Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Starting at the beginning

When I was deciding what Biblical text to read and study during Lent I realised that I wanted to go back to the beginning. Not the beginning of the Bible (wherever that is), not the beginning of the Christian story, not the beginning of my life or of my Christian faith, but the beginning of my love of theology. I am going back to the text which excited me as an A level student, which challenged me intellectually and also strengthened my faith.

I was doing A level religious studies because I was neither enjoying nor progressing well in A level maths. I took the wise decision to drop maths and then needed a third A level subject. I was studying English and history, I didn't like geography (then), didn't want to do biology and was not a linguist - so I fell into religious studies. I wasn't expecting to fall in love with a subject I had dropped before O Level.
The A level syllabus was the whole bible! There were some specific set texts including the Epistles to the Thessalonians and Corinthians. One of our teachers, Mr Gilmore, decided that we should study another epistle in depth - the epistle to the Romans. Mr Gilmore said that if we understood Romans we would understand the other Pauline epistles, so we were introduced to Romans and I fell in love with theology. I was really enthusiastic. I spent time after the lessons asking questions and discussing the text with Mr Gilmore. One day when I had sought him out in the staff room, he gave me a book (possibly to stop me haunting him!). The book was "Paul" by Martin Dibelius and W G Kummel and I read it with great enthusiasm.

I still have that book (as you see in the photograph). It is old and outdated. "L. Gilmore" is written inside and he bought it second-hand for 2/6 before passing it on to me. I am grateful to him because he set me on a path that I have never regretted.

This morning I read Romans 1:1-7 and studied the verses with the help of commentaries, I went back to the beginning.

"Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God..." Called and set apart for a particular work, called to proclaim "Jesus Christ our Lord". This is a calling to bring others to faith, a calling in which we all share. We are called to belong to Jesus Christ.

During Lent I will continue to read Romans and occasionally share some thoughts in this blog. Today I begin at the beginning.

"Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ." (Romans 1:7)

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Scandalous incarnation



Christmas is lights, tinsel and turkey,

Christmas is giving, receiving and sharing,

Christmas is carols, candles and communion.

Christmas is birth,

Christmas is scandal.



 ‘Our God contracted to a span

Incomprehensibly made man’

A man of flesh, of pain and passion.

A man with muscle, bone and hormone.

A man who lived and loved and lost,

Who sweated blood,

Who feared,

Who died.

God made man,

What a scandal!



Scandal of life,

Scandal of light,

Scandal of hope,

Scandal of grace.

Thank God for the scandal.
©Ruth M Gee 201216

Tuesday, 14 June 2016

For the LGBTQI Community - a kiss and a prayer

A kiss.
offering of love,
sign of affection,
joyful greeting,
comfort and healing,
The touch of lips in closeness and vulnerability.

When a kiss is abused,
When love is met by violence,
the world weeps
and we look for rainbows.
Steadfast love and faithfulness will meet;
righteousness and peace will kiss each other.
(Psalm 84:10)




Loving God,
Parent of all,
No-one is nameless before you.

We name before you now;
The LGBTQI community who have been devastated by the horror in Orlando,
Each person who died, was injured or has been bereaved,
Their names are written on the palm of your hand.
We name them and we pray for them.

And, lest we forget or ignore it,
We name the hatred and homophobia that destroys life.
We name it and we stand against it
Because you offer fullness of life
and we are your rainbow people.

We name these and pray for justice and peace.
Good Shepherd, you know your sheep by name
As we walk through the darkest valley,
We trust in you.


©Ruth M Gee  (June 2016)

Written in response to the killing of members of the LGBTI community in Orlando on June 12th 2016

Saturday, 6 February 2016

Give up or take up.

What shall I give up for Lent this year?
What shall I take up during Lent?
What will I read?
What will I.........

This year I am not giving up or taking up but I am going to try to restore balance. It is always tempting to set targets for the season and usually when I do that, I set myself up for failure.
So this year I am noticing where things are out of balance and aiming to restore it.
For me this means more time to read.
Revisiting my pattern of prayer.
Looking carefully at my diary and priorities.
Ensuring that I spend quality time with family and friends.

All this is likely to mean that I will have to give up some things and take up others and at the end of Lent I hope that I will be in better shape physically, mentally and spiritually as a follower of Jesus.

