Wednesday, October 22, 2008

After prayers, lie cold -- C S Lewis

The previous post reminded me of this poem by C S Lewis, where coldness becomes the symbol and experience of repentance.

After Prayers, Lie Cold

Arise my body, my small body, we have striven
Enough, and He is merciful; we are forgiven.
Arise small body, puppet-like and pale, and go,
White as the bed-clothes into bed, and cold as snow,
Undress with small, cold fingers and put out the light,
And be alone, hush'd mortal, in the sacred night,
-A meadow whipt flat with the rain, a cup
Emptied and clean, a garment washed and folded up,
Faded in colour, thinned almost to raggedness
By dirt and by the washing of that dirtiness.
Be not too quickly warm again. Lie cold; consent
To weariness' and pardon's watery element.
Drink up the bitter water, breathe the chilly death;
Soon enough comes the riot of our blood and breath.

C S Lewis

The Weather and me

It's that sort of day .. yes, THAT sort! Cold, winter cold in mid-spring, wet, windy grey, the sort of weather when I start seriously pondering the merits of hibernation! Miserable weather, though why we call the weather miserable when the weather, as far as I know, is probably perfectly happy, and we are the ones feeling miserable .. Could it be we humans are sometimes a touch ego-centric?

I look out on this inhospitable day, and words form in my head, stream of consciousness really:

Rain, cold and sharp as sleet,
Fall on my hands and feet,
Consecrate me anew,
Sanctify all I do.

Well, for the literal minded, :-) obviously the rain isn't falling falling on my hands and feet, I'm indoors, dry if not quite cosy (my inner puritan can't quite grasp the idea of turning on the heater in October, even if it is only 11C outside), but perhaps, bear with my fancy for a moment, there is a sense in which I can surrender to coldness, bleakness, uncertainty and loneliness, acknowledge them, acknowledge that loss and dying and need are simply realities of the human condition, and that dying, in small things and large is a necessary precondition to living in Christ.

Then, accepting these things would become as much an act of consecration as accepting the richness of the Spirit's anointing and the warnth of the Father's embrace. I am not an ascetic by temperament, my natural bent is to see God most easily through loveliness and wonder, but I recognise the reality of the discipline of simplicity, and the fact that we cannot wholeheartedly live to one thing without dying to something else. (An analogy would be marriage -- in committing myself to life with one man, I die to the possibility of having the same kind of relationship with any other man, if I did not do that, I would be something less than wholly given to my marriage.)

Likewise, as much as God showers good gifts on His children, and cares for our human needs and pains, I am less than wholly given to Him if I look for my ultimate comfort anywhere else. He has promised us more love than we can conceive or imagine, He never promised to give it on our terms. And, day by day, I must surrender afresh to the discipline of receiving life on His terms, not my own, and acknowledging the reality of His presence in absence as well as richness.

And the cold rain, that falls alike on the just and the unjust, is still His mercy to a parched and weary earth ..

Monday, October 20, 2008


With the issue of women in the church very much on my mind lately, I wrote this. it would fit traditional hymn tunes, like "The Church's One Foundation .." I think perhaps it needs a concluding verse, but my mind went blank at that point

O Lord of earth and heaven
We lift our prayers to you
We would be your disciples
In everything we do
The brokenness from Eden
Has left us sore oppressed
Then Lord make haste to help us
And give your daughters rest.

O Christ our sure Redeemer
Who has made all things new
Give love and grace and wisdom
To all who follow you
Who conquered death and hades
From all sin’s curse set free
Grant us to serve together
In our entirety.

O Spirit of the Highest
Who blesses from above
With your anointing power
And your indwelling love,
Your gifts you shower freely
That we may all proclaim
As blessed sons and daughters
The glories of your name.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Ten things I don't need in my life

both the profound, and the .. not profound. in no particular order:

1. Men who want to put/ keep women in their "place" (I am beyond tired of being told I can only be godly by being someone else's fantasy)

2. Tea and coffee (I am the no caffeine freak. Seriously. I don't drink either. At all. Ever.)

3. Broccoli (except to keep my husband happy. he likes. I loathe)

4. Media obsession with politics and politicians. They go to some very unhealthy places to find something "new" to say

5. More gadgets. to do more things we never knew we needed. (let's just replace what we've got when it wears out, and take time to enjoy it)

6. A Magisterium to tell me what to think. (Of course I'll listen to their opinions. But I reserve the right to disagree)

7. Begging phone calls from charities I've never heard of. I'm convinced that some of them spend all their donations on phone calls

8. Billboards with "adult" content. I'm glad I don't have young children, I'd hate to try and explain a couple I've seen recently

9. Hatred and bitterness. they are the acid that corrodes our souls.

10. Toothache (are we all agreed on that one?)

how about you?

