In recent years I have sought to round off the blogging year before Christmas and signal to readers that I am taking a holiday from the blog.
This year, for various reasons, it feels okay to do a small amount of blogging after Christmas - yesterday's and today's posts. But a blogging holiday is beginning at the posting of this post - likely won't be back writing until around Monday 17 January 2022.
2021 has felt a gruelling year and this is an unremarkable statement because it seems as though everyone in the whole world had found it gruelling.
May we all have a better 2022!
Right at the end of this present year of 2021, we have learned of the death of Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Looking on Twitter, lots of people, including many Anglican clerics, have something to say and often in the form of lovely stories about ++Tutu's life, faith, witness, generosity and laughter. There is no need for me to add to these good words. But the Anglican Communion has been better off, has it not, for the brilliance of this man - as a leader and as a communicator?
A Christmas thought: for Christians, Christmas is all about the worship of Christ. Both shepherds and sages lead by their example on this matter. And John's Prologue poetically explains why we worship the Infant Christ: God has become human so the human can become divine.
"And the Word became flesh and pitched his tent in our camp, and we have seen his glory, the glory as of a father’s only son, full of grace and truth. ... From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. The law indeed was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has ever seen God. It is God the only Son, who has come from his home in the Father’s heart, who has made him known." (NRSV adjusted by me).
Arohanui to all readers - lots of love to you all,
Thinking over the past year - with its attendant trials, tribulations and little triumphs. dear Bishop; I found this reflection from Francis, Bishop of Rome, to be quite useful in my contemplation of what 2022 might need of ALL of us. I will be praying for you and your diocesan ministry at the SMAA Mass today. Happy New Year!
FRIDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2021
“Let us ask ourselves: can we accept God’s way of doing things? This is the challenge of Christmas: God reveals himself, but men and women fail to understand. He makes himself little in the eyes of the world, while we continue to seek grandeur in the eyes of the world, perhaps even in his name. God lowers himself and we try to become great. The Most High goes in search of shepherds, the unseen in our midst, and we look for visibility; we want to be seen. Jesus is born in order to serve, and we spend a lifetime pursuing success. God does not seek power and might; he asks for tender love and interior littleness.”
"Teach me to number my days that I may apply my heart to wisdom."
I hope and also pray that + Peter, Father Ron, and everyone who reads and comments here will have a stimulating, satisfying, and holy orbit around the sun in 2022.
New Year's Resolutions are all fine and well. Yes, small habits start larger changes. And yes, those changes can reach goals that are strategic, measurable, achievable, realistic, and timely (SMART).
But I prefer John Wesley's practice of reviewing one's callings from God in prayer. In that, a modern preoccupation with time's passage resonates with biblical senses of gratitude for the gift of life and responsibility for the way we invest our days.
The early Methodists met to do this in a Covenant Service for which a few churches around the world still gather. Anglicans might simply fold this into our private preparations for the first eucharist of the year.
Anchoring our motivations to do better in God's will for us is no less SMART, and much more faithful.
Both "achievable" and "realistic?"
Here, *achievable* means that one can take first steps without delay, while *realistic* means that the SMART goal is in harmony with the order of things. Sometimes a project that could possibly succeed is not yet within today's reach. Often one can take first steps now toward a hopelessly foredoomed outcome.
Again, thinking all this through with one's callings from God in view seems to get to the bones of a matter more surely and with more inspiration.
Something of the real world is enclosed in today's little homily - on the nature of God and humanity; of holiness and sin. This is the sort of reality we find in the story of the Pharisee and the Sinner. The Pharisee assumes he is O.K. with God; while the sinner admits to his weaknesses and sin. Jesus asked: "Who went away justified?" We know the answer to that question: the Sinner who admits his failings and looks to God for mercy and a hope of redemption. I guess that's why God decided that The Word had to become flesh, taking upon God's-Self the sins of the world: "Kyrie eleison, Christe eleison, Kyrei eleison!"
WEDNESDAY, JANUARY 12, 2022
“The Word became flesh and dwelt among us… “Word” indicates that Jesus is the eternal Word of the Father, an infinite Word, existing from all time, before all created things; “flesh”, on the other hand, indicates precisely our reality, a created, fragile, limited and mortal reality. Before Jesus there were two separate worlds: Heaven opposed to earth, the infinite opposed to the finite, spirit opposed to matter… Jesus is the light of God who has entered into the darkness of the world. Light and darkness. God is light: in him there is no opacity; in us, on the other hand, there is much darkness. Now, with Jesus, light and darkness meet: holiness and guilt, grace and sin. Jesus, the incarnation of Jesus, is the very place of encounter, the encounter between God and humanity, the encounter between grace and sin.”
Another pearl of wisdom here, Fr Fr. Richard Rohr, OFM:
"Father Richard concludes:
The God within is like a homing device placed within us, like those found naturally in homing pigeons. No matter where they’re released, they know how to find their way back home—across thousands of miles in some cases! We can think of the Holy Spirit as our interior homing device—that for all our stupidity and mistakes there is this deep internal intuition that we are the sons and daughters of God. No matter how lost we get, it keeps pointing us back “home”—to love, to connection, to meaningful relationship with Someone or something else, to soul. It’s only God in us that knows God. It’s God in us that loves God. It’s God in us that recognizes God. That’s Trinity 101."
Veni Sancte Spiritus!
"Before Jesus there were two separate worlds... Now, with Jesus, light and darkness meet: holiness and guilt, grace and sin."
So the tabernacle and temple were hoaxes? Was God unfaithful from his side?
"Jesus, the incarnation of Jesus, is the very place of encounter between God and humanity, the encounter between grace and sin."
Which is why we celebrate the Ascension with such enthusiasm ;-)
In this time of hiatus, Dear Bishop Peter, another word of encouragement from Francis, Bishop of Rome:
TUESDAY, JANUARY 18, 2022
“Many people feel they cannot go on, and pray: “Lord, give me the strength to continue.”… Prayer opens the heaven: it gives life oxygen, it gives a breath of fresh air even in the midst of breathlessness and lets us see things from a broader perspective… Do I cultivate intimacy with God, dialogue with him, listen to his Word? Among the many things we do each day, let us not neglect prayer: let us dedicate time to it, let us use short invocations to be repeated often, let us read the Gospel every day. The prayer that opens the heaven.”
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