Monday, 29 December 2008

Praying the Scripture - Orphans no more

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

Galatians 4:4-7 (The Message)

But when the time arrived that was set by God the Father, God sent his Son, born among us of a woman, born under the conditions of the law so that he might redeem those of us who have been kidnapped by the law. Thus we have been set free to experience our rightful heritage. You can tell for sure that you are now fully adopted as his own children because God sent the Spirit of his Son into our lives crying out, "Papa! Father!" Doesn't that privilege of intimate conversation with God make it plain that you are not a slave, but a child? And if you are a child, you're also an heir, with complete access to the inheritance.


To have a life that’s not your own.
To be a commodity; useful, practical,
To be valued for what you can do but not who you are
To be ruled by expectation and the tribute demanded
For your path to be dictated by circumstance and necessity.

To be abandoned by love
To be orphaned from hope
Enslaved by the whims of the world
Held captive by the rule of Man
Ignorant of the very stars above your head
Eyes downcast
A slave indeed

The time comes

Light that dwelt outside time
Comes to life within human life
Emmanuel – in truth, God is with us
From the very first heartbeat of existence
To the last sigh of farewell.

For the touch of an infant’s hand melts the shackles of fear
For the sound of a baby’s cry gifts love to the loveless
For the smell of a child’s skin recalls life beyond this entrapment
For the birth of a baby boy rekindles hope for all who will witness

The Father sees you sitting bereft in the dust
And has sent his Son to gather you
To buy back your freedom
All the lost and abandoned children
And bring you back to your Father’s arms

You will raise your eyes to the stars
With the confidence of Faith
The freedom that is His Love
and the legacy that is eternal Grace

‘Sons and Daughters’

Our God does not meet our expectations. In fact, by god standards, he is not a very good god. Gods (with the small ‘g’) tend to be obsessed with fear and sacrifice; making sure they are worshipped and that their worshippers know their place – on their knees. They may be ‘born’ as babies but generally have a royal legacy, superhuman strength or preternatural knowledge. Our God, with the sureness of a Divine who calls himself simply ‘I Am’ says to us
‘I am the Creator – I don’t ask for my own creation returned as sacrifice; I don’t need worship; I don’t want fear. You were made to be my most beloved sons and daughters and that is what you will always be to me. But you do not believe - so here is the Son of my Spirit to show you - a brother and guide to you all; a Son who will know every step of your life, every happiness; every disappointment; every heartache. Take him to your heart; love him; share with him; learn from him. Begin at the beginning’

Imagine the crowded streets of Bethlehem; an older man from one of the trading villages, widowed, but now with a young wife about to give birth. He’s from the Royal Line of David, but that’s worth nothing. Everyone else in the town traces their lineage back to David and the scandal surrounding the pregnancy means that his kinsmen have withdrawn their hospitality. With no money for a room at the inn, he is begging at back doors for somewhere to sleep, until he catches an innkeeper off guard – maybe he has a daughter that age, maybe he knows someone from that town – but it’s only a cave; winter quarters for the animals and they must take their chances. And from the moment of the Christ’s first cry, their life does not get any better. And that is what God wanted; to be with the lonely, the vulnerable and the outcast – to be wherever we are.

We are at the beginning of God’s great step of faith towards us. Do you feel that sibling relationship with the Lord; do you feel like a beloved child of God. If so, share your thanks with God (he doesn’t hear Thank you enough)
If not, consider what is in the way of deepening this relationship and bring this to God.

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.Amen


Thursday, 25 December 2008

Why a baby?

A lovely telling of the Christmas Story. A beautiful crib. There is comfort in the repeating of this tradition year after year and it’s not always easy to see the awesome wonder of it.
Our God, a child in the arms of a young woman.

Why a baby?

After thousands of years of a vengeful, furious, demanding, overpowering, all powerful God,
a God that burns cities, parts waters, brings down plagues and even causes the death of children.

Why now, a baby?

And this is no sudden change of plan, this is no whim.

Before this night God hadn’t spoken to his people for hundreds of years.
The Jewish people were distraught, blaming themselves for some unforgivable sin that silenced Yahweh.
A fear that made them refine their rules and their tradition until there was not a move they could make without sanction from the priests.
They were God’s obedient children, following his commandments, competing for his approval, laying the blame on the sick, the paralysed, the poor; living in fear of his wrath. Living in anticipation of a warrior Messiah.

