Thoughts sunday by sunday

A Reflection on the killing of Marius last sunday

 

You might be thinking “why bother writing about the death of one giraffe?Yes he was cute and yes it was sad and gruesome what happened to him. But hey an elephant dies every 15 minutes, a family are made homeless every 11 minutes and most shocking of all 21 children under the age of 5 die every single minute. So what's so important about one giraffe? What does it matter in the scheme of things?”

I believe it matters for lots of reasons, the most important of which is because I believe it matters to God. I believe it matters greatly to God how we treat one another and how we treat creation. Mahatma Ghandi wrote “the greatness of a nation and its moral progress can be judged by the way its animals are treated' I wonder what the death of Marius says about us? It would seem to me that when animals are discarded and treated as expendable simply because they are surplus to requirements or their genes are inferior it is a very sad day for them and for us and one that shames us all .

The gift of life is precious and God given and it is dishonours our Creator when we take a life casually, brutally or just because we can. We won't all be vegetarians, we won't all have been up at the crack of dawn breaking ice for our chickens or horses or sheep. We won't all think pigs are cute or rhinos are beautiful. But please lets all think carefully how we live, how we treat the animals entrusted to us and how we safeguard their future as well as that of our children.

I have written this and the song below, not because I think Marius matters more than children, or his death is more tragic than theirs. But because I think his death ask big questions of us and most of all because I believe every life matters to God, every death matters. It is in the nature of love to care and I believe God is love and extends that love to all He has made.

A Song for Marius

For 18 months they cared for me I made them smile and laugh Their number one attraction a beautiful giraffe

Then came the day when all that changed as I watched the rising sun instead of bringing water they brought a loaded gun

Remember me I'm Marius and this is my last song tell the world how I was killed and tell them it was wrong

I was surplus to requirements so they shot me in the head and still the crowds were watching as I lay before them dead

Then they cut me up in public, Cameras honed in on the knife They fed me to the lions Such a brutal end to life

Remember me I'm Marius and this is my last song tell the world how I was killed and tell them it was wrong

They didn't have to butcher me They could have let me go Offers of another home came in but they said No

Don't ever let them silence you Until every creature's free You couldn't save my life but you can save my friends for me.

Remember me I'm Marius and this is my last song tell the world how I was killed and tell them it was wrong

 



Matt 4 v12-23 and feast day of Timothy and Titus 26th Jan

Some thoughts about call but mostly about companionship. Jesus called his first disciples, his first companions away from their fishing nets to a way of life beyond their imagining. And he called them before he started his proclamation of the Gospels and before the healings and miracles. The later disciples had a chance to glimpse Jesus in action before they signed up but the two sets of brothers followed before they had seen and so began their journey, their adventure in faith and trust whilst not really understanding the full extent of what those words meant. Jesus wasn't alone in calling and gathering disciples – all the leading teachers of his day did as did John the Baptist. But Jesus was different in that he didn't call them just to listen but to follow his way of being– a learning that touched heart mind and spirit. He called them to embody his teachings, not just to remember them, but to be the kingdom of God in that place and in that time and he calls us to that vocation too. We are to sit at Jesus feet but also follow in his footsteps. We are called away from familiarity to new challenges and new adventures, but only one step at a time thank goodness! Even though the steps are sometimes big ones and always life changing ones. We cannot be companions of Jesus and never change. St Paul whose feast day the church celebrated yesterday also gathered companions around him and today we remember Timothy and Titus, the two most well known ones who we read about in his letters.

There have been some wonderful companions in novels too,my favourites are Ratty and Mole from Wind in the Willows. I love their first meeting Mole has just emerged from his tunnel and stands on the edge of the river bank a whole new world opening up for him. He hears a voice calling  from the other side  “Hello Mole” said the Water Rat “Hello Rat “said Mole Would you like to come over?” inquired the rat presently. “Oh it's all very well for you to talk “ said the Mole rather pettishly he being rather new to a river and riverside life and its ways. The rat said nothing but stooped and unfastened a rope and hauled on it; then lightly stepped into a little boat which the Mole had not observed. It was painted blue outside and white within and was just the size for 2 animals.  The rat sculled smartly across and made fast. Then he held up his paw as the mole stepped gingerly down. “Lean on that” he said “now then, step lively” and the mole to his surprise and rapture found himself actually seated in the stern of a real boat!

