Lurking

So I’ve given up Facebook for Lent, but have actually given up posting on Facebook rather than checking it out. This is technically known as lurking. I’ve failed on a few occasions to resist the urge to press “share”, but overall I’ve found it a good discipline to self-edit my online presence a bit more than normal. I’ve never tried this before, normally I give up chocolate or biscuits and fail completely!

I’ve also just been on a silent retreat with college, where I was unable to “share” with the group my insights and thoughts and had to restrict myself to my own company. I got through it with lots of walks, reading, painting and sleep, but again it was helpful to notice how compulsive I am as an Extrovert in just sharing whatever is currently in my head on any given day!

Lurking it seems to me has some benefits. Rather than responding and sharing immediately I can think it over and reflect on what is happening. Is this me and my friends freaking out, or are we actually in the middle of something bigger that is going on. Does everyone want or need to know my political views? Maybe I should save that for Twitter?

It’s human to want to share and be part of the conversation, and in my work in the church I’ve set up a weekly drop-in so anyone who needs some company can come and have a coffee. We’ve also arranged for someone to come in and do some crafts with us after Easter, so I’m really looking forward to doing some of the stuff normally reserved for the kids!

I’ve also noticed recently how lucky I am to have the company of my family. Not always in conversation with them, (often this is really exhausting!) but like now as I write this, they are all off somewhere doing their own thing, so we are together but not really having to chat.  I think when you live alone this is the hardest part is not being quiet with anyone else. On my retreat I found the presence of my colleagues on the course really reassuring, even though we couldn’t speak to each other.

This morning at church I gave a card to lady I’m supporting who literally has noone. Her husband died at the end of last year and she has no parents, children, brothers, sisters or anyone living near her at all. It’s quite rare to meet someone in that situation, but it does happen. I have never felt so happy to give someone a mother’s day card! I can’t be with her as much as she’d like as she really would like someone as a companion 24/7 as she’s not used to being alone, but I am trying to find other people to support her, so that’s not always the case.

As a vicar, there will be a large amount of being around, rather than saying or doing much, and purposefully lurking in places where people may want a chat. In my faith journey, there’s always been times when  I’ve had to take a step back to hear from God, and part of my challenge now is to create quiet times in and amongst the madness of work, study and family life. I’m following another blogger who has just recently posted on this here.. http://lifebynaomi.com/faith/how-to-find-time-for-a-quiet-time

Right when he knew he was about to be betrayed, we hear in Matthew’s gospel that Jesus took himself to a garden and prayed through the night, so late that the disciples all fell asleep. That fervent desire to be in conversation with God, is often easier when we have an urgent request, but God really desires us to speak to him alone all the time, not just when we are after something. Jesus regularly speaks from God because he is in constant dialogue with the father.

So it’s worth doing a bit of lurking around with God, he won’t pass up the opportunity to hang out with you, and any prayer you speak will not be wasted, regardless of how daft you feel doing it. The presence of God, like that of my family and friends is often something I sense but can’t quite describe why it’s important or helpful. When I get chance to really acknowledge it, and praise him for his love, it becomes more of a conversation to treasure and remember.

This Easter I’m going to be away again at college and will miss putting up all the decorations in Holy Week and being part of my church family at that time, but I am looking forward to being free to worship God with other Christians that week, when normally I’d be with the family or at work. The more time I spend lurking with other people the more opportunity there is to give and receive God’s love, which ultimately what it’s all about.

1 John 4 v 7-8

“Beloved, let us love one another, because love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.”

Living in a bubble

Nov 9th date is significant in our house as it’s our son’s birthday, but now it’s got another reason as it’s the day we found out Donald Trump will be president of the US. With Brexit earlier in the year, and David Bowie and a host of others dying, for many of us left wing liberal thinkers this year’s been really tough.

It’s hard to understand why the US would reject the legacy Obama has established, why wouldn’t you want free healthcare for those who can’t afford it otherwise?

Why would you want to exclude Britain from a range of amazing benefits shared by the EU?

Why criticise someone you’ve never met to make your own situation seem better?

Why boast about sexually assaulting women or punish women who’ve had an abortion?

Why play into people’s fears about immigration when you can’t actually change the fact that we live in a world economy?

I guess I live in a bubble, because it doesn’t resonate with my reality. The bubble I live in has some good points, we have a roof over our heads, we don’t need to worry about food, we have free education in a decent school for our kids, and the prospects for the future look good. I care about the community I live in because that’s what I was brought up to believe, I don’t want my kids to be greedy, rude or put themselves above other people, and I hang around with other people who are similarly inclined. Many of us had the privilege of further education, and have white collar jobs. This doesn’t make us perfect.Most of the time we take for granted the blessings we have, and expect more to come. We see them as our achievements not gifts from god.

I know I am loved completely and fully by the most important person in the world and I have to accept that on that basis my life is important as well. He will listen if I pray, and ask him for help to understand what is going on around me.

So if you are feeling blue today because of the changes happening, my only comfort is that bad things do happen to good people, and how we respond to that will really make a difference. People who are oppressed will often rebel and rise up against the establishment and we need to be responsible citizens who listen to our neighbours

This is from Job who had a great life, and then lost everything and his friends are trying to cheer him up, and fail and in the end God comes and has a word with Job to explain his position in the universe…it’s a great book of the Bible to read for those of us in our bubble, and shows the God described in the Old Testament in all his glory!

Job 40 vv8-14

 

Would you discredit my justice?
    Would you condemn me to justify yourself?
Do you have an arm like God’s,
    and can your voice thunder like his?
10 Then adorn yourself with glory and splendor,
    and clothe yourself in honor and majesty.
11 Unleash the fury of your wrath,
    look at all who are proud and bring them low,
12 look at all who are proud and humble them,
    crush the wicked where they stand.
13 Bury them all in the dust together;
    shroud their faces in the grave.
14 Then I myself will admit to you
    that your own right hand can save you.

Mother Christmas

My mum is a very popular preacher, approaching retirement through personal circumstances, and this christmas may be her last one at the local church to our family home. It feels a bit sad and nostalgic, but I think she is also optimistic about the next stage of life.

When I was a teenager I was mortally embarrassed most of the time by my parents, not least my mum’s preaching, however looking back now, I can’t get over how brave she was to challenge all the stereotypes within the church of england, and become one of the first female vicars to be ordained. I know her father who was still alive at the time was immensely proud.

My mum and I have had many conversations about parenting, as one does, however I am always amazed by her tenacity,and drive to find the best solution for us kids, and this is now extended to her grandchildren! We have certainly given her lots to worry about over the years. Watching my daughter’s determination to learn to crawl and try to walk, she reminds me alot of my mum!

I do not know if God is a woman, however my experience of God is not dissimilar to my own mother, in that he often carries on supporting us, when most people would have given up.

Sometimes however it doesn’t seem like he is doing much. Why are there famines, wars, murders, cancer and illness? Why can’t he stop this happening? Well, maybe because he lets us get on with looking after our planet?

He is certainly not adverse to a bit of risk taking..He gave his son, the saviour of the world, to a teenage virgin, and a carpenter who had no experience of parenting, did not even live together, and were about to be exiled from their family and home-land! Social services would have deemed this a risky placement! 

It is his trust in us that is so amazing, as he sees what we can be, as well as what we are now, and wants us to come to him through his love and our own curiosity rather than by appointment.

Happy Christmas!

P.S Have attached mum’s sermon for any followers!

.