And then, a baby? Born to an ordinary couple, in a very ordinary town.

So what is the Christmas message?
What is it that God wants from us?

Perhaps he never wanted to be a supernatural headmaster:
perhaps he didn’t intend his children to be scared of him but to be in love with him;
perhaps when he made us in his image he expected just a little bit more:
perhaps he just wanted us to grow up?

Our God is not about vengeance, punishment or fear.
Our God is Love, only Love, and in our limited human experience, what is more profound than the love between a mother and child?
So easy to imagine when we see the crib and sing about this perfect Holy Family.
A simple story catching our heartstrings.
So easily lulled by the romance of the Christmas night.

But what was God really asking of that family? Of those ordinary people?

Mary, a young woman, probably 13 or 14 years old.
A good marriage match made to Joseph. A life mapped out before her by the customs and traditions of her people.
And then a visit by an angel challenges everything she knows, everything she believes in.
The hymns paint her as meek and mild? I really doubt it.
To be able to accept the future the angel offers her would take guts, faith and determination.
To be an unmarried mother would be unacceptable to her people, an offence that could have had her stoned to death.
If not she and her child would be outcasts. What of her plans for life with Joseph?
How do you be the mother of the Son of God?

And what of Joseph, a respected craftsman of his town, a good family from the line of David?
Even after accepting the truth of the angel’s message, it is he who will have to bring up this child. He who will have to care for the mother.
How would he live with the scandal and the humiliation.
The remarks of his friends and neighbours.
There would be no-one in that town who would not know that child wasn’t his.
They’d be forced to move away. Where would his good name be then?
How was his future going to end up?

And honestly - what must have been their first reaction? Just say ‘no’
How temptingly easy.
And that had to be an option, because God was giving himself as a baby – he needed grown-ups,
The whole point of being an ‘adult’ is choice – free will, that means we can say ‘no’ or ‘yes’, accept and live with the consequences.
So, at the same time, there couldn’t have been a ‘standby’. What would the point have been in that? God saying - I’ll keep at it until someone says ‘Yes’!
This was a once only opportunity.

Of course, God could have simply said ‘ Let it be so’ and it would have been. But he didn’t.
Even before he was born, the life of the Son of God was in human hands.

The Christian faith is rooted in the fact that ordinary people do extraordinary things.
That Mary accepted her part in her relationship with God and said ‘Yes’.
That Joseph accepted his part in his relationship with God and said ‘Yes’.
That shepherds, innkeepers, kings and philosophers found some way in their hearts to say ‘Yes’ .
And that these and all the other ‘Yes’s’ from the most unlikely people, throughout Jesus’ life gave God the opportunity to be born among us, to live a life with us, to laugh and cry with us, to make his own choice to die for us and to be with us now.

Listen to a baby cry. Left in a cot or pram sobbing for attention, for reassurance.
How long can you bear it before you make the choice?
To move out of earshot hoping someone else can deal with it,
or, to go to the child, to hold it in your arms, to comfort, to give and receive love.

Maybe that’s why a baby.
Because every Christmas we are reminded that this is what our God did.
That as much as he is our Loving Father in Heaven,
he has also been a tiny, vulnerable, beloved child of earth.
And every Christmas we are asked if we are prepared to enter that relationship of love,
To take on that responsibility.To decide that when the angel puts God into our arms, will we be able to say ‘Yes’?


Called by Name - When a Child is born

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

Romans 10:8 (The Message)

The Word that saves is right here, as near as the tongue in your mouth, as close as the heart in your chest.


If I hear ‘How long have you got?’ one more time – someone will get hurt.

A week, actually…The longest week of my life.

Never mind the nine months that went before; the planning; the waiting and wondering; the ‘Yes!’; the thrill of telling everyone; the realisation that there is no going back.

Never mind the sickness; the spreading waistline; the doctor’s appointments; the scans; the bloodtests (I’m scared of needles); worrying about results; the realisation that I really am pregnant.

Never mind the ever-spreading ‘everything’, insomnia and nesting urges; reading horror stories; writing birth plans; imagining all kinds; making space; finding room; the realisation that somehow, soon, you will be born.

