The Crumbs Under the Table

•September 5, 2021 • Leave a Comment

A sermon for Proverbs 22:1-2, 8-9,22-23; James 2:1-17; Mark 7:24-37

Photo by Meruyert Gonullu on Pexels.com

“Love your neighbour” they said.  But who do I expect my neighbour to be?  Someone just like me, or someone very different?

Today’s gospel reading is one of the hardest in the gospels. This is not the Jesus we think we know, who opens his arms to everyone, meets the needs of those in front of him, brings healing and hope.  Quite frankly, this passage is shocking in how Jesus speaks to this woman, it is quite simply rude. How can Jesus infer that to help her and her child would be like throwing food to the dogs? What is Jesus saying?

Is he simply irritated?  Tired, needing rest and recouperation?  Fed up with constantly being in demand, expected to have all the answers? Does he just want five minutes peace?  Was he, as is often suggested in commentaries testing her to see how much she really needed what she asked for, how easily she could be put off?

Can Jesus really be rejecting her because of her origin, her ethnicity?  Surely Not?  Does he want to care first for those he thinks he has been sent to?  Does Jesus himself need challenging on who and what matter in this world?  It is quite a puzzle.

The selected verses from Proverbs 22 quite clearly tell us that all are in common, God has made each and every person: rich, poor, whoever they are, and the call is for those who have bread to share with those who do not – there are no caveats or get out clauses.

Likewise, James reminds us we are to have no part in favouritism.  We do not, or should not, treat someone differently because they are, or are not, part of our tribe, our culture, kindred spirits that we recognize.  We are to love our neighbour whatever they look or sound like, whatever beliefs they espouse to, however historically we have been told to think about them.  We are to show no partiality – only love.

Through the challenge of the woman, Jesus comes to his senses, remembers God call, and her need is met.

Perhaps the most important part of this passage are the questions it makes me ask of myself – and the answers I come to.  What about me?  How do I respond to those I see as other? What will I do for those who come to me for help?  How do I love?  How do I treat my neighbour, whoever that neighbour is?  However I am feeling?

How many times
have I wanted to hide away,
have some peace,
some me time,
chance to recharge,
to just be,
to listen,
to pray?

But I have been needed
and called on
and had to go,
to give,
to be
in a difficult place
where I am wanted.

How many times
have I wanted
to keep something special,
for the few,
for those who deserved it,
or who I thought did?

But I have been called
to meet need,
to reach out in love,
to step outside
what I thought were my boundaries,
what I was called to,
because there was need
and hope
and a reaching out.

How many times
has God worked,
in ways I do not understand,
can’t comprehend,
am not sure I agree with?

But God steps in
to meet people,
to hold them,
to heal them,
to reach them.

In their pain,
their fear,
their anger,
their questioning,
whatever their need.
Whatever their background,
their origin,
their appearance,
wherever they are coming from
or going to. *

And God asks me to join in with all God is doing.
May God work in us as we seek to love our neighbour, without impartiality, however much of a surprise they may be to us, or us to them.  May we and they be blessed through all that God can do.   

*Taken from my book Voices Through Mark available from me or through Moorley’s Publishing 

What A Day

•August 6, 2021 • Leave a Comment

Today is the Feast of the Transfiguration.

Mark 9:1-13

Jesus took us up a high mountain,
somewhere we could be alone.

There were just the three of us
and him.

I am not sure why it was us three he chose,
but I am extremely glad he did.
What an experience to be part of.

Something happened to Jesus
up there,
he changed
and his clothes became brilliant white,
whiter than even the boldest
washing detergent adverts claim,
so white
you would need sunglasses,
it was other worldly.

Then
Moses and Elijah joined Jesus,
we saw them,
clear as day,
the great prophets
of former generations
joining with him.

Peter,
being Peter,
had something to say.

We were all so terrified
I am not sure any of us knew what to say,
but he said
how good it was that everyone was here,
and that he would make three shelters,
one each for Jesus, Elijah, and Moses.

Perhaps he was thinking that they would
be tabernacles,
a place to meet with God
and hear his voice,

or God’s resting place,
where he lived,
God’s portable earthly home?

Perhaps he was thinking more like shrines,
a place to mark this day,
this meeting,
to honour it for ever?

Perhaps
he just felt he had to say something,
to show that he had noticed,
was grappling to understand
what it was about?

Next,
a cloud appeared
and a voice declared,
“this is my own son”,
just as it had previously
when Jesus was baptised by John.

No one else was there –
it had to be God.

God was confirming
what Peter had acknowledged –
Jesus is God’s son.

