Friday, November 23, 2007

God my Saviour - the Magnificat

Thirty years on from our wedding it was great to take Trevor and Hazel’s wedding here at Highbury and then to go to Dresden for Andrea and Thomas’s wedding. It came as a real surprise when at the end of a Parade Service I thought I had so carefully planned Felicity presented me with a certificate from the Congregational Federation marking the 30th Anniversary of my Ordination. What a good excuse for a party, or at least a bring and share lunch! I found myself a week ago at another ordination, Andy Grice at Salem Baptist Church: it set me thinking about my own ordination.

For me it is no coincidence that my ordination followed on a month after my marriage, and that we should follow the celebration of our 30th wedding anniversary with a celebration of the 30th anniversary of ordination, for Felicity and I have always worked as a partnership in the ministry we have shared.

That commitment to ministry was renewed as we moved to Pontesbury and Minsterley and again here to Highbury.

On each occasion a highlight of the Ordination and later Induction services for me, both in my preparation for the service and in the service itself was the moment when I was asked to give an account of my faith and the Faith at the heart of my ministry of teaching, preaching and pastoral care.

In our Congregational way of being the church we do not ask people or our ministers to subscribe to a creedal statement. We ask of ministers in just the same way as any one else to make a very simple statement of faith in God and in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour.

But that is not to say that you or your Minister can believe whatever you want to believe. We do have a set of words that encapsulates our faith – those words are contained in a single book that itself is made up of many books – the Bible.

The Faith at the Heart of My Ministry

The statement of faith that is the basis of my preaching, teaching and pastoral ministry I need to put into my own words in such a way that it is rooted in the words of the Bible, which communicates for us all The Word of God.

At my ordination in Harden, at my induction to the Congregational churches of Minsterley and Pontesbury and again here at Highbury I sought to put into my own words the faith at the heart of the ministry in a way that was true to the Word of God in the Bible.

I want to do that again today. What I am going to do is to take the passage which I had already chosen to preach on this morning and draw from that passage a statement of the faith I hold to in a preaching, teaching and pastoral ministry here at Highbury.

Mary’s song, the Magnificat does in so many ways ‘say it all’!

46 And Mary* said,‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

The Lord, God, the Mighty One … holy is his name.

That’s where my faith begins. With a sense of the greatness of God, awesome, beyond our comprehension, wonderful, mysterious, the creator of the world.

This God of creation has made me as I am. As it happens he’s made me with a questioning mind. I want to know the whys and wherefores. They are important to me. And I have a fellow feeling with others for whom the whys and wherefores are also important, a fellow feeling with others who have a questioning mind.

I find myself more and more drawn to explore the wonders of God’s world. It was a delight to take the cubs into the garden 10 days ago and help them spot the comet that’s been on view since the end of October; it was a thrill to go up on to Cleeve Hill in the dark of Monday evening and join the scouts and with them to spot a momentary parting of the clouds – and say there it is can you see it!

Great to go up on to Cleeve Hill and hold a fossilised shell fish from tropical waters in my hand, and then to look out over what 10,000 years ago was a sea to what 700 million years ago was a line of volcanoes we now call the Malvern Hills. Fascinating to watch Planet Earth last Tuesday night and learn more of the way in which the very planet’s existence is tied up with the activity of those volcanoes and others just like them in other parts of the world.

The thrill is not just in the magnificence of this remarkable world, but in the wonder of this amazing creation. To try to get my mind round the planet and its wonders, the universe and its marvels does not for me undermine my faith in God … it deepens it and fills it with even more wonder.

However great and mind-blowing the scale of what I see, the God I believe in is greater still … The Lord, God, the Mighty One … holy is his name.

But wait a moment. Look again at the passage. And there is one description of this God that I have omitted from Mary’s Magnificat.

46 And Mary* said,‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

The Lord, God, the Mighty One … holy is his name is none other than my saviour.

God My Saviour

The God I believe in is no impersonal God, some being beyond all being, far out there, beyond my comprehension. The God I believe in is the God of creation who is as close as can be to each and to every part of his creation, including me!