Because, really, I’d be quite happy for you to stay right where you are: to carry on being ‘the Bump’. I’ve got used to being this shape; living in a pregnancy time zone; cradling your weight in my arms; resting my cup of tea on your bottom (or head); trying to identify if it’s an elbow or a knee that’s trying to make it’s escape. We are two but we are one, we are self-contained and complete - a perfect relationship, perfect love, perfect belonging. You are, already, all I have ever wanted.

But you are growing; you need your own ‘space’; to become more; to find your own place in the world. So in a few days you will make that journey; become ‘real’; become separate. We will look into each other’s eyes and see ourselves, I will smell your skin and know you forever, I will hear you cry and feel your pain. And I will still know you inside me – an eternal umbilical cord of love between us.

And no matter what the future, the distance, the trials and triumphs of the years ahead, that will not change. When I think of you, when I want to be near you I won’t have to phone or travel, I will simply have to close my eyes, put my hand on my stomach and remember - you were here and part of you will never leave.

‘When a child is born…’

When you think about it – it is not a normal way for a God to meet his worshippers. We are used to the idea of fire and brimstone not a God that cries out, like any new born infant, to his mother.

God is all and everywhere, there is no place, no thing, no time where God is not; and yet we still search. We believe we do not find God or He does not find us because we are not worthy; Paul tells us we are temples, we are holy places. Who lives in a holy place, but God?

John tells us – ‘In the Beginning was the Word’, and we don’t understand, we don’t listen. Jesus was not ‘created’ to bring us salvation; he was always there, always here. But we chose not to recognise him.

Through Mary’s pregnancy and the birth of her son, God made the gesture that said ‘Look, here is where I am, inside you; as a child lives within its mother. That close, that integrated, that co-joined; that interdependent. Mother and Child, inside and out – every cell, every drop of blood - a bond that can never be broken.

A message that was so important for us to hear, to believe, to understand that God chose to leave the deep, untouchable space within, to give us the Christ Child, to take on our humanity so that he could guide us back to Himself, to the centre, to the core – as close as the heart in your chest.

Take some time to consider the love of a God who wants to lie in our arms, and at the same time wrap his arms around us. Think about what it means to be in that relationship. Do you believe this? If so, do you share this with others, if not what is stopping you from accepting this love? Is there anything you and God can do about it?

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.


Monday, 15 December 2008

Called by Name - Freedom from...

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

Pauls letter to the Galatians 5:13-26 (The Message)

It is absolutely clear that God has called you to a free life. Just make sure that you don't use this freedom as an excuse to do whatever you want to do and destroy your freedom. Rather, use your freedom to serve one another in love; that's how freedom grows. For everything we know about God's Word is summed up in a single sentence: Love others as you love yourself. That's an act of true freedom. If you bite and ravage each other, watch out—in no time at all you will be annihilating each other, and where will your precious freedom be then? My counsel is this: Live freely, animated and motivated by God's Spirit. Then you won't feed the compulsions of selfishness. For there is a root of sinful self-interest in us that is at odds with a free spirit, just as the free spirit is incompatible with selfishness. These two ways of life are antithetical, so that you cannot live at times one way and at times another way according to how you feel on any given day. Why don't you choose to be led by the Spirit and so escape the erratic compulsions of a law-dominated existence?
Since this is the kind of life we have chosen, the life of the Spirit, let us make sure that we do not just hold it as an idea in our heads or a sentiment in our hearts, but work out its implications in every detail of our lives. That means we will not compare ourselves with each other as if one of us were better and another worse. We have far more interesting things to do with our lives. Each of us is an original.

Freedom from… Freedom to….
Freedom from…! Freedom to…!
Freedom from…? Freedom to….?

I often read stories in the media about lions, whales, bears being kept for years in cramped and cruel conditions; cages that barely allow them to turn around; circuses that abuse them for entertainment; minds turned by loneliness and neglect; terrible stories.

Then, now and again, I hear of protesters, of a mission; to return them to the wild; to set them free. And the mission fails, because the lion, the bear, the whale has forgotten who it is; where it belongs; how to live; what is ‘free’.
The animal, we are told, dies of stress; gives in to madness; hurts people and livestock in an attempt to find a familiar scent or memory and has to be killed. Its cage, its pool, its enclosure was the only world it knew – it thought it was free. The protesters fade into the background. It was not meant to end like this. They only wanted the animal to be happy; to have its rights; to be free.

