Saturday, April 07, 2012

Easter Sermon: Through a Mother's eyes



Have you heard, my son he’s alive.

I just can’t believe it, it was only a couple of days ago that I stood there watching my son die, it was the worst week of my life. Watching these people say such horrible things and then choosing to save Barabbas a murderer and then crucify him. Standing there hearing them yell Crucify! Crucify! Those words filled the air and my mind, I can still hear them now, and then they made him drag his cross through the streets before they killed him.

I don’t care that he is our Saviour, or Messiah he is my son, and they killed him! No - one should ever have to watch that, no-one should ever have to watch their son be crucified, but I did.

John has given me such strength and support during it all and he was with me when Jesus died and has taken care of me. I haven’t wanted to see and talk to anyone. I have just been sitting numb, unable to believe that my boy’s dead. Mary and others have been visiting his tomb and taking spices and caring for his body, but I just couldn’t…. I couldn’t.
Where was his miracle? Why could he raise others but not stop himself from dying.

Then yesterday when Mary went to the tomb he was gone, there was no body, just the strips of cloth, and came running back saying “They have taken my Lord, and I don’t know where they have put him.”  She grabbed John and Simon and raced back to the tomb. WHAT, the tomb was empty! I got so angry, hadn’t they done enough, now they had to steal his body as well! 

But John came back and told me he hadn't been stolen he was alive!
Mary spoke to the others explaining what had happened. At first she just sat crying then 2 angels spoke with her and then Jesus spoke to her. She thought he was the gardener, but it wasn’t it was Jesus, my boy and he’s alive.
Where’s the miracle? Here is the miracle, he did die, but he didn’t stay there, he’s alive!

I am still trying to believe it, I do …. almost, Thomas is having trouble believing it is Jesus and I can understand why, we were devastated when he was killed.

I shouldn’t be surprised; he hasn’t been what you would call and ordinary son.  Although it hasn’t been easy, I have known deep in my heart that he was special from the very beginning, when the angels visited me and told me I would give birth to the Son of God, and even as a young child he was always most comfortable in the temple.

I remember when we lost him. He was 12 and we were visiting the temple as we did every year for the Feast of Passover, travelling with our family. When it was time to leave we just assumed that Jesus was with his cousins, they were always mucking around, but when we settled down on the first evening we realized he wasn’t there. Oh the panic, we hurried back to Jerusalem, with some of our relatives to look for him, 3 days we searched, I have never felt so afraid!
We finally found him in the temple; Joseph and I were so relieved to have found him. Jesus didn’t seem to understand what the issue was, and had no understanding of the anxiety or concern that he had caused or why we wouldn’t have looked in the temple first.  Asking us why we didn’t know he would be in his father’s house. Joseph didn’t understand what he was talking about and I was so overwhelmed by finding him that I didn’t think too much about it at the time, but as he said where else would he be.

While it was sometimes difficult for Joseph to understand, I just kept praying, asking God to give me the grace, wisdom and strength to do what was asked of me.

As Jesus said where else would he be, he was always a special boy, who knew in his heart that there was more to come. That his life was one with a purpose and meaning, he knew he had 2 fathers, Joseph and his heavenly father and he tried to be faithful to both, but it was hard.

There were days where it all became too much and I asked God, “Why me?” So often I wondered how it was that we were meant to raise the Son of God.

I always knew he was special, but that didn’t make it any easier to watch as he grew and developed into the Messiah that I knew him to be. He was often reluctant for people to know who he was; it was only at my insistence that he even performed his first miracle.

It was after this that we went to Capernaum, and then onto Jerusalem, just as we did every year for Passover. But this time it was different, things had changed. Instead of being inside with the teachers, Jesus was outside his father’s house. He was so angry, they had turned the temple, his father’s house, into a market place. He said that if they destroyed the temple that he would rebuild it in 3 days. It’s only now looking back that we have realised he wasn’t talking about the temple, he was talking about himself. We may not have known this was to come but he did.

My heart breaks to think of my boy carrying such knowledge alone. He knew, he always knew who he was and what he was called to do.

When he was rejected by the people he had grown up with in Nazareth, he knew. When we doubted he knew. When the teachers and leaders that he had sat with as young boy in the temple turned on him, he knew.

