“Now do you have time for me?”

“… In the busy times of the months and the years that have preceded self-isolation and social distancing, many things have been tucked onto the back shelves of my consciousness, some of them neatly in filing boxes, and others less tidily, just kind of jammed into bags and tied shut.
I am finding some of those things are opening in the silence and stillness. Some of them are calling to be attended to now, asking the question:
“Now do you have time for me?”
Many of these things are me-and-Creator projects … they are not things a family member or friend or partner or therapist can help with. They are things that can only be attended with in divine presence. They are only manageable when I open them with an infinite, omniscient, omnipresence alongside me.
Sometimes the call of those back shelves things feels a little bit like madness. Like insanity and overwhelmation knocking at the doors of my consciousness.
But I trust that it is not.
And I trust that when these back shelf things are attended with, social distancing will not equate to emotional or psychological distancing … and perhaps we might all emerge able to be more of our authentic selves than we ever were before 🙂 At a safe distance apart, but more honest, more vulnerable, more self-loving, more self-compassionate than we ever were before.
It is not easy.
The distraction of trying to re-establish pre COVID norms using online means is a strong distraction. Also the distraction of numbing myself with food, Netflix or news binges.
But, at the end of the day, the voices of back shelf things will keep calling out in the night and the day …
“Now do you have time for me?”
I know Creator is ready … and I pray that I be equipped with the courage and honesty to spend some of this precious time with my back shelf things. I pray that you give me what I need to be kind to myself in this time of close proximity with back shelf things.
Amen.  “
Above is an FB  post by Janaki Bandara – the daughter of a friend  which really touched me.
Despite all the time that is now available to me … I am ashamed of how I would have to answer the question my Lord is posing.
Time to pull.into still waters and drop anchor🙏

Led to Christ by ISIS — A Lawyer’s Prayers

I pass along to you an amazing story by Yuliya Talmazan of NBC News about how ISIS is – inadvertently – leading Syrian Muslims to Christ. Praise God! “Four years have passed since the Islamic State group’s fighters were run out of Kobani, a strategic city on the Syrian-Turkish border [northeast of Aleppo], but the militants’ […]

via Led to Christ by ISIS — A Lawyer’s Prayers

This post by Anna Waldherr strengthens and encourages a community reeling and grieving from horrific bombings – three churches and three hotels targeting those celebrating the Easter message.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness has not put it out.” John 1.5

 

 

 

 

Sri Lanka I cry for you

Fairest of lands

Graced with azure skies and  tranquil seas – Rolling hills and green gold – tea.

Leopard, elephant, whales blue – fauna of every hue;

Tainted now with shades of red, where innocent blood was shed.

Pearl of the Indian Ocean, you were just beginning to raise your head

after the civil war drained you of your very life

with bullets and bombs filled with lead

over foolish egoist ethnic strife.

Pearl of the Indian Ocean, you were just beginning to raise your head,

to shine to glow to beckon –

“2019 Destination”  Lonely Planet said.

with rave reviews from far and wide, well deserved oh Land of mine – 

for peace brought out the best of you, paradise isle by God’s design.

And one cruel morn was all it took to dash our hopes and smite our hearts;

8.45 am one sacred Easter morn our very souls were torn apart

For with vicious taint unknown in a land that had seen it all –

Evil exploded heinous bombs for my Christian brothers and neighbours to fall,

In pools of blood, their breaths stilled, or breathing still with loss of limb.

The dead, the wounded intermingled

Along with the blood of the perpetrator.

Sacred space profaned as you entered to test the faith.

Grieving souls, holding on, letting go.

What were your thoughts I wonder as you tousled the head of the little girl?

Humanity unwittingly slipped through your zombie like action

that left destruction in your wake

as you pursued your brainwashed ideology.

A nation mourns for we have lost our children

and once again we have lost

Our innocence, our peace, our hopes and dreams

I cry for you Sri Lanka.   Do you cry with me ??

I pray for you Sri Lanka, that you may overcome;

that you will meet hate with love and understanding

to turn back the tide of evil snatching our youth and our lives;

I pray for you Sri Lanka,  that you will not again

traverse the road we travelled before.

and that our children may continue to dream, and hope, and build.

