SCATTERING DARKNESSES

I LOVE TO PRAY an advent blessing …

Christ the Sun of Righteousness shine upon you
and scatter the darknesses from before your paths

… and I also love Mary Oliver’s poetry, that knows the Sun so very intimately. “Why I wake early” speaks to the Eternal Warmth:

dear star, that just happens
to be where you are in the universe
to keep us from ever-darkness,
to ease us with warm touching,
to hold us in the great hands of light –

Here’s the Advent message! ha, ha! – intended for every living, breathing product of Divine Love:

Good morning, good morning, good morning

Thank God for the poets. Thank God for the poets. Thank God for the poets! And read them, and hear them, and be present with them, and pray with them, that every other living thing, whosoever they may be, and wheresoever they may be, and whatsoever their present circumstances – they may thrive both after and Before The Sun Rises (Stay put, just for a moment; click this link to share a good morning with one of my friends).

Good morning. Good morning. Good morning. Thank God for the poets in every time, and in every tradition, and in every place.

Jesus of Nazareth came to be known by some as Christos or “Anointed” – because God breathed in him, and because he both knew and prayed for dawning and good morning, for everyone, always, “on earth as it is in heaven”. The Life of the Life-Giver breathes in you and me too, we, the anointed in our day, who sing in every tongue to the sun of righteousness and –  learning to breathe as one – say and pray

Christ, whose glory fills the skies,
Christ the true, the only Light,
Sun of Righteousness, arise!
Triumph o’er the shades of night:
Dayspring from on high, be near;
Daystar, in my heart appear.

Dark and cheerless is the morn
unaccompanied by thee;
joyless is the day’s return,
till thy mercy’s beams I see,
till they inward light impart,
glad my eyes, and warm my heart.

Visit then this soul of mine!
Pierce the gloom of sin and grief!
Fill me, Radiancy Divine;
scatter all my unbelief;
more and more thyself display,
shining to the perfect day.

Charles Wesley

WORDS AND IMAGINATION’S ART

1-DSCF3116

CALLIGRAPHIC ARTIST Stephen Raw is undoubtedly one of my favourite people. Visitors to his Exhibition at Bramhall Parish Centre today spoke one after another of his smile and his warmth, and of Margaret’s welcoming and supportive hospitality. Stephen’s a man with poetry in his soul and a big, generous and inclusive imagination. And that’s probably what I love about him. Poetry, inclusivity and imagination.

1-DSCF3117

Poets gift humankind with precise, ordered expression, an offering that means something important to them – and that is gift indeed. But there’s also subtext in the gift, an invitation in the poet’s offering, a calling to the imaginations of each and every individual reader to do his or her own interpretation – like the biblical invitation; like the very parables of the Christ. Poetry. From the Greek Poetes – “to make, create, compose …”

1-DSCF3128

Heightened awareness of colours, blended, crafted, melded, become, by way of Stephen’s creative contemplation and patient turn of hand, the universe upon which the gifts of the poets are inscribed. And if poetry calls us etymologically to the root of her subjects, so Stephen’s care-full placing and calligraphy and colouring take us, by means of a grace beyond our telling, to the root of all things – to the depths of imagination. So some of the happy conversations I’ve delighted in today have been hugely energising! I’ve discovered once again that I’m not alone in my being fired and coloured with the passionate conviction that worthwhile THEOLOGY absolutely needs the art and grace of ETYMOLOGY. Our approach to God, to the universe, to our world, to our relationships, to our Scriptures, to the daily craft of our lives, requires IMAGINATION.

1-DSCF3129

one of the collaborations between Stephen Raw with Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy

Bishop John Taylor’s “Kingdom Come” echoed in my mind throughout the day. Though we may not understand what he meant by it, the bishop wrote, we know what the Gospel of Jesus Christ was:

The time has come; the Kingdom of God is almost here; turn your minds round and believe the good news

Here, Bishop Taylor goes on, is the keynote of the faith of Jesus of Nazareth. Here is the word which, on his lips, moved people with such extraordinary power. If we could resuscitate that declaration so that it conveyed in the terms and in the experience of our world the essence of what it meant to his, might it not stir the pulse and quicken the imagination of a new generation in our own day and restore a clarity of purpose to the churches? Yes, yes, yes! Jesus’ very own poetry invited the people he addressed then, and every generation since, to use their imaginations! (And the Aramaic he spoke, rather gloriously, lends itself to layer upon layer upon layer of interpretation, development and re-membering). Jesus was – and is – anything but a literalist / fundamentalist.