This world can be a scary place – things that have happened in my life are pretty scary too. Bereavements I have experienced have not all been lovely in God’s time, just right – as some bereavements are. Some of the bereavements I have experienced have been untimely, not right, not of the goodness of God. That’s scary. Things I’ve seen from the cold war, to post 9/11 confront me with a world that’s scary. I like to organise things … but sometimes things defy any kind of organisation and threaten to get out of hand.
Such a world can be a scary place.

The God I believe in is the God who is ‘my saviour’. He is there to rescue the situation, to save things and put them right, to make things whole … in his time, in his way, in the fullness of his glory.

46 And Mary* said,‘My soul magnifies the Lord, 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, 48for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

Can I really say that? Yes, I can. And I find myself wanting to say it more the older I get. I can see how the hand of God has been in my life, in things that have happened that at the time seemed so wrong, and yet God has brought some good out of them. There unexpectedly to build up and restore.

Can I really echo those words of Mary and make them my own?

Surely she is saying them because she is to give birth to the baby Jesus. Put it that way and it’s difficult to know how I can echo those words of Mary.

But I want to put it another way. Surely she is saying those words because she now knows that the Christ child is within her.

That’s the point for me as well. This God of Creation makes himself known to each and every part of his creation … but for us who bear the image of God and have that wonderful gift of a mind capable of seeking an understanding of the universe, God has made himself known in the most special of ways.

He has become as one of us. We can get to know this Jesus Christ, learn about his remarkable love for all and catch sight of the fact that this God of creation is actually the God of love. The teaching of Jesus is so demanding it can add to my feeling of inadequacy. But then I look to the cross of Chrsit and beyond to his resurrection and there I see the extent of God’s forgiving love in Christ, a forgiveness that reaches out to me and renews and restores me. For me it is not so much that Christ has died instead of me: rather the Christ who lived and died and rose again for me is the Christ whose life is within me. I am in Christ. And Christ is in me. That’s why I really can make these words of Mary my own.

I want to echo the words of Mary again.

50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

That’s it. That’s what counts. His mercy. This is the heart of the Christian faith for me. This is love. It is not that we love God – we can never do that enough. It is that he loved us and gave his son as the means by which our sins are forgiven.

God's Mercy at the Heart of It All

God’s mercy is at the heart of it all. A mercy that knows no bounds. A mercy that in gracious love always takes the initiative to reach out to each of us. And his mercy is for all who fear him. Turn away from all those inadequacies that weigh you down and give God the honour due his holy name, simply believe … and that releases within you the love that is already there in the gift of God’s grace.

This is wonderful. This is Good News. This is Salvation.

But don’t imagine that salvation is simply what gets you into heaven. I believe that salvation is what gets heaven into you, it’s what gets heaven, the kingdom of heaven and all its values into the here and now.

That’s why I want to move on in Mary’s song to something that is as much at the heart of the Christian faith that is important to me as the personal salvation I rejoice in and want to share.

51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

That’s powerful stuff.

The faith I believe in has implications for what you think and how you behave – the God I believe in is not just the God of personal salvation but he is the God who is involved with people at large. And as this God through Christ is deep within me, there is an imperative on me that I too be involved in this world.

There is something within all people that drags them down that pulls away from the goodness of God – you can see it in individuals, you see it even more when people get together in families and society at large. We get caught up in a web of destructive powers.

To come to faith in Christ for me involves a faith in the God who through Christ not only sets the individual right but seeks to set right things that are wrong in families, in communities, in nations, in society at large.

God takes sides!

He is with the humble and against the proud. He is with the lowly and against the powerful, with the hungry against the rich.

And that shows us where we should be too. That finds expression at the start of Advent in the gifts we shall share next week to buy presents for the Day Centre and then to give through Christian Aid – can we really fund solar panels for a clinic in Malawi or shall we settle for a little bit less. It’s in our hands! It finds expression in our Christmas Day collection for The Lilian Elizabeth Fund bringing better health care to the villagers of Sika in the Gambia.

