Tuesday, May 25, 2010

The cloud of unknowing

I have often found this concept of God as the 'cloud of unknowing' to be liberating and allowing for the mystery that is the trinity.
"Now you say, "How shall I proceed to think of God as he is in himself?" To this I can only reply, "I do not know."
With this question you bring me into the very darkness and cloud of unknowing that I want you to enter. A man may know completely and ponder thoroughly every created thing and its works, yes, and God’s works, too, but not God himself. Thought cannot comprehend God. And so, I prefer to abandon all I can know, choosing rather to love him whom I cannot know. Though we cannot know him we can love him. By love he may be touched and embraced, never by thought. Of course, we do well at times to ponder God’s majesty or kindness for the insight these meditations may bring. But in the real contemplative work you must set all this aside and cover it over with a cloud of forgetting. Then let your loving desire, gracious and devout, step bravely and joyfully beyond it and reach out to pierce the darkness above."

-The Cloud of Unknowing 14th century trans. William Johnston

3 is not enough; Jewish reflections on the Trinity

"Jewish rationalist hesitations notwithstanding, the question remains: If God's being is plural, why only Father, Son, and Holy Spirit? Why not Ineffability, Knowability, Intuition, Grace, Judgment, Compassion, Eternity, Awe, Fecundity, and Providence -- all of which are equally integral to the divine whole? If we, who are complex beyond three, are created in God's Image, God must be complex beyond three. ....

Each of us is many, and yet one. Each of us relates in many ways, and yet is somehow consistent in who she or he is. When we lose our oneness, we have multiple personality disorder and, when we lose our multipleness, we are too rigid to be fully in the world. God, too, according to the texts and according to our commonsense experience of the divine, is many and yet one. God, too, relates in many ways and is somehow consistent in who God is.[28] In a universe in which we are created in God's Image, it cannot be otherwise. In a creation in which the Creator is present in Personhood, the most powerful and insightful understanding of personhood is the best theology."
from - http://www.js.emory.edu/BLUMENTHAL/Trinity.html

Friday, May 21, 2010

Psalm 29 (A fresh translation – for Trinity Sunday)

Give glory and honour and power and authority
to the name of the LORD,
all you children of God!
Worship the LORD in holy awe;
bow down in the overwhelming presence
of our God.

Listen to the presence of the LORD over the waters;
hear the majesty of the name of the LORD;
its power and authority
above the roar of the flood.

Cedar panels in the Temple
splinter at the voice of the LORD,
lightning flashes rip open the sky;
animals give birth before their time,
and the earth trembles.

A shout of "Glory!" rises to the LORD,
enthroned in splendour,
the LORD gives protection
and blessing and life for ever.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

Gift of the one God,
in love unending
to dwell within us,
our lives befriending.
Spirit of Mercy,
Spirit of Justice:
Pentecost turmoil,
move us to love.

Spirit Protector,
the meek defending,
and bringing new Life
oppression ending.
Spirit of Promise,
Spirit of Freedom:
Pentecost tumult,
friend of the poor.

Spirit Companion
ever attending,
building God's people:
Glory extending.
Spirit of Wisdom,
Spirit of Healing:
Pentecost whirlwind,
blow through our world.
(c) Jeff Shrowder, 1989. Updated 20/5/2010
(Suggested Tune: HALAD - TIS 465/AHB 399)

The gospel of John according to Rowan Atkinson

Another Pentecost post

"We remember that your church
was born in wind and fire,
not to sweep us heavenward
like a presumptuous tower,
but to guide us down
the dusty roads of this world
so that we may lift up the downcast,
heal the broken,
reconcile what is lost,
and bring peace amidst unrest."

Garth House
The image is pentecost by Alexander Sadoyan

a pentecost post

"O wind that sways
no branches,
fire that does not burn,
unimaginable light
that does not blind,
fountain of life
that has no end,
infinite river of joy,
flawless mirror
of God's power,
kind laughing agent
of God's mirth,
gentle consolation
of God's mercy,
O Holy Spirit of God,
abide with your people;
come to us now."

Garth House - Litanies for all occasions

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

It shall love and create ...

But if Jesus is saying that the whole story of the Bible and the whole history of the world is summed up in himself, that is, by contrast, a statement about meaning. It is a statement that enables us to see the story of the Bible and the history of the world in a whole new light. It tells us that when we immerse ourselves in the story of Jesus Christ we are immersing ourselves in the story of life itself. When we look at this life which was lived in passionate commitment to liberating the godlikeness in all people, to breaking the grip of injustice and hostility, and to writing love into the very fabric of the universe, we are looking at the quest of every life, at the yearning deep within the heart of every one of us. When we look at the suffering and apparent defeat of his death, we are looking at the story of what the callous and corrupt powers of this world inflict on everything that embodies true goodness and love. When we look at his resurrection from the dead we are looking at the only possible reason why love and mercy and hope have not been utterly extinguished — the fact that death cannot entomb them, that God’s power to keep raising them up again is stronger than even the formidable forces of bitterness and destruction.