1-photo 1

Tell me the truth about Love – WH Auden | The entrance at Bramhall Parish Centre

And I’ve been thinking today of my friend Fr Roger Clarke who introduced me to the works of the late poet Sally Purcell – because throughout today (and many another) I’ve “heard” the epigraph to her Collected Poems. It speaks to me of the Grace – and of the Art of God

Y sobre todo tendras / los regalos de mi pecho, / las finezas de mi amor, la verdad de mi deseo …

a translation of which is

And above all you have / gifts from my breast, / the subtleties of my love, the truth of my desire

1-DSCF3124

Thank God The Divine Artist Who, in company with co-creators, invites us all to employ the grace of imagination!

1-DSCF3127

LIGHT A CANDLE

LightACandle

FOR OUR DEARLY LOVED ONES or people further afield – Afghanistan, perhaps, or Myanmar or Syria. The bereft and the blessed. The faraway and those having fun. The going and the coming. The hopeless and the fulfilled. The lonely and those revelling in relationship. The sad and the glad. The sick and the healthy. The suffering and the rejoicing. The wondering and the knowing. The wishful and the satisfied. The weeping and the laughing.

All we long for …

And sometimes we just don’t know what to say, or what to pray, or what to do – and it’s then that we wind up thanking God for the little miracle, the tiny gift that is lighting a candle, or maybe a small table lamp at home, the gift that lies in God’s inviting us, in the very act of the lighting and the remembering, to

Let go. Let God

It’s highly likely that I’ll have lit a candle in recent times for YOU. Thank you for your light and love and prayers for me, too.

SAME THING MANY DIFFERENT WAYS

kaleidoscope

HUGO GOT IT immediately – the point and purpose of our 10am Kaleidoscope Mass, the first of twelve, one a month, on the first Sunday of the month, for twelve months. 

Hugo, when I asked him what he’d seen when he looked through a kaleidoscope, said

I’ve seen the same thing, many different ways

WHAT THE CHURCH IS FOR

And that’s what the Church is for! More than that, it’s what LIFE is for. Seeing the same thing, many different ways.

(Everyone gets a chance for a look: we’ll be passing a dozen or more of the marvellous instruments around during each “Kaleidoscope Mass” and then offering them back to God, collected in a basket – the offering of ourselves in our “many colours” and our innumerable perspectives).

MAKING A EUCHARISTICALLY THANKFUL PEOPLE

We’ve been wanting to draw younger people, and older people, and every age in between, into deeper ways of celebrating and making Eucharist (making thanksgiving, offering thankfulness, redemption and peace) together. How can we make connections between “the Lord’s Table”, the altar, in Church, and the “the Lord’s Table” at home, in kitchens and dining rooms?

Kaleidoscope i Large

RE-MEMBERING

Can we encourage one another, by the grace of this Sacrament, to remember and re-member the faithfully Jewish Jesus of Nazareth – and the grace and love he proposed for all people – every time we “eat this bread and drink this cup” – whether “at Mass / Holy Communion / the Eucharist / the Lord’s Supper” in Church, or at daily breakfast, lunch, hillside picnic for 5000, or dinner?

Can we encourage one another to believe that our Christ (ie Christos – “anointed” and commissioned) intended, brilliantly, that this universal human act and need (eating and drinking) could, and might still, make communion for every child and woman and man upon earth, of whatever faith tradition, or of none. Can we see that “redemption” is a calling each of us back home to our senses? – to OUR vocation to be “christos”, called and commissioned in our world, in our time, today.

WE’RE ALIVE – THANK GOD!

How do we remind ourselves that sacramental sign and symbol is given to point us to universal (catholic – inclusive – applicable for all in every time and every place) truths? How do we help each other in Church, and at home, and at work to make a holy communion? How can we help one another to be a truly eucharistic (thanks-giving) people, thereby enabling one another to be truly, thankfully conscious of being alive?

How do we re-member, how do we “put flesh on the bones” of the Body of Christ now on earth?

… Gather us in, the lost and forsaken, gather us in, the blind and the lame; call to us now, and we shall awaken, we shall arise at the sound of our name.

We are the young, our lives are a mystery, we are the old who yearn for your face; we have been sung throughout all of history, called to be light to the whole human race. Gather us in, the rich and the haughty, gather us in, the proud and the strong; give us a heart, so meek and so lowly, give us the courage to enter the song.

