Archive for the ‘destiny’ Tag

Reflections on today’s service: preaching, salt and light.   Leave a comment

Today was an ordinary service (mass) at my church, but several things stood out for me and captured my thoughts.  I briefly note them here.

I am not St. Paul’s biggest fan.  It is not his fault but I regret in some parts of the church it seems that his teachings dominate over Jesus’.  However, today’s reading from 1 Corinthians caught my attention afresh and I quote it here in full:

1 Corinthians 2:1-12

New International Version – UK (NIVUK)

2 And so it was with me, brothers and sisters. When I came to you, I did not come with eloquence or human wisdom as I proclaimed to you the testimony about God.[a] 2 For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. 3 I came to you in weakness with great fear and trembling. 4 My message and my preaching were not with wise and persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, 5 so that your faith might not rest on human wisdom, but on God’s power.

God’s wisdom revealed by the Spirit

6 We do, however, speak a message of wisdom among the mature, but not the wisdom of this age or of the rulers of this age, who are coming to nothing. 7 No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began. 8 None of the rulers of this age understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.9 However, as it is written:

‘What no eye has seen,
what no ear has heard,
and what no human mind has conceived’[b] –
the things God has prepared for those who love him –

10 these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit.

The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God. 11 For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God. 12 What we have received is not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, so that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Footnotes:

  1. 1 Corinthians 2:1 Some manuscripts proclaimed to you God’s mystery
  2. 1 Corinthians 2:9 Isaiah 64:4

The sermon, based on this and the other readings set for today, was about preaching.  The Gospel reading was part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount [Matthew 5:13-20].  It begins with Jesus’ call for us to be salt and light in the world.

I have not had any formal role in the church for about 10 years now.  Sometimes this causes me to question: What is the purpose of my faith journey? What am I supposed to be doing in the church?  However, these passages, and the service more generally, reminded me that it is my whole life that is the purpose of my faith journey.  It is in how I live my life I am called to be salt and light. That that is a form of preaching, a role, and one that is an enormous  challenge.  I continually fail to live up to that challenge which God continually forgives.  However, that is my purpose, to be salt and light.  If God uses that to influence anyone, to preach as it were, that is His/Her business.

I felt blessed and encouraged by this morning’s service.  (Oh and I got to meet the new archdeacon who will live in the parish.)

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Posted February 9, 2014 by Martyn Cooper in Random notes

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Monday 19 December – “Nothing is impossible”   1 comment

The Bible passages for today were Judges 13: 2-7, 24-25, and Luke 1: 5-25.

Two stories today of elderly couples seemingly sadly resigned to being childless who were unexpectedly promised children who were to have significant roles in the stories that have come down to us about God’s interaction with humanity.  These were Manoah and his wife who became the parents of Samson and Zechariah and Elizabeth who became the parents of John the Baptist.

The title for today’s reflection “Nothing is impossible (with God)” comes from later in the first Chapter in Luke (v. 37)  when the angel promising the birth of Jesus to Mary tells her that Elizabeth in old age is expecting.  I don’t actually literally believe in nothing being impossible for God although I accept from the human perspective he is seemingly all-powerful. I believe the God in His/Her interactions with physical world constrains himself by the laws which He/She proscribed, even defined, the universe. However within that at any place in time there are a near infinite number of futures possible. In some miraculous way I can only wonder at and not explain, the God of possibilities, the great creative force, takes the risk of leaving some of the things that influence that future to the conscious parts of his creation.

Some people from what they claim as a scientific perspective argue the biological imperative to the extent that it seems to remove any moral influence from the individual or humanity collectively.  Some from a theological perspective argue that God’s purposes will happen whatever we as individuals think we decide.  My own perspective is that God, in enabling the biology to develop to the point of consciousness and moral agency has created the possibility for loving relationship between created and creator.  However this comes at great risk.  If God was a power mad autocrat he would not have chosen to enable this path.

