Why is there an Easter Saturday?

Why is there an Easter Saturday?

Friday is pure terror. Sunday will be incredible redemption. But there’s a day in between. It’s the day after this, the day before that. Why is there an Easter Saturday? Would it have made a difference to salvation if Crucifixion was immediately followed by Resurrection? Ever wondered what the disciples did on Easter Saturday? Waking up after 2 sleepless days, the adrenaline worn off. They must have felt crushingly lost that whole day and through the long hours of Saturday night. There’s a different, kind of spiritual pain when terror has passed and numbness wears off enough to begin to think again…and we know what we will ask…’Why in God’s name did this happen?’ met with divine silence. We have all known Easter Saturdays. This year I have learnt from the example of Mary Magdalene in John’s Gospel (read it here https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=John+19-20&version=NLT) . John tells us what Mary did once Friday had past, before Sunday arrives. She stayed with friends. The Gospels almost always mention Mary in a list of women friends, Joanna, Salome, the ‘other Mary’. That’s sound advice. Don’t sit alone in the dark if you don’t have to. Then, unlike any other disciple, she persistently tracks Jesus, even though she believes he is dead; staying to the end of the crucifixion, observing his body removed from the cross, watching the rushed burial. It is Mary who has the grit to stand and watch. And then, thirdly, she finds comfort in rituals, going out to buy the proper spices to anoint the body. Natural coping mechanisms that can help anyone in the depths of grief: friends, ritual, just standing still...
Rummaging for God in your day

Rummaging for God in your day

Have you ever tried rummaging through your day to find something that might have gone unnoticed or got lost among all the ‘stuff’…something like God? Try the Daily Examen prayer from St Ignatious. Dennis Hamm calls this practice “rummaging for God.” He likens it to “going through a drawer full of stuff, feeling around, looking for something that you are sure must be there.” That’s an accurate description of what it’s like to pray the Daily Examen. We look back on the previous day, rummaging through the “stuff,”and finding God in it. We just need an inkling that we will find God there to begin. So why not have a go? This is a simple version of the five-step Daily Examen . Ask God to be present with you and help you review your day.  Look back with gratitude. Name things you are grateful for. Ask yourself Where did I see God in my day? Where was I living in my best, true self? Did I miss opportunities? Did I get in the way of having a good day? Admit it honesty. Look forward. What gift do you need from God to have a day you can really live well tomorrow? (more patience/ better attention / kindness…)...
Adventures in Solitude

Adventures in Solitude

Encouraged by Jonny’s insights, my Lent commitment is to spend 3 hours in solitude, reflecting and praying, each week. How hard can that be? Extremely hard as it turns out. Challenge one: find 3 hours to escape…Much harder than you imagine. Eugene Peterson’s book The Contemplative Pastor makes this shocking claim that ‘a busy minister is a lazy minister’. So, I am lazy, because I keep finding my scheduled time for solitude squeezed out by things that seem more urgent, or people I cannot let down. Is this a problem of priorities? It’s a discipline to find time. But I persist. It’s also much more pleasurable than I think. Where could I comfortably spend 3 hours in solitude? Where there’s no mobile phone contact? Where I might be genuinely relaxed…and this is how I get to spend 3 hours every Lenten week… in the spa! Don’t knock it! An hour of intentional physical relaxation ends up with 2 beautiful hours on a warm day bed in a dark room, with a Bible, notebook and time…precious time. Explaining spa as a spiritual discipline takes some doing. We imagine time with God as something uncomfortable, strained and formalised. Which is exactly why we need Lent? To return to God. The true God. The God whose presence is like water to a thirsty soul…like rest for the anxious, distracted, weary...
Adventures in Communal Living

Adventures in Communal Living

What would make a gifted, well-connected 29 year old choose to move into a Franciscan Friary and live in community with formerly homeless people? My friend Jonny has. Why? The short answer is that he heard a diagnosis to his generation’s discontent and it struck home – to the extent that he moved into a community born out of need, not choice, as an experiment in intentional community. Jonny explained what drove him to do this. The idea began in a lecture ‘Why do people in their 20’s leave the church?’ Soul Survivor’s Mike Pilavachi explains how a culture of consumerism, individualism and entitlement is eating into the psyche of 20-somethings. [1] The freedom of individualism, expressed through independent living with no definitive commitment to people or place is a phony freedom. We believe it’s our right to have whatever we want, whenever we want, yet we find ourselves crippled by the fear of committing to the ‘wrong’ person/place/career. In Postmodernity and Its Discontents, Zygmunt Bauman writes how “modern individuals are sentenced to a lifetime of choosing. And the art of choosing is mostly about avoiding one danger: that of missing an opportunity.” People of faith are not immune. Not even ministers. Henri Nouwen’s In the name of Jesus, describes ‘The Compulsive Minister’. In a society described as a ‘shipwreck’, “a dangerous network of domination and manipulation in which we can easily get entangled and lose our soul” [2]. Nouwen points to how horrendously secular our Christian lives can become, living our lives in such a “distracted way that we do not even take the time and rest to...
Sinner of the week?

Sinner of the week?

There was talk of ‘sins’ and a special guidance book, we sat in rows and listened to an inspirational speaker, we confessed our failings and told stories to encourage each other. There was even an offering collected…but this was not church. It was slimming world. The comparisons were striking. Are slimming clubs secular churches? Places where people who want change meet to be empowered and fellowship together. They work because they too harness the power of community; the commitment you put in is rewarded with life change. You need to connect but you are rewarded with a sense of belonging and a way of life to share. There’s just one snag. Here in the word of weight loss there’s no divine intervention. If you want this you have to make it happen for yourself. I’m pleased churches offer something more. The Spirit of God offers to become part of our lived experiences so that there is power to change to reinforce our will to change. I’m also relieved that the church hasn’t yet resorted to reading out lists of how well we’ve done this well and given us ‘Member of the Month’ certificates…although, come to think of...
Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?

Can a person be a ‘thoroughbred’? Some people pride themselves on their ethnic identity, imagining that as an individual they distinctly embody their cultural community. Nationalism encourages this. Yet advances in DNA mapping are revealing some truly amazing roots to the family trees of so-called ‘pure-bred’ patriots. The participants were asked to go on a journey to discover the sources of their mitochondrial DNA – that part of our genetic blueprint we inherit from our mothers, their mothers, and so on. Watch the results of an amazing experiment here: http://www.goodnet.org/articles/this-clip-shows-weve-more-in-common-than-we-think-video. The results were shocking. Notions of ‘racial’ separateness were swept away for all but a tiny number of African participants who, alone, could claim to have remained indigenous to their original birth-lands. The rest of the participants, and the vast majority of people across the world, are a mixture of genetics from people groups we may think of as innately ‘foreign’ today. An Arab in the group discovers their Jewish DNA, a Scandinavian is shocked by Oriental origins, a Kurdish woman confronts Turkish ancestry and a Brit learns of German heritage. I love this experiment, especially the discombobulation of those who had vested so much of their sense of self in what assumed was a water-tight national identity. Genetics are forcing a reconsideration of ‘race’. There is truly one human race. All of today’s ethnic groups have African origins. Ethnicity has amazing diversity and cultural differences can be acute, but, the building blocks of our very being tell us that there is so much more that unites than divides us.  ...