Marty Haugen

reordered-2_med

TOGETHER

Well: by doing it TOGETHER. And by seeing and hearing and imagining the message of a Kaleidoscope – an instrument that presents a single vision initially, and an attractive enough one at that. But it gets better when there’s some interaction, when we engage with a bit of what the Greeks call “metanoia” or “repentance” – a turning around. When we turn the viewer around we begin to see things from many different perspectives, many different times, traditions, native origins, birthrights – many different places. We begin to see the same thing, many different ways. We recognise again, as though for the first time, a great Love at the heart of all Life that seems to be be calling us all to be one: to be a holy communion.

FLEXIBLY

How though? How …?

Well: flexibility is a fundamental. And there has to be both fun and some proper solemnity – perhaps better called “depth”. We’ve found it helpful to have a big carpet for people who like to sit on the floor, with a doll or a teddy or a granny, to be able to. And we like things we can shake to make a joyful noise when we sing. And when we shake things we find that they shake us and so there’s a kind of a “Lord of the Dance” without any effort.

There has to be, for us, something of the glory of liturgy – or “the work of the people” – and we need as many as possible to be directly, physically involved. So today a very small, very young, very smiley boy headed the procession bearing a very special, very small processional cross, specially made by our very smiley Sexton.

UNSEEMLY SCRUM? or LIGHT, HOSPITALITY & HUMILITY?

And one of our churchwardens brought coloured lanterns for acolytes, borne aloft by six youngsters, encircling two more as they proclaimed the Gospel. We looked at kaleidoscopes, and the children presented a brief “It’s My Party” at which an unseemly scrum took place as some naughty people fought for best place – learning quickly and solemnly that that doesn’t make for Communion – and it’s always a wider, eternal invitation that makes for a real union. Hospitality calls for humility – on the part of both giver and receiver.

And we engaged with lavabo – washing each other’s hands; and raising bread and celebrating with wine, together (some behind and around me, some before and beside me) – together, we gave the thanks. And took, and blessed, and broke, and gave – and were fed – and were taken, and blessed, and broken, and given.

LIKE BEING AT HOME

And then we didn’t want to go home. Perhaps because we felt we were home. Sherry and squash at the West End. A buzz. Catching up on the News – and a whole host of views, about Syria, and song, and nail varnish. We didn’t want to go home. For quite a long time. Thankful. Eucharistic. Our first Kaleidoscope Mass. Seeing the same thing, differently. New life taking wing. Something new to sing.

Will it work well for twelve months? No-one can tell. But today was great. The Lord was doing a new thing. It’s very likely that in twelve months (or even before then) we’ll need another rethink. So be it. But that will involve team work, like this one, as well.

THANKS BE TO GOD

Next one, Sunday 6th October – Dedication & Inclusion – with Messy Church on 28th September in between …

messychurchKaleidoscope ii

DOCTOR, PRIEST & PIZZA

BE TRANSFORMED by the renewing of your minds – Romans 12.2

Heartfelt thanks to Andrew Moore with whom I’ve just spent an exhilarating seven hours talking non-stop (apart from a quick hike down to Pizza Express where the conversation continued apace) on art, cosmology, medicine, music, poetry (all the way through biblical, to Shakespeare, to modern, “edgy”, international stuff), prayer and prose, philosophy, psychology, psychiatry, quantum physics, spirituality and theology, world faith traditions – and everything in between.

Today’s been one of those really glorious experiences of all things “coming together” that serendipity occasionally conjures up for us. Having met to talk only once before, and that briefly, we’d planned a more orthodox sort of a meeting between 3 & 4pm. And I’m wondering how to begin to describe the avenues we’ve walked – a medic and a priest – and the world scenery we’ve taken in.

Answer: I can’t. Not in a short piece! But the height and breadth and width and depth of this simply fabulous TED talk (discovered with another special friend and thinker with whom I’ve talked and dreamed dreams until well-nigh “kingdom come”) by the marvellous Benjamin Zander – charismatic conductor of the Boston Philharmonic, The Youth Philharmonic, Teacher at The New England Conservatory of Music, and author of “The Art of Possibility” – might go some way to giving just a flavour.

Benjamin Zander is, for me, one of the world’s exemplars of what it means for a person to have what Patsy Rodenburg has simply called PRESENCE.

Don’t aim to increase from 3-4% – why not go for 100%? …

BRIGHT FIELDS

40498560

 

2 Corinthians 9.6-11 & Matthew 6.1-6, 16-18

RESPONSE TO THE WORD

IMG_4076 IMG_4071 IMG_4070 IMG_4069 IMG_4068 IMG_4067 IMG_4066 IMG_4062