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Eternal Subordination of women?

Over at Suzanne's Bookshelf, there's a discussion about a CBMW paper which suggests that wives will still be subordinate to their husbands in Heaven. Quite apart from the fact that this directly contradicts Jesus' words about the woman who had had 7 husbands, it is a terrible sentence to pass on abused and struggling women. This is what I wrote:

I shall not be your plaything forever
Or the mat on which you wipe your feet.

I servant willingly,
Having another master,
And bondslave to His glory.
Here I am whole
In the place of his calling, becoming
Everything I am in Him
Stretched into authority
Fashioned by His love
His precious poiema forever.

Not for the glory of your ego
Did He shed His blood for me.
For the Kingdom of Heaven is greater
Than the petty realms of men
And He calls His sons and daughters
To reign with Him forever.

There you no longer own me.
Stamped with His Name and His glory,
I shall stand, wearing His beauty:
And your mean rules die away,
In the freedom of His joy.


Hold me in my smallness,
The night is very dark.
I hear my own heartbeat
Reverberate in silence:
Tiny and alone.

I have put off my assumptions
And my soul is naked
Though I flutter to cover my shame.

Yet you know me already
Throughly and throughly,
As I do not know You,
Though I long to understand.

I walk into the fire
Burning, burning,
Your holiness too much …

Yet I am not consumed.

Politics for Pickles

The American Presidential elections are not a private internal American matter, they affect the whole world, simply because the President of the United States has so much power. America has so much power. Their internal decisions affect the world’s economy (as we have seen so graphically in the last couple of weeks), their external decisions affect international politics, including whether our country (as a close ally) goes to war or not. How could we, on the other side of the world, in a country of 20 million, an outpost of western Anglo culture on the edge of Asia, not care massively what America does and what direction she moves in? And of course, if America’s political and economic influence is enormous, her cultural influence is even more pervasive. Yet for all this, as the continuous saga of the presidential election campaign dominates our television, newspapers and internet, it becomes clearer and clearer to me, that, for all our genuine friendship and interconnectedness, there are many respects in which we think differently, or at least the Australia of my personal experience thinks very differently to the America I see through the media and the many personal blogs I read. I’m not a sociologist, I haven’t attempted to integrate these factors, I just present them as a few random points to help explain why I don’t see things the same way. Some of these points are general/cultural, some are more personal.

1. I live in a country where voting is compulsory, not optional. I have spent my life not seeing my vote as an option I may or may not choose to exercise, but as a responsibility I have to my country. I am confused by the whole American concept of voter registration, here we must all register to vote when we turn 18, and if we don’t vote we receive a letter from the electoral office with a fine to be paid. Elections are always held on Saturdays, to make it as easy as possible for people to get to the polling booth, and there are arrangements for people who are sick, busy travelling or whatever.
2. abortion is not really an election issue here, simply because neither major party is anti-abortion, not surprising in a country where less than 5% of the population are regular church goers. So we choose who to vote for on a very different set of criteria. There are minority parties that are anti- abortion, they have about the same support as people like the fishing party or the marihuana party, i.e. less than the greens.
3. There is no alignment, at least not in my suburban world, between conservative Christians and any particular political party. In my own church, just a few years ago, two members were standing as candidates in an election, both for minority parties, one very right wing, one very left wing. As far as I’m aware, no one in the church had a problem with that and more than once I saw the 2 candidates at morning tea after the service having a pleasant chat together about some of the practicalities of campaigning.
4. Very few Australians have any notion that we are trying to create some sort of perfect godly society here on earth, and when we pick up strains of that in American politics, we find the notion quite strange. I’m sure that there are historical reasons for this. Your nation was founded by the Pilgrim Fathers and their ilk, who came to a new land with the express purpose of setting up a society where they could live and worship according to their understanding of scripture. My nation was founded by a bunch of convicts, (and the soldiers who guarded them and were often as corrupt and desperate as the convicts). They didn’t have any choice about coming here, and their goal was simple survival. In this harsh, strange land you didn’t survive unless you helped one another.
5. Australia has always been less authoritarian and more egalitarian than America. The differences between rich and poor are less extreme (though still far greater than they would be in a truly just society), and we have had a universal health care system (to name one example) since the mid 70s. We still have a huge problem with working out how to best help Aboriginals, and it is to our shame that it’s taken us so long to start wrestling with that. Like every nation on earth we have an underclass of people that need constant welfare intervention, but there’s still a perception that you can make a go of it if you have a job, and that the minimum wage is enough for people to live on.
6. Australians distrust authority. We’re cynical about politicians to the point of being disrespectful. Obviously disrespect is inappropriate from the viewpoint of Christian courtesy, but we certainly don’t give them a pass on anything just because they’re our leaders. We don’t expect perfection, which is just as well, because we don’t get it.
7. if an Aussie politician says he’s a Christian, he’s probably pretty serious about it, because there are no votes in it. Serious Christians are such a small proportion of the population. Bob Hawke, our prime Minister in the 80s was an avowed atheist, and that was hardly commented on by the press.