I pray for you Sri Lanka, that we will “fight to maintain the peace”

if there be such an expression ….

Fight within our inner beings to rise above judgement

of the misguided youth who let zeal overthrow love.

I pray for you Sri Lanka, that you guard your children well

so  they will not stray into the folds of evil ones –

but will choose good over evil, peace over war and love above hate.

If this too be your prayer, will you pray with me Sri Lanka?

Easter carnage in my land

We are shattered, numb with shock.  The spectre of hate and war has raised its head again in my land and on this holy of holy days. Easter Sunday, when thousands were gathered in churches to worship the Risen Lord,  bombs exploded in three of the most visited Shrines – and in three hotels celebrating Easter brunch.

The death toll in the first 3 hours has risen to 180 and hundreds more injured.

The day started off as a day of peace and promise as we had a simple traditional meal around the breakfast table.  We had participated in a beautiful vigil service last night.  Since we do all seven readings in our church,  it is a long service but we did not even feel the passing of time so absorbed and elevated were we in the history and wondrous mystery of our salvation.

We had fellowship after service and then quite spontaneously, invited Clifford and Anne  who were celebrating their wedding anniversary for Pizza.  Cliffy’s brother had just retired from the Sri Lankan army.  As a General in the front line, he had been the target of many attacks and was seriously wounded by shrapnel and mortar on four occasions. And so very very uncannily- after ten years of peace – we found ourselves discussing the repercussions of the war and our deliverance from the 30 year ethnic conflict that had ravaged our land and our people. 

We also heard how Cliff’s family had found the 91st Psalm inside his mother’s pillow when clearing up her belongings on her demise.  She had unfailingly and unwavering prayed Psalm 91 for close on 26 years on behalf of her son, inscribing his name on all the prayers.  We were reminded of the Psalmists words  .. “though many fall all around me no evil shall touch me”  … a mother’s plea that had saved her son.  And we thanked God that the horrible war that claimed so many sons and daughters of our soil was behind us.

And then today the shattering news.

And the questions.   Is it the LTTE again? …We thought they had been defeated ??

More questions. This does not tie in with an ethnic hate attack.  Easter Sunday ???  It seems from all indications at present to be targeted towards Catholics and Christians?

I surprised myself by being relieved when I heard that.  Yes … relief !!  for we Catholics and Christians are in the minority.  It cannot – and with the Christian spirit of forbearance – will not, be a massive blood shed.  We won’t retaliate or be drawn in like the general population was in the ethnic conflict.  Even if all Christians in our land have to die … the  general populace of around 20 m will be spared.

Am I a masochist seeking persecution? Of course not.  But you cannot help breathing a sigh of relief that the ugly spectre of LTTE terrorism may not be behind this. Our earnest prayer for our country is that God will not take us down that road again 🙏.

It is also timely that this happened on Easter Sunday when we are filled with the Resurrection hope and can hang onto the words of our Lord :

“If the world hates you, keep in mind that it hated me first. …

If they persecuted me, they will persecute you also…”

John 15.20

God give us the strength, the wisdom and the discernment to act as you did and to follow your lead and the example of love you set in your life and in your death.   Amen.

Jesus and the Cross

Jesus and the Cross

My post WHY THE CROSS? is my most read post with relatively the least number of comments,  making me somewhat uneasy on my message  which is a bit controversial  – starting off as it does with a heretical questioning of the meaning of the statement “Jesus died to save us from our sins.” and my reflections on what I think it means. 