He knew who he was and what he was here to do, I knew he was the Messiah but I had no idea it would lead to this, to the week we have had. He started life as a miracle and continues to show what a miracle he is. He is our Lord, he is the Christ, he is the one we have all grown up hearing about. He is the one that has been sent to save us. He knew this; he chose to go through the horrible pain and suffering for us. He chose to die for us.

I have always known he was special, I have always known he was a miracle and now everyone else knows what a miracle he is and knows that he is the Saviour of the world and that he is Lord.

Where is the miracle? He is the miracle. He is our Saviour and Lord and he went through all that pain and suffering for us, so we wouldn’t have to. I always knew he was special, but something tells me this is just the beginning, as the Angel Gabriel said “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Lord most high and he will reign over the house of Jacob forever, his kingdom will never end.” 


Sunday, March 25, 2012

God, the ultimate Upcycler


Jeremiah 31:31-33
John 12:20 -33

There seems to be a resurgence in the practice of Upcycling, this isn’t just a new term for recycling, it is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value, whereas recycling is simply rubbish with purpose.

So whereas recycling requires an item to be destroyed and then reformed into another item, upcycling still retains something of the original in the new item.
 
Whilst the term “upcycling” may be new to some the theory certainly isn’t. The Make Do and Mend campaign during the war is a prime example of this.

There are four steps involved in Upcycling that you need to be aware of when embarking on such a process. You need:

1.      To be able identify when something is past it Used by date or purpose and recognise that holding onto it is no longer of any benefit.

2.      To be prepared for the inevitable and sometimes difficult death of the old in order for the birth of the new to happen.

3.      To be creative in what the possibilities might be for a future use of something.

4.      To be ready to celebrate, embrace and make the most of new promise that lies before them.

By following these simple steps the possibilities are endless in what you can do and make.

But the possibilities don’t end there. Upcycling isn’t just for objects and things; it can also be applied to each of us and to our relationship with God. We have heard in the reading from Jeremiah, a declaration from the original upcycler himself, God, regarding the change from the old covenant to the new.

In thinking about the key steps:

1.      Identifying when something is no longer working,
a.       The declaration is made that the old covenant has been broken it no longer works whilst God was faithful, God’s people were not;

2.      Be prepared for the death of the old to make way for the new,
a.       Rather than dwell on the covenant being broken, God forgives let’s go of the pain that must have been there and allows space for something new

3.      Think creatively and look to future possibilities
a.       God thinks creatively about the future of the relationship. And what results is a covenant that is focussed on what happens internally rather than externally. Whereas before God took them by the hand and led then out of Egypt, the new covenant is going to be on their hearts and minds. It goes from physical to emotional and mental. It goes from a thing the ark to a person Christ.

4.      Celebrate and make the most of the new possibilities.
a.       What’s the outcome, God will be our God and we will be his people. This should be celebrated.

Just as God let go of the old covenant in order to embrace the new, we also need to look at what in our lives, families, churches, communities can be upcycled.  What is past it’s used by date that we continue to hold onto.

It’s hard to play catch with full hands

Jesus is the new covenant that God can offer because the old covenant was let go.
In John’s passage we hear Jesus share another version of upcycling when he talks about the grain of wheat needing to die in order that it can bear more fruit. Yes Jesus is talking about his impending death but he is also challenging us about what we have that is getting in the way.  

While we are not Christ and therefore our ability to die and be resurrected three days later isn’t quite the same as Christ’s. As followers of Christ we are called to live a life that reflects Christ, the closer we get to Easter the closer we get to the point of new life that is represented through the Easter story.

The illustration that Christ share’s again shows the benefit of letting go. Just as with Upcycling, Christ shows us that by ...

1.      Identifying when something needs to be changed to work better,
a.       The grain of wheat

2.      Being prepared for the death of the old to make way for the new,
a.       Recognise that in order for it to bear fruit it can no longer stay as grain but rather needs to die to become new

3.      Thinking creatively and looking to future possibilities
a.       The possibility of bearing fruit, and being more than currently is capable of being.

4.      Celebrate and make the most of the new possibilities.
a.       The grain of wheat as a result of dying is able to have such a greater impact than it could ever have had if it had stayed a grain.