More than that it finds expression in the commitment we make to serve others in our community and make a difference in our town. That’s why I have always considered it to be a part of my ministry to be involved in the wider community at the moment as Vice Chair of Governors at Pittville and through the Faiths Strategy Group working with the local authority.

And in all of this we are not alone.

The faith that is important to me is a faith that links me to other people in a church family that itself links me with other people in other parts of the world, and with other people down through the ages.

Mary catches that sense of continuity with the whole people of God in the last words of her song.

54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’

I have a strong sense of solidarity with those who have gone before and with all who are part of God’s people today. The church is important to me. To belong to one church, for me now this one church is to belong to the whole church of God world-wide. Working with parrner churches in St Luke’s and St Michael’s and in the town is not an optional extra. It is part of what it means to be part of the church.

How is all of this possible? I want to take to heart the words of the angel to Mary as well … when the angel said in answer to Mary’s question, How can this be? “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”

My faith directs me to the God of creation who is made real for me in Jesus Christ as Christ is in me and I am in Christ. Salvation doesn’t so much get me to heaven, rather it gets heaven into me. My faith calls me to live out the values of the kingdom of heaven in solidarity with all God’s people. That I can do not in my own strength but in the strength of God, that unseen yet very real presence that he releases into the depths of my being, the Holy Spirit.

This is the faith I profess. This is the faith I teach. This is the faith at the heart of the pastoral ministry God has called me to for thirty years and now a little bit more!

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Salvation - the Benedictus

As Luke’s gospel opens he’s pretty clear what salvation is all about!

Previously ...

Maybe it’s because I grew up with the weekly classic serial on BBC, but I always quite like dramatisations of the great novels. Judi Dench and co will be joining forces this evening for the first of a five part serialisation of three of Mrs Gaskell’s novels. Miss an episode and you can always catch up with the story so far in the opening couple of minutes of the next instalment.

Something a little bit similar is going on at the beginning of Luke’s gospel.

Luke has a massive story to tell of the impact Jesus made on the lives of those who came to believe in him and of the impact Jesus continues to make on the lives of all who come to follow him. It is a massive story to tell all about Salvation.

But that story does not happen in a vacuum. It is located in a particular place, at a particular time among particular people. The coming of Jesus at this point in time is the culmination of a story that goes back much, much further.

Previously in the Old Testament ...

And it’s all there in the opening couple of chapters of Luke …

The action opens in the Temple, the place where God’s presence touches earth, with a Priest who encounters God in the most special week of his life as he serves just outside the Holy of Holies in the Sanctuary of the Temple and meets with an Angel of God.

Something’s on the move. Something’s happening. The Salvation story that began so long ago is reaching its climax.

Stories of Zechariah and Elizabeth, Mary and Joseph, Simeon and Anna have the feel of those stories from the Books of the Law of Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Rachel. Elizabeth and Zechariah were both of them righteous before God, living blamelessly according to all the commandments of the Lord. We cannot help but think of the Law of the Old Testament.

The child who is to be born to them is unmistakably a new Elijah, with the spirit and power of Elijah upon him. We are in the company of the prophets of the Old Testament too.

And then there’s the writings. Here in Luke 1 and 2 we have three of the finest Old Testament Psalms. Not just songs of praise, they go to the heart of things.

It is as if Law, Prophets, and Writings are converging on this moment in history, and this moment in history is going to impact on the lives of all of us who read Luke’s wonderful Gospel. It is the moment of salvation.

You can read the whole story of the Old Testament as the story of Salvation. It thrusts forward to a moment in time when all is fulfilled.

Nowhere is that seen more clearly than in the remarkable words of Zechariah’s prophecy.


Verses 68-75 are a massive statement of the salvation that is now happening: as John is born and Jesus is expected.

Blessed be the Lord God of Israel
For he looked favourably on his people and redeemed them.

They had been looking forward to that point at which the people would be set free from all that oppressed them and weighed them down. That moment of redemption is happening. And the hand of God is behind it all. This is what Salvation is all about. Redemption, setting people free.

He has raised up a mighty saviour for us
In the house of his Servant David,
As he spoke through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old.

