Saturday, 22 September 2012

God’s ever expanding Kingdom

The pews creaked as I contemplated approaching the altar for Holy Communion. I had been praying, Lord, I am not worthy to receive you, but only say the word…but would the priest deem me worthy? Was I going to be permitted to give myself to Christ in this act of receiving Holy Communion, and thus take one step closer to my desired union with God?

As I knelt reflecting on the possibility of a place for me in God’s Kingdom, I reflected on the creaking pews, not only in this church, but around the world, all those kneelers stretched under the weight of so many looking for a place in God’s Kingdom.

The creak of the stretching wood is an evocative image, reminiscent of the creak in heaven as God stretches out to enfold us.  It is also reminiscent of our bodies and minds stretching, extending and reaching heavenward; the creaking wood is but a tiny echo and a tiny reminder, that God’s divine grace, and our desire for eternal life are one continuous exercise in stretching.  May your whole life stretch out before you, as you stretch to embrace God’s love which enfold you.

May our journeys be shared, and may life be one.

Two people meet each other on a single track road.  The person heading west knows that her destination is a mile ahead.  The person heading east knows that his destination is a mile ahead in the opposite direction.  The two sit in their cars staring at the other; each desiring to preserve their individual ways of life, each hoping that none of what has already been gained on the journey will be lost.  What will happen if one were to back-up to a lay-by or side drive?  Would his journey lose ground?  Would life go on, or would it come to an end?

Similarly, we might consider the farmer, who growing his grain, was afraid to cut it.  After all, the grain is growing, the field is producing grain, and if you cut it, the field will cease producing of this harvest; the farmer will lose the very thing he is there to produce.  What shall the farmer do, shall he cut his grain, or shall he keep it?  If he loses his grain, will he lose his livelihood?

Obviously, this is a ridiculous proposition, because the purpose of farming is to cut your grain that the people of this world might have food to eat.  If a farmer did not give up his grain, or his cattle, or whatever crop or animal is his source of livelihood, then the world would go hungry, and the farmer’s purpose would never be met.

Just as the farmer must share his crops (give up his crops) that others may live, so when we drive down a road on a daily journey, we realize that the road we drive down is a shared way.  If progress is to be made then we must give way to one another, we must share what we so easily view as ours, otherwise neither of us moves from our track, then no progress will be made by anyone either behind or ahead.

Just as what makes a farmer a farmer is that the farmer produces a product for the livelihood of others, so, we share the road, because if we each held onto our piece of road, as if the piece of road makes us who we are, no-one would get anywhere.

As we have been celebrating harvest festivals across the country, let us remember that our lives are best lived when our lives are shared with others; life given by one for the sake of another.  Living a life that is not shared or given for others is no life at all, but more like single track road leading nowhere.

I stand at the door and knock

In the book of Revelation we read, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
The verb to knock is an apt one, communicating a persistence and eagerness. It is especially appropriate in our media driven climate where nearly everyday people are vying for our attention.’
In this day of mobile phones, email, texting, tweeting, and skyping, we frequently have too many people ‘knocking’ at least electronically if not really, and with the knocking comes the choices, overwhelming choices, over who will get my attention in this moment? To survive, we quickly learn to pay attention only to what is important and to ignore what is not immediately necessary. After all, isn’t that what the answer-phone, the text and email inboxes are for, to keep messages that we do not have time to get to?

If the tsars of advertising had their way, we would live at the beck and call of every form of modern communication technology, as if we were all nurses or doctors who are constantly on-call. If you are like many others, you will find it all too fatiguing, and at some point you will turn off the phone, the computer, and answer phone, close the curtains, bolt the door, and dream of those days before anyone could find you in any minute of any day.

Yes, in this day and age, “I stand at the door and knock’ may sound like one more distraction, one more unnecessary commotion. But this knock, the knock of Jesus is different. He wants to come in; he wants to be your place of rest. In his patience, he waits for you, he is in your inbox waiting to be dealt with.

Over the years, people have told me that the thought of Jesus is unbelievable and our Christian faith is little more than a mind-game. It has been said that yes perhaps Jesus did live, but not anymore, he is gone and buried, and there is no one there knocking anymore. Perhaps, with the onslaught multimedia devices, this thought is comforting, one less distraction in my life, and one less thing to have to attend to.

But, what if, just what if, he really was there, knocking at the door of your heart, but with so many distractions you couldn’t quite hear or didn’t find the right moment to deal with it? So, perhaps He is still there asking you if he may enter into a relationship with you; one that would feed you and the world. Would you, could you, be ready to welcome such an encounter? Jesus tells us he is there; our shared faith testifies to Jesus’ continual and constant knocking and waiting. All you need to do is open that door, and together, nourished in His grace filled presence, the rest of the knocking will be dealt with in its turn…but, it will only happen if you stop and make the time, take the time, to open that door.