Hello...

Hello.
I knew at the beginning of the year that I wanted to let go of the blog. I am in a different place now and I need the space to work through a great many things. I intend to keep the archives up for a time, although I have removed the comment function.
If you have landed here - welcome and feel free to dip in to what was our life - once upon a time...
J xxx

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sunday Reflection


Its been a good week - calm and pleasant for the most part. A busy one too, as I wrote a few days ago. So many opportunities to see the beauty of creation around us - to find God in our day to day lives. None more so than here, on this blog. I am so thankful for the kind and wise comments from last week's post. They truly helped me to calm my thoughts, and find some perspective on the words that I was struggling with. I mentioned the fact that our congregation is without a pastor at the moment, and how that impacts on my own understanding of some of the sermons we hear, week on week, and posting here, and reading the responses has made a difference.
 I am very prone to agonising over issues - like a dog with a bone, I keep going back to situations in my mind and worrying over them - in a sense, reliving them. Time and time again, I replay conversations, things read or listened to, over and over in my head. Now - reflection is good, but obsession is not, and each time I do this - I am still stuck in the situation. It's like that comedy film - Groundhog Day - remember that? 

All week, I have prayed, read, talked about and fretted about the ideas and challenges that I found in last weeks sermon delivery. "It's not right. We have no spiritual backup to help us understand. Is this really the message God wants us to hear? What is the message anyway? Speak to me!" But, by the end of the week,though I had worked off most of my angst, and so, this morning, we set off for church. 

The preacher was one we had had several times before, and I am ashamed to say that, as far as I was concerned, he had form. The reading was announced - Genesis 19 - the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah - Groundhog Day. The sermon began and for the rest of the service, I felt harangued and blasted, as we were urged to "Run! Run from the wrath of God!". Don't get me wrong - it was a clever sermon - very well delivered, and this man puts himself out there, preaching the Word, which is more than I have ever done. It is also a wonderful piece of scripture to get your teeth into - google it and there are any number of interesting pieces that are written about the tragedy of Lot's wife. But, today's message was full of our sin, God's anger, and how we are all doomed. Not much mention of love or grace, or forgiveness, and so again - I am left feeling hopeless - almost feeling I am a fake Christian. Maybe I am and this is the message God is sending me. Am I Lot's wife because I am looking forward to a family holiday, and planning what seeds I will sow in Spring? How can I be truly saved if I entertain such worldly thoughts? 

My poor husband listened patiently while I "reflected" out loud all afternoon. He suggested that I take some things too literally, and this was a case in point. And he is right. We have to live in the world, and are part of the world, and that God created the world - it is not all bad, and a lot of it is good. We must live our lives as the best Christians we can be - loving God and our neighbour. Yes, plant seeds - plant trees even - go and visit family, just don't leave God out of your plans!

I wondered if I was someone hovering on the brink of Christianity today - how would hearing this have affected me? I might have been scared witless and slunk off, thinking it was all to much to deal with - to difficult to be acceptable.  I really don't believe it is helpful to preach in such a hectoring way. Our congregations is much reduced during our time of vacancy, and most of us still attending are believers, and I think we need  to be encouraged and uplifted. I came to faith through a Loving God and the Compassion of Jesus. Yes, I have been challenged many times, by the Word of God but not brow beaten and humiliated. Jesus endured all that through His Love for us, so we would not have to. Yet - if I felt uncomfortable today, well, it wasn't exactly comfortable up there on that cross, where he felt the wrath of God on my behalf.
I still have many questions to resolve with this "fire and brimstone" issue that I seem to be stuck on at the moment, but I'll keep looking and listening for the answers, and I will stop obsessing over it. Already, writing this out has clarified a few points for me, and I feel a sense of peace - thank You God. And thank you for reading - I wish you God's blessing on your week ahead. 

24 comments:

  1. I'm so sorry you've having to hear sermons like that. We grew up with the "fire and brimstone" preaching-I think it does more harm than good. We have been blessed to find a church whose minister focuses on God's love for us and the grace he bestows through Jesus. Hope you will have more encouraging messages in the future!

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    1. Oh I am sure we will. There has been some inspiring messages over the year - and, you know, on reflection - even this was inspiring too as it led to a lot of prayer and searching xx

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  2. Blimey! It's about time the community heard a message of hope, what about it Jacqui? Maybe God is giving you a prod!!

    Two things that might help your spirits this week, there is a YouTube channel called St Giles Church Oxford and it has amazing talks on Celtic, Benedictine and Ignatian spirituality. The second is Bealtaine Cottage blog it is such a place of peace and beauty.

    Dear Father, you know Jacqui through and through, you know what she needs in her daily walk with you, bless her this week in a very special way as she goes about her daily tasks. Wrap your arms around her, let her know she is loved and I pray Father that you will find a way of truly blessing this prayer community who meet each week to worship you, in Jesus name I ask this, amen.

    Hugs San xxxxx

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    1. San / I had tears in my eyes reading your words and I will certainly check out those links. I have found great hope right here. Thank you for joining with me xxx

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    2. So pleased that us folk here give you a boost!