And what we are also seeing in this is yet another layer of the great picture of reconciliation that we’ve been seeing articulated in the Revelation. This great reconciliation, this marriage of heaven and earth is seen in Christ himself, for in him we see the story of God becoming one with the story of the world. Our story becomes his story and his story becomes our story. As Michael Leunig put it, “That which is Christ-like within us shall be crucified. It shall suffer and be broken. And that which is Christ-like within us shall rise up. It shall love and create.”
From the "Laughing bird" website by Nathan Nettleton

The Revelation of St John - McKendree Robbins Long

Thursday, May 6, 2010

A prayer for families

Interfaith Prayer
Festival of the Family
May 12-14, 2000

God of all Living and Loving:
How pleasant it is when women, men, and children live together in unity!
How noble is your creation and the world that you have made!
How blessed we are to receive the gifts of life and love!

We are thankful for families,
where scattered piles of stuff testify that we live fully in the moment;
where the noise of laughter and the silence of sadness are freely shared;

We are thankful for families,
where we find sanctuary from danger and judgment;
where words of love and openness are the rule of life.

We are thankful for families,
where our differences are the spices of life;
where our unity is something that we can always take for granted.

We grieve for families,
where violence and rejection are living realities;
where hearts are broken, and dreams are shattered.

We grieve for families,
where walls of protection become fortresses of isolation,
where language is a weapon of destruction and hate.

Help us to understand,
those families whose identities are different from ours;
the ways of loving, parenting, partnering and working together for

Help us to dare,
to stand strongly against hate and divisiveness;
to encounter our differences with love and respect.

This we believe:
that love is stronger than hate;
that hope is stronger than despair,
and that good is stronger than evil.
In the name of the One who is Loving and Living, Amen

Found on the net at http://www.homiliesbyemail.com/Special/Mothers/motherresources.html

A mother's day prayer

author unknown
adapted by Dan Bottorff
Prayer for the Day 5-9-99
First United Methodist Church of Westfield

This blessing is for all the mothers who have sat up all night
with sick toddlers saying, "It's OK honey, Mommy's here."

This blessing is for the mothers who gave birth to babies they may
never see. And the mothers who took those babies-- forever to be
their own children.

This blessing is for all the mothers who attended ball games,
recitals, rehearsals, etc. etc. and who said, "I wouldn't have
missed it for the world," and meant it.

This blessing is for all the mothers of Kosovo who fled in the
night and can't find their children or can’t feed their children.

Creator God, what makes a good mother anyway? Is it patience?
Firmness? A soft lap?

Or is mothering what is in her heart?

Is it the ache she feels when she watches her child disappear down
the street, walking to school alone for the very first time?

The jolt that takes her from sleep to dread, from bed to crib at 2
a.m. to put her hand on the back of a sleeping baby?

The need to flee from wherever she is and hug her child when she
hears news of a school shooting, a fire, a car accident, a baby dying?

Yes it is so.

So this blessing is for all the mothers who sat down with their
children and explained all about making babies. And for all the
mothers who wanted to but just couldn't.

This blessing is for all the mothers who yell at their kids in
the grocery store with frustration and despair.

This blessing is for the mothers who show up at work with milk
stains on their blouses and diapers in their purse.

This blessing is for all the mothers who teach their sons to cook
and their daughters to speak up with pride.

This blessing is for mothers who put pinwheels, teddy bears, or
flowers on their children's graves.

This blessing is for mothers whose children have gone astray, who
haven’t the words to reach them, and yet have never put them from
their heart.

This blessing is for new mothers stumbling through diaper
changes and sleep deprivation. And mature mothers learning to let
go. For working mothers and stay-at-home mothers. Single mothers
and married mothers.

And this blessing is for all of us who will move beyond
sentiment into actions which support mothers and mothering persons
in all of their life-giving and life-nurturing roles. Amen

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Those who love me will keep my word

Before everything else he was a teacher,
bearing a word that came
from somewhere unexpected;
where the divine light is piercing and bright
and causes good people to blink
and to avert their eyes.
The word sparked disturbingly,
wildly illuminating the polite mores
of an increasingly rude world,
whose own most treasured words
had grown ugly and self-centred.
In the hands of the Teacher the word
glowed true and confident, and his friends,
in time, did learn to look upon it.
But now that the Teacher has left them
their only thought is to find for it
a worthy and acceptable repository.
They manage to procure a suitable plinth,
where they install securely the wondrous word
and draw curtains of safety around it.
Then, plating him with silver,
they proceed to burnish the teacher’s memory,
pledging their undying devotion,
and honouring him as their Lord;
making sure, as they do so,
that the safety curtains remain reliably in place.

Monday, May 3, 2010


John 5:1-9

They say that when the angel
messenger from God
disturbs the water in the pool,
the healing comes.
The odds are long for a cripple;
for nearly forty years I waited,
coming daily more from habit than hope.
Flawed comrades, we sprawled,
stiff-limbed, twisted.
We swapped yarns; pushing time
around our plates like an double serving
of an unwelcome vegetable.
We waited for a swirl or ripple;
the word to start the race.
Salvation: the prize for the fortunate few
who make the splash
ahead of their companions.

In many despairing interludes
I would ponder the cruel lottery
that God plays with the wretched.
The pool was a long shot,
but we knew no other game;
my place was among the desperate,
waiting my turn to throw the dice.
Struggling alone, I sometimes got wet,
but never healed.

On that Sabbath day,
when the Galilean showed up,
asking his questions
and breaking the rules,
he troubled more than a pool of water.
There he was, offering odds
to cheer the heart of any mug punter.
I looked up, hardly daring to believe,
did my sums, knew I couldn’t lose;
and walked.

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; ...