Now this perspective turned onto the minutiae of our lives highlights our role in being willing to accept even expect the seemingly impossible in our lives as we seek to unfold them with God.  In different words this theme was brought out in the notes for today’s reflection and I close with the prayer from there that seems to fit it well:

O God, give me the courage today to set aside limitation and see differently, so that the “impossible” becomes possible through my trust and cooperation.
Amen.
[Your Journey to Christmas, Redemptorist Publications, p. 32]

Thursday 8 December 2011 – “Title deleted”   Leave a comment

There are a lot of challenging even contentious issues raised by the notes and the Bible passages set for today.  I was planning a short reflection before heading into the office but … (I ended up going in an hour late and finishing off these notes in the evening).

The contention for me begun with the title.  My convention on these blog posts of my reflections has been to title them with the date followed by the title chosen by the author of the notes. I could not do that today for fear of wrongly presenting my faith to the world (well anyone who happened on this blog).  Hence the rather bizarre title of: “Title deleted”.

Today, in the Roman Catholic calendar is the Feast of the Immaculate Conception (when Mary was said to be conceived free from original sin). Hence the authors of the notes for today had titled them “The immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary”.  Quite simply I do not believe in this dogma. Belief in Mary’s immaculate conception is not a doctrine within Anglicanism, although it is shared by many Anglo-Catholics. The tradition I was brought up in would have spoken of it as being “non-Biblical” and some would have spoken out quite vehemently against it.  Indeed it seems to be a doctrine not to have emerged in any part of the Church before the C11th or C12th [Frederick Holweck, “Immaculate Conception” in The Catholic Encyclopedia 1910].

While respecting that I have much to learn from Church history and the development of its formal doctrines I think this is a point where the church has got its “proverbial knickers in a twist”. The doctrinal “logic” goes something like this:

  • All men/women are born in a sinful state (the doctrine of original sin)
  • Jesus as God’s son came to save us from the consequences of that state and was Himself “free from original sin”
  • For Jesus to be free from original sin then his mother Mary must too have been “free from original sin”

This falls down for me on several points but there is a simple logical one.  Why then did not Mary’s mother (parents) not have to be born free from original sin and so on back to the first man and woman? Hence there would be no original sin.  My view is this is an example, and there are numerous,  where humanity in the limitations of its insight and intellect tried to tie up a divine mystery with a formulation of words.  The consequence is that you end up with a signpost (the doctrine) that is a poor, even misdirected, pointer to the sublime truth. [See my blog post: “Hello again Anthony de Mello“]

The Bible Passages Set for Today were Genesis 3: 9-15; Ephesians 1: 3-6, 11-12; and Luke 1: 26-38.

The Genesis passage is part of the story that gives rise to, or supports, the doctrine of original sin when Adam and Eve are found out for having eaten the forbidden fruit.  I have long liked a quote about this story (myth), I think by a former Bishop of Winchester: “whether or not there was a fall, man is certainly fallen”.

The passage in Luke tells of the angels announcement to Mary that she will bear Jesus.  If we read on a little, Mary goes and tells her cousin Elizabeth.  Then we get Elisabeth’s words that form part of the “Hail Mary” formulation:

Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus.
[After Luke 1:42]

In response to Elizabeth’s exclamation Mary utters the beautiful hymn of praise usually referred to as the Magnificat.  The includes the words: “From now on all generations will call me blessed“.  As much as I might reject a lot of the Catholic doctrine around Mary I have a deep reverence for her.  I gladly say the “Hail Marys” when the Angelus bell rings when I am on monastic retreat. The Reformation, like most revolutions, probably over-corrected in matters concerning Mary and this has possible led to a neglect of Mary in most protestant churches.

The passage in Ephesians covers God’s ordination: “He destined us in Love …” [Ephesians 1:5]. This brought to mind when I read it the post-Reformation debates between pre-ordination and free-will (Calvinism vs Arminianism) that I wrestled through as a teenager. However I am going to conclude this reflection with Mary’s response to her sense of God’s destiny for her, the Magnificat:

My soul doth magnify the Lord,

And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.

For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.

For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; and holy is his name.

And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.

He hath shewed strength with his arm; he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.

He hath put down the mighty from their seats, and exalted them of low degree.

He hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich he hath sent empty away.

He hath helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy;

As he spake to our fathers, to Abraham, and to his seed for ever.
[Luke 1: 46-55 KJV]