...we can embark on something new which will result in something greater than anything previously possible

Just as with the new covenant that God is creating, and with the wheat that is producing more than it could ever have before it died we are also called to trust God and allow our lives to by Upcycled through the love and grace of God. We can do this by following the steps of:

1.       Identifying when something is past it
a.       What is it that we are holding on to when on closer more honest inspection we recognise that whilst at one point it was important and useful, that those days have passed? What is it in our lives, our churches and our communities that we need to let go in order that we can receive a new promise from God

2.      Being prepared for the death of the old to make way for the new,
a.       Most things in our own and our shared experiences have left their mark. This can make letting go difficult, but it doesn’t mean that we should continue to hold on out of fear or familiarity. We need to allow ourselves to celebrate what was and end in a way that is healthy, recognising what is too come.

3.      Thinking creatively and looking for the future possibilities
a.       Once we have recognised what we no longer need, we have to think creatively about how we can best use what we have for God. Spend time praying and reflecting on the future possibilities that are out there. Come together as a church or community and place yourself and your resources before God. Our God is a creative God. Once we have let go our hands are free to receive the new possibilities that are all around us. Waiting and listening to God, allowing God space to speak into our lives and our communities, and then having the faith to take the step can be challenging but God always has our back.

4.      Celebrating and making the most of the new possibilities.
a.       Once we know what the new possibilities are we need to celebrate them, grabbing hold and running with the new beginning, praying that God be before, behind, above and below all that we embark on for him.

God is a God of new beginnings, of change and life giving and expanding experiences.

If God let go of the old covenant in order for us to have a new covenant with him, what do we need to let go of, what has to die, in order for us to grab hold of the promises of the new covenant we are offered through Christ. What have we got in our lives that we can upcycle for God?

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Henry's Story

Below is a narrative sermon I wrote and preached last night in chapel.

It was a sunny afternoon the air was thick with the sounds and smells of summer. Henry lent up against his favourite tree and looked out over the golden fields. As he did this he thought about all the times he had sat in this very place looking at this very view.  He thought of his village, the village where he had grown up and then where he’d raised his children, and where he’d seen them raise their children.
 It wasn’t the same now as it had been, but then who was, he thought as he brushed the flies away and felt his thinning hair. Even though some things have changed, there were some things that were ever faithful, ever present, like his tree.
Another thing that was ever faithful was the soul of his village, and at its centre was the town crest with the words beati misericordes quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur emblazoned across it.
 When he was a boy he and his friends were made to learn it until it seeped into their very fibre, until it was part of their very being, as did every generation, as had all the people in his village, those that came before him and those that would continue after him. This is probably why the soul of the village had remained untouched even though other things had not.

While Henry looked out over his field he thought about the people that had been part of his life, part of his village.
He thought of Mr Gerard, the town baker. If you woke up early enough you could smell his bread while still lying in your bed, particularly in summer when the windows were open. Mr Gerard always made the bread for the village; all different types of bread, baguettes, ficelles, fougasse, pain de mie, croissant, brioche; the variety seemed endless and abundant, he always baked more than he sold. When Henry was growing up he used to think this was careless of Mr Gérard; he knew what everybody bought: 5 baguettes for the Martin family, 2 Pain de mie for the Dupont’s, a Brioche for Mrs Brun. Everyone bought the same things every day. Then as Henry got older he realised that selling bread was only part of what Mr Gerard did. In the Autumn of 1954 when George fell out of his fishing boat, and couldn’t work for weeks, his family still had the same amount of bread every day often with a treat or two for their kids.
And at the end of each day Mr Gerard would put some of the left over bread in a basket outside his bakery and then he would put in rest sacks in his car and drive out of town arriving back an hour or so later, with a seat full of empty sacks. When Henry asked him “Why” he said “beati misericordes quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur”.
Henry also thought of Mrs Lambert the town nurse. She was lovely; she always had time and a hug for everyone. When Henry was little he liked her hugs. She was soft and warm, and smelt like lavender. A hug from her made everything alright even without a bandage, but it didn’t always stop the bleeding which would result from him falling out of his tree, so he would get a bandage as well. Mrs Lambert was amazing; she was always provided the care that was needed. Regardless of how payment was made or even if payment wasn’t  made, care was given. Her black, worn nurse’s bag was always within reach, just in case. Regardless of who you were, where you came from or what you did, her response was the same:  peaceful, precise, unjudging care. Travellers and other people would come, on the first Monday of each month, to see her in the little stone clinic just off the town square. Henry once over heard one of them ask her why she cared, she simply pointed to the crest in the middle of the square and said “beati misericordes quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur”.
As Henry continued to sit under his tree watching the world slowly pass by, he saw one of his friends trundle past in the beat-up, rusty old truck that he faithfully and lovingly cared for like one of the family. Fredrick and his wife Aimee owned the local café; they took it over when Fredrick’s parents could no longer cope. Along with the smell of fresh bread first thing in the morning, the smell of fresh coffee was also part of the morning routine. If the strong, fragrant, smooth, comforting aroma of coffee didn’t greet you then you knew something was wrong. And while the café served what was undoubtedly the best coffee anyone has ever savoured, it was only one part of what made the café in the village square so beloved by those who lived there. Just like his parents before him, Frederick and Aimee provided as much care for the villager’s souls as Mrs Lambert had done for their bodies. No matter what you were going through, there was always, a comfortable chair, a welcoming friend, a kind word and good coffee. If someone needed shelter, sustenance or support it was provided, no questions asked.

