, only mine you understand. Your interpretation of the fast must, most importantly be yours, and is like mine, answerable only to God.