Saturday, 25 July 2009

Much to share

John 6:1-15

Abundance has been a recurring theme for me recently. Not just enough but more than enough - and plenty to share. In the story of Jesus feeding the 5000 with 5 loaves and two fish, we see, not only people's hunger fed, but plenty more:
The disciples are challenged to come up with the goods
Not possible- the first response
followed closely by an assessment of cost
It's only some "out of the box" thinking
that sees potential in a picnic lunch
and in the possibility of sharing
The real miracle comes when the supply outstrips demand
and still there is more
When will we learn
that the God we serve
is a God of abundance
of extravagance
a God whose will
is for the same abundance
in our lives
in our communities
and in our world.
Enough to share
and more.

Saturday, 18 July 2009

For God's sake, rest

Reading: Mark 6 v 30-34; 53-56

This morning’s gospel reading came to life for me very recently in a God-incidence that occurred as I sat in a coffee shop down in Tighnabruaich, chilled out, watching the world go by, enjoying the peace and quiet of the last few days of our holiday.
Then, I saw a familiar pair of legs pass the coffee shop window.
I say familiar pair of legs because the guy was wearing shorts as he has done for many a year.
A chap many of you will know and remember – Paul Beautyman, who was a probationer here, had just walked past.
It was a catch up opportunity that I simply couldn’t let pass.
I left my table, rushed out, and dragged Paul back to the coffee shop to have a cuppa with us.
Paul is now living in Dunoon and is working as a youth development officer with presbyteries in Cowal and in Argyll and he even covers some of the islands.(nice work!)
That morning, he was just checking out another part of his enormous “patch”.
I knew Paul through summer mission work and our paths have crossed many times since so it was great to get the opportunity to just touch base again.
It wasn’t until he’d finally managed to get away that I realized what I’d done – accosted this bloke, going about his business, dragged him off course, and delayed wherever he was next headed.
Now, I really don’t think Paul minded.
And, in fact, we were able to give him some information on a young folks’ bothy place he was hoping to check out.
But, it was all done on the spur of the moment.
I didn’t stop to consider any impact or knock on effect that we might have on his plans for the rest of the day and we had all the time in the world, being on holiday.
As I read today’s gospel, that god-incidence came back to me forcefully.
One of those moments when we just go for an opportunity that is presented to us.
Often, its in moments like that that the most amazing and fruitful things happen.
I love to claim that ministry happens in the distractions, in the interruptions, if you like.
But – its easy to see how too many distractions or too many interruptions can also be counter productive.

Jesus’ disciples have just returned from “the mission” that Jesus had sent them on.
There are catching up with one another and with Jesus, filling each other in, sharing all the exciting things that had happened.
They’re all pretty tired.
They could do with some space.
But, for the crowds around them, clamouring for more of Jesus, that simply wasn’t to be.
Even getting away in a boat didn’t give them much respite.
Every time they touched shore, the crowds were there ahead of them.
There was no peace.
If you could choose this morning somewhere that you could go – just you and Jesus, for a bit of a catch up, a bit of respite – where would you go?
What would be your ideal escape?
Somewhere you can “be alone and rest awhile”?
Sand between my toes
Water lapping the shore
Gulls circling overhead
Breezes bringing the taste of salt
All sing of escape for me.
Maybe for you its that quiet corner of the garden
Where you feel hidden
Filtering out the sounds of neighbours’ chatter
And lawnmowers and hedgetrimmers going into overdrive
Or is it a room in your home
That’s your special haven of rest and refreshment
Is it a place?
Or the company of someone special
Is it you and God?
Or are others involved too?
There are probably as many places, as many rituals
As there are people here
What matters is that we have somewhere we can rest
Some oasis of retreat in the desert of life
Somewhere or somehow that allows us time to relax, time to be built up,
time to discover in our depths
the compassion that allows us to go on
to go on loving and caring and being
to go on ministering in all of life
Unless we find that place of peace within
It’s impossible to spread peace around
Only when we are refreshed
can we bring refreshment to the world around us
Jesus says: come, let us find a place where we will be alone and you can rest for a while.
And so, we rest – for the glory of God.

Sunday, 12 July 2009

Adopted for blessing

A reflection on Ephesians 1 v 3-14

Towards the end of my second pregnancy, I can recall the terror I felt when it hit me that soon I would be responsible for another tiny bundle of humanity. I simply couldn't conceive how I could possibly love two little human beings. Would my love for this new arrival somehow rob my firstborn of something that was rightfully his? I had no concept, no experience of how love can grow and be all encompassing. And still, it is something that can't be explained but is something that happens nonetheless.
In hindsight, I did know it then, even if I couldn't articulate it.
I had experienced it in the amazing love of God.
But, even if I had been able to make the connection, its unlikely that I would have believed that humans are capable of such love - or anything near it.
This passage, in Ephesians, speaks of the blessings God showers on us by adopting us, by loving us, by making us family.

not because we are deserving
but because God loves.
not because we are attractive or intelligent or even amusing
but because God delights in calling us beloved.
before time began
before the clay was dry
God decreed that we would be his children.
and me.
there's no end to God's love,
no limits
we can never be too dull
or too smart
too handsome
or too gross
in fact, there's no escape
God loves us
and calls us family.
Blessed are we.