Incarnation

IMG_20130118_223547

Just now, most of my thoughts on God seem to take me back to incarnation.

In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe. The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word.

Hebrews 1.1-3

Incarnation is the strangest and most unique of Christian beliefs. It is the point where God becomes man. This is not a half-man half-God compilation. It is not a way of saying Jesus was so good he looked like God, nor the suggestion that he sometimes seemed like God but sometimes seemed human. Christian incarnation is God fully born, fully divine, fully man, full stop.

At the point where God seems invisible, un-reachable and irrelevant to life; Jesus is born into the world.
At the point where God seems abstract, intellectual or philosophical; Jesus fully lived in our world.
At the point where God seems holier-than-thou and an insult to the realities of pain, suffering and death; Jesus died and rose again.

Today I am sharing something Edward has written. A piece he put together somewhere between strumminging ukelele and watching Dr Who. I think it’s rather good.

photo (1)

It seems to me that people always remember Jesus’ birth, and then his death, and I’m not saying it’s wrong to do that. I’m only saying that we need to realise that these two events aren’t meaningless and unconnected, that they were all part of Gods plan.
Jesus wasn’t just a kid in a manger or a man on a cross; he was a man on a mission, a mission to save the world. What he said wasn’t just for then, it shows us how to live now, and all because Jesus listened to everything God said and acted on it
God sent his son down to earth, and he already knew everything he would face. He knew Jesus would be mocked, looked down on, beaten. He knew he would bleed and eventually die, and this hurt God so much. But he did it for you. He did it so he could have a close and deep relationship with you. So he could call us his sons and daughters.
And the amazing thing is when we accept that Jesus is Lord and saver* we get the same Spirit that was in him. The same Spirit that healed, that made a thousand ears listen, and raised him from the grave, is in us. We can heal, we can preach, we can save the world!
God has freed us from all barriers, and there’s nothing to stop us, so what are you waiting for?
Go change the world.

* Edward is intentionally using the word’ saver’ where we would usually use the more conventional ‘Saviour’

Other Murden boy blogs can be read at,

andymurden.wordpress.com

dreamsofayoungman.blogspot.co.uk

Definitely a mouse

Today the blog writing did not go well. It didn’t go to plan.

annie dillard

So I read some Annie Dillard, which I share below, and this blog writer becomes a blog reader once more,

When you write, you lay out a line of words. the line of words is a miner’s pick, a wood-carver’s gouge, a surgeon’s probe. You wield it, and it digs a path you follow.  Soon you find yourself deep in new territory.  is it a dead end, or have you located the real subject? You will know tomorrow or this time next year.

(from, Annie Dillard, The Writing Life)

I have a file of fifty prospective blog posts and other writings in between and today none of them seemed fit for purpose. Firstly, I self disclose too much.  Secondly my theology has holes in it.  Thirdly it is madness that I would ever consider putting myself out there to an audience. I should write for myself this little audience of one, that or not at all.

No sympathy, please.

This is my experience of writing so far: the thing looks good, whole and needed when it is in your head, but that does not account for what happens between the head and the travelling via pen to the page.

So far I have found this helps a little: move the opening of the piece to a place part way through and adding a carefully chosen quote from something or someone with authority. Cut paste, delete and copy.  Be ruthless with any word, sentence or paragraph that can not earn its keep. Really ruthless: gone. Take a walk, make some coffee, re-read. This is not editing, this is art.  First it’s difficult, then it’s impossible, then it’s done. Suddenly the piece can be recognised as the thing from inside my head, in fact it could be better the piece from inside the head.  Done.

But this did not happen today.

untitled

So I read some more Annie Dillard, which I share below, and this blog writer becomes a blog reader once more,

You must demolish the work and start over,  You can save some of the sentences, like bricks.  It will be a miracle if you can save some of the paragraphs, no matter how excellent in themselves or hard-won.  You can waste a year worrying about it, or you can get it over with now. ( Are you a woman or a mouse?)

(from, Annie Dillard, The Writing Life)

 

Definitely, a mouse.

#oneword365

 

rest2

There remains, then, a Sabbath-rest for the people of God; for anyone who enters God’s rest also rests from their works, just as God did from his. Let us, therefore, make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one will perish by following their example of disobedience. (Hebrews 4:9-11 NIV)

I’ve chosen my word, and it is REST.

Some scriptures follow you around all your life until you face up to them and a sabbath- day’s rest for all the people of God is one of mine and it takes some facing. It takes some facing, if you are  a driven person, or a working person, or a mum.

So a very honest person would look the scripture straight in the eye and challenge it, ‘So where is this REST?’ and the scripture would talk back, ‘Come and see!’

And recently I did. And there on the left side, at the place I shall call heart, I found a rest in Jesus that was all done and as it should be.

The next day I returned and it was still there.

By the following day it had grown enough to call it ENOUGH.

