Tag Archives: Easter

Glad!

Many apologies for neglecting this blog so completely for so many months!
My circumstances have changed somewhat, but the real reason I haven’t been posting is that life just got too full and overwhelming and, after I had missed a few weeks of Torah portions/ lectionary, I soon realised it would be impossible to catch up.

Since Easter I have been listening to past years’ Spring Harvest cds from about 1989-1995. Since Spring Harvest is in the Spring, there are lots of Easter-themed songs.It has been lovely and encouraging. 

I have never actually made it to Spring Harvest or any other church holiday type of camp (not since childhood in the 70s anyway). I know we are so blessed in the West to have so many resources at our fingertips. But I do feel I have missed out, and I have been thinking a lot recently about being isolated and cut off from the rest of the church.

Apart from a brief ‘flirtation’ with New Frontiers in the 90s and visits to a big Elim in the next town, I haven’t been part of an active, thriving church since the 80s. It is as if, for some reason, God has me perpetually in the wilderness. I am currently in a very small congregation, and not of my preferred denomination.

I am at a bit of a cross-roads. I want to preach, I feel as though I may have that gifting and calling. At this tiny congregation I actually have the chance to walk into that calling, because they’re desperate for speakers, whereas elsewhere I seem to be fighting an uphill battle that may not lead to anything.

But in the tiny church, there are more seekers than believers and only elderly lay leaders while they wait for an officer. There are no young people or families, other than a couple who had a child very late in life. So we have one child. I feel terribly sorry for her. I feel for these people, but will I be fed there? I don’t think anybody can “feed the sheep” if they’re not getting fed themselves. The cup can only run over if it’s being filled.

I never wanted to be a pioneer or a maverick. I’d much rather slip in unnoticed at the back of a big church. But those brief flirtations with New Frontiers and Elim proved ultimately to be unfulfilling. Perhaps I’m not meant to hide my light under a bushel?

I am due to preach for the first time ever next Sunday, 30th April 2017. I was given carte blanche,  so I’m planning to speak on the goodness and faithfulness of God.

I leave you with a band I have just discovered, but which has been going since the 70s! Glad! The Accapella Project.

I hope it blesses you.

He is risen! Hallelujah!

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Chag Pesach Sameach!

jewish-christia

I always feel a little out of sorts and discombobulated when Passover and Easter occur separately as they have done this year. The reason of course is the method of calculation.

I honestly don’t know how the Rabbis calculate Passover, but I know that the original method was to determine whether the barley was ‘Aviv’ – ready, the word actually means ‘Spring’ at the time of the new moon. If it isn’t, an additional month is added and Passover will be on the 14th day (which is of course the full moon) of the next month. That is what has happened this year. (There are in fact those – Messianics and Karaite Jews – who still use this method of calculation, and you can subscribe to the New Moon Report from Jerusalem to know when to celebrate according to Biblical law if you want to, but in fact the Rabbis’ calculation is remarkably reliable.)

Easter, on the other hand – purposely divorced as it was from its Jewish roots – is determined with reference to the Spring Equinox. In fact, the Orthodox churches of the East use a different calculation which causes Easter to more readily fall in line with Passover.

I’m not ready to convert to Orthodoxy though!

It is in fact a very Jewish thing to accept contradiction and live with tension, and as a Messianic that is something you have to do, unless you are willing to take a hard line and come down heavily on either side of the argument. I spent a long time among hard-liners, but it never sat easily with me. It really isn’t in my nature to be a hard-liner.

I would of course prefer it if all would agree (and I feel more comfortable with following the Jewish calendar), but for the sake of fellowship, I concede that there are two celebrations essentially of the same holiday on years like this.

christ-passover

The only problem now is that there will also be two celebrations of Shavuot/ Pentecost as well and counting the omer/ Eastertide can get a bit confusing!

Whichever way you celebrate, blessings to you!

May the light of the risen Christ rise in your hearts!

Shalom x

easter-passover

No Treasure But Hope

I really know very little about Irish history, it is not something we are taught in British schools (not even the British side of the story – it’s just brushed aside completely, at least it was when I was at school, and I doubt things have changed significantly in that regard) which makes me a little sad as it is part of my heritage.