As we made our way back down,
Jesus told us to tell no one
until after he had died and risen.

But of course,
that did not stop us
discussing it
amongst ourselves.

What a day,
what an experience!

Thank you, Lord
for those days
when it is all truly clear,
totally obvious,

when we feel
that we have seen,
glimpsed something very real
of you.

Thank you for those days
on the mountain tops.
May they sustain us
for the days
when we travel in the shadows,
when things seem less clear
and we are confused.

Thank you
that you are God in all times.

Taken from my book Voices Through Mark available from me or Moorley’s Publishing

World Sjogren’s Day

•July 23, 2021 • 3 Comments

Today is World Sjogren’s Day.

Rather belatedly it has occurred to me that it might be a good idea to write a blog sharing my experience.

It is not a fun disease (which are?!) because it affects so many different of the body, often several places at once, sometimes, just for fun, they wait until you think you might have got on top of one for another to take over, and they go round in circles.

This picture is helpful in explaining it.

The main focus of the campaign this year by SjogrenEurope has been fatigue. Whatever other elements of Sjogren’s are flaring, the fatigue is debilitating and drags you down. It’s hard to know sometimes if the fatigue makes other things feel worse of the other symptoms just wear you out – probably both, but this was my day today (which is probably why I’ve only just thought to do this!)

Fatigue from an autoimmune disease just overarches everything. It is so much more than just being tired. It stops me doing most of the things I would want to do. You cannot “push through” this fatigue, or I can’t, if I try I just get very dizzy or crash. My energy and capacity to do pretty much everything is about 45 minutes – and there’s only really one block of that a day.

I’ve written about it’s effects on me before, but I will just outline them again here in this context.

The fatigue and just the exhaustion of the illness in general, and indeed just the illness itself affects clear thinking (often called brain fog), makes my balance very uncoordinated, and my spatial awareness is shot. It also makes me struggle to process what I have heard and what an appropriate response to that might be, and word finding – which is why this blog is much neglected these days – I’ve had to ask Mr P several times what word I want. And even when I can I can’t always work out how to spell it or type or write the letters in the correct order. It has taken a lot to type this. It is hard to concentrate, which is really annoying when you used to be able to think and express yourself clearly (well all things are relative!)

Besides the fatigue and it’s friends, anywhere in my body that should have natural lubrication has very little. If you don’t want the graphic details you might want to stop there…

I have incredibly dry eyes which make focus difficult and I am incredibly light sensitive, I cannot cope with any bright lights. I have everything in dark mode. It also makes me struggle with focus and especially reading things that are the wrong colour contrast (there’s a word I can’t think of) or line spacing for me. My eyes are also incredibly sore, it’s like permanently having sand in them, day in and day out, night in and night out – excruciating if I don’t keep them topped up with eye drops at least once an hour. At night I put ointment in them (no easy task when you are also allergic to lanolin! Finally someone has started making a lanolin free ointment in the UK for which I am very grateful) but waking up in the night because your eyes are so sore is not fun.

My nose is really dry, which makes it bleed, sometimes spectacularly so.

My mouth is very dry. That in itself causes problems with teeth and I regularly need dental treatment (yet still have to pay for it all even though I rarely go six months without another part of another tooth falling out and needing attention). This also causes problems with swallowing. Food sticks and drags and it is not unusual for me to choke.

I’m sure my recurrent chest infections are well documented. I have rarely gone more than six days between 14 day courses of antibiotics since last November. I find breathing hard work and get out of breath doing the slightest thing\ My breathing is considerably worse than it was even a year ago. This is all just totally exhausting and debilitating.

I get a lot of pain in my joints. Especially my hip, hands and feet. My fingers have very little feeling in them, which can make life very awkward at times. I regularly drop things and cannot feel hot or cold in them. This makes it tricky and unwise for me to pick up hot things making getting myself a meal impossible. It also makes it difficult to lift, balance, carry or cut anything.

My skin, pretty much everywhere is incredibly dry and if I don’t slather it several times a day with various lotions and potions, and sometimes even when I do, it itches beyond distraction and cracks.

So all in all Sjogren’s is a complex, multi-systemic illness. There is no cure, just medications that can help some of the symptoms sometimes. My delivery from the pharmacy comes in a very large packet.

It is classified as a rare disease, little known and mainly effects women. So once a year it is worth shouting about.

There is research, but only by the very interested. No one is going to become world famous finding a cure for it – though those whose lives are affected would leap with joy – well if their joints weren’t too stiff and they had the energy 🙂

Thanks for reading and being willing to listen and learn.

 
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