4th Sunday After Pentecost B – 21st June 2015

Have you been on a downhill slide?

The ground had cracked and opened wide

There was no one to head your call –

For help?” (private collection – 1979)

How on earth do you think those poor fishermen felt, in a small boat in the middle of a raging storm? The storm had obviously come up so quickly that they were unable to seek shelter and were totally at the mercy of the elements. Do you know that feeling?

Do you know what it feels like to be caught up in an unexpected situation or circumstances beyond your control, and totally out of your depth?

There is probably no one who is able to read the words that I have written who can answer “No”. So why is it that almost everywhere I turn, I hear the tumultuous voice of complaint about the minor and the trivial – yet so few really want to hear of the real, tumultuous events of life?

For various reasons, it has been a difficult week. Twice on Wednesday, while doing errands, I was asked, “How has your day been?” And each time I responded, “It has been a difficult day”!

Obviously, my answer was unexpected. The people I spoke to were disoriented and did not know how to respond. One said it was his job to make people happy… So I obliged by putting on my happy face!

 

The reality is that bad stuff happens in life… when you least expect it, and are ill prepared! In the words of an iconic movie from the ‘80’s, “who you gonna call?” and the response is definitely not “Ghost Busters!”

There is no person who can take away all the suffering in the world. Only Jesus helps us to find direction and meaning in the midst of chaos. Only Jesus helps strengthen our backbone for the long haul, and encourages us on our journey.

And we are no different to those disciples in the boat – At some point we all have to deal with that demon “doubt” when it seems that God is asleep in the stern of the boat, near and yet too far! 

Heavenly Father, earthly brother, be our strength and wholeness when life becomes too much of a “roller coaster” for us to think for ourselves. Help us to put our trust in you, in the dark and stormy moments when we cannot see you at work, through Christ our Lord, Amen.

Blessings

Reverend Shan

2nd Sunday After Pentecost B – 7th June 2015

The Season after Pentecost is a time to reflect on God’s transforming presence, and our scriptures testify to a God who longs to lead us (and all of creation) into wholeness and peace. Yet it is not always easy to choose to follow God’s leading.

In the readings for today, as Samuel grapples with the implications of human kingship over Israel, the psalmist in Psalm 138 affirms God’s sovereignty and good rule over all. In 2 Corinthians 4:13—5:1, Paul describes our struggle to be renewed and re-created in Christ, while praising God who desires us to develop to our glorious full potential as children of God. Finally, in Mark 3:20–35, Jesus challenges assumptions of how we are to relate to one another and to God, teaching that it is God who is at the head of all of our relationships.

Today’s Old Testament story begins with the prophet Samuel already retired after serving for many years as Israel’s judge – the highest authority in a nation loosely governed by the elders of various tribes. As judge, Samuel had mediated God’s leadership over the people, but now the elders of Israel, using the moral failures of Samuel’s sons as his successor as an excuse, demand the leadership of a king instead. In the end, a reluctant Samuel heeds the people’s request and anoints Saul as king of the new monarchy. We are left with a disturbing portrait of God going along with the people’s demands even as God is aware that it is not in the best interests of the people.

Yes, God calls us to follow but gives us freedom of choice! And God also gives us a voice to use in speaking up when we believe our leaders are inappropriate or downright wrong. This is true of Christian and secular leaders.

The news this week was full of the re election of Sepp Blatter as president of FIFA, only for him to resign amid further accusations of involvement in corruption. Why, because voices were raised and the outcry was heard.

In what areas of your life do you find God leading you, and when do you resist?

Think of some of the groups that you are involved in. Was the leadership chosen or imposed? Who participated in the selection of leaders? Who was “heard”?

Have there been times when you have regretted remaining silent?

May God bless you in your choices in this coming week.

Reverend Shan

Trinity B – 31st May 2015

If you believe that the doctrine of the Holy Trinity is hard to explain or understand, you are not alone. Over two thousand years of trying to explain and the best theologians in the world still haven’t been able to fully comprehend, let alone adequately explain, how God is three and yet still one!

At best we accept by faith. I have long stopped wrestling with this mystery and feel quite at peace with the idea that God just IS!

In the gospel for Trinity Sunday (John 3:1–17) we read that Nicodemus was struggling to understand God and his own relationship with God. Jesus speaks to Nicodemus about being “born from above,” or born anew. And poor Nicodemus is troubled.

The thing is, we all experience God in a different way… We can only explain God in terms of our own experience. We can listen to, or read, someone else’s explanation but until we experience the presence of God for ourselves… until that “aha” moment… God remains an uncomfortable riddle rather than a blessed mystery.

Take some time to reflect on God in your own life.

When have experienced the power and presence of God?

Do you experience God as Trinity or only as Father, Son or Holy Spirit?

Or do you experience God in some other way?

How is God most real to you?

When have you felt yourself being reborn of the Spirit?

However you experience God, may you be aware of Gods presence in the coming week.

Blessings

Reverend Shan