Why should anyone read the Psalms? Full of ancient imagery and visceral emotion, they are not an obvious recommendation. Continue reading “Remembrance Pt 1: Why read the Psalms?”
On a few occasions recently (through Lent) I’ve been reflecting on fear and courage.
At some superficial level, these are opposites. Either you are afraid, or you overcome fear by having courage. The Bible verse most likely to be cited in support of this is Joshua 1:9 ‘I hereby command you: Be strong and courageous; do not be frightened or dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.’
However, it can sometimes be acknowledged that if you do not have any fear, then you hardly need be courageous, since there is no inhibiting factor to overcome. So it may well be that fear and courage are more intimately intertwined than they are opposites. Continue reading “‘Take Courage’ : A reflection for Good Friday”
This excellent article on anger (especially in a Christian context) deserves a wide audience:
“The difficulty, as I see it, is when we place the authority of our particular interpretation of the Bible … beyond question and above the gospel imperative to love.” This quotation comes from a letter published in the Church Times a couple of weeks ago. It leapt out at me as soon as I read it, and I have been wondering ever since whether I am alone in seeing a more fundamental ‘difficulty’ in this thinking. Continue reading “The Interpretation of Love”
I was chatting with a friend recently, who was anticipating a long journey with children. We talked about the expectation of that familiar question, the irritation that it might provoke, and strategies for making the journey less wearisome for all.
When I am waiting, I want to know how long it is likely to be for. Sometimes, this is because there may be an alternative. Or perhaps because there is the possibility of doing something while I am waiting. Continue reading ““Are we nearly there yet?””
Much of my time over the last month has been spent marking assignments. A significant number of students chose to study Psalm 137. Popularised (in part) for anyone over 40-ish by Boney M.’s ‘By the rivers of Babylon’ (1978), the psalm is, in equal measure, notorious for its closing verses, which some lectionaries deem unfit for public use: Continue reading “Feelings for Vengeance”
A friend recently wrote on his blog: “I cannot pray at the moment. I’m struggling to believe.”
My first reaction on reading this was to marvel at his bravery in making such an honest assertion, knowing that to some it would doubtless be shocking. That’s not the sort of thing that church leaders are meant to say, is it? But it stands as testament to just how bad the situation must be that it is necessary to take the risk of voicing such feelings, knowing that they are impossible to hide and that putting on a brave face is not only disingenuous but likely also to lead to further hurt.
And so my next response, which is the one that lingers, is a profound sense of sadness and compassion for him, as it is for anyone who finds themselves in such a situation. The sense of being cut off from our source of life, our source of comfort, is disturbing to a deep level, shaking the foundations of life lived in relationship with God. If God seems unreachably distant, to whom else can we turn? There is no substitute.
My friend is not the first person I have heard of to go through such an experience. Continue reading “Mudslinging at God”
“Life is difficult.” So says M. Scott Peck in his classic “The Road Less Travelled”. How to deal with the difficulties of life is one of the perennial challenges that we all face. And yet it is a challenge that seems to me to be under-discussed and under resourced when it comes to expressing those difficulties within the life of Christian faith.
My study of the psalms of lament opened a whole new understanding of prayer and communion with God for me. Continue reading “A Website for Lament”