to help you discover the God you already know

Year: 2021 (Page 1 of 2)

The Raising of Jesus

I marked Easter this year by mulling on the Resurrection stories in the Gospels, and found myself led from those in John’s Gospel to John’s account of the raising of Lazarus, where I was struck by both the similarities and the differences between the stories of Jesus’ Resurrection and that of Lazarus.

In the story of Lazarus, Martha and Mary arrive at their brothers tomb with a crowd of witnesses. Lazarus’ body has been there for four days. Jesus commands that the stone in front of Lazarus’ tomb be taken away. Martha is concerned at the probable stench from Lazarus’s decomposing body, but nevertheless the stone is removed. Jesus commands Lazarus to “come out” and he does, still wrapped in his grave clothes.  Jesus tells the onlookers to “Loose him, let him go,”  and as a result many of them place their faith in Jesus. The story says nothing more of Lazarus save that later when Mary & Martha give a supper at home in honour of Jesus [not Lazarus!], their brother Lazarus is amongst the guests.  Throughout the story the focus is on Jesus not Lazarus.

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Retreat day: Coming home

When we take up occupation of the site of our bodies in stillness before God, we are granted a place to be, simply in virtue of being there as material beings made by God.

Rowan Williams: Lear and Eurydice

The truth is that we are always home. On this retreat day, we will explore coming home to our bodies, to ourselves, to the present, our own presence and The Presence, and to our place and purpose in the world. I will offer what I consider to be some important landscapes for exploration, but the journey and the destination are yours.

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Top down or bottom up

I was talking with a friend recently, and he mentioned the vision that Julian of Norwich had in which she saw God as a Lord and human beings as the Lord’s servants.  I had to admit that while I understand that image of God in my head it doesn’t engage with either my heart or my soul, and it’s therefore not an image that has ever spoken to me. Obviously it spoke to Julian through her vision, and continues to speak to some today, so I found myself pondering why it doesn’t to me?

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Worship in Lockdown

Recently a friend told me that she had been to receive Communion for first time for some months as her church was now open for worship: she was delighted to have been able to do so, as others are, as lockdown is beginning to be eased. Unlike my friend I haven’t been to worship in a church for a long time, worship there doesn’t currently feed my soul & it often leaves me feeling irritated & depressed. So its better for me to absent myself and look elsewhere. But rather than being a problem its become a gift, a challenge to think outside the box, and in a number of ways.  

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The Right Reverend Robert Maynard Hardy CBE (Bishop Bob) (1936–2021)

Bishop Bob

When I became a trustee of the Spiritual Counsel Trust (SCT), Bishop Dennis Hawker, then Bishop of Grantham, was soon to retire. I can still remember the words he used telling the trustees that he had been speaking with the new Bishop of Lincoln, Robert Hardy, about the work of the trust, and Bishop Bob had said to him that it “sounds like just the sort of thing I’d like to get involved with.” So, in 1987 Bishop Bob (as he liked to be known) became our chairman, and our trustees’ meetings were from then on held at The Bishop’s House, just across the road from the Cathedral. Bob indeed revealed a lively interest in spiritual direction and the tradition of Reginald Somerset Ward, (RSW). David Smith, a priest in Lincoln Diocese who had taken early retirement from parish ministry, was then full-time warden.

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New life within

My friend Colin and I have met regularly to talk over many years. He retired early as his wife Joy was not well, and as her illness progressed and she was confined to her bed, he became her full-time carer. As he could no longer visit me I started to visit him at their home. Joy and I knew each other quite well, so one day when I was there I asked her if I could sit and talk with her for a while. She agreed and we ended up talking for most of the afternoon, to the surprise of both of us. Thereafter our afternoon conversations became a regular part of my visits.

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A Failure of the Imagination

Ercole de' Roberti - The Dead Christ
Ercole de’ Roberti – The Dead Christ

I have been drawn to this painting by Ercole de Roberti in The National Gallery, for many years, but Chloe Reddaway in an excellent short series of videos [‘The Audacity of Christian Art’ available on You-tube, just search for her name] has helped me to see why. My friend James & I were talking about it recently, and our conversation further clarified it for me.

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Lass auch Dir die Brust bewegen, Liebchen, höre mich!

Thrush (photo by Julian Maddock)

Every year
everything
I have ever learned

in my lifetime
leads back to this: the fires
and the black river of loss
whose other side

is salvation,
whose meaning
none of us will ever know.

Mary Oliver: In Blackwater Woods

I was listening to Radio 3 over breakfast on Wednesday. Bryn Terfel was interviewed and asked to recommend a recording. He chose Schubert’s Ständchen sung by Dietrich Fischer-Dieskau partnered on the piano by Gerald Moore – “the definitive recording for many people,” the presenter said. Listen to it on YouTube, or BBC Sounds at about 1’12” in.

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Retreat Day: Lent in lockdown

Photo by Irina Iriser from Pexels

If the lost word is lost, if the spent word is spent
If the unheard, unspoken
Word is unspoken, unheard;
Still is the unspoken word, the Word unheard,
The Word without a word, the Word within
The world and for the world;
And the light shone in darkness and
Against the Word the unstilled world still whirled
About the centre of the silent Word.

TS Eliot, Ash Wednesday V

In lockdown, we are not allowed to go ‘out’: how may we allow ourselves to go ‘in’?

How can lockdown be an opportunity to enter more deeply into Lent?

How may we hear the silent Word at the centre of our unstilled world?

I am offering a day of prayer and reflection as we enter the journey of Lent.

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