Pentecost Prayer

Spirit…
energy of the dance…
promise in the water…
rush in the wind…
rhythm in the word…
poetry of the faith…
silence in the horror…
patience in the waiting…
question in the wonder…
curve on the horizon…
brightness in the sun…
speed in the light…
life in the resurrection…

Come Spirit…
be it all…
and bring us into renewal once more…

~ written by Roddy Hamilton, and posted on Mucky Paws 

Photo taken at Faith and Fabric exhibition at Brunswick Uniting Church on 09 November 2014

I took this photo at Faith and Fabric exhibition at Brunswick Uniting Church on 09 November 2014

 

 

That They May be One

‘That they may be one’; this is the prayer Jesus prayed for those who would believe in him long after he was gone. It’a a prayer that continues to reverberate as Christ believers still behave in ways that undermine the unity of the Christian church and thus, the credibility of the idea that God is at work in the world.

Inspired by a retreat that I attended last month, which introduced me to the idea of Quantum Entanglement I’ve been challenged and excited by the lectionary readings in recent weeks with their emphasis on how our relationships with each other have the power to change our surroundings and indeed, the world.

When we observe the other with love, particularly that prickly, unlikeable other; that has the power to make a statement to the watching world about discipleship: quantum entanglement. When we love our enemy and pray for our persecutor; that has the power to push back the darkness inherent in enmity: quantum entanglement.

When we desist from labelling the clean and unclean, that has the power to change perceptions and the history of the church: quantum entanglement.

Whenever the church, empowered by the Spirit of God, allows that its many expressions and diversity of views are one under God, observers catch a glimpse of God in Christ. This, in turn, enables something of the love of God to break through: quantum entanglement.

Unity is not easy; it takes effort, but the power of unity is more than we can know or understand – it’s a power to change the world: quantum entanglement.

that they may be one

Word Pictures of Mercy

In 2005 I came across this word picture in a novel of what it’s like to receive mercy:

The world will give you that once in a while, a brief timeout; the boxing bell rings and you go into your corner, where somebody dabs mercy on your beat-up life.

Sue Monk Kidd, The Secret Life of Bees

providing mercyI was working in a public hospital in the role of a pastoral care worker. There, I found myself sitting with people who had been flung into unimagined places by an unexpected and unwanted diagnosis or prognosis, who were facing their own mortality or had experienced the death of a loved one. Often, their experiences challenged the sure convictions I then held. More than once, I was faced with the dilemma of accompanying someone into places that I felt certain I would not go. What did I think I was doing?

As I wrestled with this, Monk Kidd’s word picture captured my attention. It dawned on me that I was learning what mercy means in the extreme places of life where no rules seem to apply. This mercy was outside of the religious terms in which I thought of it. All of us, when pushed to the edge, live life as we can, not as we must according to prescribed dogma, religious or otherwise.

I worked in a public hospital offering pastoral care to patients and their families until recently (September 2015). Countless conversations now lie behind me in which I have listened to people’s attempts to make sense of what has happened to them or to their loved one. For example, Irena wondered if she had somehow betrayed Milan by consenting to his hospitalisation. She sat daily for long hours beside his bed and watched his condition deteriorate in alarming ways.

Often, people do not refer to religion or faith or spirituality and some are at pains to let me know they are ‘not religious’. Yet, almost without exception, when the unexpected, unwanted thing has happened, these conversations reflect the human need to reach beyond or to hope for something bigger. So, despite having told me categorically that there is no god, Irena hoped that Milan was ‘in a better place’ when his horrible dying is over. What is this hope? I wonder if what she hoped for him was mercy – and also for herself now that she is alone with her grief.

All of this inspired me to look for other word pictures in literature to join the one I cherished from Sue Monk Kidd. Once I began looking, I found them in sacred texts, classical literature, poetry, song lyrics, fiction and non-fiction. I’ve collected some of my favourites and will present them in coming posts.