tangled up with us – thoughts for new year’s day

Tangled up with us
Anne and I are hoping to be camping at Pohara at Golden Bay.  We booked the site a year ago – but there has been a lot of rain this summer – we hope it has all passed by the time we get there in just over two weeks’ time!

One of the interesting things with camping is that you don’t know who your neighbours will be.  There is a randomness about that.  Some people are very interesting and some barely get beyond a nod or a quiet hello.

In John’s prelude he states ‘the word became flesh and dwelt among us.’  The concept explored in the notion of dwelt is tabernacled or camped.
Pitching a tent in our neighbourhood.
This is testimony to the God who gets messy with the world – entering the fray.  Risking.  Engaging.

Jan Richardson painted the image tangled up with you [http://adventdoor.com/2008/12/25/tangled-up-in-you/]
It is her interesting way of trying to illustrate what it means that the word became flesh and camped among us.
She writes: “God came to get tangled up with us, to become entwined with us, to be knitted and knotted into our lives.
The knots are not always tidy.
I can admire the wondrous and beautiful patterns that the Celtic artists accomplished, but the patterns and entanglements of my own life, and my own art, tend to be far less orderly.
Yet amid the complexities and complications and conundrums that life offers us, God twists and turns, walking the labyrinth with us and helping us find our way through.”

I have sometimes invited older people in rest homes to look back through their lives and reflect on the times when God seemed close, when they felt the encircling presence of God’s Spirit comforting them, prodding them, holding them, or confronting them.

I see that idea in the painting – God getting tangled up in our lives in this dwelling among us – or is it that our lives get tangled up in God’s life – God’s big picture.

Sometimes my life gets so small… caught up in the aches and pains, the plans and worries, the challenges and the dramas of my all too small ‘one day at a time form’ of existence.

But then on days like today I am reminded of the cosmic bigness of God camping among us in Jesus – his kingdom coming, a purpose unfolding… and I want to leap onto that page and shake off the smallness…  I want to join the song, go to that party, and leap and laugh with the delight of participating in God’s creative purposes.  I need the wider lens, and I need to be entangled in God.

But that tangling, that camping among us, also invites something – some release and freedom from the smallness my life can often get caught up in…

Here is how the great entangler is prompting me this year (can you make any of this your own?)…

I hear God asking:
Can you see where I might be camping in the conflicts you are having with some people?  Camping with you, but also camping with those others.  Does that change things?  Can you learn to see me in others and see what that might bring?

Can you see that I might be surrounding you in those memories that are too hurtful to name?

Can you see that I might be lifting you up when you bring to mind your shameful memories and selfish desires?

Can you give me room to be alongside you as you face those behaviours and reactions that you don’t control all that well?

From my place around, above, beneath and alongside you, can you let me set you free?

And we pray…

We confess our separation from you Lord God
And we confess you encircling, entwining, and entangling love that never lets us go.

We confess our behaviours that aren’t in the spirit of Jesus.
And we confess his call that we come to him and lay our burdens down.

We confess our cautiousness and our carefulness to not step outside our comfort-zones, and how that separates us from so many of our neighbours
And we confess your call that we love our neighbours as ourselves.

We confess that we often insist that you dwell among us on our terms and according to our categories
And we confess that you are bigger than us and we are glad.

Forgive us.
And you say, we are forgiven.

And we thank you for that forgiveness and the light that it sheds as we turn over a new page and enter another year with you.

blackcurrant relish

Anne made a wonderful blackcurrant relish yesterday.  The recipe comes from a wonderful little book  by Jenny Leith of Upper Moutere near Nelson.  We bought the wonderful ‘The Mighty Blackcurrant Recipe Book’ at the the Old Post Office  [image from Nelson Mail image on the web]

The relish is easily made:
450 grams of blackcurrants (frozen are fine, but freshly picked is warmer on the fingers and faster to cook!)
1 large red onion (chopped up is more effective)
2/3 of a cup on wine vinegar
1.5 cups of sugar
1 tsp salt
Boil for 20 minutes until soft and thick
Jar it up!

If you are new to cooking you might want to consider a few tips:
1. watch the brew so that it doesn’t stick to the saucepan surface and burn.
2. heat up the jars with hot water to prevent them from cracking
3. empty out the hot water before adding the relish (trust me on this one!)

So far we have eaten it with cold smoked chicken and on cracker with cheese.  It is heavenly and quite good for you!

wise women also came

The following reflection by the talented Jan Richardson [http://paintedprayerbook.com/2008/12/30/inviting-epiphany/] is well worth reflecting on as we ponder the meaning of Christmas.  There are always stories behind the written stories that are there for the telling.  They are, of course, speculative – but like this one, the speculations are interesting and encouraging.  This one in particular hints at the many different ways that space was made for the Christ-child.

Wise Women Also Came – Jan Richardson
Wise women also came.
The fire burned
in their wombs
long before they saw
the flaming star
in the sky.
They walked in shadows,
trusting the path
would open
under the light of the moon.

Wise women also came,
seeking no directions,
no permission
from any king.
They came
by their own authority,
their own desire,
their own longing.
They came in quiet,
spreading no rumors,
sparking no fears
to lead
to innocents’ slaughter,
to their sister Rachel’s
inconsolable lamentations.

Wise women also came,
and they brought
useful gifts:
water for labor’s washing,
fire for warm illumination,
a blanket for swaddling.

Wise women also came,
at least three of them,
holding Mary in the labor,
crying out with her
in the birth pangs,
breathing ancient blessings
into her ear.

Wise women also came,
and they went,
as wise women always do,
home a different way.