|Pen and Ink Reflections||
Some of you know that this week Jo and I have been lucky enough to have our three grandchildren to stay, aged six weeks, eleven weeks and two. It has been, to say the least, a lively household. I mentioned to one of my daughters the theme for tonight, and she jokingly said, ‘That’s excellent – I’ll bring the children along then shall I?!’ You can all relax, because she was joking. But it set me to thinking, what do rest and stillness really mean for us, for they have to mean more than just ‘me’ time, away from the busyness of our ‘real’ life...
by Jon Inkpin, for Pentecost 12A
What do you make of religious experience – not religious ideas, religious morals, religious activities, but religious experience? Does it make you awkward, uncomfortable, even embarrassed? Many secular people find it to be so. Even many Christians avoid talking about it. To a degree, this is understandable. Religious experience can be very intimate and personal. It is not always something we want to hawk about and have discussed in public. It is after all a holy thing, and St Paul warned us not to throw holy things before the ignorant, the swinish, lest they be trampled underfoot. It can also be misused, like those Christians, and others, who sometimes tell us that unless we have their kind of religious experience – perhaps their kind of conversion or charismatic experience – then we are not Christians, or acceptable to God, at all. All that, as I say, is understandable. Yet, if it keeps us from religious experience, or reflecting on our religious experience, then it is a huge problem. For, as we see in today’s great story of Moses and the burning bush, religious experience is central to our Faith. Encountering the living God is not an embarrassing extra to life. It is at the heart of our being and our becoming. For, as Saint Augustine said, our hearts are ultimately restless until they find their rest in God...
Lent 1A, Sunday 9 March 2014 by Jonathan Inkpin
One of my favourite personal memories comes from a childhood Christmas. It relates to the Thunderbirds action-adventure series which was then screening on TV. Some of you may remember it. For me, as a little boy, it was a great thrill that Christmas morning to receive the gift of a Thunderbirds ‘International Rescue’ costume, complete with Thunderbirds hat, belt and sash. I recall putting the costume on in the early morning and wearing it all day, including walking in it the mile or so through our little town, all the way to church and back that morning. Such are the simple unembarrassed pleasures of childhood! Looking back however, what I most remember is the sense of freedom I felt: the freedom of being a really grown-up special agent, ready for anything. Which, in a way, is quite interesting, because, if anyone recalls much about Thunderbirds today, it is usually the astonishing woodenness of the production. How amateur it seems now, with all our modern TV and film production values. For all the Thunderbirds characters were marionettes, puppets, with very fixed expressions, and you could always see their strings. They weren’t at all free, in that sense. They were very one dimensional, and highly manipulated.
What is all that to do with the story of the temptations of Jesus in our Gospel reading, you may wonder? Well, exactly this: the story of the temptations of Jesus challenge us to freedom, the freedom of the children of God. It calls on us to be more than one dimensional people, who are highly manipulated. It requires of us to cut the strings from the things which are operating us. It asks us to become more than mere lifelike puppets, and more like the special agent of freedom I felt like as a little child: God’s special, free, agents...
sermons and reflections from Penny Jones & Jo Inkpin,