I’ve had concerns whether I was propounding a heretical view which few wished to comment on,  or maybe reader just moved on leaving me to my idiosyncratic beliefs without engaging in dialogue on this one. 🤔

I was thus happy to read Richard Rohr’s reflection on “Jesus and the Cross – Substitutionary Atonement”  which threw some light on my seemingly heretical thinking.  Rohr, a reputed Jesuit priest lucidly answers the questions I had :

For most of church history, no single consensus prevailed on what Christians mean when we say, “Jesus died for our sins.” But in recent centuries, one theory did become mainstream. It is often referred to as the “penal substitutionary atonement theory,” especially once it was further developed during the Reformation. [1] Substitutionary atonement is the theory that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished in the place of humans, thus satisfying the “demands of justice” so that God could forgive our sins.

and takes up the subject with

both excitement and trepidation because I know that substitutionary atonement is central to many Christians’ faith. But the questions of why Jesus died and what is the meaning and message of his death have dominated the Christian narrative, often much more than his life and teaching. As some have said, if this theory is true, all we needed were the last three days or even three hours of Jesus’ life. In my opinion, this interpretation has kept us from a deep and truly transformative understanding of both Jesus and Christ.

Read Richard Rohr’s  full reflection on Jesus and the Cross, the theology of substitutionary atonement (direct link) or post copied below.   He speaks with authority of knowledge and wisdom and his reflections on his website Center for Action and Contemplation – are wonderful spiritual insights.

I am sure you will find plenty to reflect on as we enter into this holiest of weeks.

May you be blessed with the peace and love of Christ.

Image:  Various sources on the internet.  No clear copyright owner. No intention to violate copyright laws.

Jesus and the Cross

Substitutionary Atonement
Sunday, February 3, 2019

For most of church history, no single consensus prevailed on what Christians mean when we say, “Jesus died for our sins.” But in recent centuries, one theory did become mainstream. It is often referred to as the “penal substitutionary atonement theory,” especially once it was further developed during the Reformation. [1] Substitutionary atonement is the theory that Christ, by his own sacrificial choice, was punished in the place of humans, thus satisfying the “demands of justice” so that God could forgive our sins.

This theory of atonement ultimately relies on another commonly accepted notion—the “original sin” of Adam and Eve, which, we were told, taints all human beings. But much like original sin (a concept not found in the Bible but developed by Augustine in the fifth century), most Christians have never been told how recent and regional this explanation is or that it relies upon a retributive notion of justice. Nor are they told that it was honest enough to call itself a “theory,” even though some groups take it as long-standing dogma.

Unfortunately, this theory has held captive our vision of Jesus, making our view very limited and punitive. The commonly accepted atonement theory led to some serious misunderstandings of Jesus’ role and Christ’s eternal purpose, reaffirmed our narrow notion of retributive justice, and legitimated a notion of “good and necessary violence.” It implied that God the Father was petty, offended in the way that humans are, and unfree to love and forgive of God’s own volition. This is a very untrustworthy image of God which undercuts everything else.

I take up this subject with both excitement and trepidation because I know that substitutionary atonement is central to many Christians’ faith. But the questions of why Jesus died and what is the meaning and message of his death have dominated the Christian narrative, often much more than his life and teaching. As some have said, if this theory is true, all we needed were the last three days or even three hours of Jesus’ life. In my opinion, this interpretation has kept us from a deep and truly transformative understanding of both Jesus and Christ.

Salvation became a one-time transactional affair between Jesus and his Father, instead of an ongoing transformational lesson for the human soul and for all of history. I believe that Jesus’ death on the cross is a revelation of the infinite and participatory love of God, not some bloody payment required by God’s offended justice to rectify the problem of sin. Such a story line is way too small and problem-oriented.

References:
[1] This week I will use the phrase “substitutionary atonement” to indicate the most current version of the theory. Throughout Christian history, there have been multiple theories of substitutionary atonement. One of the earliest, the ransom theory, originated with Origen and the early church. Closely related to this was the Christus Victor theory. The ransom view of atonement was the dominant theory until the publication of Anselm’s Cur Deus Homo? (Why Did God Become Human?) at the end of the 11th century. Anselm’s satisfaction theory of atonement then became dominant until the Reformed tradition introduced penal substitution in the 16th century. This new view of substitutionary atonement emphasized punishment over satisfaction (Jesus’ crucifixion as a substitute for human sin) and paralleled criminal law. Today, the phrase “substitutionary atonement” is often (correctly or incorrectly) used to refer to the penal theory of atonement. This week’s meditations touch the surface of 2,000 years of complex theological process.

