Wednesday, February 22, 2017

a transfiguration Prayer for others

·       FOR OTHERS
Stir up in us, Loving God, the desire and the determination to glorify you in every prayer and in all our relationships. Transfigure not only our own lives but also the lives and affairs of the millions with whom we share this planet.
 Transfigure each ordinary church-goer.
     Dispel discouragement and self-doubt, self-righteousness and arrogance.
 Transfigure the women and men who preach the Gospel. 
     Enlarge their understanding and expand their capacity to love.
 Transfigure the hopes of the down-trodden and dispossessed.
     Give a new compassion to the strong and the prosperous.
 Transfigure the expectations of the young.
     Disperse the vainglory and indulgence with which this society indoctrinates them.
 Transfigure the values and goals of political leaders.
     Inspire them to act justly, love mercy, and to walk humbly with you.
 Transfigure the anguish of those who tremble or weep, suffer or die today.
     Let the valley of sorrows become an avenue of hope to your children.
 Through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Bruce Prewer


“[I believe] there is nothing more needed by humanity today …
than the recovery of a sense of “beyond-ness”
in the whole of life to revive the springs of wonder and adoration.”  John. V Taylor

Building the monument

The disciples who were with Jesus made a little error. The gospel writer even says so. Peter, James and John all wanted to be able to concretize and define their experience. They could not sit with the mystery and the unexplained nature of it. Their response was to erect booths or tents so that it the experience could be contained and to some extent understood.  I guess they also felt that the buildings could help convey their experience. But in some ways what they were trying to do was to limit God, to define God in their terms and in their own space and they were doing so for very real human reasons.

           This is just what we do whenever something of importance happens, we tend to want to put up a monument, partly in order to honor the people, partly to aid our memory of the incident, but also in order to make it confinable and explainable. It has been argued that the Church is nothing more than a historical monument to God. Not something vibrant and alive, but rather something more to do with memory and our inability to cope with the freedom of God and so we make a structure in the hope of being able to contain God. 
"Then alone do we know God truly, when we believe that God is far beyond all that we can possibly think of God.” (Thomas Aquinus)

Monday, February 20, 2017

His face shone like the sun

Haiku of fear and bewilderment

A small, select group
go hiking up a mountain
to admire the view.

A vision of light.
His face, it burns like the sun,
his clothes dazzle white.

Jesus shines, commands
his friends' attention; as if
words were not enough.

Jesus greets Moses
and Elijah, consulting
with history

The cloud of bright light
descends and immerses them
into mystery.

The cloud finds its voice:
This is my beloved son;
what he says is true.

The disciples quake,
with bewilderment and fear.
They fall to the ground.

They are left alone.
Jesus comes to them and speaks:
Do not be afraid.

Making their descent,
he instructs them: Tell no-one
'til death is conquered.

© Ken Rookes 2017

Friday, February 17, 2017

loving the Trump

I wonder if we truly realize the radical nature of this particular section of Gospel. We are 'commanded' to love our enemies and pray for those that hate us, and yet we live in a world that preaches and practices the very opposite. And before we get 'holier than the other bloke' then remember that we are called to love that which we cannot understand; that with which we cannot agree and even those we see hurting others by their words and actions. In other words we are called to love that which we see as 'evil', not just misguided.
So, yes, we are called to love 'the Donald'. What does that mean? Well firstly we pray for him. And secondly we do not let hate carry us away in its grip. We do the radical thing and find 'love' for him. The challenge is to balance the prophet in our faith (that which calls for justice for the marginalised and for a better world) with the call to pray for our enemies. We do not live by an 'eye for an eye' but rather use the Divine creative imagination to pray a new way into being. Jesus was talking about breaking the cycle of hatred and he knew (and practiced) that it is not broken by more hate but only by love. My guess is that what Jesus is saying in this gospel is that, if we allow ourselves to be ruled by hate and competition, then we are not living the Divine way ourselves.
This is not an easy thing to do when we are surrounded by anxiety and disillusionment and 'bad' news, but Jesus' guidance here is that we do not change the despot by hate, but only corrupt ourselves. Am i up to it???? I am still working on it i think.
And also, on reflection, perhaps what Jesus gives here is not so much a commandment as a guide to living a rich and blessed life.
Rev Gordon Bannon

no assurance, just a command.

"Jesus is far more realistic than we give him credit. The only certainty in Jesus’ command is that we will have enemies.  There’s no reassurance that our love will transform them, improve our earthly status, or end wars. We are simply told to love and pray for adversaries so that we “…may be children of (our) heavenly Father.”

Even if we interpret the preceding verses (5:38-42) as social historians of the Mediterranean world suggest (i.e. reframing insults and oppression in ways that assert our human dignity), the path of nonresistant love is rarely painless. It is, in point of fact, often lethal. Remember that Jesus is raised in triumph after we tortured and killed him.
But what’s realistic about a command like, “ Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect?”  (It’s no wonder many prefer Luke’s rendering (6:36): “Be merciful just as your Father is merciful.”)"

The mystery of God

"The "real target" of the ancient prohibitions against idolatry was religion itself: "And not just the kind that got people dancing around a golden calf.  It was warning us that no religious system could capture or contain the mystery of God.  Yet in history, that's exactly what many of them would go on to claim.  The Second Commandment was an early warning that the organizations that claimed to speak for God would become God's greatest rivals, the most dangerous idol of them all."
The commandment about idolatry would save us from our besetting sin of presumption: "You shall not misuse the name of the Lord." 
...The third commandment about the name of God warns us not only about our casual presumptions. It reminds us of the limits of human language when we speak about the Wholly Other God. CS Lewis captures the practical implications of this in his Footnote to All Prayers.
He whom I bow to only knows to whom I bow
When I attempt the ineffable Name, murmuring Thou,
And dream of Pheidian fancies and embrace in heart
Symbols (I know) which cannot be the thing Thou art.
Thus always, taken at their word, all prayers blaspheme
Worshiping with frail images a folk-lore dream,
And all men in their praying, self-deceived, address
The coinage of their own unquiet thoughts, unless
Thou in magnetic mercy to Thyself divert
Our arrows, aimed unskillfully, beyond desert;
And all men are idolaters, crying unheard
To a deaf idol, if Thou take them at their word.
Take not, O Lord, our literal sense. Lord, in thy great
Unbroken speech our limping metaphor translate."