Tag Archives: reaching out

Ready – Whether You Are Or Not

Have you ever done something, and had it rejected?  A gesture?  A sacrificial offer?  A word of encouragement?  Useful advice?

Isaiah 65:1-9

65 I, the Lord, was ready
answer even those
    who were not asking
and to be found by those
    who were not searching.
To a nation that refused
to worship me,
    I said, “Here I am!”

All day long I have reached out
to stubborn and sinful people
    going their own way.
They keep making me angry
    by sneering at me,
while offering sacrifices
    to idols in gardens
and burning incense
    to them on bricks.
They spend their nights
    hiding in burial caves;
they eat the meat of pigs,
cooked in sauces
    made of stuff unfit to eat.
And then they say to others,
“Don’t come near us!
    We’re dedicated to God.”
Such people are like smoke,
    irritating my nose all day.
I have written this down;
    I won’t keep silent.
I’ll pay them back
    just as their sins deserve.
I, the Lord, will make them pay
for their sins
and for those
    of their ancestors—
they have disgraced me
by burning incense
    on mountains.

Here is what the Lord says:
    A cluster of grapes
    that produces wine
    is worth keeping!
So, because of my servants,
    I won’t destroy everyone.
I have chosen the people
    of Israel and Judah,
and I will bless them
    with many descendants.
They will settle here
in this land of mountains,
    and it will be theirs.

God is ready and waiting – whether we are looking or not.

He has reached out – and has been rejected.  Not only rejected, but then having to watch those he considered his own people actively turning the other way, to false idols.

And yet, and yet, the still claim to be “dedicated to God”.

Unsurprisingly God is frustrated and angry.  He has offered love, and they have given nothing but disgrace.  He has to do something to turn this around.  And he has chosen a people through whom to do it.  Sadly, we know where it went from there, and that even they turned from him…

But as we read the beginning of these verses, how do they make you feel?

Uncomfortable?  Guilty as charged?

Have I refused the arm God has reached out to me?  Have I preferred to do things my way?  Follow my own idols?  And yet still claimed I am dedicated to God?

In honesty I know that I have.  Yet God is still willing to reach out, to work with me and through me.

What an awesome God!  Will we reach out to him?

Lord,
I thank you that you are faithful
and continue to reach out to me.
In the times I go the other way,
turn to idols,
reject your ways,
yet still claim I am yours.

Lord,
I come,
knowing that is me,
knowing I deserve to be left behind,
but grateful
that you still choose to love us,
still reach out to us,
and wait
for me to reach out to you.

I come
in my guilt and shame
and thank you
that you are a faithful God

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Rising From Sleep

And now, we turn to the paintings:

The first of Stanley Spencer’s, Christ in the Wilderness paintings that Stephen Cottrell looks at is ‘Rising From Sleep in the Morning’

The Picture can be seen here (on page 2).

I don’t know about you, but my rising from sleep is usually more along the lines of Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5, “Tumble outta bed, And stumble to the kitchen”, than this vision here of Christ.

He is reaching straight up.  Greeting and welcoming the day.  His garment and the surrounding earth look like a flower, the stamen reaching out to the sun, opening itself up to the arrival of bees and other visitors for pollination.

IMAG0541_1

It also reminds me of my sons when they used to be in their cots.  Reaching up to be lifted out.  Ready to start a new day and all it holds.

Jesus also seems to be in a hole in the ground, he is reaching up – waiting to be lifted from the hole he is in?

Ready and waiting.  Reaching out.  Waiting for pollination.

Is this how I start my day?

Can I start it, ready for what God is going to do?  Reaching out to him?  Ready for him to pluck me from where I am and set me down into all life can hold?  Waiting for him to bear his fruit in my life?

Lord,

this day

I reach out to you.

I open myself to all you have to bring to me,

to what you want to do in me.

These are my thoughts just looking at the picture, now I’ll see what Stephen Cottrell says…

Much of this is on a similar theme to Claire Maxim’s comments.  She is also following this book and has some good things to say

This year for Lent, I am reading Christ in the Wilderness by Bishop Stephen Cottrell, published by SPCK, reflecting on Stanley Spencer’s paintings of that title.

I’m not necessarily going to blog every day on it, just when something leaps out at me – and they will be thoughts rather than full blog posts.

Hurry Up Jesus

He’s here, he’s here at last.  He can help, I know he can.  My daughter is so ill, but I just know that he is the one who can help.

I’ve heard so much about this Jesus – the amazing things he’s done in people’s lives – freeing them from all kinds of things that have held them and crushed them.

