Crowds

The crowds were building in the city,
it was crowded with people from all over.
Jews and Gentiles alike.
Those who had come to sell
those who had come to buy
those who had come to worship
those who had come to just to watch
to be part of the buzz.

None of them knew just what they were about to be witnesses of.

Yes some had their plans
their dreams
their ideas
of what might happen
how things might change
what the future might hold,
for good or for bad,
but none of them knew
apart from one.

The One.

Amid the clamour,
the hustle and bustle:

Of come buy my nard,
names called out for a lost child,
of soldiers marching and beggars pleading.

The sounds from the carpenter,
the heat from the blacksmith,
the smell from the bakers.

The gossip,
the speculation,
the foreign tongues and regional accents.

There in those crowds,
in that everyday scene,
God’s plan was nearing a climax.

Holy Week Procession Malaga by George Campbell
Holy Week Procession Malaga by George Campbell

Elsewhere

There are so many demands on our lives to be
elsewhere.

On Wednesday I was at a Lenten Quiet Day.
I nearly bowed out.
I had been debating whether or not to go, other places, people, situations pulled at me.
I struggled I still felt I should be elsewhere, but I went.

I felt like I was in a wilderness place not of my choosing, so I hid with paper and glue and coloured pencils.
I played with them partly for distraction, as I thought of other places, other people and guilt tried to take hold.
I prayed and tore paper;
I read, prayed some more and shuffled and glued paper;
I prayed as I ate in silence, the hum of those chatting in the noisy room accompanying the crunches of my listening.
I stuck paper on paper and prayed.
I copied words, wrote my own words, and prayed and listened into the silence.
I took the pencils and made marks,
hundreds of marks,
as I prayed and listened yet more.
For a day I wrestled with why I was there, there in the wilderness rather than elsewhere.

Then I took the once bread, now Body, in my hands and joined with God and in that moment heard,
Jesus too was broken.
I took the cup and felt the liquid warm my soul,
Jesus came to heal.
Jesus couldn’t be in all places.
Even Jesus when he walked this earth had to make decisions as to where to go, when.
Although part of me stilled wished I could have been elsewhere,
a bigger part,
the part God inhabited knew I was in the place God wanted me to be.

Nothing changed or fell apart or failed to happen because I spent Wednesday wrestling with God rather than being elsewhere.
I am but dust and to dust I will return,
but dust or flesh I am Beloved of God,
nothing can change that.

I could have been elsewhere on Wednesday, …

Love

God’s love is infinite,
those loved by God are infinite,
God’s love is not restricted to those we can see,
those we can name.
God’s love is not restricted by colour, class, creed, gender, or any other thing.
We arose on Friday morning to the news of an individual screaming hate not love.
We arose to news of people at prayer being fired at.
We arose to news of lives lost, bodies damaged, a community and a country in shock.
We arose to discover that someone had turned their back on love and decided to promote hate.
But God’s love is bigger.
Last week also saw the 23rd anniversary of the Dunblane shootings
78 years ago last week the Clydebank Blitz took place.
What happened on Friday was not new,
it is part of a long history of people turning their backs on God’s message of peace and love.
Oscar Romero, who was assassinated on the 24th of March in 1980 as he celebrated the Eucharist in the chapel of the Hospital of Divine Providence, said:

‘Let us not tire of preaching love; it is the force that will overcome the world. Let us not tire of preaching love. Though we see the waves of violence succeed in drowning the fire of Christian love, love must win out; it is the only thing that can.

Time and time again people act in ways that deny God is love,
deny the all encompassing nature of God’s love.
But denying something doesn’t change the truth of it.
Despite what happened in Clydebank,
despite what happened in San Salvador,
despite what happened in Dunblane,
despite what happened in Christchurch,
God is still love.
God’s love still shines, powerfully, into the world, even the areas where hate tries to win.
People may try and deny love, people may try to redefine love,
people may even try and decide who God will and will not love.
But God’s love does, and always will, endure despite what people may try and do.
For God is love and nothing, anyone can ever do will change that.
There is room for all under the everlasting wings.
“Christ In the Wilderness — the Hen” by Stanley Spencer (1891-1959)

Thanksgiving

40 Days to focus on God.

40 days to count our blessings.

Not 40 days to count our failings, our scars, our stumblings.

 

40 days to give thanks,

thanks for, the milk and honey

which sustains us through all the other days.

Thanks for, the countless blessings

which shower us throughout our lives.

Thanks for, the love which never ends

even when we return to ash.

Thanksgiving, a truly Lenten word.

Intent

Intent

The intent behind what we choose to give up.
The intent behind what we choose to continue.

Courageously asking ourselves;
‘What is the intent behind our choices,
the intent that drives our actions?’

we inch our way into Lent.