So I thought I would share this famous poem from the Easter Uprising of 1916 to mark its centenary, and since hope and despair as well as freedom and escape are such common themes on this blog.

The Rebel

I am come of the seed of the people, the people that sorrow,
That have no treasure but hope,
No riches laid up but a memory
Of an Ancient glory.
My mother bore me in bondage, in bondage my mother was born,
I am of the blood of serfs;
The children with whom I have played, the men and women with whom I have eaten,
Have had masters over them, have been under the lash of masters,
And, though gentle, have served churls;
The hands that have touched mine, the dear hands whose touch is familiar to me,
Have worn shameful manacles, have been bitten at the wrist by manacles,
Have grown hard with the manacles and the task-work of strangers,
I am flesh of the flesh of these lowly, I am bone of their bone,
I that have never submitted;
I that have a soul greater than the souls of my people’s masters,

I that have vision and prophecy and the gift of fiery speech,
I that have spoken with God on the top of His holy hill.
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with their sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children,
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have served, they who should be free,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailors
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!

I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.
And now I speak, being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people’s name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people’s masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give.
Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men’s desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars

P H Pearse

Hope Deferred

We’ve been in the housing association accommodation now for just over a year, and I think that, on reflection, it wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that – even allowing for some of the awful things that happened in the past – this past year has been the worst year of my life.

I used to really believe that gratitude and positive thinking could make a difference but now I am pretty sure that nothing can make up for not having your basic needs met.

I am not going to bore you with the details, I have already gone on and on ad nauseum.

Good times always seem to be around the corner, but somehow (it seems to me) hope, if it’s false hope, is the real killer.

“Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.”
Proverbs 13:12

Purim Sameach or Happy Easter to you, whichever you prefer.

Don’t forget to move the clocks forward tonight if you’re in the UK.

Finding a Trail

I don’t normally make a big deal of Easter – I normally try to keep passover and if it coincides with Easter, well and good, but if it doesn’t, it’s just another weekend.

This year though we have relatives visiting over the long weekend, with all the attending issues of a family holiday. It has also become much more like Christmas since the weather changed and we’re all stuck indoors.

I would have liked to do things ‘my way’ in a much more Jewish context but with family visiting, I’ve been inundated with all the Eastery things I dislike about the Christian festival – chocolate eggs and bunnies and the temptation to gluttony and selfishness and bad tempers.

The issue of mental health, or rather illness has reared its head as well, and I can’t help feeling, in the context of Christ’s work on the cross supposedly including healing our diseases, just very frustrated and a little bit angry (with God? With the Church?). Why is there not more healing? Why are some faithful believers never healed?

Then there has been the inevitable holiday telly. We’ve been watching “Dances with Wolves” this afternoon.

One of the themes of the film is Identity, with American / Anglo culture clearly portrayed as lacking soul and integrity in comparison with the Lakota Sioux Indian culture.

Whilst there is undoubtedly some historical revisionism going on for the film, it does seem to be an ongoing theme of shame or guilt over historical English misdeeds, all related to the idea that somewhere along the way we lost that soul and lost who we were meant to be.

It’s an old film, but it still raises the questions (for me anyway) What does my name mean? Who are we? What is English culture? Is there anything of value that’s worth saving, redeeming, re-discovering, protecting? Is it a hybrid culture anyway, a mixture of Celtic, Roman, Anglo-Saxon, Viking and Norman, is it natural to carry on absorbing other cultures into our own?

But there is a deep longing, I think, to find deeper roots, so people are looking all over to find a solid path – in Buddhism or Paganism, atheism, politics, or even dare I say Judaism or Celtic Christianity.

I do believe that underneath it all is God the Rock, who is Jesus and He is solid and reliable. But in terms of health and mental health, the Rock seems so slippery, so covered in moss or seaweed or something that stops us quite getting hold of Him. How do we scrape away all the things that prevent us from holding on to the solid place?

“I was just thinking that of all the trails in this life, there are some that matter most. It is the trail of a true human being. I think you are on this trail, and it is good to see.” – Kicking Bird in Dances with Wolves