Adapted from Richard Rohr, The Universal Christ: How a Forgotten Reality Can Change Everything We See, Hope For, and Believe (Convergent: 2019), 139-141.

Betrayed by more than a kiss.

Betrayed

Betrayed   … shouts out from the roofs, the hill tops and vales today.

Betrayed with a kiss for 30 pieces of silver.  Open, upfront  pre-meditated, caving into confusion.  Misled.  Then despair.  30 pieces betrayal price and then burial price.

Betrayed – let’s not stick around to see what happens.  Let’s flee.   Then in guilt and shame they meet again; strength in numbers and strengthened in Spirit they go out. Then they make things happen.

Betrayed – One stayed close but the coals were too hot:  ‘I know not the man’.  Fear confusion … an unplanned fall.  Then weeping, remorse and gathering of resolve.  Never again to fall.

Betrayed – self righteous arrogance, fearing a change in status quo points to a ‘blasphemer’.  Then smug satisfaction at having ‘saved’ the nation.

Betrayed – a conscience niggles, this man is innocent.  Then expediency prevails – washing of hands.  I won’t do it – do it yourself.  A good man caves in.  Archetypal politician.  He could have stopped it.

Betrayed – miracles, healing, words of wisdom and saving grace  – yet no one springs to his defence. Did they return to Him?  The Books are silent.

Friend, disciple, leader, high priest, ruler, beneficiary of uncountable grace – I see myself in all of them.   But I have the benefit of hindsight – of a Resurrection,  a Pentecost and a 2000+year old faith.   Despite this …. it continues ….

Betrayed – unless I take the road less travelled; The road, the Way of the Cross.

Posted in response to Daily Prompt, Betrayed

Image Credit: http://truthbook.com/urantia-book/paper-183-the-betrayal-and-arrest-of-jesus

The night of love ….

Love one another

Image Credit : http://freefaithgraphics.com/2015/01/love-one-another/

that final night of Jesus’s life on earth – as he prepared to bid farewell to his friends.  He knew that on the morrow, their grief and loss at the loss of their Master, ‘Rabboni’,  would be compounded by fear and confusion;  their world – which began with a triumphant entry into Jerusalem just five days previously, would come tumbling down.

How can he console them, comfort them, give them hope that all is not lost.   How can he assure them of His love for them and the Father’s love ?

How would you say farewell to friends and family if you know you are going to die the next day ?

I’d like to share a previous post on the words of love that kept pouring out of Our Lord as he gazed on his disciples gathered around him in person for the last time.    Please click on the link which shares how our Master bid farewell to his friends,  and his instructions and guidance to us.

Can you feel the love tonight 

 

The Sacrifice

As we prepare to commemorate the greatest sacrifice of all, a moving poem by The Jolly Beggar caught my eye and my heart 💖

Blogger Dorah has beautifully captured the comparison of  the biblical Father -Son sacrifices in her retelling of the story of Abraham and Isaac in The Sacrifice — The Jolly Beggar

An excerpt is given below … but I suggest you read the whole for the full impact of the pathos of the sacrificial scene ….  so like the Sacrifice we will shortly commemorate.

……     When Isaac asked with mischief in his eyes,
“What trick do you have up your sleeve,
Father? An invisible lamb, I do believe!”

Slowly Abraham rose from the stones of the altar
Slowly he raised his face to his Father
Searching the heavens for a sign of reprieve
For now he could no longer deceive
The child who looked on him with trust
The child through whom his knife would be thrust  ……

Dorah maintains The Jolly Beggar and Dreams from a Pilgrimage.  blogs with poetry and prose that are really inspiring.

Burnishing this clay vessel

Burnishing myself wp

Man made in the image of God  – living like CLAY effigies ….
Scrub, scrub, scrub
Rub, rub, rub
Spit and polish –
Shine, shine, shine
Tear off the dross
Peel away the masks
Keep at it
Scrub, scrub, scrub
Deeper and deeper
There ….!!!!
You’ve reached the core of you
The light of the Living God shines through.

I have diminished and HE has increased !!!