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  • At Home in Lent - Day 41

    Bills... well, I very rarely have any physical bills these days, I pay most things by direct bank transfer, and have gone 'paperless' wherever I can.

    But bills and taxes, and the render unto Caesar story (which I used yesterday as part of our reflections for Palm Sunday) are the focus for today.

    The people come to Jesus with an either/or question - to pay taxes or not - and Jesus gives a both/and reply - give to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's. This is the aspect of the reflection that attracts me - the very human desire for neat yes/no answers and the reality that 'it's complicated'.  The very natural desire to be able to decide what is right/wrong but the realisation that it's endless shades of grey.

    Paying taxes, or bills, is just part of everyday life, a way that society orders itself and pays for the things it needs - or chooses - to undertake.  We are free to withhold our taxes, and some do, and there will be consequences. We are also free to challenge the 'Caesars' of our day as to how they spend the taxes they collect in a way not possible in Jesus' time.

    Whilst gathering the money to pay our bills, and fund our mission, are essential aspects of church practice, we do so recognising that we live with a curious both-and of 'rendering unto Caesar' and 'rendering unto God'... and sometimes that can be very tricky indeed.

  • At Home in Lent - Day 40 (I think!)

    Today's object is the newspaper, and the idea of media as a means of spreading information - and disinformation.

    I have to confess to being so busy at the moment that I am barely keeping up with the news, but I am left wondering what the news reporters might have made of the events we recalled this morning.

    I've always liked that we have four accounts of Jesus' life, albeit three closely aligned, which suggests that interpetation and speculation are always OK when we read or hear these stories.

    I wonder how many people, globally, took part in processions, parades or marches this morning? I wonder what, if anything gets reported?

    Taking a short break now before evening worship which will include some lovely choral and organ music. Bliss.

  • #PeoplesMarchwithJesus and beyond...

    As ever, the gracious people of the Gathering Place went along with my somewhat bonkers approach to Palm Sunday.

    This year, we joined the #PeoplesmarchforJesus creating posters and parading into Jerusalem.  We came to the Temple area and reflected on some stories about money, listened to some scary predictions about the destruction of the city, and then joined the disciples in the upstairs room for supper. After praying wih Jesus in Gethsemane, we watched as he was dragged away and the cross was laid out before us.

    It seemed to go quite well, and there were many precious moments to treasure.

    palm sunday 1.jpg

    palm sunday 3.jpg

  • At Home in Lent - Playing Catch-up

    This is the third day since I posted anything - life has been pretty full on and I haven't read the book, let alone thought about the ideas.  So now, finally a quick catch-up!

    Three objects:

    • A salt-shaker
    • A dining table
    • A chair

    Rather than try to pull together the threads of the reflections, I'll attempt something of my own...

    Over the last nine months I have invited everyone who is part of our church to come to the manse for a meal.  Not everyone has been able to accept, but for those who have done so, it appears to have been an enjoyable experience.

    The dining table in my kitchen is where we gather for meetings, it's where children play, paint and create while adults discuss scripture, it's where weddings are planned, it's where I lay out props for services... and it's where we eat, chat, laugh, pray, and, very occasionally, sing.

    The dining table in my kitchen is rather battered - water has been spilled damaging the varnish, there are a few rings where coasters/mats were missed, and certain kitties have left scratch marks here and there.  But these marks are part of its story, and part of mine/ours.

    The chairs are something of a hotch-potch -  four are smart dining chairs, four are former 'choir chairs' from church, two are folding chairs from IKEA.  Sometimes they are supplemented by office chairs or stools, and we squash up to fit in more people than is really comfortable.  I like the imperfection of this mix, and the way it draws together different parts of my life - links with the past (mine and the church's) and with other places, as well as the present time and place.

    And the salt-shaker? I rarely use salt in cooking, but when I have folk round for meals it is there on the table. Because hospitality isn't about imposing what I like on others, but about enabling others to enjoy themselves, and a little (or a big) bit of salt can be part of that.

    I like that in some small way, my kitchen reflects real life, in all its diversity and complexity. I like that around a bashed table, on mis-matched chairs, and with food seasoned to individual taste, we can experience communion... and I like to think that Jesus might agree!  

  • Bible Study - Series Finale!

    This afternoon W and I met with our Iranian friends for the final Bible study of the session.

    We used our imagination to imagine the temptations Jesus may have faced from Gethsemane to Calvary using hints found in the gospels...

    • The temptation to avoid the cross altogether - and the decision to submit to God's will
    • The temptation of violence - and the healing of an injured man
    • The temptation to lie to escape conviction - and the dignity of truth
    • The temptation of anger/bitterness - and the choice to forgive
    • The temptation to save himself (and others?) by coming down from the cross - and the refusal to do so
    • The temptation to focus on himself - and the compassion for his mother, his friend and a convicted criminal he may never have met before
    • The temptation to give up in the face of seeming abandonment by God - and the decision to commend his spirit to God's safekeeping

    No doubt there are other temptations that could be deduced, without the need to imagine things not directly hinted at in the gospels.  The key message we drew out was Jesus' humanity, which was/is as real as our own.

    Afterwards, we shared a yummy Easter tea and more wide-ranging conversation.  A good afternoon!