Friday, April 30, 2010

Wednesday, April 28, 2010



At the end of May we will celebrate Pentecost. The word literally means 50 days, for it takes place 50 days after Easter, being Christ’s resurrection. With Pentecost we remember that God’s Spirit was poured out on the church. It enabled the disciples, gathered in Jerusalem, to proclaim the good news about the resurrection of the Messiah, and what it means for the world.

Does this mean that before the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God was not present? No, on the contrary, the Spirit of God has always been with us. From before the creation God’s Spirit was present. That is why we need to say, that there is no God-free zone. That is really amazing, for most of the time we go through life thinking that we have to search for God. Often it seems that he is absent. To some it appears as if God is asleep. This is quite logical for in the midst of war or an earthquake or any disaster, it seems to us that God is absent. And we ask: where is God in all of this?

Well, it may appear that he is absent, but he is not really. We may not see him, in his actions. We may not hear him in the sounds of love around us, but that does not mean that God is absent. He has always been present and he will always be around us, with us. In fact through his Spirit he dwells with us. He has made his dwelling place in our midst. There is no God-free zone anywhere!

However, this does not mean that he is always present in a manner that we recognise. We speak of the hidden presence of God. Yet, no sooner do we want to call him or speak to him or he is listening and present. And the more we walk with him and talk to him, the closer do we experience that presence and nearness of God.

That there is no God-free zone also means that God is present in many ways where perhaps at first we would not expect. God is present in music, in art, in culture. This is immediately clear when we go and visit old cathedrals, where art has been used to glorify God directly in images and colours. Yet if we reflect a little longer or harder we might also see God in the art, music and culture around us. I believe that this is a challenge we often pass over or forget. Speaking of culture, a good example is the aboriginal culture. It is possible to see and hear the presence of God in their spirituality, Dreamtime and art. We often overlook God is present in the culture of other people and their spirituality.

The blessings we receive from the Spirit are myriad. All the benefits that Christ has obtained for us, in his work, his suffering and resurrection are passed on to us via the work of the Holy Spirit. We look to the Spirit for guidance, for support in our prayers, for inspiration for our messages, for our life in the church. And the fact that the Spirit has been poured out at Pentecost, on the church, means that we have the Spirit – and therefore the presence of God – in an abundant manner. Rejoice in the celebration of Pentecost.

(Rev) John Vander Reest

Monday, April 12, 2010

Simon, son of John

Simon, son of John

Abandoning the epithet ‘Rocky,’
the irony of which would be overwhelming;
Jesus adopts the more formal
“Simon, son of John,” in addressing
his failed lieutenant. At least, that is the way
that Gospel-writer John tells his story,
apparently added as a significant afterthought
to his opus. The lakeside appearance,
as it is commonly known, takes place up north,
in Galilee, away from the drama,
the disgrace and the shame
of the great southern city. At dawn.
The day is new, the water wet and cold,
as the self-doubting disciple plunges in
to be immersed and cleansed again,
and to humbly receive the affirmation
that comes by grace, along with the call,
once more, that will be his restoration.
For the one who is baptised
there is work remaining to be done,
light that must continue to be shone;
hope waiting to be nurtured,
and love to be enacted.
“Feed my sheep.”

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Fake blood Jesus

Fake blood Jesus

Jesus died a cruel and brutal death.
We all know that. Crucifixion,
as a means of execution,
was not chosen for its humane qualities
but for its effectiveness. An innocent man
dies a painful death. He was not alone.
Like people in many countries today,
no less innocent of the crimes
of which they have been accused;
arbitrary victims of policies of oppression,
or simply to increase the reign of fear
among the populace.

In processions and shopping centres,
at this time of the year we see them;
fake red blood dripping abundantly
from earnest male bodies.
Surrounded by like-minded supporters,
they plod towards their imagined Calvary,
or excitedly ascend their particular version
of a wooden cross.
Exploiting their captive audience,
they issue their “Easter” invitation to choose
between heaven and hell.
Is this what Easter is all about?

I would abandon my faith in an instant
if I thought it were so.
If Easter means anything, it surely
declares that those who have been touched
by resurrection’s power will not rest
until the brutal causes of Jesus death;
injustice, cruelty, fear, and wilful ignorance,
have been eliminated by love.
Let resurrection’s generosity, grace and self-giving
reign, and let questions of heaven and hell
be consigned to the same heap of irrelevance
as all the fake blood.

The Resurrection,

I pray your Easter journey was a meaningful one. For me it was very strange not preparing for services for Holy week for the first time in over 25 years. This Easter i found myself listening to the classic Album by Pink Floyd "The dark side of the moon." in which i found a sort of reflection of the darkness of Good Friday (not everyone's cup of tea i know), and at Easter i shared the sunrise with friends looking out over the Bush and reading of Jesus' resurrection from Scripture, followed by fish and bread cooked over a campfire.
This poem by Denise Levertov has also informed my Easter meaning as well. It is called 'Translucence'.
Hope you find sabbath space to refresh and rest this week.
"Once I understood (till I forget, at least)
the immediacy of new life, Vita Nuova,
redemption not stuck in linear delays,
I perceived also (for now) the source
of unconscious light in faces
I believe are holy, not quite transparent,
more like the half-opaque whiteness
of Japanese screens or lampshades,
grass or petals imbedded in that paper-thin
substance which is not paper as this is paper,
and which permits the passage of what is luminous
though forms remain unseen behind its protection.
I perceived that in such faces, through
the translucence we see, the light we intuit
is of the already resurrected, each
a Lazarus, but a Lazarus (man or woman)
without the memory of tomb or of any
swaddling bands except perhaps
the comforting ones of their first
infant hours, the warm receiving-blanket…
They know of themselves nothing different
from anyone else. This great unknowing
is part of their holiness. They are always trying
to share out joy as if it were cake or water,
something ordinary, not rare at all."


Thursday, April 1, 2010

Oscar Wilde - Easter Day

THE silver trumpets rang across the Dome:
The people knelt upon the ground with awe:
And borne upon the necks of men I saw,
Like some great God, the Holy Lord of Rome.
Priest-like, he wore a robe more white than foam,
And, king-like, swathed himself in royal red,
Three crowns of gold rose high upon his head:
In splendour and in light the Pope passed home.
My heart stole back across wide wastes of years
To One who wandered by a lonely sea,
And sought in vain for any place of rest:
'Foxes have holes, and every bird its nest,
I, only I, must wander wearily,
And bruise my feet, and drink wine salt with tears.'

Oscar Wilde

The storm

Haiku of stillness After a long day telling stories, parables, Jesus needs a break. Suggests a boat trip. Let us cross the lake; ...