All the expectations of the prophets that a messiah would come were reaching their fulfilment in the events that were happening now. Salvation was at hand.

We would be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.

Salvation – that’s what it’s all about.

This was the culmination not just of the prophets and all they stood for, it was the culmination of all that was in the Law as well …

Salvation is about the mercy of God reaching into our hearts … it is about a relationship with God that brings God into our hearts:

Thus he has shown the mercy promised to our ancestors,
And has remembered his holy covenant,
The oath that he swore to our ancestor Abraham,

This is the culmination of all that the Law and the Prophets of old stood for.

Salvation – redemption, a setting free, mercy, relationship with God.

How we need a gospel of salvation now.

Things weigh us down in our world – things we have done that are not worthy of God – we are at times all too conscious of our sinfulness, of our shortcomings and failings. We are all too conscious of the weight of sin in the world around us. It can be a pretty grim world.

We yearn for salvation.

And in the coming of Christ Jesus we find salvation.

But what is this salvation like?

Is it a salvation that gets us into heaven?


Is it a salvation that gets heaven into us?

kind of salvation do we yearn for?

The next verse, verse 74, gets to the heart of the matter.

That we, being rescued from our enemies,
Might serve him, without fear,
in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.

Salvation is not so much about getting us into heaven: instead it is about getting heaven and all that heaven stands for into us.

That we, being rescued from our enemies – that’s salvation
Might serve him – that’s what salvation is aimed at.

Set free from all the things that are so troubling in the world we are set free for service … fearless service.

Salvation involves us in three things:
fearless service
Fearless service involves a commitment to service

Holiness is to be experienced in a life centred on God, sustained by prayer.

Righteousness involves putting God’s ways of justice right at the heart of all that we stand for.

This is the experience of salvation as heaven gets into you.

The three dimensions of Christian experience …

Salvation gives us a task to do of fearless service, a centre to our living in the prayer life that leads to holiness, and a set of values to stand by in justice and righteousness.

Leading People to Salvation

The second part of Zechariah’s prophecy homes in on John … it sets out what John is to do as he prepares the way for Jesus to come

But we can see in these words a programme for us to follow as well. We are called upon to follow in the footsteps of John the Baptist and bring people to the Salvation that Jesus offers to all.

You, child will be called the prophet of the Most High
For you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways.

That’s what John did as he went on his preaching ministry in the wilderness. But that is in a very real way what we are called upon to do.

As we experience salvation in the selfless service of a life centred on the holiness of prayer and focused on justice and righteousness, we are to prepare the way for Jesus to come into people’s lives.

Just as John did, so we are challenged to
give knowledge of salvation to his people
By the forgiveness of their sins.

Conscious of the darkness of the world? Weighed down by that sense of inadequacy, by our failings, our sinfulness … through Christ receive the gift of that forgiveness … it is as if the night is over and the dawn has come.

And it is all down to the gift of God’s love, the tender mercy of his forgiveness …

By the tender mercy of our God,
The dawn from on high will break upon us,
To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
To guide our feet into the way of peace.

Salvation … not so much getting us into heaven, rather getting heaven into us.

I love the way Zechariah’s song finishes … as the dawn breaks, the light of God’s forgiving love shines into our hearts, so our feet are guided into the way of peace.

The way of peace: this is the way we are called to follow.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Hope, Trust and Pray

At 9 she went to work for half a day at the Mill. At 11 she left school finally and worked full time in the Mill. A keen church-goer and Christian she joined the St John Ambulance Brigade. She wsa in her 20's when the First World War broke out.

She worked five and a half full days in the Mill and then at lunch time on Saturday made the five mile walk across the moors to the war hospital in Keighley. She worked through until Sunday evening before walking home ready to start another week in the mill. The irony was that she was weaving the cloth in the woolen mill of Harden, just outside Bradford, that would be taken to Leeds to be made into uniforms for the very soldiers who arrived by train straight from the Western Front in that hospital in Bingley. 30 years ago when I met her she told me the story. But she would not describe what she saw in those wards. That memory was too troubling.

