|Pen and Ink Reflections||
‘By faith’ – what a powerful and ringing repeated phrase that is in the Letter to the Hebrews chapter 11. Last Sunday and this Sunday we have heard it read in two parts, telling some of the stories of those who have gone before us in the story of God as told in the Bible. This great passage relates the stories of so many heroes of faith in the Hebrew traditions. ‘By faith’ – the Letter affirms so strongly how all kinds of extraordinary events and achievements flow from the power of trust and courage that true faith enables. Note well: this is faith not as a set of beliefs or practices or organisational structures, as so many would have us see ‘faith’ today; but biblical faith, which is about inspiration, risk, and energy. As such, it encourages us to take heart, to draw on similar energy, and to take risks in our own day. What might we ourselves seek to achieve?...
This week I came across the account of a student of the Alexander technique. For those of you not familiar, this is a movement based therapy that helps an individual to see their inefficient habits of movement and patterns of accumulated tension, which interfere with their innate ability to move easily. This was their experience as they interacted with a client for the first time.
‘Suddenly I feel overwhelmed by implications. The way he’s co-ordinating to stand is part of his whole way of being in the world, and here’s me about to move in and maybe change that, or at least offer a different possibility. A sense of politeness paralyses me for a moment. I don’t want to interrupt. Later I talk with [the teacher]. She looks at me with steady compassion. ‘Actually, I see that as part of my job. To interrupt patterns.’ She’s right. Interrupting is part of my job.’
Interrupting is part of my job. I think Saint Matthew would have agreed and as we celebrate his saint’s day today, and consider the ways in which he presented the teachings of and about Jesus in the gospel that bears his name, I invite you to consider him as a great interrupter. I also invite you to consider that interrupting is also part of our job as ministers, teacher and spiritual directors. It is our task, with the guidance of the spirit, to help others interrupt their destructive habits of life and behaviour, whether at the individual or communal level, and find transformation....
Unlike the somewhat gentler version of the Beatitudes in Matthew’s account, Luke's account of Jesus’s core teaching leaves us in little doubt of his bias to the poor. He declares as blessed exactly those whom most of us would account as unfortunate, and pronounces woes on all those who like most of us, enjoy a comfortable life. It is small wonder then that the first followers of Jesus were mostly poor, slaves, disenfranchised and disabled. I wonder if we, comfortable western Christians, really believe him...
Have you heard the tale of the barefoot man, the migrant woman and the taxi driver? It is a true story that Pope Francis recently told to more than 25 000 people gathered in St Peter’s Square…