      Big hugs

      xxxx

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  3. Oh, there's so much I could say,but you've probably already said it yourself. The OT images can sometimes be so unhelpful - especially when they're interpreted in this unloving fashion. I've just been re-reading John 3 - God so loved the world that He gave... This is the image Jesus gives us of God, the image we're made in. (sorry if that sounds a bit muddled.)
    Some time ago I had a look at a Jewish site to see what their understanding of Sodom and Gomorrah is. The sin of Sodom is seen as a failure of hospitality - a lack of love and concern for the other, the stranger. Quite different to most Christian hellfire preachers views.
    Love and prayers,
    Barbara x

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    1. Yes Barbara - I picked that up in my readings too - and Pride without helping the poor. I think this has been good for me - working it out like this - God - He knows what He is doing xx

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  4. Dear Jacqui, Mandy and I struggled with this type of preaching at our local church, week after week, until we were driven to look elsewhere. After a few dead ends, we found St. Peter's Episcopal Church in Stornoway and it's just like coming home! They're all family! If you want to be surrounded by love and God's blessings, this is the place to be! Children welcome, coffee and tea afterwards. Do yourself a favour, come and give it a try, you've nothing to lose, you'll even geet to meet us...

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    1. Hi Ian - not Paul, surely! Seriously though, we may viisit atsome point. I've already met Ann, and Sister Clare is visiting the women's study group next month, so there is hope! We do feel loyalty to friends and the place as well as being brought up CoS,the congregation is struggling and we don't feel that we want to leave - just some joyful preaching once in a while. Maybe we'll make a trip to town one day xx

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  5. Jacqui, I have often said (even out loud), "Church is wonderful - as long as it's the right church for you". By this I mean that the wrong church / preaching can be harmful to a person. I'm not saying some preaching is wrong and some is right, but some can be wrong for a certain person at a certain time. I will always be grateful to my mother for a little intervention in my young religious life. She knew that I am by nature very self-critical and even self-punishing. We were in church together and the minister was leading us in confessional prayer, which went on at length about all the possible transgressions we might have committed that week. About 10 minutes into this, my mother leaned over and whispered to me, "This doesn't necessarily all apply to you."
    I hope that your congregation will soon find an uplifting preacher.

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    1. That is the best comment ever, Christine. Wise mother!

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    2. It is a great comment, Christine, and John has said that to me also - thank you. I will actually think of you and your mother next time I get caught up like this. I am glad it isn't just me! xxx

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    3. Dorit and Jacqui, my mother would be astonished to know we can share such things over the internet! I'm glad if her wisdom has been of use to others. No, it isn't just me/you!

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  6. You are certainly no fake. You keep me grounded and help my faith - which is often shaky. (I am not a very good christian).

    but what I do know is that my God -- and I am sure yours too - is a God of love and forgiveness.

    I may be simplistic but it gets me through the week.

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    1. Thank you, Lizzi - I really appreciate support like this xx

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  7. Thank you for these sunday refelctions, Jacqui. Love!

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    1. Thank you, Dorit - great to hear from you xxx

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  8. I so enjoy all your posts Jacqui and am thinking of you during this time. I hope you get your 'own' minister soon who gives sermons of God's great love.
    x

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    1. Thank you - I appreciate your thoughts. I think it will be a wee while yet before we get our own minister, a few more interesting views to come I guess - thankfully God's love can be found everywhere xx

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  9. Whenever you feel dry or not feeling the joy of Christ or whatever, think of it as your time in the garden. Think of what Jesus went through agonizing in the garden. Combine your suffering with His, then remember the glory that comes :) Living the Christan life isnt always a high. We go through dry spells. Just trust and listen. Listen for when the call comes :)
    God Bless

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    1. Thank you for that - I am listening, and i will read that passage.. Funnily, I was thinking about Lent, and Jesus time in the wilderness, and equating this time with that - a good source for meditation..
      xx

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  10. I feel a bit upset that some person is upsetting a congregation by his own personal views on religion, and that is what it is. Surely it is important that one leads a good life, treats others well, gives time, and love and deeds and if anyone they know is in trouble, help? I'm sorry but beyond that I don't know. To me that is the main function in life.

    I am also sorry for commenting on a subject that is far beyond me as I was not brought up as a chuchgoer but brought up to be a decent, kind, and honest person.

    I don't think you could live a better life that you do, by your own actions to your family and animals and neighbours. You seem like a really lovely person. Sorry if I'm interfering.

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    1. Bless you, CF - what a lovely thing to say and thanks for your comment - all are welcome. I hope you are well, xxx.

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  11. I appreciate your "Sunday Reflections" in all their honesty and humility. Thank you for willing to be open about your thoughts and your feelings. Wishing you a blessed weekend with lots of laughter and full of grace.

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Many thanks for visiting me. I love to read your thoughts and appreciate each one. I will respond to comments and queries here, so please check back xx

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