Lord, why are we waiting?

waiting - man looking at watchI waited patiently for the Lord,

He turned to me and heard my cry

(Psalm 40.1)

When was the last time you had to wait in a queue? Well, if you are like me, you start by avoiding them in the first place. Then, if that fails, there is nothing more enjoyable than complaining to the person next to you about the time-wasting.

It seems then we have lost the art of queuing – or more precisely – queuing patiently. This isn’t really surprising as everywhere today we see ‘express’, 24-hour delivery and fast food. Information, television programmes and a multitude of other experiences are split into bite sizes so that they can be instantly delivered an even more quickly consumed.

And that’s why this verse from the Psalms is so easy to read and inwardly ignore. Since the idea of waiting patiently on any one even God is an anathema to most.

Yet, in the end, God is not to be hurried, God has his own timetable, God in Christ Jesus will act only when he is good and ready.

How then do we cope with this constraint on our overwhelming demand for the immediate?

Well, that seems to depend on the type of waiting we can discipline ourselves to undertake.

For, we can wait aimlessly as if for a bus or train. We can wait complainingly as we do at supermarket check-outs. We can even wait fearfully as we do for that letter about a test result. Yet we can also do ‘Christmas type’ waiting. You’ll remember it from childhood. You’ll remember that expectant, gleeful almost rapturous waiting that dominated our Decembers. You’ll remember, as well, the joy of the waiting’s end – when God was with us.

So let’s try this week to wait more patiently on the Lord. Let’s try to be more expectant that God’s timetable will eventually bring the best for us. Above all, let’s look forward to the moment when God answer us handsomely but inevitably on his cue.

Let us pray

Lord help us to cry to you in prayer

Help us to wait

Help us to wait patiently

Help us to wait expectantly

In Christ Jesus help us to wait in certainty

For you are listening.

Amen

1 Kings 12:28 (Golden Calves)

Great blog post…

THE RIVER WALK

golden calves 2

So on the advice of his counselors, the king made two gold calves. He said to the people, “It is too much trouble for you to worship in Jerusalem. Look, Israel, these are the gods who brought you out of Egypt!” (1 Kings 12:28)

Read: 1 Kings 12:20 – 13:34, Acts 9:26-43, Psalm 132:1-18, Proverbs 17:6

Relate: When Moses went up the mountain to speak with God, the people grew restless. “Where did he go?” They asked. “Is he still alive up there? All that thunder and fire and… God. Has he been consumed?” Well, no, but he did start glowing a bit. Either way, while he was spending forty days in the presence of God, the crowds got stir crazy and Aaron had to make a decision. Will he try and keep them calm for a while longer or should he take matters into his own hands? He must…

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Communion – the movie in your mind

eucharistic cup

Just recently, I made a short animated video to promote St Luke’s. As this has proved popular on the web, I thought I might try my hand at one on communion. But then a question struck me. And it is – what is sacrament of Holy Communion really all about?

Well, of course, I would start by explaining that essentially it is the re-enactment of the Last Supper between Jesus and  his followers. Then I would go on to mentioned that it is therefore an eternal reminder of Christ’ sacrificial death. In other words, this meal symbolises Jesus offering his life up to his disciples and his followers; past, present and future.

By now the viewer of my video clip could be saying – That’s all fine and dandy. But why did Jesus have to sacrifice himself in the first place?

And that would lead into the idea of his death on the cross being the ultimate point when evil and malfeasance were defeated. Needless to say, this supreme act’s victory over badness works across a personal and global canvas.

It is at this point, we might decide to introduce a more practical image.

So instead of going further into salvific theology, I would rely on the aura of this holy mystery. Put simply, I would portray Communion as creating the most sacred moment in Christianity no matter what your tradition. Some viewers would say that they find God in the hills and the valleys, others when with friends and family. But none equal this moment at the Lord’s Table for his abiding presence.

By now, the video clip viewer’s attention span would be fast running out. Time, indeed, to wrap up our movie epic. And what better way than concluding with the idea that communion is our act of thanksgiving.

Role credits – message finished!

Yet there is a nagging doubt as the words – The End – appears on the screen. Since maybe I should have gone on to explain the how of communion?

What indeed would we put in our video’s sequel?

Well the answer to the question lies in our Psalm for today. For it starts by reminding that if we want to be ready for the presence of God, we need to wait. If we want to enter the presence of God, we need to wait. If we want to have communion with God, we need to wait. Bartimaeus too had to wait for the Christ’s presence and communion. So if we want to teach anyone about communion then we need to mention waiting.

Now of course there are various types of waiting. There is the vacant and soulless waiting for a bus or train. There is the anxious and dread-filled waiting for examination or test results. But there is also the better type of waiting; the Christmas type of waiting if you like, the waiting in anticipation of God’s timetable and the waiting in enthusiasm for the Christ’s presence in communion.

Yet the Psalm goes on and talks of trust. Also Bartimaeus showed trust. Since when Jesus asked him what he wanted – he replied I want see. And in that instant he implied trust, he expressed trust and he trusted in trust.

As we approach the Lord’s Table we too must have trust if we want to be thankful for Christ’s trust in his father. The trust to bring him through death to resurrection.

