Renew Your Mind

Renew Your Mind
Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.

Romans 12:2

Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Story for times of change....

Stories so often are told about journeys...
This week I have been reminded of Dorothy's famous comment as she looked around her at the strange land of Oz- "We're not in Kansas anymore!"

Why are these stories of travel so compelling, for both young and old? Our family are Trekkies, and I love the sound of Jean-Luc Picard's voice at the start of each episode inviting us to "boldly go where no-one has gone before".

Is it because the challenges of the unknown, the unfamiliar, the unexpected, force us to develop courage, resilience and creativity?  Is it something to do with character- a sometimes neglected part of being a human being, pushed out of our schedules by our focus on doing rather than being? Journeys of any kind will require us to do new things- whether that's defusing a Clingon argument or throwing water over a witch- but the more important growth happens when we reflect on how we do these new things.

Now that we find ourselves travelling to somewhere new, somewhere that seems at times as strange as Oz, I find myself admiring Dorothy's character and hoping I can display some of it. She showed resilience and cheerfulness, the ability to see and encourage qualities in others that they could not recognise in themselves, and the courage to challenge lies and speak the truth.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A Psalm for times of change (2)

Psalm 121 v.8

The Lord will watch over your coming and going
both now and forevermore.

So far the going has been harder than the coming. We have lived in The Netherlands for 8 years, and had to say goodbye to people and places that have been very special for us. As we cleared the house and sold our furniture, we remembered the happy times we spent there as a family. As we worshipped together with our spiritual family in church for the last time, we looked back on years of blessing, challenge, friendship and significance.

In all the goodbyes, it is good to know that the Lord was there, watching over us.

And now as we come to our new home, we know He is still watching.

When our children were small, we would sometimes go into their rooms at night when they were asleep and watch over them....

It is good to know that my Heavenly Father watches over me in the same way- that whatever this new adventure throws at us, He whispers gently "It's OK, I'm here".

Friday, July 22, 2016

A Psalm for times of change (1)

Psalm 121 v. 1,2

I lift my eyes to the mountains- where does my help come from?
My help comes from the Lord, the maker of heaven and earth.

I spent the day yesterday doing the things I have loved about living in The Netherlands- catching the train from our tiny local station, where as you wait you can watch the sheep in the field nearby; walking through the Binnenhof where I saw police on their bikes, someone important being interviewed with television cameras and the ice cream seller all happily going about their business in a way that would never happen in Downing Street or the White House; and gazing at Vermeer's radiant View of Delft hanging in The Mauritshuis

My temptation was to look to these familiar and beautiful things around me for solace as I face this time of transition. Somehow I thought that they would be the things that brought me calm and anchored me at a time when the ground beneath my feet is shifting so rapidly. But in the cafe at The Mauritshuis (which is also an extremely civilised place for a cup of coffee and a spot of journalling!) I opened my Bible to the beginning of Psalm 121, and learned that it was the Creator who would be what I needed, not His creation.

My help comes from the Lord.....

Sunday, April 5, 2015

The beginning of a journey, not the end

"But on the first day of the week, at early dawn, they came to the tomb, taking the spices that they had prepared."
Luke 24:1

The sun comes up, again, on a garden. This was where our journey began- in a perfect garden, where God walked in the evening breeze. So much has happened to the human beings that God created- their journey has taken them far away from that garden, and by Friday it seemed that they had put to death their only hope of walking in the garden again.

But today, in a garden of tombs, God walks again.

"But Mary stood weeping outside the tomb. As she wept, she bent over to look into the tomb, and she saw two angels in white, sitting where the body of Jesus had been lying, one at the head and the other at the feet. They said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping?' She said to them, 'They have taken away my Lord, and I do not know where they have laid him.'
When she said this, she turned round and saw Jesus standing there, but she did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to her, 'Woman, why are you weeping? For whom are you looking?' Supposing him to be the gardener, she said to him, 'Sir, if you have carried him away, tell me where you have laid him, and I will take him away.'
Jesus said to her, 'Mary!'
She turned and said to him in Hebrew, 'Rabbouni!' (which means Teacher).
Jesus said to her, 'Do not hold on to me, because I have not yet ascended to the Father. But go to my brothers and say to them, "I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God." '
Mary Magdelene went and announced to the disciples, 'I have seen the Lord.'  "
John 20:11-18

Today, as we celebrate Easter Sunday, may we meet the risen Jesus. May we hear him call us by name, and see him hold out his hand inviting us to travel with him on the great journey of life.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

Silent Saturday

"Something strange is happening- there is a great silence on earth today, a great silence and stillness. The whole earth keeps silence because the King is asleep. The earth trembled and is still because God has fallen asleep in the flesh and has raised up all who have fallen asleep ever since the world began. God has died in the flesh, and he'll trmbles in fear. He has gone to search for our first parents, as for lost sheep. Greatly desiring to visit those who live in darkness and in the shadow of death, he has gone to free from sorrow the captives Adam and Eve, he who is both God and the son of Eve. The Lord approached them bearing the cross, the weapon that had won him victory. At th sight of him Adam, the first man he had created, struck his breast in terror and cried out to everyone, "My Lord be with you all!" Christ answered him, "And with your spirit." He took him by the hand and raised him up, saying "Awake, O sleeper, and rise from the dead, and Christ will give you light."

An ancient homily for Holy Saturday, from Common Prayer, A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals: Claiborne , Wilson-Hartgrove and Okoro

Friday, April 3, 2015

Good Friday

Darkness drops
Like a stone.
Day, interrupted
Hold your breath-
Here God meets death.

Son, separated
From the Father.
Torn apart
From light,
From love,
From life.
Journey's unexpected end.....

It is finished.

Thursday, April 2, 2015

Journeys of remembrance

Every year, for hundreds of years, Jews had prepared their Passover meal according to the instructions in the Old Testament. It reminded them who they were, it spoke of their suffering as slaves in Egypt, but most of all it reminded them of who God is.

"Then came the day of the Unleavened Bread, on which the Passover lamb had to be sacrificed. So Jesus sent Peter and John, saying, 'Go and prepare the Passover meal for us that we may eat it.' "
Luke 22: 7,8

This was to be the Last Passover, and also the First- we call it the Last Supper, but it was also the first Lord's Supper. This meal that Jesus shared with his disciples reminded them of who they were- yesterday we read Jesus' prayer for them. It spoke of suffering, even if the disciples didn't really understood that. And most of all, and the reason we continue to share this meal together, is that it reminded them who God is.

"Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, 'This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.'"
Luke 22: 19

Spend some time today remembering- remembering your own journey, where you have come from and where your dreams are leading you; remembering some of the journeys of God's people we have shared this Lenten season; and remembering the darkest journey, to face up to death itself, that Jesus took so that we might journey to life.