Freedom means so much to us; freedom of speech, free will, free access. Some of us will kill for this freedom – to get what we want; what we deserve without limit, without deadlines, without censorship, without consideration for the freedom of others. It is a right- but it is my right first.

More or less this is what I believed freedom to be – so it was a real shock when God called. Because the freedom of God’s love called me to let go of the bars, limitations, and structures of my life – it threw me out into a wilderness I had no understanding of. God’s love for me is utterly wonderful but it is not a possessive love; it’s a wild unfettered love that has no limitations that had no boundaries. It pushes you out beyond comfort zones, beyond perceived family bonds and friendships groups, beyond self. Other people matter, more than I do. People I don’t like; people I don’t know; people I have barely spoken to in passing conversation suddenly become important, needing to be helped, needing to be prayed for.

I’m not saying I’m very good at it, in fact I’m not very good at it, but I pray and the Spirit pushes me along, like a watchful sheepdog bringing the lamb home through the mountain pass.
And I don’t want to go back to the imaginary freedom, because I do, as Paul says, have far more interesting things to do with my life
‘Freedom from…Freedom to…’

There is something considered ‘nice’ about being a Christian. It seems very genteel, very middle-class, very organised. And if you agree then perhaps you need to consider how much of the Christian message you are hearing.

Our buildings are lovely, our rituals thoughtful and devout. Our prayers are polite (though not always our scripture). And wrapping ourselves up in them is a comfort and, maybe, a protection against the outside world.
We are not meant to be defended against the outside world. Like the disciples at Pentecost we are not meant to hide – the Holy Spirit fills us with God’s grace and love for one reason – to go out and give it to others. And not to worry about it running out - in fact the better your relationship with God, the better you understand the message; the faster you give it away; the smoother the channel becomes; the more you will receive. We are told this over and over again.

Take time to consider the reality of being a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Jesus preached freedom and the freedom he gave was to others, to be healed, to be forgiven, to be made clean. This is the gift he sent his disciples to share with others.

Has your life ever been like that? What have you found difficult. Did you ask for the Lord’s help? What was his answer?
What can you learn to help you in the future?

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.

Tuesday, 9 December 2008

Called by Name

Praying the Scriptures - Paul Suffers

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

2 Corinthians 11:23-27 (The Message)

I've worked much harder, been jailed more often, beaten up more times than I can count, and at death's door time after time. I've been flogged five times with the Jews' thirty-nine lashes, beaten by Roman rods three times, pummelled with rocks once. I've been shipwrecked three times, and immersed in the open sea for a night and a day. In hard travelling year in and year out, I've had to ford rivers, fend off robbers, struggle with friends, struggle with foes. I've been at risk in the city, at risk in the country, endangered by desert sun and sea storm, and betrayed by those I thought were my brothers. I've known drudgery and hard labour, many a long and lonely night without sleep, many a missed meal, blasted by the cold, naked to the weather.
Acts 20:19-23 (The Message)

When they arrived, he said, "You know that from day one of my arrival in Asia I was with you totally—laying my life on the line, serving the Master no matter what, putting up with no end of scheming by Jews who wanted to do me in. I didn't skimp or trim in any way. Every truth and encouragement that could have made a difference to you, you got. I taught you out in public and I taught you in your homes, urging Jews and Greeks alike to a radical life-change before God and an equally radical trust in our Master Jesus. "But there is another urgency before me now. I feel compelled to go to Jerusalem. I'm completely in the dark about what will happen when I get there. I do know that it won't be any picnic, for the Holy Spirit has let me know repeatedly and clearly that there are hard times and imprisonment ahead.


I was one of the travellers with Paul when the Lord took him for his own. Not only him, as you see, but me as well. There was no denying the power of God that threw him from his horse and there were so many witnesses. Though my presence here should be proof enough – I was as every bit as committed as Paul to the destruction of that little group that called itself Followers of the Way. And now here I am, following the Lord’s footsteps, mostly by following Paul’s!

He does seem such a boaster, a bragger, totally ego-centric at times and I suppose he is – but he always tells the truth. And the truth is all about Love. Although you wouldn’t believe it from how he’s been treated; and here he does not exaggerate. But no-one likes to think they are wrong. You wouldn’t believe how much people don’t want to hear the truth, would rather stay in their bitterness and anger than give in to God’s Love and change their life to God’s way.

