a special love …

20429624_10154784638772543_5760356242749648249_nYesterday was a special day.
I day when I saw these two beautiful people commit their lives to each other.
It was a very special moment and I don’t think I have been to a wedding ever before where there were tears, good tears, from every speech.
I think looking around the tables many others had tears of joy as well.
As ‘Uncle Rob’ I feel an incredible sense of pride to have been able to see how my eldest neice has grown in to the amazing woman that she is.
I have no right, have done nothing to deserve that feeling, but feel it just the same.

I do not really know Esgrid but his devotion to his new wife, and his sense of loyalty and love to his new family was very obvious. It was, again, something quite special to see and experience.

It’s clear these two have something special.
Something very special that is to be cherished and nurtured.
Rachel and Esgrid …. I pray that God continues to bless you both, to reassure you both, and that you will always be conscious of God walking and encouraging and loving and accepting you both.

We were asked to write blessings or comments and place them in that lovely red letterbox. I had something but failed to bring it with me … so I include this blessing here from John O’Donohue’s Book of Blessings

As spring unfolds the dream of the earth,
May you bring each other’s hearts to birth.

As the ocean finds calm in view of land,
May you love the gaze of each other’s mind.

As the wind arises free and wild,
May nothing negative control your lives.

As kindly as moonlight might search the dark,
So gentle may you be when light grows scarce.

As surprised as the silence that music opens,
May your words for each other be touched with reverence.

As warmly as the air draws in the light,
May you welcome each other’s every gift.

As elegant as dream absorbing the night,
May sleep find you clear of anger and hurt.

As twilight harvests all the day’s colour,
May love bring you home to each other.

Bless you both
Uncle R

ash love

Just LoveLent for me this year started in my favourite school with some of my favourite people to work with, on the day of the week which if often one of the highlights, or favourites, of my week. I never wake up on a Wednesday and feel I don’t want to get out of the house … I can’t say that for everyday, but I guess who can!

For me, starting Lent in the real world, with real people who don’t necessarily do the God thing felt to be incredibly right and correct. I don’t use the ‘love’ word lightly because I firmly believe it describes an incredibly strong emotion. I also feel the word ‘love’ is overused and so has become devalued. It seems to me that if a person says that they ‘love’ everything then in reality they ‘love’ nothing. But … I love Wednesdays, and have done for the last year … as I get to hang out with some pretty incredible people.

Along with some people from the gathering I am following the Just Love Lent book from Church Urban Fund. I have committed to trying to write something with the gathering once a week using this book as  basis. This is this weeks posts and will appear on the gathering facebook page as well.

I have been challenged by some of what I have read in this weeks chapter. The first theme is ‘spiritual and embodied love’.

The book makes some pretty bold and challenging statements:

when we love we do not simply imitate God. We participate in God’s very life.

Our daily actions will form us more and more into‘ (actually the book says ‘should’ but I am not sure I hold with the should statement. I’m not sure I follow a Christ who ever tells me what I ‘Should’ do … instead I follow a Christ who loves me and marvels at what I do in response to that love – which is pretty amazing in itself as I do little! 

I love the concept, but am having a challenge getting my head around that first quote. When we love, say the writers,  … we don’t just follow God’s example, but we actually become part of God. Jesus showed us how to love, and he leaves a manifesto in Matthew 5. When we join in this kind of love, it is then that we join in God’s own life. 

The chapter ends with a challenging question… ‘how do we embody God’s love faithfully and generously?’

So … how do we …. comments?

love is just … err love!

love-inspirational-dailyThere seems to be a recurring theme of sadness over discrimination and treatment of people coming through my thoughts and writings at the moment. I have been aware for some time that one of the things that really does ignite my personal anger is seeing someone treated unjustly, unfairly and simply not being treated with respect.

This upsets me because one of the core theological beliefs that fires me is that we are ALL made in the image of God. While this does not mean we are divine in any way, it does mean we are unique in our relationship with God and it means we are all worthy of respect and love. Not only all of us individually, but all of us personally! If this is true then we cannot choose who to respect or treat fairly based on our opinions of colour, gender, sexuality, or any other personal features. If we are all created in the image of God, then we are all created in the image of God and  all of every person is created in the Image of God.

Yet … a lot of church discussions at the moment seem to be focussed on doctrine and behaviour, rather than this simple mutuality of being created in God’s image.

