|Pen and Ink Reflections||
In recent years some of my Aboriginal friends have said to me that they do not really believe in the Australian concept of Reconciliation and some of the activities, like Reconciliation Action Plans, which have accompanied it. Meanwhile some Church leaders have said to me that they do not see much point in engaging actively in ecumenical endeavours. So why, we might ask, are we marking the Week of Prayer for Reconciliation and the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity this morning? Actually I did wonder about changing the title on the front of our liturgy sheet today to ‘Prayer for Just Relationships and Communion in Christian Diversity’. That, for me, would be at least part acknowledgment of the difficulties of the words Reconciliation and Christian Unity and the need for re-imagining as well as building on the good work of the past. However I have left Reconciliation and Christian Unity in the title for the present, so we honour where we have traveled. Nonetheless, as we hear our two readings this morning (from Revelation chapter 22 and John chapter 17), we do well to reflect more deeply on the words and constructions we may use in order that we share in more fruitful pathways for our work together with others. For that purpose I also offer you the cartoon meme entitled the #4thBox, as an encouragement to deeper prayer, more imaginative reflection and more creative action…
homeless or at home?
Two questions and a deceptively simple answer!
What are you looking for? Where are you staying?
Come and see.
We could meditate on those three simple phrases for a month – or a lifetime! What John gives us here is not so much history, as theology and spirituality. He gives us an introduction in this opening chapter of his gospel to themes that he is going to explore throughout – the theme of seeing and the theme of staying.
Let’s spend a little time with each of these phrases. ‘What are you looking for?’ asks Jesus, when he realizes that Andrew and his friend are stalking him. Now this isn’t like Petrina’s polite enquiry to someone in the fresh produce department at Woolies! This is the question we might all ask ourselves as we think about our relationship with Jesus. What are we actually looking for when we come to church, or try to pray? What are we looking for along our life’s journey?...
rule or invitation?
Some very challenging words from the Sermon on the Mount today! How we hear them is critical. If we hear them as a more rigorous set of rules than those the Jewish leaders of Jesus day were imposing, then we might fall into despair. If on the other hand we hear them as an invitation to enter more deeply into the love of God and receive God's grace, then we can be set free.
by Jon Inkpin, for Pentecost 7A, Sunday 27 July 2014 (St.Luke, Toowoomba)
There is a great little art exhibition at the moment: in the Crows Nest Art Gallery. If you haven’t seen it, I encourage you to do so before it ends (on 3 August). The exhibition is by two talented local young artists, one of whom is our own Katherine Appleby. Katherine’s subject for this exhibition centres on fairytales and she has created some wonderful works, not least a powerful piece called ‘Fear’. In this, we see what appears to be a young girl walking into the midst of a dark forest, where wolves and wolf-like heads, eyes and mouths glisten in the darkness. Even the trees are dark and bare, devoid of foliage, symbolising the darkness and threat of fear itself. Isn’t that a powerful picture of how fear can feel to us? Look again though, and perhaps you may see other things. What, for instance, is the really fearful thing in the painting? Is it the dark woods? Is it the closure of the path and of the light? Is it the wolves? Or is it the girl herself? Is she, so central to the picture, actually the true source and figure of fear? Why, for instance, is she walking into the forest, into the darkness away from the light? She stands very self-possessed. So is she afraid of the woods and the wolves? Or are they afraid of her? The painting you see, like any fine work of art, reveals more as we look at it. It asks us not one but many questions, some of them surprising. It is an invitation to mystery, rather than a mere description or proclamation of the straightforward. Indeed, if you look very closely at Katherine’s painting of ‘Fear’ you will see that the girl’s face is also partly an old and partly a young face. As such, it expresses the awesome ambiguity of life, truth and our human condition. Which way of looking, being and living will we choose?
Religion at its best is in many ways akin to art at its best, especially in its capacity to invite us into the awesome ambiguities of life. It is an invitation to mystery, not a mere description or safeguard of the straightforward. It is a means, like great art, by which we can hold our fear and our suffering and not be overwhelmed. It is a path on which we can walk with courage, through the darkness around and within us, through the grace of God, into the light and love of God...
will we dance?
for Pentecost 4, Aboriginal & Torres Strait Islander Sunday, 13 July 2014 by Jon Inkpin
Are you a dancer? Do you ever go to a dance group, or watch dance? Have you ever been a dancer? – I don’t mean professionally, or even as a hobby, just: have you ever danced? You know, I reckon all of us have danced, at least once, and more than once, even if we have forgotten, or chosen to forget, about it. Think about it: all little children dance. Put on a piece of music, or just watch a little child moving about: he or she is full of natural dance and movement. For dancing is a very natural part of what it is to be human. Indeed, it is a natural, and even integral, part of what it is to be alive. For the whole creation is really, actually, a dance: a dance of all the elements of creation; in, and with, the glory of our dancing God. I hope that doesn’t seem like a shocking affirmation. If it does, then blame Jesus in our Gospel reading today. What is he saying? – why: let go of your burdens and dance with me. So, will we dance?...
how do you see resurrection?
for Easter Day, 20 April 2014 by Jonathan Inkpin
How do you see the Resurrection? What we celebrate on Easter Sunday is a ‘mystery’, in the best sense of that word. It is deep truth and reality. So, like any deep truth and reality, it is therefore beyond our ordinary human understanding. Rather it is an invitation into a greater, divine, understanding. So will we be like good detectives and follow the clues to discover a little more of the meaning of this mystery? Will we, like our Gospel writers, own and share this mystery in our own words and actions? Will we, like great artists, allow God to enable us to picture the Resurrection for ourselves and others?...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Josephine Inkpin, a married Anglican clergy couple serving with the Uniting Church in Sydney