Trouble is - when you give in to God’s love – it’s not nice, it’s not comfortable, it’s not happy ever after. It’s more like – why didn’t I know? Why can’t they see? How do I make them believe? God’s Love fills you up until you think your skin is bursting because it’s not meant just for you– it’s for them – all of them.

And that’s what makes Paul do what he does – he’s so full I wonder if he feels the pain, the struggle, the beatings, as long as he makes a connection and can pour that Love, that Grace into another heart, another soul.

And as soon as he celebrates one success he’s off after someone else. Knowing that his time is running out, yet always running straight into the darkness because he knows where the Light is, who the Light is.

I try, I really do, to be like him. Sometimes I find it hard to speak up, sometimes I do fear for my life and, though it seems ridiculous, I hate being laughed at. And then I look at Paul, and as much as my strength comes from God who loves me, it also comes from Paul who loves me too.

‘Whoever said it was easy?’

The English language has only one word for love. When we study scripture we often use the Greek which gives us four words. But God’s Love is beyond all the words and understandings that we can imagine. Experiencing it for ourselves is hard enough, but trying to explain it to others?

Why would anyone give up time, effort, belongings, wealth, friendship even their life, for someone they hardly know and who may not even appreciate it.

It doesn’t fit in this world view. There is no sense in what we are asked to do - love and care for others as if they were us, as if they were part of who we are; which is what belonging the Body of Christ is all about.
Jesus didn’t know most of the people he helped or healed, he didn’t ask for justification – he just did it. And that didn’t always make him popular either.

There’s nothing wrong with doing things that make us look good or feel better but if we only do things to make ourselves look good or feel better; then there will be much we don’t do that we probably should.

Take time to consider the reality of being a disciple of Jesus Christ. Think about what his life was like, the life the disciples took, the road Paul followed. Has your life ever been like that? What have you found difficult. Did you ask for the Lord’s help? What was his answer?
What can you learn to help you in the future?

Closing Prayer
May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.



Sunday, 7 December 2008

Second Sunday In Advent

Mark 1:1-8 (The Message)

The good news of Jesus Christ—the Message!—begins here, following to the letter the scroll of the prophet Isaiah.
Watch closely: I'm sending my preacher ahead of you;
He'll make the road smooth for you.
Thunder in the desert!
Prepare for God's arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!

John the Baptizer appeared in the wild, preaching a baptism of life-change that leads to forgiveness of sins. People thronged to him from Judea and Jerusalem and, as they confessed their sins, were baptized by him in the Jordan River into a changed life. John wore a camel-hair habit, tied at the waist with a leather belt. He ate locusts and wild field honey.
As he preached he said, "The real action comes next: The star in this drama, to whom I'm a mere stagehand, will change your life. I'm baptizing you here in the river, turning your old life in for a kingdom life. His baptism—a holy baptism by the Holy Spirit—will change you from the inside out."
A friend asked me 'What was the strangest thing about this opening paragraph of Mark's Gospel? Jesus isn't there.' And as we never got to carry on that conversation I used this to follow my own train of thought.
Jesus isn't there. But would we expect him to be? This is Advent - we are preparing the way, that was John's task - to get our attention, to change our hearts. And there's lots of strange things about John, not least what he looked like. But he did make people change, brought them out of the desert to the vision of living water - the Jordan, a real symbol of life for real desert people. He brought them out of the Temple to listen to the Word of God. There were itinerant preachers about at the time - but baptism as well, and coming from a good Temple family?
Jesus isn't there. Well, he isn't here is he? We are waiting for him, surely that's the point. He hasn't come but that's not what the Gospel says - its says the Good News starts here.
Jesus isn't there and by now we must fall back onto the theatrical storytelling techniques of the Gospel writers; always setting the scene; setting us on tenterhooks. Well. yes, except for Mark. That wasn't his style. Mark races headlong through his Gospel. Like an excited child it's all - and then....and then.... and THEN. A Gospel meant to be carried lightly, spoken quickly, memorised easily.
Yet even Mark knows that this is not the time. This is the time to take time. To know what it feels like to have heard the words of Isaiah year after year after year and yet have heard nothing. No prophet, no thunder, no Messiah. And yet, through faith, having to wait and wait and wait.
We have the 'Ordinary' times in the Church's year when we read and learn about scripture until it becomes a comfortable tale of morality and justice, a part of how we think and who we are.
But like Easter, Christmas is not an ordinary time. It is a time well worth visiting as if we didn't know, had never heard, had no idea. So that we can become part of a history, of a longing, of a world crying with impatience for the Good News.