In that moment of trust Mole took Rattys paw and they became companions shared picnics and adventures, accepted the worst in each other and brought out the best. That's what companions do they inspire each other, they laugh at each other and they cry with each other. And they draw each other closer to God

The word companion comes from the Latin com panis “with bread”, and reminds us that food, and sharing meals — feeds more than the physical body; it also nourishes us spiritually and inspires a sense of belonging of generosity and friendship. To eat with someone implies a level of trust with that person, it unites people. When we invite others to our table we are inviting them into our home, into our lives. It shows us that shared meals can bless and build up relationships and looking at the Gospels we can see how big a part accepting hospitality, eating with all sorts of people around a table - being in companionship with sinners and the high and mighty played in Jesus ministry. It was a meal where bread was broken and shared in an upper room that was Jesus last gift to his disciples, his companions and it was in the breaking of the bread that the disciples on the way to Emmaus finally and fully recognised him

At a  Eucharist, whenever we  share bread together we are companions. The companions of Jesus and the companions of one another. It is something to pray for to be known as a companion of Jesus, for our lives to so reflect his humility and servant hood and his grace that others would see us as those who are the companions of the one who invites everyone to his table- whoever, wherever they are. We can't always choose our companions but we can rejoice that we are called by Jesus to be his companions, imperfect as we are and that he gives us one another for encouragement, through all the irritations and all the joys and all the setbacks.

There are many in the world in desperate need of companionship. St Paul's dramatic conversion took place on the road to Damascus and two verses after the end of todays Gospel ,Mark tells us that Jesus' fame spread throughout Syria. If any nation and any peoples are in need of companionship today it is the people of Syria. So I do invite you when you go home and have your lunchtime meal to say a prayer for the people of that devastated country. And whether you live on your own or in a chaotic busy household perhaps you could use meal times as prayer times and thanksgiving times, a time to remember your companions of today and of the past. And to remind yourself that you are always a companion of Jesus who has called you to his table and into his Kingdom Perhaps as we have just journeyed through the week of prayer for Christian unity the final word can go to another set of companions - the three musketeers and their famous motto 'all for one and one for all' – may it be so here, in our mission community and in our world. Amen.

Week of Prayer for Christian Unity

 

Lord Jesus, Risen Lord, we come to you today, in different places, with different experiences, different needs. We gather apart, but in your name we gather as one. Lord Jesus, Risen Lord be our unity this week and always. Amen

Play a piece of music to reflect and entrust to God the disunity within our own hearts and lives.....

God of all we bring to you our sorrow at the divisions in our churches and in our communities. Our lack of care for one another and all your creatures. Our narrow mindedness that blinds us to to the riches of other traditions and to the gifts of our neighbours. Inspire and equip us to be channels of healing,and above all reconcile us to you and to one another. We pray in the name of the Trinity in whom there is unity in diversity and the richness of mutual love. Amen.

Reading to reflect on :The Hope of Salvation – Julian of Norwich

My mind was lifted up to heaven and I saw our Lord as a lord in his own house where he had called his much loved friends and servants to a banquet. I saw that the Lord did not sit in one place but ranged throughout the house, filling it with joy and gladness.

He himself courteously and companionably greeted and delighted his dear friends with love shining from his face like a marvellous melody that has no end. It is the look of love shining from God's face that fills the heavens full of joy and gladness. If I look at myself I am nothing. But if I look at us all I am hopeful; for I see the unity of love among all my fellow – Christians. In this unity lies our salvation.

Silence

Prayers

We pray for a greater appreciation of the blessings of diversity. For a willingness to be open to new ways and new partnerships. For generous hearts in sharing the combined gifts entrusted to the church

We pray for a church that can be honest in strength and in weakness. For the integrity to face new challenges and to give up old prejudices For a listening heart that can receive as well as give.

We pray for the grace to celebrate one another's gifts. For a spirit of co-operation that will open doors closed by wounds of the past. For a vision greater than ourselves, alive to changing needs

We pray for humility to recognise our frailty. For courage to allow the Spirit to work through us. For an expectation that allows that all things are possible with God.

We pray for one another, that individually and together we may share the good news of the Gospel and be faithful in prayer For hearts filled with the spirit of hospitality and service that all may share in the Lords banquet of love and joy and gladness. Amen.

Feast of St Clare August 11th

Luke 12 vv32-40

I want to take you back to 13th Century Italy Not actually a great place to be. Wars, political violence. Religious strife, particularly between Christians and the Muslim world, abject poverty for many and massive wealth for others causing resentment  and tension – sounds pretty familiar!

