Saturday, 18 August 2007

Praise

Reflections on Psalm 118:6, 28-29 for a prayer meeting in 2006.


‘The Lord is for me, so I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me? You are my God, and I will praise you! You are my God, and I will exalt you! Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever!’


Praise acknowledges the other (who or whatever you are praising) for its beauty, presence, trustworthiness, love, self-sacrifice and faithfulness.

Praise has to come from the soul. Without your soul behind it, it is empty of meaning. You don’t usually give praise without something deep within you being touched and wanting to express something that has an emotional attachment.

Praise is an acknowledgement, thanksgiving and positive affirmation of someone’s actions or qualities.

You need to have a motivation to praise - to give praise demands sacrifice of self and raises the value of the other.

You impart some of your energy to build up the other, so you must be willing to do it. It takes you to another place, you have to be willing to move and lay open your ‘self’ and be vulnerable.

We can praise other, we can accept praise, though we may find that hard to do. We sometimes want it, but when it does come our way we don’t always know how to accept it.

Praising the Divine can take many forms. For some it may take the form of exuberant worship as this passage suggests, singing worship songs with others at church or some other positive uplifting personal sacrament. For others it may be more subtle - a quiet personal prayer with a candle, playing music, planting a seed or touching a tree.

Give praise where due and your act of self-sacrifice will be honoured.

Wisdom and Understanding

Notes for a prayer meeting in 2006

Wisdom: experience and knowledge, insight and practical judgement.

Understanding: perceive the meaning of, nature of, cause of; know how to deal with, agreed upon.

In this passage there is a sense of creation, not in the physical sense, but I a more psychological one - a sense that seeks meaning behind the action of creation. It is not suggesting answers to the great questions of creation, but asks us to accept what we see and try and sense the spirit in which it happened.

The more knowledge and wisdom you have does not always imply you can solve problems. More may remain unanswered because you have to accept that ‘the more you know, the less you know’. It may take you to a place where you are more happy because you have to accept the many unanswered mysteries - the world will remain a place with the unknown.
Wisdom and understanding implies that a time has to be spent living through a period whereby these qualities are fed by experience and learning. You have to go through the past in order to be in the present. You just expect ‘to get it’ in a microsecond - we all have to live and learn. The greatest period where Divine Wisdom and Understanding was birthed is beyond our small comprehension of time and space.

Receiving wisdom and understanding:
We have all been inspired by someone, taught by a teacher, mentored by a friend, followed the example of Jesus etc. And so we become a reflection of that person in some small or greater way as we aspire to their path and vision. If the earth has received Divine Wisdom and Understanding then it, too, must reflect that back. In all that we see around us we must see or sense a reflection of the Creator. It should tell us something about the creation process - about the pain and struggle, the beauty and wonder.

It should draw us nearer the Creator.

But can you hug trees or carry a stone in your pocket?

I walk out into the coolness of the garden after a warm spring day and kneel down on the soft grass to take in the fragrance of the wallflowers that fills the darkening sky. How can something so simple create such a beautiful presence?
I look around. Wisdom and understanding is all around me - an ancient spirit that entwines all things, long before our greedy souls clung to this fragile earth and devoured it to feed our selfish lives.

The possibility of the 'Maybe"

Can't remember where this note came from I wrote several years ago, but ever since I have been struck by the power of 'Maybe....'

In the ancient Celtic law and faith everything happened in threes. Thus when the Christian religion came, with the trinity concept, it was an easy adaptation. Now we can appreciate that it allows for more freedom than the dualism of the East, the yin-yang of black and white. The Celts allow for gray also, for yes no AND maybe.

Your vision is your home

Notes written for a prayer meeting a year or more ago

One of the great tasks in life is to find a way of thinking which is honest, original and right for your style of individuality.

The shape of each soul is different.

Be aware of thinking/ideas/people etc that limit you - that deny you your life.

Prisons: we allow ourselves to build prisons around ourselves and then choose to live in them. They may be physical, psychological - guilt, shame, belief, self-critisism... Perhaps prisons and dark dungeons are closer to home than we think.

Boundaries and Freedom

Some writing from June 2005
This is a passage about boundaries and freedom. God created the world and this gives impression of a set of constraints put upon it. A sense of a great eternal movement set in motion by God and which cannot be changed by anything we do.