Friday, 4 December 2015

Interruption

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us"
And the Word became flesh and interrupted us:
Interrupted our complacency, alerting us to our need;
Interrupted our certainty, unfolding God's mystery;
Interrupted our independence, inviting us into relationship;
Interrupted our violence, offering love;
Interrupted our noise with the songs of angels,
with a man's dream,
with a woman's blood and tears,
with a baby's cry.
Interruption of grace
in a world in need.

(With thanks to HW for the idea of ministry as interruption)



©Ruth M Gee 041215

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Trivial distractions or signs of hope?

And so again we enter the season of Advent. This year, as in every year, we enter the season as a people who know hope. Not the easy hope of the ones who rush to the sales to grab a bargain. Not the simplistic hope that claims that all will be happiness and laughter in spite of everything.
We know the hope that is grounded in the truth of incarnation, the truth of a God from whose love nothing can separate us.

Without such grounded hope the lights of Christmas are trivia, the decorations are tawdry and the trees an empty symbol. When we know the hope offered by God who is present with us, who weeps with us, who is with us in our bewilderment, who embraces righteous anger and transforms it into action and who calls us to go into the darkest places of our world and find God even there - then the lights and the tinsel, the candles and the baubles on the tree become signs of hope.

As the world around us seems to be fragmenting, as senseless violence overwhelms individuals and communities, as we slowly contribute to the destruction of the planet - it is the God who is present with us who offers hope.

And how do we respond to hope?

That is what we must work out together and the answer is not always simple to find. But, at the very least we must do all we can to offer hope to others. This is what we do when we volunteer in food banks,  visit those who are lonely or ill, work with children and young people, run lucheon clubs and do so many other things in our local communities.

We offer hope when we speak out against injustice, when we challenge decisions and policies which penalise those who are already struggling with poverty or discrimination.

It is only because we hold to the hope that is given to us in Jesus Christ that we can dare to decorate our homes and churches at Christmas in a world where there is so much suffering, injustice, cruelty and pain. If we forget this, the decorations are but distractions - if we remember it they can be a symbol of profound truth.

Friday, 30 October 2015

Working with my leg in the air

"So have you taken advantage of time to read and meditate or have you just been working with your leg in the air?"
It was a question asked with good humour and the expectation (sadly correct) that the latter option was more likely to be the case than the former.

The comparative immobilisation that has resulted from the fracture of a bone in my leg has been frustrating.
I cannot drive, so have been dependent on others to take me to preaching appointments and meetings.
I have needed to spend some time each day with my leg elevated which has sometimes been impossible and on those occasions I have realised that I really did need to put my leg up.
I have been forced to ask others to come to me when I would normally have gone to them. I have not been able to visit those I really want to visit.

For the last few weeks things which I have not thought about at all have become major challenges. Which foot should go first up or down steps?
How can I avoid a slope? Slopes are very uncomfortable.
What is the most efficient way of getting up in the morning which avoids multiple putting on and taking off the moonboot?
Can I really dare to use the escalator? (I did).
What do I do when the lapel microphone is not working, there is no hand-help microphone and I really shouldn't stand through the whole of the service?

I have had to learn to accept help when it is generously and graciously offered. I have been quite overwhelmed by the kindness of people who have been willing to go out of their way to get me to places.
I have been reminded how fortunate I am to be surrounded by loving and caring people.

I have made a few train journeys wearing my moonboot and using a crutch and I have always been offered assistance getting on and off the train by other passengers. People have opened doors because I don't have a free hand.

During a few days in Swanick at the CTE Forum, I learned to get about the large and hilly site in a mobility scooter and I learned that it isn't always easy. Doors are hard to open. The lifts are hard to get into because the door opens outwards. Steep slopes are a bit unnerving. You cannot carry a suitcase on a mobility scooter so clearing your room cannot be done alone.

One part of our living room became known as Houston Control because I was surrounded there by chargers for all the electronic equipment, my lap-top, my i-pad, the work phone and my mobile phone, the remote controls for the television and a variety of notebooks and files. Also close to hand were bible, prayer handbook and whichever commentaries and books I needed that day.
It was here that I sat with my leg in the air and worked. But there were also the times when I sat with my leg in the air and prayed and reflected.

This blog has been rather introspective and self-centred and I have recognised the temptation to to these things and to an inward focus.

I hope that I will continue to try to learn to keep a balance between looking at myself and my relationship with God, family and others and looking beyond myself to the experiences of others and to national and worldwide issues, recognising and responding to God's presence there.

I hope that I will keep the balance between taking time to reflect and working, with or without my leg in the air.