Henry remembered an accident that happened one winter a couple of years ago. It was one of the coldest winters they had seen in many years, so cold the river had frozen. Many of the children in the village had never seen the river like this before, but they had all heard the stories their parents would tell of skating on the river and so they decided to try. Henry would never forget the moment when Gabrielle came running screaming into the square. The ice had cracked. Alexander was stuck. The men in the village gathered rope and blankets, and raced to the river’s edge.  They were able to drag him out of the water and warm him up, but it took months for Alexander to recover from the water and the cold. In the café, Frederick and Aimee, unassumingly helped the village support Alexander’s family. But more than that, they provided a place for people to meet and talk about what had happened. For Frederick and Aimee the café wasn’t just about coffee it was about community, it was about ensuring that everyone had a safe place where they knew they would always be welcome. When Frederick’s father handed over the café to him, his final words of wisdom werebeati misericordes quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur”.

This unprejudiced welcoming of strangers that Frederick’s father had embodied for so many years, came as no surprise to Henry. It was simply what was done, what had always been done, by everyone including Henry’s parents.
Henry was only 8 when the war started, not that it affected him, his family or his village for a number of years. Their village was tucked away in the countryside and life remained as it had before, with villagers getting on with farming, or working in nearby factories. If they heard anything of the war it came from the newspapers or the radio. That all changed in 1941 when Jewish men, women and children started trickling in and by 1942 the number of Jewish refugees that were coming to their village seeking shelter had increased dramatically. The villagers all welcomed the strangers into their homes. No one was ever turned away and many stayed for months, even years, sharing the villager’s homes, often becoming part of the village themselves.
Henry remembered one cold, dark evening when there was a knock on the door. Henry’s father answered it to find a cold, wet and hungry woman with three children.  His father hurried them in and showed them into the bustling kitchen where they could get warm by the fire. Henry’s mother gathered together some bread and meat with vegetables from the garden and made them a meal. Mrs Rosenberg and her children lived with Henry’s family for 6 months; he spent many wonderful hours playing with her son Eliot, often climbing his tree; it was like having a twin.
Then in the summer of 1943 two police buses came roaring into their quiet village. Police prowled up and down the narrow cobbled streets searching everyone’s homes, but they found no refugees. In desperation the Police Captain rounded up all the men in the village, and held them in the Square. Henry remembered hearing the Police Captain demanding that the men tell them where the refugees were being hidden or they would be arrested. This went on for hours, but the men kept silent. The following morning the buses left with no refugees and no prisoners. Many years later when some of the old men were talking about what had happened they all said the same thing “when they needed the strength to carry on they looked up and saw the words beati misericordes quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur”.
Life was so different now, but there are some things that never change, some things that were ever faithful, ever present, like his tree. Every year in July the village held its vibrant, colourful festival full of sun, food, friends and wine On that special day the sun seems to last forever and when it finally slips away the party continues under colourful lights and lanterns making the town look magical.  It brings everyone together to celebrate the people and events that have shaped and moulded us as people and as a community. It reminds us that we are all here for each other to be cared for and also to show that same care to others.
Every year as the village clock strikes 8 on the night of the festival, all the villagers gather together and say the words on the crest beati misericordes quia ipsi misericordiam consequentur”.

This year Henry’s granddaughter Rosa asked, “Papa, what does that mean”, Henry replied “Blessed are the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.”






Monday, February 22, 2010

LB Pondering's

For those of you who have missed LB's questions here's the latest.

