Son rise

After what some of you may consider to have been a surfeit of pomes (sic) last week, when I was in a reflective mood, this week I am returning to the more ‘normal’ style of bloggage. Except that I’m going to cheat slightly and post a reflection based on something I said in Sunday evening’s sermon at our church. So, apologies to anybody who has already heard this.

Sunrise & Sunset 2
To be fair, this is not an image of the sun rising over Horsham!

In my first church, in Horsham, we used to have a sunrise service on Easter Sunday mornings. We would trudge and squelch our way across some fields and up a hill that overlooks the town. Usually it was after the sun had risen but it was still very early in the morning and we would reflect on the events of the first Easter Sunday.

On one occasion I asked some of the teenage girls in the church to interrupt me as I was speaking. The idea was that while I was speaking about the encounter that the women had with the risen Jesus they would rush down the hill through the crowd shouting, “Jesus is alive! We’ve seen him, we’ve met him!” The girls were quite excited about this and sneaked to the back of the crowd to await the cue. My idea was that I would try to bring a little realism to the narrative. I didn’t count on a retired minister who was part of our church.

As the girls started to make a commotion and ran down the hill shouting, “Jesus is alive!” Gordon turned around to them and told them to be quiet and stop messing around.
The girls were a little taken aback by this but thankfully they decided to continue and ran down the hill as arranged. They were not going to be shushed by anyone!

Sometimes churches are like Gordon: we can unwittingly try to stop the good news of Jesus from spreading. I think everybody is hard-wired not to like change but somehow when we get together in churches we can be even more resistant. Perhaps because God is unchanging we think we ought to be as well.

Gordon also typifies the reaction of the disciples on Easter Sunday when the women burst into their room and told them that Jesus was alive. They were told to stop being so silly and calm down. What did they think they were doing interrupting a serious and important meeting with their excited and exuberant shouting?

Thankfully, just like the girls on the hill overlooking Horsham, those women would not be silenced. They had the greatest news in history and they wanted everyone to have an opportunity to hear it.

Over to you.

Be blessed, be a blessing

B lieve it or not!

Before most people were awake

Beside themselves with grief

Baffled about how they would move the stone

Bewildered about Friday

Bemused about the empty tomb

Bowled over by the angels*

Blurred vision through the tears

Blissful in recognition

Blessed by the impossible

Breathless with excitement

empty tomb

*Some later less reliable manuscripts include these words:

‘Behind you’ chuckled the angel

‘Boo!’

Alarmed

Just been woken and brought to immediate alert by the fire alarm going off in the hotel. Grabbed shoes, jacket and keys and was heading out of the door in my pyjamas when it stopped and one of the staff came around to say it is a false alarm.

Was it a sneaky way of checking out our pyjamas? Was it a shocking way to make sure we are all up and at breakfast on time? And do I dare take a shower now, with the possibility of another false alarm?

I am going to live dangerously either way – don’t shower and find myself sitting alone. Shower and risk being outside sans pyjamas!
Sent from my BlackBerry smartphone from Virgin Media

it’s twirly

It feels early. I have been awake since 5.30, and don’t want to be. There’s something nice about having to wake up early if you are getting up to go somewhere – perhaps in the car, trying to beat the traffic, or to go to catch a train or a plane. Everything seems calm, quiet and fresh. Closing doors on cars seems unusually noisy (perhaps I should not slam them!), voices seem to carry further and even footsteps seem amplified. Perhaps this is because there is not so much background noise, so we are more aware of them.

Rest and RelaxationBut I don’t want to be awake now (did I mention that?). For some reason my internal alarm clock went off when I did not set it and now I am awake (almost). I will attribute any spelling miskates to being bleary-eyed, not having my contact lenses in, and being too tired to be bothered to check the text. (However that last one was intended for comedy effect.)

So when I am lying awake at 5.30 in the morning I have three options: lie there wishing I was asleep again; get up and do the things my brain has started thinking about; or go back to sleep. Since the last one seems beyond my abilities today I have gone for option B. I have sent the emails that I had remembered needed sending, I have realised that because I am away for a couple of days I ought to write something on my blog to let people know that service may be intermittent this week (do you see how subtly I did that?) and I have decided that in a minute I am going to have a relaxing bath to start the week.Bubbles

But before I leave you to go and relax among the bubbles, I want to reflect again on the first paragraph. What is the background noise that makes it more difficult for me to hear God? Not just physical noise, although that makes a difference, but busyness and business, distractions and attractions? I try to make regular space to stop and listen to God (writing blog entries is one of those) but also need to be able to filter out the background noise to appreciate more fully what he is saying. I sometimes think that God only speaks in a whisper, but the reality is that he is often speaking at full volume but there’s too much else going on for me to hear him.

And is it any surprise that some passages about Jesus praying start with ‘Early in the morning…”?

Let’s pray

Dear Lord,

So far today, I am doing all right. I have not gossiped, lost my temper, been greedy, grumpy, nasty, selfish, or self indulgent. I have not whined, cursed, or eaten too much. I have not taken what is not mine, and I have been very content with what I have.

However, I am going to get out of bed in a few minutes, and I will need a lot more help after that. Amen