He lived opposite the creamery in Minsterley and to my shame I cannot recall his name.

Though not by name, I still want to remember him this Remembrance Sunday. He was a wonderful character: into his 90’s by the time I visited him he had a marvellous recall of his younger years and life in the village and the countryside around. But there was one subject I could not draw him on. He had fought in the trenches of the first world war. It was too painful to recall. He wouldn’t be drawn. But what he said I will always remember. ‘Never again!’ ‘We must not let it happen again’.

In conversation with Felicity’s sister earlier this week we were recalling their grandfather. Another whose company I enjoyed when I was young … but he wouldn’t be drawn on the way in which he had got the war wound in the First World War that had troubled him ever since. Angela was recalling him saying he would go to church the rest of the year … but not on Remembrance Sunday. The memories hurt too much.

This week the BBC have run a series of short clips in the 10-00 news of the very last few survivors of that first world war. This was shown on Friday night. [We watched an interview with Henry Allingham, at 111, Britain's oldest survivor of the First World War]

When asked what he thought about war today, he replied most movingly,

"I hope, trust and pray there will never be another war!"

What passion!

How do we honour the memory of those who have lost their lives in the wars our country has been involved in over this last 100 years?

I want to offer three texts.

First, the words with which we began our service.

1) We honour the memory of those who hope, trust and pray there will never be another war by comforting and consoling those who are the victims of war

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and the God of all consolation, who consoles us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to console those who are in any affliction with the consolation with which we ourselves are consoled by God. (2 Corinthians 1)

To bring comfort and consolation to those who experience suffering is at the heart of what we are called to do. The full care of those who are the victims of war should be the responsibility of the state and not left to the provision of charity. How right it is for the Royal British Legion to campaign for the proper care of those who are the victims of war now.

That poignant advertisement which depicts a recent war widow hand in hand with the shape of her husband depicted in poppies is a powerful and challenging reminder of the loss of life now. The very nature of the warfare in Afghanistan is reminiscent, we are told, of the warfare of the first world war. The injury, not just in the lost of bereavement, or physical injury but also psychological injury is immense among a new generation of those in the services.

Only last night on Radio 4 it was said that since the end of the Falklands War 300 of those servicemen who served in that conflict have committed suicide. Do we count those among the number we remember today? Of course, we should. And yet it is so easy to forget. What about the network of family, relatives and friends of those who have been bereaved: aren't they the ones we are remembering today?

To all of these we owe comfort, care and consolation. That comfort must be given properly and through formal channels, and not simply left to the whim of charitable giving.

At the same time we must recognise all victims caught up in war need care, concern and consolation wherever they are and whoever they are.

2) We honour the memory of those who hope, trust and pray there will never be another war as we actively seek reconciliation

The worst tragedy of war is that it breeds itself. It becomes self-perpetuating. And that is a tragedy we are in danger of seeing unfold in the wars we are engaged in now.

They speak of winning hearts and minds … war is a blunt weapon in the response to terrorism that has the danger of breeding itself, and breeding worse animosity than there has been before.
To honour the memory of those who still to this day ‘hope, trust and pray that there will be no more war’ we need to take seriously the task Paul goes on to define a little later in 2 Corinthians 5:18

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation;

It starts with each of us – in Christ was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them,

When folk from church went to Franzi and Lukas’ wedding in Dresden a couple of years ago, the big church in the central square of Dresden was still being renovated. Destroyed in the firestorm that followed the bombing of Dresden it had lain in ruins for the whole history of Eastern Germany;. When we went to Dresden a month ago to celebrate Andrea and Thomas's wedding the church had been completed and on Sunday morning there were queues to get in to the morning service.

It was moving to see the charred remains of the cross that had been on the top of the building prior to the war, and to see the new cross in pride of place. And to know that it had been presented as a token of reconciliation between the people of this country and of Germany was somehow deeply moving.

To work for reconciliation in the wake of war is so vitally important … and has been so important throughout Europe in the last sixty and more years. Reconciliation is the task that has to be the priority of any who take seriously the call of Jesus Christ.

