Time to pause …

 

Friends

As the clock completes its annual circuit, we are invited to pause…

To pause to examine our lives. To go through each month of the past year – remembering what took place around us and within us. We do so without judgement and without the need to justify anything. We steer between the unhelpful cliffs of condemnation and complacency. Instead, we hold all things – all situations and all people in compassion. Compassion is the life-giving combination of grace and truth. Truth without grace can be mean, while grace without truth is meaningless. Together they convict and comfort (strengthen)… this frees us to make our confession (get real about our living).

We pray: Spirit of truth and grace come and convict and comfort me today, that I may get real about my living. Amen.

This past year:

  • Who were the significant people?
  • What were the significant events?
  • What am I most grateful for?
  • What has this year (COVID year) revealed to me?
  • What have I learnt about myself? People? Relationships? Life? Jesus / God?
  • Who / what has made me angry, sad, hurt, disillusioned, resentful?
  • Who / what has made me joyful and free?
  • Where have I been the recipient of generosity?
  • Have I been truthful?
  • How have I done justice, been merciful and walked humbly?
  • What do I never want to forget?
  • What do I always want to take with me?
  • What do I want to leave behind?
  • What do I want to start doing…or start again?
  • What do I want to end?
  • If I were to die today, what would be my greatest regret?

 

These questions are simple signposts inviting us to explore a particular direction of our living. How far we would like to wander along each path is up to each of us…

Note: This time of pause is served best if we carve out unhurried time. We cannot “speed reflect” – like we may be able to speed read. We can only do 30 minutes reflection in 30 minutes – no more. If a question fails to connect with us straight away, we are invited to stick with it for a little longer …

___________________________

Below are a few reflections from Augustine of Hippo. A person known for his confessions. The Augustine Confessions is, next to the Bible, the most widely read book in history. It is also the first autobiography as we know them. It is devoted to telling Augustine’s passionate journey of faith and life. We are invited to read and re-read his words – sensitive to what convicts and comforts us.

“Urged to reflect upon myself, I entered under your guidance the innermost places of my being; but only because you had become my helper was I able to do so…

O eternal Truth, true Love, and beloved Eternity, you are my God, and for you I sigh day and night. As I first began to know you, you lifted me up and showed me that, while that which I might see exists indeed, I was not yet capable of seeing it. Your rays beamed intensely on me, beating back my feeble gaze, and I trembled with love and dread. I knew myself to be far away from you in a region of unlikeness, and I seemed to hear your voice from on high: “I am the food of the mature: grow, then, and you shall eat me. You will not change me into yourself like bodily food; but you will be changed into me”.

Accordingly, I looked for a way to gain the strength I needed to enjoy you, but I did not find it until I embraced the mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

Clear is your response, but not all hear it clearly. They all appeal to you about what they want, but do not always hear what they want to hear. Your best servant is the one who is less intent on hearing from you what accords with his own will, and more on embracing with his will what he has heard from you.

Late have I loved you, O Beauty ever ancient, ever new, late have I loved you!

You were within me, but I was outside, and it was there that I searched for you. In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things which you created. You were with me, but I was not with you. Created things kept me from you; yet if they had not been in you, they would not have been at all.

You called, you shouted, and you broke through my deafness. You flashed, you shone, and you dispelled my blindness. You breathed your fragrance on me; I drew in breath and now I pant for you.  

I have tasted you, now I hunger and thirst for more. You touched me, and I burned for your peace.

When at last I cling to you with my whole being there will be no more anguish or labour for me, and my life will be alive indeed, alive because filled with you. But now it is very different. Anyone whom you fill you also uplift; but I am not full of you, and so I am a burden to myself. Joys over which I ought to weep do battle with sorrows that should be matter of joy, and I do not know which will be victorious. But I also see griefs that are evil at war in me with joys that are good, and I do not know which will win the day.

This is agony, Lord, have pity on me! It is agony! See, I do not hide my wounds; you are the physician, and I am sick; you are merciful, I in need of mercy.”

Grace, Alan

Be warned, this Baby grows up quickly!

Today we welcome Jesus the baby, but he does not stay a baby for long!

Soon Jesus will be inviting us to leave all our Christmas presents behind to follow him on the narrow road of generosity, gentleness, justice and infinite mercy. A road that includes ridicule and death yet never will we be more alive. This radical-world-healing-way is a difficult road but strangely it is the very road we were designed for and the road we desire to travel more than any other.

To prepare for this baby that grows up quickly as well as to deepen your sense of belonging at CMM, I invite you to join me for two evening discussions:

7 p.m. on 23 January: Jesus’ Invitation
7 p.m. on 24 January: Jesus’ Dream

These evening discussions will also prepare us to renew our Covenant relationship with God on Sunday 27 January, remembering that “…Christ has many services to be done. Some are easy, others are difficult. Some bring honour, others bring reproach. Some are suitable to our natural inclinations and temporal interests, others are contrary to both… Yet the power to do all these things is given to us in Christ, who strengthens us.”

The most dangerous prayer we will ever pray … and the most fulfilling!

I am no longer my own, but yours.
Put me to what you will, rank me with whom you will.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for you or laid aside for you,
exalted for you or brought low for you.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to your pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer,
you are mine, and I am yours.
So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
let it be ratified in heaven.
Amen.