Archive for the ‘faith’ Tag

Contentment amid life’s circumstances   Leave a comment

Today is Sunday but Jackie (my wife) and I have decided to skip church.  However I write this little spiritual reflection as a thought for today.

image of the word contentment

[Photo credit: Victory Church, 201 US-441, Micanopy, FL 32667, United States]

For the last month or so my overarching feeling has been a sense of contentment; contentment amid life’s circumstance not because of them.  Now, I have bipolar and my mood is currently on the up side which is doubtless a psychological basis for this but there is also strong spiritual component.  Life is full of uncertainty at the moment with a lot of unexpected change going on for several family members and my wife and I in particular.  However, I keep recalling the Biblical phrase: “underneath are the everlasting arms”.  Here is the full quote in context:

Deuteronomy 33:26-28New International Version (NIV)

26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
    who rides across the heavens to help you
    and on the clouds in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you,
    saying, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety;
    Jacob will dwell[a] secure
in a land of grain and new wine,
    where the heavens drop dew.

So despite the facts that: my Dad has terminal cancer; my job is unexpectedly coming to an end in December; my younger son is amid his A levels and needs very good results to get into university he wants; my wife’s job is overly stressful but she has not been able to secure alternatives; … ; in the words of Julian of Norwich I have a deep assurance that:

All will be well, all will be well and all manner of things will be well.

This perspective leads to contentment – the feeling that amid the uncertainty and stress I am where I am supposed to be and God is taking care of me and my family.  In the words of a response in the liturgy of the Eucharist:

Blessed be God forever.

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Posted June 14, 2015 by Martyn Cooper in Random notes

Tagged with ,

4th Sunday of Advent – “Expectation and preparation”   Leave a comment

The Bible passages set for today were: 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12, 14, 16; Romans 16: 25-27; and Luke 1: 26-38.

The story in Samuel is one of the numerous stories in the Old Testament where the people of Israel have to be persuaded to repent of worshipping false gods and to turn again the The Lord. Then after God gives them victory in battle over the Philistines (always something that challenges my view of God’s interaction with history); it ends with an image that was much repeated throughout my youth and one I can gladly own for myself.  They set up a stone and called it Ebenezer – “Hitherto the Lord has helped us”.  I have always loved the reference to this in my favourite hymn, the one I have said since my teens I want at my funeral, “A sovereign protector I have” by Au­gus­tus M. Top­la­dy. To my view this must be sung to the wonderful Welsh tune Trew­en (both my Grandfathers were Welsh and Welsh spirituality touches me easily). I was going to just quote the last verse that refers to the Ebenezer but the hymn is such a complete summary of things that are important in my own faith I quote the whole:

A sovereign protector I have,
Unseen, yet forever at hand,
Unchangeably faithful to save,
Almighty to rule and command.
He smiles, and my comforts abound;
His grace as the dew shall descend;
And walls of salvation surround
The soul He delights to defend.

Inspirer and hearer of prayer,
Thou shepherd and guardian of Thine,
My all to Thy covenant care
I sleeping and waking resign.
If Thou art my shield and my sun,
The night is no darkness to me;
And fast as my moments roll on,
They bring me but nearer to Thee.

Kind author, and ground of my hope,
Thee, Thee, for my God I avow;
My glad Ebenezer set up,
And own Thou hast helped me till now.
I muse on the years that are past,
Wherein my defense Thou hast proved;
Nor wilt Thou relinquish at last
A sinner so signally loved!

[Augustus Toplady, December 1774]

I had a few other thoughts coming out of today’s readings but compared to those well crafted and deeply felt words by Rev. Toplady which I claim for myself they are just noise, so I will leave today’s reflections there.

Friday 16 December 2011 – “Tasting the fruit”   Leave a comment

The Bible passages for today were Isaiah 56: 1-3, 6-8 and John 5: 33-36.

God is no Nationalist

The notes point out that Isaiah was writing at a time of political tension for the Kingdom of Judah (when has that not been the case in that part of the world?), a time when Nationalistic feelings would probably have been rife.   However he points out the inclusiveness of faith in one God.

Let no foreigner who has bound himself to the LORD say, The LORD will surely exclude me from his people.
[Isaiah 56: 3 NIV]

I remember a practising Jew sharing with me once his perspective on being “God’s chosen people”.  It was not that they were better than other people, or special, but that they had had laid on them the burden of revealing to the rest of humanity God as one universal God.  The historians of religion point to several separate origins of the idea of monotheism but it’s development in Judaism has certainly had great global influence with that religion’s direct influence on Christianity and Islam.

As for me and my faith, I can not believe in one God who is partial to one Nation over another.  That is analogous to the, to me, nonsense idea of one a football fan praying to God for success for his side over another.  A universal God must be making himself known to all Peoples and loving all Peoples.

Wednesday 14 December 2011 – “When God is in charge”   Leave a comment

The Bible passages for today were: Isaiah 45: 6-8, 18, 21-26 and Luke 7: 19-23.

The title for today’s reflection and the passage from Isaiah brought to mind a song popular, especially during the 1980s, in what some might disparagingly call the “happy clappy” end of the church spectrum. The opening line and title is “How lovely on the mountain are the feet of Him …” and it is by Leonard E. Smith Junior. It is commonly known as “Our God Reigns” because its chorus between the verses based on Isaiah 52: 7-10 is a simple repetition:

Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!
Our God reigns!

I have known it sung with great emotion; indeed have sung it so.  It sometimes causes me to question though is this an expression of a deeply held faith or an emotional way of trying to induce, or convince oneself of such a faith?    As the notes for today’s reflection point out, and as the stories of men/women of faith down the centuries has testified it is sometimes hard to look around the world with all its horrors and struggles and see God in charge.

I can only come back to the ground of my own faith in God the creator and sustainer of the universe here.  Indeed Isaiah does the same:

For this is what the LORD says— he who created the heavens, he is God; he who fashioned and made the earth, he founded it; he did not create it to be empty, but formed it to be inhabited— he says: I am the LORD, and there is no other.
[Isaiah 45: 18 NIV]

The story from Luke is where John the Baptist sends two of his disciples to question if Jesus if he is “the one who is to come”.  And Jesus sends them back to report what they see of his ministry which appears to be fulfilling the prophecies of Isaiah. Then there is a little verse at the end of today’s suggested reading which caught my eye, which I do not remember noticing before:

And blessed is he who takes no offence at me.
[Luke 7:23 RSV]

I have checked back to the original Greek (I am not a trained biblical scholar but have a few tools to hand) and found the word translated offended here is in Latin script form: “Skandalizo” meaning to put a stumbling block or impediment in the way.

So is what Jesus is saying here really something like: blessed is the person who does not find me a stumbling block to faith?

I think that is something I need to ponder on further before making further comment.