Working towards peace and reconciliation is important now in the middle of the conflicts that go on. Mary and I have applied to go on a course run by the Tantur Institute on the ouskirts of Behtlehem to see the work of reconciliation going on that is the inspiration of that ecumenical study centre standing between Jerusalemm and Bethlehem. Mark Evans in his church in Belvedere and Erith has links with Andrew White who has served in ministry in Baghdad – it is moving to hear of the work of reconciliation he has been engaged in with other church leaders, working with other faith communities too.

To honour those who hope, trust and pray that there is not another war, the commitment to reconciliation is paramount.

3) To honour the memory of those who hope, trust and pray there never will be another war we must LEARN peace

And the third passage comes from Micah chapter 4.

"they shall beat their swords into ploughshares
and their spears into pruning hooks."

I was prompted to turn to it by one of the comments Felicity made in a text home from Mozambique. There she and her team met the General Secretary of the Mozambique Christian Council of Churches. He told them of a project those churches had been involved in following the awfulness of the war in Mozambique.

People were invited to bring in weapons and they would be given tools in return.

It reminded me of a wonderful exhibition I had been to in the British Museum, at the heart of which in the Great Court of the British Museum was a wonderful sculpture – the Tree of Life. It had been created by a group of artists working in Mozambique using some of those weapons that had been exchanged for tools.

The vision of Micah is on the one hand a dream for God’s age – but it is the age of God that breaks in now. This is the kingdom of God that Micah envisages … but Jesus ushers in the kingdom of God. That means that these words shape what we do now as Christians.

The telling line, however, is not so much ‘they shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their spears into pruning hooks, but the one that comes next: ‘nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war no more'.

Learn war no more. Peace making is as complex as war … and as has been discovered in Iraq maybe even more complex.

Maybe to honour the memory of those who hope, trust and pray that there is not another war, we should invest as much money ... No, we must invest more money in ‘learning peace-making’ than we do in the manufacture of weapons of war.

To honour the memory of those who hope, trust and pray that there never will be another war we must comfort and console all who are victims of war, must commit ourselves anew to the work of reconciliation and we must learn the art of peace making.

That's quite some challenge ... and yet is fundamental to the future peace we long for in the world of 2007.

Jesus through the eyes of Lady Wisdom - Dr Christina Manohar

Our service on Sunday, 4th November focused on our mission partnership through the Council for World Mission and we shared in prayers prompted by Felicity's prayer pointers from her visit to Southern Africa.

We were joined by Dr Christina Monohar. Originally from the Church of South India, one of CWM's mission partners, Christina taught theology at the Union Biblical Seminary in Puna, India until four years ago. Then it was that she and her husband David came over here to do their doctorates at the University of Gloucestershire.

In 2005 Christina's Feminist Critie and Reconstruction was published by the Indian SPCK under its Women's Empowerment Programme. Her thesis explores the way in which a Pauline Spirit Christology can speak into the Indian context more effectively than a Greek influenced Logos Christology. She is looking forward to being involved in writing for the proposed South Asia Bible Commentary.

It was particularly appropriate for Christina to preach this morning in view of Felicity's involvement with the Team Visit to UCCSA.Christina took as her inspiration Proverbs chapter 8 with its description of 'Lady Wisdom' and invited us to look again at Jesus through the eyes of 'Lady Wisdom'. Her appeal to an inclusive Christianity that breaks down barriers of race, class and gender is timely.

Understanding Jesus Christ from the Perspective of Lady Wisdom

Wisdom's Eternal Presence with God
Wisdom is a fine lady who is by God’s side from everlasting before earth came into being. The book of Proverbs particularly the 8th chapter celebrates Wisdom’s eternal presence with God. Wisdom signifies divine presence and activity in female form. The lady Wisdom sits on the throne by the side of God. She is a master craftswoman who brings beauty and order out of chaos. She is the mother of all good things, fashions everything and orders everything.
Wisdom inhabits or in-dwells for that is the way of Wisdom.