And yet within that there is a sense of freedom that we are able to search for a sense of belonging. Who are we? What are we doing here? Is there a God? How do I make sense of the world around me? We try to find something that is greater than us - something that all cultures throughout the world have done and which seems to be an inherent part of our make up throughout history. We are all feeling our way towards him. But God is not far off, he is close, in fact we are within God, in all we do. All too often Christians seems to feel they can hop in and out of God’s presence. That seems an odd concept. It is our awareness of the Divine that we need to tune in to. That awareness must surely be without boundaries.

So do we have boundaries and freedom. What boundaries do we create and what freedoms do we have? How do they relate to your life? Are we free to search for God or are we limited by boundaries that we put up?

Monday, 13 August 2007

The Feminine Spirit


Anyone studying Judaism and the Hebrew religions, the Holy Scriptures such as the Kabbalah, Torah, and Talmud know the term ruach ha-kodesh as the Hebrew term for the Holy Spirit. "Ruach" means "breath" or "spirit," and "ha Kodesh" is a word akin to "holy". In Hebrew, ruach ha-kodesh is a feminine term, so that in the original language of the Bible, the Ruach ha-Kodesh is a "She." In the Old Testament, when the phrase "Spirit of God" is used, it is always the feminine Hebrew term. (www.christianwicca.org)


Things to do: find out more about whether the Holy Spirit is actually more female than I have always been lead to believe. Somehow, a more female Spirit makes more sense to me. Have I been given a distorted paternalistic view of the Trinity that actually now has a place for a female member? It certainly creates a more meaningful eco-theological/mother earth view of things.

Perhaps this is where Bible study could actually get interesting for once...

Wednesday, 1 August 2007

Fear of Difference

Is difference Biblical?

Is difference being able to worship the many aspects of God through the freedom to find our own spiritual rhythm?

Is Holism the answer to being able to express the Christian faith through Nature?

I see difference in Nature all around me - randomness, shapes, movement, instability and diversity. But man introduces sameness - same cars, houses, roads, wheat fields, golf courses etc. All are an attempt to control the many of humanity. With people wanting individualilty we all buy into the desire for the same needs of a car, house, DVD player etc. We become homogenous, yet we yearn from freedom and individuality. The world has too many people all chasing the capiltalist dream, a utopia that consumerism will solve. Where is our "self", our individuality, our relationship with the Divine - with the Other? How can you break out? Not easily if you are trapped in the world of the mortgage and work. Yet even freedom is scorned. Difference creates culture wars and insecurity - we must be brought together. People fight over differences - they want security, or they feel threatened. Where is our freedom to be different?

Age, shopping, culture, TV, work, home: they all compartmentalise us - because that is how we have to shape life. Does Nature do that? Perhaps so, even small ecosystems have control, micro-habitats, niche specific flora and fauna. Everything needs some sort of boundary to survive. Even the air we breath is confined to our atmosphere. But then it goes back to how do you perceive things outside your boundary, habitat, culture, religion. Threat, insecurity or a welcome diversity of knowledge, belief, wisdom and understanding?

Can we pick and choose? A bit of this and a bit of that? Can Holism really be embraced? We have to think of our own survival and security - that overrides everything we do. Survive. So we cannot entirely embrace other things, only what is within acceptable boundaries. The outside becomes our fear. We become fearful of other beliefs.

Rhythm and Belief

Does you body resonate with various 'belief' systems? Do you search for that with which you are in tune? What cultural traditions, practices or ideas imprint ideas on you from an early age? Do some people just "get it" whilst others don't?

Is there a natural rhythm that resonates with us and so leads us along various paths of belief? Is there something that we are all in tune with? How can you find your rhythm? If you have a spiritual belief, is it all about tuning into something and is what you tune into up to you? Can other people expect you to resonate with something (that isn't along your natural frequency)?

I am in the process of reading a book about NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) and the thought occured to me that the Bible is not written in a language I understand. Er what...? Well, perhaps it is like tuning into art, music or literature. Isn't it all the same? Well yes, but no. We all tune into different rhythms of language, music or art. Some people may love Harry Potter, others just don't get it! The same with Hip-hop music, vegetarianism or Shakespeare. If you want to tune into the Christian belief, but don't feel an affinity for its language or rhythm then what do you do? What hope is there for me I wonder? Will I be confined to the depths of hell just because I don't feel my body is in tune with modern evangelical styles of doing things?

Even Jesus struggled to get people to listen to his message and tune into his rhythm and language.