Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Faith: Verb or Noun?

"Love, love is a verb, Love is a doing word" Tear Drop, Massive Attack.

Faith as a verb was something I dipped out of in a sermon recently, when looking at Paul suggesting he had fought the good fight. Too many teachers in our congregation perhaps! However, having read through my daily Ignatian Reflection for today perhaps this is something for me to revisit.

"Faith for Jesus is not a noun, it is not a mustard seed, and it is not yeast.  Faith for Jesus is a verb in today’s Gospel. Faith is a mustard seed that is planted.  Faith is yeast that is mixed.  For us today what this means is that, when our faith is static or sterile, it is in fact not faith at all.  Jesus is challenging us to recognize the active nature of our faith." 

"Jesus reminds us that faith is a gift that is given to us.  But we need to mix and plant this faith in our everyday lives and in the lives of our neighbors and community.  In other words, we could substitute “faith” for “love” in St. Ignatius’ famous quote.  So that, after today’s Gospel, it would read, “Faith ought to show itself more in deeds than in words.”

Adam DeLeon, S.J.

Leaves me wondering whether faith as a noun reduces 'that gift' to something that we are satisfied in giving propositional ascent to, rather than a way of living and being? Faith as a doing word seems so much less brittle!

Tree of Life...

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse...." Revelation 22

Spending time in reflection with @suttonsachurch’s mission group/team recently was encouraging. Weaving together narratives of reaching out, of sharing out and of loving out the attributes of God helped us to speak of opportunities and potential as we developed our own tree of life reflecting upon various initiatives, some fully formed, others in bud. 

It was encouraging to see - why wouldn't it be?

"And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. No longer will there be any curse...."

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Hungrier than ever: Britain’s use of food banks triples

Hungrier than ever: Britain's use of food banks triples

"people going to food banks had started returning food that needed to be warmed up because they could not afford to switch on their electricity"

It's the panic in the eyes that is different. When we were in Poplar, food parcels were rarely accompanied with the level of panic that there are today 10-15 years later. Food parcels were invariably a support to a particular culture where poor decisions, budgeting and substance misuse were the issues. 

Yesterday I realised the difference.

Invariably the 0% tolerance employed for the benefit of the minority of those that milk the system is impacting those who need support for the season in their lives which is now. Immediate sanctions, changes in benefits that leave families without even for a short period  - devastate. I don't like seeing the panic in the eyes of a mother.

The longer food banks are necessary, the easier their existence becomes acceptable. Foodbanks through their very existence communicate that there is something wrong. The need of Foodbanks is unacceptable, there should be no need for them, we should never be comfortable with their existence and need to work to see their end!

In the meantime bless all those volunteers and the generosity of those who realise sitting back, watching and talking about it, is not an option! The spirit of working together against the common enemy that is poverty and hunger that I see each week is inspirational!

Wednesday, October 09, 2013

Life will be life....

Another piece of regurgitated Rohr! His book 'Falling Upwards...' was superb and a really helpful read earlier in the year for me.

Not exactly a cheery start to the day but bitingly realistic - life will be life and sometimes it isn't straight forward! Realising this and engaging with life accordingly I think has something to do with a maturing faith in Christ rather than using faith as a talisman that is seen in cliche and platitude.

"It is not that suffering or failure might happen, or that it will only happen to you if you are bad (which is what religious people often think), or that it will happen to the unfortunate, or to a few in other places, or that you can somehow by cleverness or righteousness avoid it. No, it will happen, and to you!" p. xx

Thursday, October 03, 2013

Hard lessons of life...

Richard Rohr in his daily meditations explores what he calls seven Themes of an Alternative Orthodoxy, from what I understand it shapes his prolific writing. Currently he is exploring his sixth theme 'The path of descent is the path of transformation. Darkness, failure, relapse, death, and woundedness are our primary teachers, rather than ideas or doctrines'

Problem as I see it there are not many who want to respond to that faculty of teaching! Thinking back, the teachers that I seem to remember are those who knew how to push me, and actually were not all that cuddly!  Six weeks on Jeremiah has shown how to respond even in the darkest of times, to embrace life with all its complications, unexpected and unwanted turns.

Thinking out loud now, but I wonder if this embrace of life beyond what we want as an ideal creates space to explore life when it is not straight forward. The alternative is to nurture resentment and self-pity, which if it is life giving let's do more of it! Problem of course it isn't life giving in fact it steals from us, I wonder if that is Rohr's point regarding transformation?