|Pen and Ink Reflections||
“Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near.” How fascinating! – the writer’s conviction that the second coming is at hand does not result in a plea for evangelism, or even for love, but rather for gentleness. So, what is to be gentle? The dictionary suggests, kindly, amiable, tender; or with more of a class nuance ‘of good family’ ‘noble’ – from the Old French from which we derive genteel. It is also a verb – ‘to gentle’ means to make less severe or intense, or perhaps to soothe by stroking; to treat with kindness and not cruelty. Gentleness is listed as the eighth of the fruits of the spirit in Galatians 5;22. As such it translates the Greek word prautes, which is sometimes rendered ‘meekness’, which has unfortunate connotations in modern English of servility. The Full Life Study Bible defines the word helpfully as ‘restraint coupled with strength and courage’...
Today is April Fool’s day, and there can be no better day for foolery and laughter than Easter Day. For there is a tradition of laughter and joke telling on Easter Day that began hundreds of years ago. The story goes that a monk in Bavaria was pondering the solemn events of Good Friday and the earth shattering events of Easter Day and suddenly he had a new insight, and he began to laugh. Once he started laughing he couldn’t stop; he laughed and laughed and laughed. His hearty laughter startled his companions from their solemn contemplation and they looked at him with amazement and disapproval. ‘Don’t you see?’, he cried out, ‘it was a joke! The best joke ever. On Good Friday when Jesus was crucified, the devil thought he had won. But God had the last laugh on Easter Day when he raised Jesus from the dead.’ And the monk began to laugh again, and his fellow monks began to get it, and they laughed and it became known as the Easter laugh, and the tradition of laughing and telling jokes on Easter Day began. So I am hoping that in a little while over morning tea we can share all our best jokes and laugh together.
The laughter echoing through the ages is a tangible witness to the good news of Easter- that Jesus Christ is alive among us; that death does not have the last laugh; that darkness does not conquer light. All the forces that conspired to kill Jesus, the fury, the lovelessness, the betrayal - God makes of them all a laughing stock. God laughs...
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...
Epiphany 5 Year A 9 February 2014 by The Revd Penny Jones
Every one of us sheds light just by being a human being created in the image of God. As Jesus puts it: 'You are the light of the world. Let your light so shine before others, that they may see, and give glory to God.' (Matthew 5.14,16)
Pastor Steve Garnaas Holmes, a Methodist minister from the States, writes of this text:
Maybe Jesus doesn't mean some special light— your faith, your righteousness, your goodness.
Maybe he just means you. Your self. Who you are, your creatureliness, fashioned by God's delight, coming into being through the Word, granted life, the light of all.
God said, "Light," and it came forth in the little paths of your nerves, the villages of your hands, the beauty in your eyes,
the continents of your mind, the great sea of your soul. (Once, every bit of you burned in stars.)
Let the light of yourself shine, he says, all of who you are, created by light.
Shine in people's darkness, so they can see, and glorify God. '
There is real humility and real wisdom in what Pastor Holmes writes. For too often I think we act as if it is all up to us. But that does not allow space for the grace of God. How can we best let the light shine? Is it by doing some special, amazing thing for God? Well 'no', rather it is by being ourselves and living as best we can. Our light shines in the accumulation of small things done well and faithfully. It shines in the refusal to allow small things to be done in a way that brings darkness rather than light. It shines in the daily, hourly choice of honesty, care, justice and love in our regular dealings.