Wisdom is beautiful and more precious than pearls. Wisdom cannot be sought after as if it were an object. One can only prepare a dwelling place for her. Wisdom inhabits or in dwells, for that is the way of Wisdom. It is a woman’s way. How does one prepare for Wisdom? It is not by preparation, but by simply being, that one gets ready for Wisdom. One’s readiness for Wisdom is an end in itself, not a means by which to acquire Wisdom. It is to allow oneself to be inhabited by Wisdom.

Wisdom found its abiding dwelling place in Jesus. Wisdom inhabits and indwells Jesus. Indwelling or being indwelt by the other is itself a feminine way of explaining the relationship between Jesus and Wisdom. Knowing Jesus who was indwelt by Wisdom requires a deeper understanding that goes beyond reason yet not negating reason. It is knowing from within.

Wisdom transcends reason yet does not negate reason
Pilate stood face to face before Jesus enquiring of Jesus ‘What is Truth’? trying to capture the truth by his reason, in a few palpable statements. But Pilate’s wife going beyond reason knowing who Jesus was deep within herself tried to intercede for Jesus and save Jesus’ life. Wisdom transcends reason yet does not negate reason. Wisdom relates both to an affective, sense-related, taste-related side and to an intellectual, cognitive, scientific side of life. It does not divide the world into religious and secular but provides a model for living a mysticism of everyday things.

Wisdom integrates knowledge and love, faith and work, theory and practice.
A woman stood before Jesus caught in adultery. According to the law she should be condemned to death cried all those who brought her to Jesus. Jesus was silent and in his silence he spoke a lot. This is divinity in action. The men who condemned her went away. The woman was left alone with Jesus. Jesus looked up and asked her ‘where are they?’ ‘They have gone Sir’ she replied. Neither do I condemn you. Sin no more. Not condemnation but amazing grace; not negation of life but affirmation of life; not merely knowledge of the law but knowledge and love. Not merely faith but faith and action; theory and practice.The road of Wisdom is open, democratic and inclusive.

Wisdom is a fine lady who brings all things together in harmony, establishes justice, peace and unity.
She prepares a table and invites the simple to dine with her.Jesus had an interesting conversation with a Samaritan woman. Jesus the Jew and this gentile female stranger became engaged in deep theological reflection. She was receptive to Jesus and accepted his message that God is Spirit and those who worship him must worship him in Spirit and Truth. Oftentimes the outsider is more receptive to Jesus’ message than his own people. Pilate’s wife pleaded for Jesus while the Jewish hierarchy, the high priests and elders pleaded for Barabbas. Very often Jesus was amazed by such great faith of the outsiders.Jesus transgresses all human made boundaries
and his table fellowship includes all

Jesus' table fellowship includes all
As the lady wisdom summons the simple to dine with her, Jesus’ table fellowship includes all. Jesus himself was a wandering charismatic, property-less proletariat one who declasses himself. Jesus transgresses all human made boundaries – boundaries between Jew and gentile, clean and unclean, sacred and secular, men and women, servant and master, rich and the poor. That is the way of Wisdom.Finally, Wisdom is sheer exuberant aliveness and inexhaustible source of new being that cannot be held in one form, one way and one pattern of thinking.Mary Magdalene in her search for Jesus in the dark and cold of early morning near the empty tomb understood that she could not hold the risen Lord. No one can hold the risen Jesus. This is the way of Wisdom. The risen Lord cannot be limited or held in certain preconceived expectations. Holding him in one form would make Easter story incomplete.

I conclude now with the prayer written by an Indian poet by name Rabindranath Tagore.

Rabindranath Tagore, by his efforts and achievements, is part of a global network of pioneering educators, such as Rousseau, Pestalozzi, Froebel, Montessori and Dewey–and in the contemporary context, Malcolm Knowles–who have striven to create non-authoritarian learning systems appropriate to their respective surroundings. In a poem that expresses Tagore’s goals for international education, he writes:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

So much to pass on at Highbury

If you give a little love you can get a little love of your own

A blessing shared at Highbury

Now and the Future at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions at Highbury

Dreaming Dreams Sharing Visions

Darkness into Light