If he can’t help then my daughter will die, I know she will.  But he’s so busy, there is so much need and so many people want a bit of him.

Yet he comes with me!

Lots of others followed too.  I suppose they wanted to see what miracle he would achieve this time.  There was lots of pushing and shoving, people wanting the best spots, wanting to talk to him as we jostled along.

Then Jesus stopped.  He wanted to know who had touched him.  Silly question if you ask me, there’s so many crowding round.  Doesn’t he realise the seriousness of my daughter’s condition, how dire the situation?  Time is of the essence here, and Jesus wants to ask daft questions.  But then I saw it was important to him.  This wasn’t just pushing or grabbing he was asking about.  He knew that someone had reached out to him in their need and their life had been changed.  He wanted to stop and talk to them.

But what about my daughter?

Come on, come on!  Time is short.

But Jesus has time.  Healing is more than about removing the physical symptoms, he wants to talk to the woman and make sure she is wholly OK.  I can’t begrudge her – It’s what I want for my daughter.

Then the worst news comes.

It’s too late.

My daughter has gone.

I’d better leave Jesus to the people he can help…

But no, “Don’t worry!”, he says.

“Don’t worry?”. that’s a bit hard.  My precious daughter is dead and Jesus says don’t worry?!

But he insists it isn’t too late.  My daughter is not going to suffer because he stopped to help someone else along the way.  Jesus has time for everyone who needs him.

So he carries on with me to my house.  What a commotion there was, but Jesus pushes through it.  He takes my little girl by the hand and told her to get up.

And she did.

He was right.  She was not beyond his reach and his touch.

I wondered if Jesus had time for me and my daughter; I thought it was too late – but it wasn’t; Jesus was just in time, his time.  I thought others were getting in the way with their needs, but Jesus gave them the same time he gave me and my daughter.  He met them in their need – and he met me in mine too.

Mark 5:21-43

A Dying Girl and a Sick Woman

21 Once again Jesus got into the boat and crossed Lake Galilee.Then as he stood on the shore, a large crowd gathered around him. 22 The person in charge of the Jewish meeting place was also there. His name was Jairus, and when he saw Jesus, he went over to him. He knelt at Jesus’ feet 23 and started begging him for help. He said, “My daughter is about to die! Please come and touch her, so she will get well and live.” 24 Jesus went with Jairus. Many people followed along and kept crowding around.

25 In the crowd was a woman who had been bleeding for twelve years. 26 She had gone to many doctors, and they had not done anything except cause her a lot of pain. She had paid them all the money she had. But instead of getting better, she only got worse.

27 The woman had heard about Jesus, so she came up behind him in the crowd and barely touched his clothes. 28 She had said to herself, “If I can just touch his clothes, I will get well.” 29 As soon as she touched them, her bleeding stopped, and she knew she was well.

30 At that moment Jesus felt power go out from him. He turned to the crowd and asked, “Who touched my clothes?”

31 His disciples said to him, “Look at all these people crowding around you! How can you ask who touched you?” 32 But Jesus turned to see who had touched him.

33 The woman knew what had happened to her. She came shaking with fear and knelt down in front of Jesus. Then she told him the whole story.

34 Jesus said to the woman, “You are now well because of your faith. May God give you peace! You are healed, and you will no longer be in pain.”

35 While Jesus was still speaking, some men came from Jairus’ home and said, “Your daughter has died! Why bother the teacher anymore?”

36 Jesus heard what they said, and he said to Jairus, “Don’t worry. Just have faith!”

37 Jesus did not let anyone go with him except Peter and the two brothers, James and John. 38 They went home with Jairus and saw the people crying and making a lot of noise. 39 Then Jesus went inside and said to them, “Why are you crying and carrying on like this? The child isn’t dead. She is just asleep.” 40 But the people laughed at him.

After Jesus had sent them all out of the house, he took the girl’s father and mother and his three disciples and went to where she was. 41-42 He took the twelve-year-old girl by the hand and said, “Talitha, koum!”  which means, “Little girl, get up!” The girl got right up and started walking around.

Everyone was greatly surprised. 43 But Jesus ordered them not to tell anyone what had happened. Then he said, “Give her something to eat.”

Thank you Lord

that you have time for me.

You know my need –

and how to meet it.

Forgive me when I get impatient

that you aren’t doing what I want

in the time I want it.

Forgive me

when I think you are looking after others,

when you could be doing something for me.

Thank you that you care for us all,

and are present in our lives,

when we see it and when we don’t.

Reach out,

Lord I pray,

to those who especially need to know your touch this day,

let them know you are there with them,

as they see all that you can do.