This Rhythm of Light’s Disappearance

This rhythm of light’s disappearance – Martin Stewart

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Realise:
each month for three nights the moon disappears
a darkness comes over to envelope us

Trust:
this interval of no light has a rhythm
this time is not one to fear

Venture:
touch what comes to greet you
grasp what has dared to appear
embrace what has once been avoided

For a faith that endures is a faith that engages

Observe:
even on those nights of no moon
the moon is still there
it is only we who behave
as if the lack of reflection means an absence

 

the simple rhythms of fullness of life

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the simple rhythms of fullness of life – martin stewart

the bird song at dawn
the warm woman in the bed
the first noticed breath after waking
the eyes opening
the shift of the body
the feet on the floor
the bathroom
and the water

echo of the first day
reminder of the womb

the wonder of lungs
the blood
the bones
the skin
the light

the earth
where I get to operate

the cleansing

whatever comes next I know
where I am,
what I am,
who I am,
that I am

the gift has already been given
what foolishness that I seek to find
what has already found me

it spoke to me

hawea-ranges
it spoke to me
– Martin Stewart

just a moment ago
I caught a wisp of cloud
moving over the peak
in the Himalayas

if I hadn’t been looking
I would have missed it

I didn’t really catch it – you know,
as if I could ‘handle’ it
I caught it in the sense of a mind-snap
it popped by
there to be noticed if I cared

I did notice
I was a long way away
across the planet in a building
not even trying to picture
that place I have never been

that wisp of cloud,
for a moment
I felt the chill of it

it spoke to me

I am just over here, it said,
quite close
tied to you really
my breath is so tender
you can blow it away if you want to

if you want to you can diminish me

don’t try to catch me,
care for me,
if I am well
you will be well

for this place is rather small
and you and I are not far from each other.

City in Ruins

Six years on from the devastating earthquake in my home city of Christchurch it was so very special to spend the evening prior to the anniversary in the care of Bruce Springsteen & the E Street Band who performed in Christchurch.
I enjoyed the whole three hour experience – the energy, the big-heartedness, the brokenness and the joyfulness of all that was offered.

20170221_205907But in particular I (along with the other 30,000 people it seemed) was moved to the core by his rendition of My City In Ruins.  The opportunity for collective lament in a sensitive ten-minute long rendition of the song was hugely helpful.  To be carefully lifted from lament to hope with the words ‘Come on, rise up, rise up’ was healing in the sense of being able to recognise from this distance that a rising had indeed taken place.  Slowly but surely a foothold in the future has emerged, for the city, for the majority of its people, and for me in my work and my other modes of life.  We have been held.

It was great to be invited into the kind of space where I could traverse the journey.  I hadn’t expected to be moved so deeply.  Thanks Bruce!  Thanks for the genuineness of your empathy and care.

Christmas Reflection

Some thoughts as the year passes and Christmas looms

  1. 25th. This year is so good – a Sunday Christmas… almost a whole week between last Sunday and Christmas Eve – so good for ministers/pastors! And, no meetings! Glory to God in the Highest!  Could we look to Sunday-ising Christmas?
  2. Summer heat. Some emperor decreed that we should celebrate the birth of Jesus on 25 December but he failed to take into account the implications for people from the other hemisphere. Silly man!  Actually, I don’t even think he knew there was another hemisphere!
    I quite like the lights and the wrapped up warm idea of a winter Christmas but can’t be bothered going to the other hemisphere to experience it and missing out on summer here!  I also think that some separation of Christmas from summer holidays and school starting would be more helpful for families struggling to pay all the bills. If it wasn’t for strawberries and raspberries I would advocate for a June Christmas celebration in NZ.
    Lynne Barb has offered some thoughtful things about a southern hemisphere Christmas here: http://www.lynnebaab.com/blog/some-christmas-thoughts-from-the-souther
  3. Timing. I feel like I have had the best year of my life – truly, I have had a lot of fun and inspiration – new friendships, writing, poems, tramping, an Australian adventure, my band getting together after 34 years, big exciting developments in our church life, and my daughter Hana getting engaged to our dear friend Will. But I got the timing wrong. I conked out two weeks ago and now I am limping to Christmas.  I have no complaints though – being in a team ministry has made it possible to get through a lot of things, but I’m done.  I hope the stuff for Christmas passes muster for I am drawing very deeply from the well!
    4.  Rest.  Anne and I have holidays starting mid-January, so we are holding the fort until then.  Fortunately, it is usually a slow patch, and there are no meetings scheduled (I wonder what it will be like to have a whole string of evenings off!).  We need the rest, and it looks like it will come to us.  May it also come to you and your loved ones.  Maybe that is the best thing about a summer Christmas, we work it hard until Christmas Day and then the NZ world stops, takes a breath and kicks off its shoes.  So…
    May the barbeque not run out of gas.
    May the car not break down or the tent rip.
    May the phone not ring with sad tidings.
    May you find beautiful spaces to re-create and re-imagine in.
    May the company you keep be light and friendly.
    May the earth not shake, the seas not roar, nor your skin burn.
    May your jandaled feet not blister or crack.

May the cool air in the evenings refresh you.

May the challenges of next year come slowly.

And may the God who graces us in Jesus Christ, so grace you that your cup overflows!

Advent Prayer

Here is a prayer I have prepared for Advent Sunday tomorrow…

Introduction:
It is Advent Sunday – we start the Christian year again
With Advent is the invitation to deeper engagement
What has been said before will be said again,
but with two significant differences:
firstly, the world is not as it was before
– it is better and it is worse, that is the nature of the world;
and secondly, we haven’t been who we are before
– we are always at the edge of growing,
and deepening our engagement with the dynamics of God’s grace at work in us…

so we pray

As the late spring winds blow
and test the hold that the new leaves have on the branches,
so God we invite your spirit-presence into our lives
and the lives of those about us.

God we do not seek you as a comfort-blanket under which we can hide,
no, we invite your turbulent love to sweep over us
and this land, and this world in need.

Stir us, enliven us, engage us,
that in this season of Advent
we will hear again, as if for the first time,
of your invitation to live the transformed life.

You come in Jesus Christ.
We come in response.

You call us to life in all its fullness.
But we confess that we almost always respond in our own way,
from our places of comfort and resistance, and consequently,
with lowered expectations of what your fullness can be.

Forgive us, we pray,
forgive us for the way that we so often hear your call
and so often have our hearts stirred,
but before too long we have resorted to our old habits
and given into our divided loyalties.

We invite your turbulent love to sweep over us.
We invite your Living Word to stop us in our tracks.
We invite your Spirit-presence into the corridors of our resistance
to blow away the dust and cobwebs of our fear-filled patterns of life,
that we might hear the call from the deep
and respond anew with vigour and passion,
to the story of you, O God, living among us full of grace and truth.

And this is God’s word to us… from 2 Corinthians 5:17
“… if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!”

This is what God pronounces for us.
This is the life that God creates in us.
This is the promise that comes to us today in Jesus Christ.
And God’s Spirit enables us to live into this new creation.

God, hear us as we hear your call
and respond in love as a forgiven and renewed people,
in Jesus’ name.  Amen.