And we do that best by playing the movie in our heads of our past when we have proved that God has listened, that God has acted and when God has done wonders. When indeed we have had our sight restored, our wholeness returned and our lives healed.

Finally, there is one supreme act of doing communion. It is there in the last lines of our Psalm. It is there in the last lines of Bartimaeus story. It is there in the word – proclaiming. Since if we are genuinely thankful this day for communion then we must proclaim it by following – we must proclaim it by giving witness – we must, above all, proclaim it by staying together in continuing fellowship. Because have we not heard?

I have proclaimed the good news of righteousness
In the great assembly;
Indeed, I do not restrain my lips,
O Lord, You Yourself know.
10 I have not hidden Your righteousness within my heart;
I have declared Your faithfulness and Your salvation;
I have not concealed Your loving kindness and Your truth
From the great assembly.

Yet why this need to stick together? Why this need to pull together? What is the power and strength of the great assembly?

Well Brett Blair at Sermons.com talks of Redwood trees.

This is what he says:

Though I have never seen the Sequoia trees of California, known as Redwoods, I am told they are spectacular.  They tower as much as 300 feet above the ground. Strangely, these lofty trees have unusually shallow root systems that spider out just under the surface of the ground to catch as much of the surface moisture they can. And this is their vulnerability. Storms with heavy winds would almost always bring these giants crashing to the ground but this rarely happens because they grow in clusters and their intertwining roots provide support for one another against the storms.

Here then is the ultimate key and fruit of communion.

For we may say – like the psalmist – I desire to do your will O Lord and want to give thanks at my succeeding. We may like Bartimaeus be tested in life and wish to give thanks for passing through.  We can see the good and bad scenes in our own personal movie and want to give thanks for its overall glory.

And we will indeed give that due thanks if we remember those giant Sequoia trees.

Since then in communion we can support and be supported in those difficult times by the touch of one another’s life.  Since then in communion we know that we are not alone. Since then in communion we will grow together from the depths and ever upwards towards towering heights in Christ.

Pray, don’t panic

Mustard Seed Budget

dont panic just pray

I don’t subscribe to the myth that I have everything under control. There are people who actually believe that they have so much money, talent, good looks, whatever, that they always will win in life.

Sometimes things appear to spin out of control. In those moments, I need to stay calm and remember who I am trusting. Don’t panic; just pray.

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Looking to go home?

prodigal son returnLuke 15.11-20

Psalm 27.1-5

Thinking about it – I must have heard tens of thousands of pop tunes in my life. But truth be told, I rarely remember their words. But one which I have heard only once managed to get its lyrics to stick. It was written by Eric Brazilian and has Alanis Morissette sing:

What if God was one of us?
Just a stranger on the bus
Trying to make His way home
Just trying to make Its way home

That image of someone on a bus trying to find his way home is very haunting. It suggests that chilly loneliness we all can feel in railway stations and motorway service areas. In fact, the very sense of being in transit only emphasizes we are not at home.

Well these feelings must have been similar to the prodigal son. Because, he was nowhere going nowhere. In fact, as a result of his conduct, he could have asked himself – where is home?

Yet that is a question we can all ask ourselves from time to time – where is home?

Well, if that is a feeling you can sympathise with either for yourself or someone close to you today, then let’s call on the Psalmist to help you out.

Since our second reading moves very quickly into a very uncomfortable place indeed. Those early verses, once they get going, take us to some very un-homely venues. Since they recount places under attack, under siege and of danger.

However, in some ways that is no bad thing. For they create within us a hunger for the next set of verses.  The verses that remind, in these moments of homelessness of body, mind or soul, God comes rush to us, arms open and ready to lead us home. And that home is not our own ‘bide a-wee’. Instead it is our beautiful heavenly refuge which is a fortress of peace, a citadel of security and a dwelling forever. In short hand, as God in Christ embraces us, he is welcoming us home to the House of the Lord.

There is a wonderful story about Maya Angelou, the famous American black poet. She was, until her recent death, an active member of the Glide Memorial United Methodist Church in San Francisco. For she wrote that, years ago, when she first came to San Francisco as a young woman she became sophisticated. She said that was what you were supposed to do when you go to San Francisco, you become sophisticated. And for that reason she said she became agnostic. She thought the two went together. She said that it wasn’t that she stopped believing in God, just that God no longer frequented the neighborhoods that she now frequented.

Well, she was taking voice lessons at the time. Her teacher gave her an exercise where she was to read out of some religious pamphlet. The reading ended with these words: “God loves me.” She finished the reading, put the pamphlet down. The teacher said, “I want you to read that last sentence again.” So she picked it up, read it again, this time somewhat sarcastically, then put it down again. The teacher said, “Read it again.” She read it again. Then she described what happened. “After about the seventh repetition I began to sense there might be some truth in this statement. That there was a possibility that God really loves me, Maya Angelou. I suddenly began to cry at the grandness of it all. I knew if God loved me, I could do wonderful things. I could do great things. I could learn anything. I could achieve anything. For what could stand against me with God, since one person, any person, with God forms a majority – now.”

In the storms and havens of life – God loves you and me!

In the dark moments of failure and sparkling moments of achievement – God loves you and me!

In places of faithful gift and prodigal loss – God loves me and you.

Just enter his embrace then, hold him tight and be led – be led home.

Maya Angelou quote comes from Sermon.com