Monday, 1 December 2008

Praying the Scripture

Opening Prayer

Here I am Lord,
Speak to me
within my heart and soul.
I am listening.

Acts 22:3-15 (New King James Version)
I am indeed a Jew, born in Tarsus of Cilicia, taught according to the strictness of our fathers’ law, and was zealous toward God as you all are today. I persecuted this Way to the death, binding and delivering into prisons both men and women, as also the high priest bears me witness, and all the council of the elders, from whom I also received letters to the brethren, and went to Damascus to bring in chains even those who were there to Jerusalem to be punished.
Now it happened, as I journeyed and came near Damascus at about noon, suddenly a great light from heaven shone around me. And I fell to the ground and heard a voice saying to me, ‘Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?’ So I answered, ‘Who are You, Lord?’ And He said to me, ‘I am Jesus of Nazareth, whom you are persecuting.’
And those who were with me indeed saw the light and were afraid,[ but they did not hear the voice of Him who spoke to me. So I said, ‘What shall I do, Lord?’ And the Lord said to me, ‘Arise and go into Damascus, and there you will be told all things which are appointed for you to do.’ And since I could not see for the glory of that light, being led by the hand of those who were with me, I came into Damascus.


It should have been the worst day of my life. I was wrong – the person who was so sure. And not just wrong, but standing on my head, other side of the planet, black instead of white wrong.

God loves me

Please understand - it’s not that I was one of those apathetic, don’t know, don’t care people. Once a Catholic, always a Catholic they say and it’s true. But what had God ever done for me? School was a nightmare –
rules and regulations, judgements and punishments – happiest days of your life? Don’t think you can get away with anything - God is watching you. Ha!

God loves me.

Expected to go to Church – expected to behave, to follow the rules, to do as I say not as I do. And to give praise to a God that just didn’t seem to care. Not when I lost my job, not when people I love got ill, not when all those horrible things happen in the world. Why would I pray to God? He’s never there when you need him. Oh no, I was making my own way through this life.

God loves me.

I wasn’t doing anything special; I wasn’t in church; I wasn’t praying. In fact I was walking the dog through the park, mind wandering as usual, and just noticed the way the sun made channels of light through the tree canopy and then I was standing in one of those channels. Except it wasn’t just sunlight, it was God-light. A light that went right through me, soaked into me, burned into my heart and soul. A Presence that was beyond the ordinary; that was beyond anything I had ever learnt or thought I knew about God. There was a new sense of wonder and grace – and it made sense. It was real, it was life-giving, it was mine.

God loves me.

And that love is real and it fills me to overflowing. A love that I can’t keep to myself – that’s not how it works. Because I can’t make it through life on my own – I need love – I need God’s love and I need to tell you too.

God loves you.

‘Turn to me’

It is hard to believe now that Paul could have destroyed all hope of the Christian family ever existing. His ruthless determination that the Followers of the Way were wrong, were to be turned back or destroyed was born of an absolute faith in what he believed was right.

The problem with absolutes is that they leave you no room for manoeuvre; after all, what happens when a question you weren’t expecting comes at you – what do you do?

‘Paul, why are you tormenting me?’

And what happens when you realise how wrong you have been; do you go forward or back?

The bravest thing Paul ever did; braver than surviving shipwrecks, braver than the risk of being beaten, braver than the risk of jail and execution, was accepting what had happened to him. The acceptance that allowed him to ask for forgiveness – knowing all he had done and knowing that by human standards he would have been beyond forgiveness – still he opened himself up to God and spent the rest of his life thanking Him for the Love and Grace that was bestowed on him.

Have you heard that call?
Did you respond to that call?
How has that call changed your life?

Closing Prayer

May the blessing of the Sacred Three
The Father who gave us the Word
The Son who is the Word
The Spirit who opens the Word within us
Be with us today and evermore.