Friday, January 29, 2016

Peeling the Holy Family off the floor

I should have taken a picture of the sticker which had survived from Christmas Eve on the floor of the Contemporary Worship space until today. I noticed it on Monday during a lecture, but we were packed and I decided the spectacle of one of the clergy falling to her knees and scrubbing at the floor might be disconcerting.

Today we have some visiting Nuns setting up a program. When I went up to greet them, I remembered the sticker and went over to remove it. Mary and Joseph had been badly scuffed but Jesus was still peering out from below some footprints. When I had finished I said jokingly that scraping the Holy Family off the floor was not the best - and it really wasn't.

I guess I wondered how often I let the Christmas image get worn and scuffed, that Good News of God in human form. I wonder how often I let it sit for weeks, uncared for - and then worse, decide it is a messy old sticker in a room which is not set up for old pictures. I do not want to say that it was not doing any harm and I should have left it either. I do not think The Incarnation is harmless and should be left to wear on its own. Not drawing a conclusion, just wondering aloud.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Telling our inner story

When I was asked to take on a new portfolio a few months ago I was a bit bemused. Evangelism and Spirituality seemed, at first, like two very different creatures.

Although I do not define Evangelism in terms of large tent rallies and brilliant speakers that image still sat in my mind and was at variance with the idea of a quieter and more deliberate path to God.

The way I really define Evangelism is that it is telling our story. Not in clever words or in long theological phrases but in saying, "God matters to me because...." There is nothing to be embarassed about, but we are, all too often. We find it hard to speak things externally which we often treat as internal. When we are upset or angry we often hold the feeling inside or express it appropriately, to do otherwise is childish and not well controlled. So we tend to treat our strong emotions of love or tenderness towards God as things to be hidden or spoken of carefully in metered terms. Only children, after all, blurt out affection.

Developing a strong sense of ourselves as Spiritual beings, deeply in touch and in love with God, is vital if we are to be good story-tellers. People are drawn to a passionate and compassionate story - but often not to a watery expression of something, which intuitively, they know should be breath-taking if it is anywhere near true.

We have to cultivate a deep relationship with God if we are to tell the story of God and we have to speak, not only in the still small voice, but with the courage of the crashing wave or the clanging symbol, for all of these praise the Lord and we are not called to bashfulness.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Slow prayer

As I prepare to head back from a very cold Massachusetts to the relative heat of Florida I am struck by the huge contrast of the place where I am, the monastery of St. John the Evangelist and pretty much everywhere I will be going.

Monastery life is on a different timescale and has different references than my life. There is a real feeling here that time is ample because time is regulated by rhythm. That might sound strange but a monk takes many years of soaking in a daily routine of slow prayer before making a full profession, he is entering into this for life. Perhaps I understand better the idea of a long catechumenate, the body of Christ is a lifelong commitment and we might do well to baste ourselves a little more in God'S presence before we take up our mantle of full Discipleship.

Meanwhile there is hurry and anxiety and anger around me. I am a priest, and I am reminded as a priest that this calling is also a lifelong one. Too often I expect some reward or token. Too often I want all to be well immediately. The message of the monastery is that all is well, God is amazing and merciful. Rushing is no good for us - we were made to adore our maker and to be molded by that adoration,  and that takes time.