LENT 1 B – 26th February 2012

Today is the first Sunday in Lent. For those who are not aware, the word “Lent” comes from an Old English word for “springtime” – a season when new life is wrested from the clutch of winter. I the same way, for Christians, Lent is our time for renewal and revival – a sort of spiritual springtime.

Most of us have been through enough “Lents” to know that complete transformation rarely occurs, although we are aware that with God all things are possible! Never the less, whether we are able to achieve a complete transformation, or not, Lent is an opportunity for repair work in a specific area of our life that might need reconstruction.

Maybe you have doubts about faith or questions about church traditions and practices. Lent is a time to resolve the doubts and get some straight answers.

Maybe you have been carrying personal wounds that have been eating away at you. Lent is a time to find ways to let the healing begin!

Maybe your spiritual life is stuck in neutral and you want to be able to pray as easily and spontaneously as Jesus did. Lent is a time to really begin to experience prayer.

Each of us has some part of life that needs a lift and a little remodeling. It is less a time for pain and punishment than it is a time for healing.

Nobody is exempt, this is the leveling significance of the smear of ashes: beneath all of our differences, we all need renewal.

By making a conscious effort to come into the presence of God, in prayer and quiet contemplation, by setting aside time to read the bible and share with other Christians, we open ourselves to the healing power of God… so may you know His transforming presence through your Lenten “discipline”.

Love and Blessings

Reverend Shan.

Transfiguration

In his well known and loved book, The Road Less Travelled, Dr. Scott Peck writes;

“Paradoxically, a group of humans becomes healing and converting only after its members have learned to stop trying to heal and convert. Community is a safe place precisely because no one is attempting to heal or convert you, to fix you, to change you. Instead, the members accept you as you are. You are free to be you. And being so free, you are free to discard defenses, masks, disguises; free to seek your own psychological and spiritual health; free to become your whole and holy self.”

Unconditional, accepting, love is what Dr. Peck is talking about; this is the transforming agent or ingredient.

On the mountaintop Jesus is transformed before his disciples… and the word of Jesus’ heavenly father is an expression of this same love.

God didn’t wait until the disciples had reached perfection before inviting them to share in this moment of glory. The very fact that these ordinary and flawed individuals were included in this moment apart from the world is further evidence of His transforming and unconditional love.

May God take you to high places, and give you moments apart from the ordinary – sacred glimpses of the extraordinary, to shine light into your every day. Amen.

Blessings

Rev Shan

6th Sunday After Epiphany B – 12th February 2012

Where were you when that incredible storm hit on Wednesday afternoon? I was sitting in the doctor’s surgery and wondered what the dreadful noise was. When I had entered the surgery ¾ of an hour earlier the sun was shining. I had left windows and doors opened at home and, of course, our pets were securely OUTSIDE!

As you know, the rain was blown horizontal. Shopkeepers closed their doors and windows, people huddled behind them watching and waiting for the storm to stop.

The strength of the wind was quite frightening and all we could do was wait for the storm to subside..

Out of concern for our pets and the open windows, I ventured into the storm, and was drenched before I had walked 15 meters. The cats, contained within their “sheltered” run, were soaked and bedraggled … as was Merlin who couldn’t find much shelter on the verandah.

How swiftly life changes… from sunshine to storms! We think we have covered all of our bases and planned for every possibility but still we are caught unawares.

Surely it must have felt that way for the people of St George this week as they saw the flood waters rise and rise, way beyond what they have experienced before, and despite all their careful preparations homes have been devastated, livelihoods swept away. For some this will seem to be the final straw after years of drought and then a series of floods, which seem to escalating in severity.

At such times, there seems to be nowhere to go, no safe haven, no place to find hope or meaning, except in our Lord and God. For our part, in the midst of the storm, can we find the grace and the faith to say “your will be done”?

Blessings

Rev Shan

5th Sunday After Epiphany B – 5th February 2012

I can’t believe that Christmas is over and Ash Wednesday is less than 3 weeks away! I have just returned from a brief holiday and already, as I look at my calendar, I am wondering how I am going to fit everything into the year! I turned to the worship, learning and serving materials for February 5 in a resource I use for service preparation (SeasonsFUSION), and found them connecting and intersecting with my own life… and, perhaps, with the shared life of our community at St Paul’s.

Here are a couple of the connecting points.

“2012 is gathering pace and many are once again falling into patterns of busyness, filling days and nights with relentless activity, and perhaps many are tired so early in  the year.” begins the Focus for Worship, Learning and Serving” on page 151. I read on, “God calls us to be active in God’s mission, but God also calls us to rest, to enter the stillness in which we can hear God’s voice, be ministered to, and be restored by God’s peace.”

In the gospel, “the woman described as Simon’s mother-in-law has been lifted up and her spirit renewed. Immediately she got up and ministered to Jesus. This is reciprocal ministry. In what ways might we as individual disciples and as the church be this woman for others? In what ways does the church provide opportunities for soul-care? How might it do better?” … is the wisdom shared and questions asked on Reflection on the Word (page 151)

It seems to me that these are matters to be considered as we gather for our Annual General Meeting, contemplating the way forward for the coming year, as we plan to fulfill our Mission within the local and wider community. How do we best serve Jesus? How do we provide Soul Care? And how can we do better?”

Love and blessings

Reverend Shan