Of course, the minute I post these, I’ll think of other things ..

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Wolves

A prayer for all churches in need ..

The wolves have come upon Your flock O Lord.
They have come down in horrid, ravening spite.
The wolves have come with howls that chill the blood.
They come with burning eyes in bitter night.

These wolves, these children of the Pharisees,
Bearers of blight, and instruments of death
(Which they call life). Their heat that chills our bones
Is borne towards us by their every breath.

The shepherdly who strutted in the sun
And stroked their staves, and organised the sheep,
Have all gone fleeing to a safer place
Fled helter-skelter, tumbled in a heap.

The sheep who know, they crouch with frightened eyes,
And softly moan, immobilised with fear.
The other sheep rest on, contentedly,
Or vie for grass, and see no danger here.

Arise O Lord, Great Shepherd of the sheep,
Riven and ravened, stricken and restored
Giver of Life, who gave Your life for us,
You are our only help, our mighty Lord.

Unless You keep us, Lord, we are not kept.
Unless You hold us, into dust we fall.
And would you see us perish into night,
Your very own, for whom You gave Your all?

Rather, O Christ, our hope and sure defence,
You will uphold us in the midst of strife
You will, yourself, deliver from the wolves
And, fast in You, we find, not fear, but life.

Spiritual types test

Just did the Spiritual types test

The answer seems a pretty good fit ..

Lovers are people who naturally connect with the Holy One through their emotions. They feel deeply that no matter what they do or do not do, they are held safely in the embrace of God’s love. They focus on the generosity, mercy, and compassion of God and believe that even when judgment or justice seems called for, God’s response is one of tenderness. They seek to relate with the Holy One through inner reflection. They tend to be more emotional in their prayer and in reading the signs of God’s presence. If they were to meet God face to face, they would want to open themselves completely to God’s intoxicating love and show their love in return.
One such person in the Bible was Mary of Bethany. She had a tenderness for Jesus that led her to acts of love for him even when she might have been ridiculed for her unorthodox behavior (John 12:1-9). She had the confidence that she was being invited into a space of love and being surrounded in that divine embrace gave her the desire to show her deep love in return.

If you are a lover, you will find prayer and meditation likely ways to deepen your love relationship with the Holy One; the prayer and meditation section of may assist you in this. They offer guidance as to when, where, how and why to pray, as well as tools for meditating with art, music, journaling, poetry and more.

Wednesday, October 01, 2008

He ...

I know, silly title for a post, but I couldn't think what to call it. Sometimes we need to de-institutionalise our images of Jesus, and be struck afresh by the wonder of it all ..

He was the Flame. He came. He burned
Fierce in this dark, dry hollow place
Burning the chaff of futile words
From lips He touched with flaming grace.

He was the Stream, the Living Fount
Water of Life from God’s own throne
Flowing to wash our filthiness
Submerging us in Love unknown.

He was the Bread, the wheat ground down
Broken: we eat and are made whole.
Passed through the furnace of our death
Food for the hungry, desperate soul.

He was the Stranger, life disguised,
Walking the paths we should have trod
Lifting the veil of blazing truth:
Him we must meet to know our God.

He was the Lamb, the stricken one,
Shepherd for sheep in mercy given
Blood on the doorposts of our hearts
Life for our lives nailed up and riven.

He was the laughter on the hills
Breaking death’s solemn tyranny
Calling across all space and time
“Come, leave the husks and follow Me!”