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Rhythms of reflection

God of each new day
and all the days that have gone before us –
all the way back to the beginning – 
and all the days that have yet to unfold –
all the way into the eternal embrace of Your Love –

we thank you for the rhythm that You bring to life,
for guiding light, 
for expansive love, 
for Your sustaining grace.

We confess, this day, 
just how often we lose sight of You 
in all the spaces and the changes …

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We confess, this day, 
those parts of our lives that have become dull and shaded 
by an absence of love or light …

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

We confess, this day, 
our tendency to walk out of step with Your Spirit and truth,  
favouring too much either rest or work …

Lord, have mercy.
Christ, have mercy.

Give us, this day,
the grace to recognise and experience the Love
that embraces and shapes and fills 
not only our world – 
but our innermost being – 
as we open our hearts and minds 
to Your living Word
who calls us 
to be hopeful,
to take risks,
to be committed,
to be determined, 
to be generous, 
to dream of what can be 
as we take his lead
and tell a story –
about You and about us – 
that sets us free
to live and breathe and move and have our being
in Jesus’ name. 

Amen.

In silence, reflect: 

  • Where have you felt the presence of God this week?
  • Where have you felt an absence of God this week?
  • What difference does the absence or presence of God make to life?

Wednesday: speaking with Jesus

Now that same day two of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem. They were talking with each other about everything that had happened. As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them; but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them, “What are you discussing together as you walk along?”

They stood still, their faces downcast. One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, “Are you the only one visiting Jerusalem who does not know the things that have happened there in these days?”

“What things?” he asked.

“About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel. And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place. In addition, some of our women amazed us. They went to the tomb early this morning but didn’t find his body. They came and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive. Then some of our companions went to the tomb and found it just as the women had said, but they did not see Jesus.”

He said to them, “How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?” And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going farther. But they urged him strongly, “Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over.” So he went in to stay with them.

When he was at the table with them, he took bread, gave thanks, broke it and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognized him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, “Were not our hearts burning within us while he talked with us on the road and opened the Scriptures to us?”

They got up and returned at once to Jerusalem. There they found the Eleven and those with them, assembled together and saying, “It is true! The Lord has risen and has appeared to Simon.” Then the two told what had happened on the way, and how Jesus was recognized by them when he broke the bread.

Luke 24:13-35, New International Version

Reading this passage again and thinking about it brings back some memories and raises some questions we don’t often think about.

Looking back over my own life since I became a Christian I remember times when I know that Jesus has spoken to me in various ways and been with me in various situations:-

My teenage years serving time as and apprentice Joiner and Carpenter and meeting Jesus for the first time.
My time searching for Jesus call on my life.
My time as a mission Carpenter in Papua.
Meeting and marrying my wife.
My time in teachers college training as an industrial arts teacher.
Back to New Guinea teaching in a coed High School.
Settling in Australia and serving in various churches and working as a Builder and latterly as a Joinery Manufacturer.
Now retired.

Two things stand out to me in the above passage.

  • How often does Jesus walk with us and we do not recognise Him?
  • How often do we feel the fire and warmth of His presence and even then are not sensitive to His presence?

I could list many ways in which I have experienced Jesus presence and the times when I have been ignorant. This would be no great advantage to you. I ask you to dwell on your own experiences. I believe He treats us all as individuals and speaks to us and meets with us in ways that suit us.

May the fire, warmth and peace of Jesus be yours each day.

R. Fraser

Tuesday: attentive

As I sat down to write this morning, I was quite convinced that I would offer in this space today something meaningful and important around the practice of silence in centering our lives around the wellspring of God’s Spirit.

Instead, Rory – my very adorable, very neurotic border collie-kelpie cross -rushed up the stairs to find me and ask what we were doing next. She was delighted to discover that I was about to settle down to work and promptly rushed off to find something of her own to occupy herself with …. 

… a much loved half-chewed green squeaky toy that has lost its head but not, miraculously unfortunately, its ability to squeak.

Rory and her Squeak

As she threw it into the air and pounced upon it as it landed, I noted the irritation rising within me at each “squeak, squeak. SQUEAK SQUEAK!” I was trying to start my day off right. I was trying to have a quiet moment. I was trying to draw near to God. 

As her toy flew in yet another wild arch across the bedroom, I heard deep within me the words “But I’m already here” and felt a sense of wonder and relief suffuse my spirit. 

In trying to orchestrate a meaningful encounter with God, I was missing out on a special moment of companionship and unconditional love, of spontaneity and simple laughter.

As she lies quietly at my feet right now, I take a moment to appreciate how the light streams in through the bay windows. To listen to the birds singing just outside in the branches of a jacaranda tree. To smile at the mother walking past with two little ones on bicycles. And to see the presence of God in them all. 

There is nothing that I need to do to make God draw near for God is here. This is what resurrection means. 

So … the invitation today, the discipline for us to cultivate as we seek to live the resurrection life: be attentive. God is with you. Open your senses to what is happening in the world around you in this very moment and let that be the basis of your prayer – with or without words.

With much love
Yvonne

Monday: presence

A longing prayer based on Psalm 16

God, engrave this song upon my heart –
My Maker,
My Mediator,
My Master:

Your path leads to pleasant places,
and every good thing that I encounter 
as I walk within Your way 
is a gift, a treasure from You.

You counsel and correct me.
You whisper words of wisdom to me.
Like star light on a dark night,
You show me what to do next.

You wrap Your presence around me every moment
so that I am assured of Your closeness and availability
and may rest confident in the knowledge
that You will not abandon me to the realm of death.

As this new week unfolds,
may I be open to the continual revelation 
of Your resurrection life
and come face-to-face with You –

my Prize,
my Pleasure,
my Portion. 

Amen.

It’s good to be back in Pilgrim’s familiar sanctuary space after a couple of weeks on leave, to feel the soft comfort of the carpet beneath my feet, to watch the light dance in from the windows, to see crayons and cushions and kids’s books waiting to be put to use in Sunday’s worship ….

My heart thrills with the memories of a moving Advent|Christmas|Epiphany journey:
~ of a giant star and shepherds adorning the roof to proclaim the story,
~ of old carols sung with great joy,
~ of a bare Christmas tree brought to life with each week’s additions,
~ of children baking gingerbread biscuits for morning tea,
~ of seekers walking the labyrinth,
~ of heartfelt and spontaneous communal prayer for the world’s great need,
~ of hands stretched out in comfort and fellowship to those evacuated from the fires,
~ of a little church in Mangoplah absolutely packed on Christmas Eve with friends and families from across the Southern Region bound together by song and food and laughter ….

For us as a family, there has also been the usual jumble of emotions after the departure of visiting family, the announcement of long-awaited HSC results, two trips to the emergency room to patch up injuries, the death of a beloved pet, the long monotony of the school holidays punctuated sporadically by family outings and a seasonal cold, end-of-year cleaning out and tidying up, and a seemingly endless stream of washing ….

This is both the gift and the mystery of the Incarnation for me – that God is to be found not only in the sacred and the special but in this moment of this day: in the slow typing of text across this page, in the faces of the people passing by (some clearly happy and others decidedly unhappy), in mundane discussions about telephones and storage, in items checked off the to-do list, and a quiet moment in which to savour a sip of coffee and daydream for a while.

As Benedictine sister Joan Chittister prays:

Loving God,
You who dwell in our hearts,
make for us a cave there in which to hear your voice more distinctly,
feel your care more tenderly,
understand your will more clearly,
and come to know your presence at every moment of our lives
with new clarity and new courage,
with new faith and new urgency.

May the presence of the Christ-child grow with and in you, today and always.

Yvonne