One thing in particular that has saddened me this week is the ‘pastoral’ letter from the House of Bishops. I was encouraged by Bishop Alan’s response here…. who quotes Sister Simone Campbell ‘following the gospel mens be not afraid, welcome everyone, hug them, welcome them close and live and love’. While that encourages me …. the blog of Rachel simply makes me weep … the reality of this situation is simply not good news.

Why is it so difficult to accept that love is love, and that, actually, none of us, whatever our sexuality, has ever had any choice about who we fall in love with! 

If it doesn’t look like Jesus, it’s not God!

everyone has a story …

victoryI simply love Jamie the Very Worst Missionary‘s blog. I have followed Jamie’s blog for a few years. Sometimes she makes me stand up and shout ‘yes’, other times I come away thinking that I resonate with her feelings of frustration with Christians, and others I laugh at her courage and honesty.  Jamie has a real gritty knack of just saying how it is. The reality of mission that she writes about encourages me.

The other day this post, victory, moved me. It’s produced by Jamie’s church and is well worth watching. In this video Danielle tells hers tory. It’s powerful … especially when she hears from God, via the eyes of a deer, that he is sick of not having her, and that, essentially, he wants her back.

This is Danielle’s story … what’s yours?

a blessing …

urlI guess I find myself pretty frustrated that the church sometimes not only moves slowly, but seems to move insensitively. In this case I refer to the blessing of gay marriages, which to me seems to be a no-brainer! Surely, we can bless people in loving caring relationships, no matter what our view may be. After all, we bless gates, cushions and (when I was at the cathedral) lumps of stone …. I even bless rosaries in the prison when asked …. so why not people in love?

Bishop Alan blogs well on most things and his comments speak well:

‘If the Church wants to provide compassion, it can stop talking about gay people and start talking with them. It can demonstrate the genuinness of its care by ceasing to belittle and patronise them and start taking them seriously. If it wants to pray with them, this institution which cheerfully blesses nuclear submarines, hamsters and buckets of cement can start blessing their often stunning relationships.’

you can read the whole article here.

MInistry of presence

DSC_0088My friend Trevor pointed me to this article yesterday. It pretty much sums up what I am about. The article is all about meeting people where they are at in third spaces witht he aim solely of building friendship..  … there is one comment, though, in particular that I think is not strong enough and it comes towards the end of the article:

‘If we take this risk of connecting with folks, and our primary expectation and goal is filling pews on Sunday, you may want to re-think the project you are considering.’

I don’t believe there is any ‘may’ about it …. to have such an expectation and motivation would be a clear abuse and manipulation. The quote from Nouwen, one of my spiritual heroes, is a quote I love, aspire to be able to adopt and, of course, massive challenge:

‘But I wonder more and more if the first thing shouldn’t be to know people by name, to eat and drink with them, to listen to their stories and tell your own, and to let them know with words, handshakes, and hugs that you do not simply like them, but truly love them’.

Time to go … be present …and to love … presence has become key, but proving to be so elusive! As we approach Holy Week, I am coming to a greater realisation that presence may be the only thing we have.

God’s law

A heard a kind of joke the other day, which isn’t really a joke, but I liked it and used it to start my sermon last week. I don’t usually do the joke thing at the start of the sermon (no need when most of your sermon is a joke anyway!) but last Sunday I did.

It went something like this:

It involves a group of rabbis. They like to challenge each other. They have various challenges suitable for rabbis. In particular they like to challenge rabbi Gabriel. Gabriel knows too much! Gabriel always has something to say. Gabriel is the one everyone wants to out do. So they call Gabriel over …. ‘our challenge to you is to stand on one leg and recite the whole of God’s law. Gabriel ponders …. and they think they have him …. ‘at last something he will fail at they think’! ….
‘too hard a challenge?’ they ask?
‘Ok’, says Gabriel, and moves into the centre of the circle. He stands on one leg and starts,
‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your mind and with all your soul.
Love your neighbour and yourself.’
He stops hopping, places both feet on the ground, smiles and says ‘the rest is narrative!

There are lots of arguments flying around ‘church’ at the moment ….. and some people involved in those arguments seem to have lost sight of the core of ‘the law’.

The core is love, and if the core is love we are called to love, and if we love then how can we exclude?

God’s law is love.

Discuss …..