Tag Archives: presence

What is Happening?

John 20:19-31 Good News Translation (GNT)

Jesus Appears to His Disciples

19 It was late that Sunday evening, and the disciples were gathered together behind locked doors, because they were afraid of the Jewish authorities. Then Jesus came and stood among them. “Peace be with you,” he said. 20 After saying this, he showed them his hands and his side. The disciples were filled with joy at seeing the Lord. 21 Jesus said to them again, “Peace be with you. As the Father sent me, so I send you.” 22 Then he breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit. 23 If you forgive people’s sins, they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not forgiven.”

Jesus and Thomas

24 One of the twelve disciples, Thomas (called the Twin), was not with them when Jesus came. 25 So the other disciples told him, “We have seen the Lord!”

Thomas said to them, “Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my finger on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe.”

26 A week later the disciples were together again indoors, and Thomas was with them. The doors were locked, but Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” 27 Then he said to Thomas, “Put your finger here, and look at my hands; then reach out your hand and put it in my side. Stop your doubting, and believe!”

28 Thomas answered him, “My Lord and my God!”

29 Jesus said to him, “Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!”

The Purpose of This Book

30 In his disciples’ presence Jesus performed many other miracles which are not written down in this book. 31 But these have been written in order that you may believea]”>[a] that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that through your faith in him you may have life.

Copyright © 1992 by American Bible Society

 

We were afraid.
No longer really sure what was happening.
What we thought we knew
had shifted,
gone from our grasp.

Where were we now?
What were we to do?

What was our new reality?
What did we have to stand firm on?

And then Jesus was there,
stood among us.
Bringing his peace,
which we so desperately needed;
but bringing so much more
his scars.
The marks of his suffering.

This is not God
who has escaped pain,
conflict,
wounds.
He has been to the place of horror.
This is God
touched,
broken,
battered,
hurt
and still bearing the scars.

I can see them,
touch them,
know them.
Feel the reality.

God has not stood aside,
kept himself from harms way,
avoided the pain.

He bears it
he bears mine

and brings his peace.

He is here.

Jesus Homeless BCN 4

 

Where is God in All This?

MartinHandfordWally&Friends” by http://waldo.wikia.com. Licensed under Fair use via Wikipedia.

When our son was younger, he enjoyed the ‘Where’s Wally’ books.  The premise being to look at a picture full of people and objects, and try to find the one person, Wally, in it.  This often meant a long time searching trying to see where he was.  To quote a phrase, he was “hidden in plain sight”, always there, but not always easy to spot.

Sometimes God seems like that.  We’re told he’s there, but we don’t always notice him, can’t always see him.  In fairness, we’re not even always looking.

It can be easy to jolly along through life, we don’t always stop and think.  We are busy surviving and dealing with all life throws at us – good, bad and indifferent.  But every so often something happens to make us really stop and think about some of the bigger questions.  Sometimes these are joyful events, like the birth of a child or the wonder of creation; often they are more catastrophic, personally or in the wider community.

Whether coming from a faith stance or not, the question comes –

where is God?

Perhaps this crops up most when there is a disaster, then everyone wants to know how God can let this happen.  The age-old question, if God is all loving and all-powerful – how, why?

Well, to my mind, God wouldn’t be much of a God if he was only there in the nice bits of life.  Anyone can rock up when times are going well.  Everyone wants to be your friend and companion.  You discover who your true friends are when life is a struggle.  The same is true of God.  Just because times are tough, doesn’t mean he has disappeared.  He is there with us in the dross, the difficulties, in the traumas, when we feel we can’t go on any longer – and that is when he shows his true love and worth.  He is with us in giving us his strength; but he is with us also in those around us, those who carry us and support us when we can no longer do it for ourselves.  God is there, and he carries on being there – when we know we need him, and when we don’t realize it.

I return again and again to this passage, as regular readers will know:

Habakkuk 3:17-19 (NIVUK)

17 Though the fig-tree does not bud
    and there are no grapes on the vines,
though the olive crop fails
    and the fields produce no food,
though there are no sheep in the sheepfold
    and no cattle in the stalls,
18 yet I will rejoice in the Lord,
    I will be joyful in God my Saviour.

19 The Sovereign Lord is my strength;
    he makes my feet like the feet of a deer,
    he enables me to tread on the heights.

God is God, not just of the good, bountiful times, but the times of desolation and emptiness too.  He is the strength and life when nothing else is.  The God amongst the barrenness.  The God who still is there when everything else fails.  A God who has been there himself.

This prayer from the Methodist Prayer Handbook, sums up some of this, the God of struggle and pain:

Loving, living God,
you come to our world as light shining in our darkness.
Through Jesus, your Son, our Saviour, you offer our world
the bright burning flame of hope
which neither fear, nor doubt,
neither cynicism, nor despair can ever extinguish.
Yet that hope which is ours is no rose-tinted optimism:
it is a hope forged in the pain of the servant hanging on a cross.
Because of his life, death and resurrection we live in hope today.
So, Lord, this day may we live in that hope,
and work that the hope which is ours may be made real for all. Amen.

James Booth, Liverpool District Chair

Where is God?  Right here, in the middle of whatever is happening in your life and mine, crying, holding, strengthening, lifting, just being with – wherever and however we need him.

And that ladies and gentlemen is my 1000th blog.  I decided to use it to “preach the one sermon”.  It’s a theme I often return to, but the one that comes from my heart and my life.  It’s not the best of me that I might want it to be, but life is not in that place at the moment, so it comes very much from where I am and how I am.

Like all I do, it is offered to you and to God to take and use as wished (and that isn’t meant to be as pious as it sounds – sorry!)  That’s all any of us can do at any time – come to God from where we are, because he is there with us too.

So I can only finish with the hymn that sums it all up, even if I use if often

 

Enduring Love iv

Deuteronomy 4:1-9 (CEV)

 Israel Must Obey God

Moses said:

Israel, listen to these laws and teachings! If you obey them, you will live, and you will go in and take the land that the Lord is giving you. He is the God your ancestors worshiped, and now he is your God. I am telling you everything he has commanded, so don’t add anything or take anything away.

You saw how he killed everyone who worshiped the god Baal Peor. But all of you that were faithful to the Lord your God are still alive today.

5-8 No other nation has laws that are as fair as the ones the Lord my God told me to give you. If you faithfully obey them when you enter the land, you will show other nations how wise you are. In fact, everyone that hears about your laws will say, “That great nation certainly is wise!” And what makes us greater than other nations? We have a God who is close to us and answers our prayers.

You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well.

Faithful God,
how can I forget
the things I have seen you do?
The miracles,
the wonders,
but especially
your presence in the everyday –
reassuring,
comforting,
challenging,
bringing hope.

And as I remember you,
know you with me everyday,
how can I not
but long
to do what you ask of me,
to live your ways,
for my life to reflect
your way of living.

For I want to live
my life in fullness,
fullness of all you have for me.
You are faithful
and fair in all things,
you are ever near
and always ready to listen,
you answer my prayers
in ways I recognise
and in ways
I don’t yet see.

Help me not to forget you.

Faithful God,
may I be faithful to you,
in your strength
and your enduring love

Here is Love