And then it overflowed.

When Christ had finished all he and done he sat down. (Hebrews 10.12)

So at the end of our day (and sometimes at the beginning too) we also sit down and know that, though for a while we live between the driven, the anxious and the busy, there is indeed a sabbath-rest for all us good people of God.

REST.

oneword365 is a web project designed to help you find a focus for the year ahead. Find out more by visiting, oneword365.com

The Road Less Travelled

Today I got to thinking about Robert Frost’s poem, The Road Not Taken.  He writes at a fork in the path, telling us he took the path that was ‘grassy and wanted wear’, rather than the well beaten path.  And I thought of times when I also took the road less travelled and where that road took me.

The Road Not Taken

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,

And sorry I could not travel both

And be one traveler, long I stood

And looked down one as far as I could

To where it bent in the undergrowth;

Then took the other, as just as fair,

And having perhaps the better claim,

Because it was grassy and wanted wear;

Though as for that the passing there

Had worn them really about the same,

And both that morning equally lay

In leaves no step had trodden black.

Oh, I kept the first for another day!

Yet knowing how way leads on to way,

I doubted if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh

Somewhere ages and ages hence:

Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

I also thought of the M. Scott Peck’s,  popular self-help/psychology book, The Road Less Travelled, and how, desperate for some help and escape from a terrible depression, I picked up that book some eight years ago in a charity shop and how it  helped me, quite by surprise.

I shall never forget the opening sentence of that book, ‘Life is difficult’ and how I battled with that.

“Well what do you expect from a secular book on matters of the soul?” I quizzed myself.

“It can’t be true! The Bible said that if we live for God then everything will work out fine.”

“Maybe things gone awry in my own life signified some kind of curse that rendered me beyond the help of God?” I worried and so my torment grew.

Yet I could not forget those words, ‘Life is difficult’, and how Jesus said, ‘You will know the truth and the truth will set you free’ (John 8.32) because free was what I so wanted to be.  So I thought on the words of Jesus and carried on searching and (how could I have overlooked)I found Jesus also said, ‘In this world you will have trouble’. There it was in red letters, plain to see. So it was true. Maybe trouble was normal and not such a terrible thing after all.

I read on to the end of the M Scott Peck book and I took on board the wisdom because I needed all the help I could get and indeed it is a promise of God that in this world we will have trouble. And I grew a little better having reconciled myself somewhat to my state.

But that is not all (thank God!)

For sometime later I read the second half of the you-will-have-trouble promise of God in the gospel of John,

In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

John 6.33

I have overcome the world!

Spoken every time he called a man or woman ‘Come follow me’, every time he healed the sick and or raised the dead, or set someone free form something that held them, something evil, intent on their destruction.

I have overcome the world !

Spoken every time he taught kingdom, or parable, with every unfolding of the scripture, with every lie un-covered, there he was overcoming ignorance and oppression and doubt.

I have overcome the world !

Spoken from the cross and right down to the grave, then spoken more wondrously than ever before, on a resurrection morning, and in an upper room.

And I came to know it too, an overcoming word spoken to me by Christ.  So I share it: a small belief that there is trouble and the greater belief that he has overcome.

Go lightly

Image

Last night we hung fairy lights around the kitchen and lit the Christmas candles. We gathered round the table and Andrew lit the small meths burner under the fondue. We sunk smoked sausage, crisp pickles and good bread into a criminally large amount of cheese and brought in the new year quietly.

Andrew made dessert: a triumph of confection, situated somewhere between trifle and cake. Rounds of golden pannettone doused in madeira, layered up with a sweet alchemy of egg yokes, castor sugar and double cream. This almost set cake would stand slicing, but only just. There it stood resplendent in the centre of our family meal studded with ruby red pomegranate seed, shards of green pistachio and the tiniest pricks of chocolate chips. A glorious monument to a very happy year just past.

Later we watched Julie&Julia, which turned out to be about three of my favourite things: blogs, cooking and happy marriages. As the credits rolled I wept. I don’t know why but it reminded me of the tears I shed on long car journeys as a child when I reached the end of my library books and there was nothing new left for me to read.

I was in bed before midnight, vaguely aware of those in the street outside choosing to welcome their new year with fireworks and the singing of Auld Lang Syne.

Resolutions are not always a nice thing. They are like those annoying people who speak several foreign languages, make their own clothes, run every morning and have paid employment finding a cure for Alzheimer’s . Most of us can’t stand too much time in their presence.

My advice is go easy on the resolutions. They can be cruel masters. They follow you around all through January laughing at your failures and inadequacies when all you really need is a hug and a little gentle encouragement.

Are you tired? Worn out? burned out on religion? Come to me, get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or I’ll-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.

Matthew 11.28 The Message

Happy new year, go lightly, be encouraged and take it easy on the resolutions!

(Cake courtesy of Nigellissima, photo my own)