And yet amidst all of that 2 very special people were born around the small town of Assisi—Francesco Bernadone and Chiara di Offreduccio St Francis and St Clare and it is St Clare whose feast day the church celebrates today. How fitting that the Gospel reading is a challenge to us all about possessions and wealth about our availability, about serving Christ with a humility and an attentiveness that brings happiness and fulfilment. Qualities that epitomised her life. St Francis has always got the bigger press through history – and Clare has been a secondary figure- I could comment that today women are still having to play second fiddle to men in the church but perhaps I won't go there this morning!!

For St Clare and the poor Clare sisters who lived with her weren't looking for glory in the worldly sense, they didn’t see the life that they were called to—poverty and simplicity, and a rejection of violence and privilege and status —as a grand gesture that elevated them above other believers. They just simply had faith, they took Jesus' words to heart, they took them seriously and they lived them out in their lives. They saw in Jesus, someone different, someone special, someone radical, someone they believed to be the Son of God. They saw that Jesus spoke to those like the Samaritan woman at the well and the tax collectors, they saw that Jesus not only noticed lepers but healed them He blessed the peacemakers, he drew the lowest, the poorest and the most despised into the embrace of a loving creator while challenging the powerful and the overly religious to let go of those things that came between them and their heavenly Father. Clare took to heart Jesus teaching about the last judgement, when people would be held to account for how they treated the hungry and homeless and dispossessed of the world. How he challenged his hearers to sit lightly to the things of this world and to embrace the things of the next. Balancing the paradox that the Kingdom of God is yet to come and yet is here among us, shaped by who we are, how we pray and what we do. In a time of instability and uncertainty, they chose to do the most foolish  thing of becoming powerless and poor.

They renounced and reclaimed—they renounced privilege and reclaimed integrity; they renounced power and reclaimed trust; they renounced status and reclaimed love. They renounced wealth and reclaimed joy. They renounced authority and reclaimed servant hood.

The path Clare and Francis and their followers chose wasn't an easy one – to us it seems incredibly austere and harsh . But when they fasted, for example it wasn’t to deny life but to increase their dependency on God. It was a revival of Kingdom values, challenging a powerful, rich and often corrupt church. It was an outpouring of the Holy Spirit, born in joy and longing, in weakness and obedience and lived out in exuberance, passion, hard work, faith,obedience and trust. They were ridiculed, they were misunderstood, they went cold, they went hungry, but gradually more and more men and women saw in their way of life something of the Kingdom of God, something of the life and love of Christ. Something that made them question their own values The pope himself was deeply moved by St Clare's example and she was canonised not long after her death. No mean thing for a women to be honoured in such a way!

800 years later,Poor Clares are still among us, still following Christ, they are found encouraging, they are found, teaching, they are found sharing in the suffering of others, they are found inspiring communities to share resources.  They are found drawing us into a deeper relationship with creation. Some are within religious orders; others are in movements calling for economic and social justice; some are helping others explore reconciliation.   Some are quietly, living out their lives prayerfully, lovingly and simply in cities and towns, in slums and in villages. Like all saints, they aren’t perfect but they make a difference in the same way we all can—doing what wecan to show that love is ever present in the world. They are awake, alert and ready to meet the needs of others in Christ's name. And significantly, they under gird all their doing with being and with prayer and they de- clutter. Giving away, all that comes between them and God's calling on their lives. In taking time out to be still, they get more done. In being silent, they have more profound things to say. And in giving away they are enriched- we all are.

But most of this morning won't be rushing home, listing everything we own on ebay and giving the money to charity, we aren't asked to. But I hope we might all ask ourselves a few simple questions as we give thanks for and celebrate the life of St Clare.

What is our treasure? Where are our hearts. What might we give away or give up. Do our possessions possess us ? How can we simplify our lives. Who are we called to serve? Where might we make a difference, however small? what might you renounce? What might you reclaim?

I leave you with some words of St Clare herself.

 

"Gaze upon Jesus, consider Him, contemplate Him, and as you desire to imitate Him totally love Him, Who gave Himself totally for love of you."

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28.08 | 20:17

Hi Lynne, the video of the moon bears was very sad and moving. I am a supporter of WWF and at present tigers are my thing. You are an inspiration. Bliess you.

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07.03 | 13:54

How is Dessie doing now? Hope the wren is enjoying today's sunshine and singing of the joys of Spring

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16.11 | 18:22

A new friend recommended we spend a day at Mill House Retreat sometime and suggested I check out your website. I love your writings and the pictures you create

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01.06 | 13:22

Lynne, Your words are beautiful! After reading your bio I realized you are living the life I aspire to, simplicity, quiet, silence, Divine awareness in all:)

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