LB and The Inquisitor woke up this morning and decided that they needed to make some clothes for their teddy bears.

Given the absence of staples and gaff tape (my prefered sewing items) needle and thread are what we have resorted to.

In looking through the items of the sewing kit which I do own, Aiden came across a thimble and asked what it did and where you put it and then finished with the question.

Why don't isn't a thimble called a thumbile?


Mmmmmm.

Blessings

Revem

Friday, February 19, 2010

Popping my head up, checking the view

As many of you who have followed my blog over the years have realized, when I don't feel like I am in ministry I struggle to blog.

Well, this is slowly changing here in England, it's been almost 2 years since we moved here, and we have settled in fairly well.

I was interviewed to transfer my accreditation last week and they said Yes!, so once all the paper work has come through I will officially change my accreditation to here.

It has been a fabulous experience for me and i can feel myself slowly coming back to life with church based ministry. I am preaching more and have been asked to talk about engaging with the community in creative ways at a women's ministry day.

I can't see this changing what I do for work, as I am committed to my current role and still feel that this is where I am meant to be, but other opportunities are arising which are helping to restore my confidence in my gits and abilities as a minister.

Anyway lets see how long this lasts, I am not going to commit to restarting as I so often have previously, we'll just see where it leads.

Blessings


Revem

Monday, December 17, 2007

We're moving to England

Hi everyone

I have some very exciting news!!

I have been offered the position of College Librarian at Regents Park College, University of Oxford, and have accepted it.

It is still a bit surreal for us at the moment although selling your furniture certainly helps make it more concrete.

We will be moving hopefully mid January, but are still waiting on Visa applications to be approved, before anything is booked and we have final dates.

I will write more soon


Blessings


Emma

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Daylight savings

Today is the day we change our clocks for daylight savings.
This is the one that makes us lose an hour, so my body is telling me it's 9 am but my clock is telling me it's 10 am.

It is the one Sunday I dreaded as a minister and always made sure I wasn't doing anything for fear that I would forget daylight savings and turn up just as church was finishing.

Up until recently I could never remember which way the clocks went until someone told me that you Spring forward and Fall back, and now I have at least a semi decent chance of knowing which way the clocks go. It doesn't help me to remember to change the clocks but it's a first step.

The other thing about daylight savings is all the explanations people have as to why we should or shouldn't have daylight savings. I'll start the list and you can add others that you have heard.
  1. It fades the curtains
  2. It confuses the cows
  3. ...what have you heard

Blessings

Revem

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Jesus studies at Veech Library

Over the last few weeks LB has come to work with me on a Thursday, he loves it, being the extrovert that he is.

He loves exploring the library for the little while before we open, he finds things and is often very excited when he sees something new.

A couple of weeks ago on one of these vists, my work was interupted by an extremely excited LB. Any forms of appropriate behaviour were completely forgotten as he came running up to me and exclaimed in a rather loud voice, with very big blue eyes,

"I JUST SAW JESUS!!!"

When I asked him where he said over there pointing to one of the study carrels in the library.
I went over to see Jesus, hey, if he was here I had some questions I had been waiting 33 years to ask.

When I looked over I found one of our students, a Franciscan brother, in his brown tunic and sandals, along with his brown hair and beard.

A striking resemblance to Jesus especially for a 5 year old.

I couldn't bear to dash LB's experience.

So as far as he's concerned Jesus studies at the Veech Library, mummies work.




Blessings


Revem

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Prayers

Over the last few days there has been a tragic news story about a little boy who was murdered in our area.

It appears that friends of ours know the grandparents of the little boy.

Please pray for all involved in this tragic story that they may be able to find support and peace.


Blessings


Emma

Thursday, October 04, 2007

Point taken

Over the last week or so I have had a number of people ask me about my blog, and put a bomb under me to get off my butt and start up again.

So this is what, the third attempt since leaving church to start blogging again.

Alot of what is going on is difficult to blog about, but my life is never dull, so I'm sure there's some blog fodder about.

Last week end we had blackstump again. This was great and difficult at the same time. It was great because I get to catch up with heaps of people from many different parts of my life and hear how things are going. It was difficult because it reminded me of what I am still not doing, and I also had to explain often what I am up to.

But all in all a great week end.

Although I have been absent know that you have all been in my thoughts and prayers.

Love you lots

Em