Called and Kept

I am coming to the end of what seems like a long journey towards ordained ministry in the Baptist Church of Great Britain. A month ago, my college went on a 24 hour retreat together where we spent time thinking about what it meant for each of us to be called and kept by Christ.My reflection and response was to create a picture… (See end of post for artwork info)

  
  
  
Although for me, my reflection was particularly about what it means to be called to ordained ministry, all those who believe in Christ are called and kept. 

My picture shows a representation of the risen Christ, a human yet divine figure, who cherishes a heart in his arms. The heart is patched to show that it has scars, it has been broken and patched up and that some pieces have fallen away. The lamb at the bottom of the picture illustrates the sacrifice that Jesus made in order to catch the pieces of our hearts and bring them to himself.

For all those who follow Jesus, we are called to enter into the same sacrifice and the same response to love, affirm and cherish the hearts of others. My call to ministry has meant sacrifice in many areas of my life but through it all I have been kept by Jesus. I have been vulnerable and my heart has been exposed to knocks and hurts but Jesus has faithfully patched it up and continues to hold me close.

My calling is to love and affirm God’s people – that everyone has value in God’s eyes. My sacrifice is to be vulnerable, to be open to being hurt, and to continue to be vulnerable no matter what. My identity is in Christ, where I know I am beloved and kept safe.

Do you love and affirm everyone as God does?

Are you prepared to witness to Jesus’ sacrifice by being vulnerable?

Do you know how much you are beloved by God and kept safe for Jesus?

… Then may mercy, peace and love, be yours in abundance…

“To those who are called, who are beloved in God the Father and kept safe for Jesus Christ: may mercy, peace and love be yours in abundance.” Jude 1:1b-2

The artwork
The blue and purple background was painted using water soluble felt pens – just cheap children’s ones – and then painting over them with a brush loaded with water. The colours are vivid and vibrant and the paint effect is like that of chromatography. I then cut out and collaged the rays around the head and the pieces of the heart from paper that I’d painted using ordinary watercolours. The remainder of the painting used watercolours, coloured pencils and felt pens including the lettering which I drew freehand then painted. Finally I picked out details using a fine liner pen.

Happy Easter

Yesterday, three young people in our church led the Easter Sunday service. It was based around a ‘butterfly eucharist’ written by one of the group.  The idea was to use the transformation of a caterpillar into a butterfly (via the cocoon), as a metaphor for Jesus’ death and resurrection. I was so proud of our young people who were aged 13, 14 and 15. 

During the service they encouraged us to think about how we could be involved in God’s plan to transform the world and as symbols of this we took part in two activities.

Firstly, we made this beautiful cross from butterflies decorated with drawings, prayers, words and names…

  

And then we potted sunflower seeds to take home, nurture, and then to plant somewhere unexpected in order to transform.

Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first earth had passed away ….  And the one who was seated on the throne said,”See I am making all things new … It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.”‘ Revelation 21

Where have you seen transformation? in your community … in the world …? what part could you play in transforming them?

Have you experienced personal transformation?

May the risen Christ transform you today.

Christ’s Hands

  
Today is Good Friday, when we remember how an innocent man was condemned to death simply because he proclaimed a kingdom of justice and love – God’s Kingdom.  Today we remember the man Jesus who, in a mystery we cannot understand in this life, was also God.  Because the cross only makes sense if God sacrificed himself.

I felt moved to sketch the above picture and write this reflection on the hands of Christ …

These hands,
His hands.

Gnarled
Lined
Scarred
Tarred
Worn
Torn
Arthritic
Philippic
Healing
Feeling
Calming
Alarming
Touching
Crushing
Soothing
Accusing…

Accused.


His hands,
These hands,
Our hands.

Sow 2016

Happy New Year everyone.  Welcome to 2016 and to a more concerted effort on my part to blog, since last year I pretty much abandoned blogging.

The new year is often a time for setting new goals or resolutions, a good time to refocus our lives on what’s really important, though I tend to do this throughout the year as and when my context changes.  Being in education means we have a refocus in September as well.

But this year I’ve decided to have a focus word for the year.  You can find lots of info on the web about this from both a faith and secular perspective.  I did it a couple of years ago when I chose the word ‘being’ – I used it to help me to focus on the importance of just being rather than doing.  Being with people and being with God, without the need to have a purpose to the being other than just a presence.  I believed it helped me develop tremendously.

This year’s focus word is ‘Sow’.  I am anticipating a change in my role this year which has caused me to reflect on what my calling is and who I am.  I believe I am a ‘Sower’; I think I’m called to help people develop new things or change things that aren’t working for them.  As I go through a process of discernment as to where to go next, my focus word will help me to know whether I’m heading in the right direction.

Here is my page at the beginning of my faith journal…

   
     

As you can see I have chosen a verse from Luke 8 which comes from a parable that Jesus shared.  The verse reminds me that when God is present in the place that I choose to sow, then the crop that flourishes there will be amazing.  It is a reminder to me to discover where God is already working in the world and to join in with the heavenly mission to bring healing and reconciliation, light into darkness and love in abundance.

The words on the left are from Galations 6 and are a reminder that whatever we sow we will reap.  So if we sow hate we are likely to reap hate.   When we sow fear and close our borders to those in need, we are likely to increase our fear of the stranger, which in turn has many other negative consequences.  When we decide to solve problems with violence we are likely to reap more violence.   We reap what we sow.

When we sow love, we are likely to see love flourishing.  

Our governments, as well as us all as individuals, would do well to heed these words of wisdom in Galations.

The words among the letters of the word SOW are the things I aspire to sow – faith, hope and community.  All things I believe God wants for the people of this world.

What would your word for 2016 be and what quote might support that word and inspire your focus for this year?
Share in the comments below, I would love to hear about them.

The Arty stuff:

My journal is a Moleskine notebook with printed grid pages.  The pages are quite thin so although I used Crayola twistables coloured pencils, when I outlined in a black fineliner, it showed through on the adjacent pages so I’ve glued them together.  It also makes the pages stronger.

This year I want too try to participate in some other online communities as we faith journal together.  Here are links to some that I’m joining in with.  Go ahead and join us … I look forward to seeing you there.

Documented Faith

Faith Art Friday

Logos365 with His Kingdom Come

Love one another as I have loved you

A meditative doodle and a meditation on Easter Sunday and in anticipation of the UK general election.

Love one another as I have loved you

Love one another…
The other…
That’s every other, not just the ones who are like you.

As I have loved you…
In the way that I have loved you…
Because I have loved you.

Love; that is an action, not a feeling…
One another; especially those whom others do not love…
As I; God incarnate…
Have loved you; you who do not deserve to be loved, any more than they do.


“Love one another as I have loved you.” John 13:34

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