Tag Archives: Daniel

4 April. Before the Cross XX: Dancing in the blazing fiery furnace.

rupert.red.image

When I first saw this picture that Rupert sent I had not read his reflection but I soon realised that our perceptions, thoughts and intuitions differed but in a creative way. Perhaps my grandson’s baptism attuned me to baptismal themes here. Thank you Rupert, for sharing this arresting image.

It was the dove descending that I first noticed, coming from the fiery light that overflows from the left hand side of the painting. The Spirit seems to be aiming for the water jar, just left of centre. ‘Fill the jars with water’, the Lord commanded at Cana, and the water and the wedding feast were transformed. To reinforce this connection, the jar at the very left has tongues of fire over it, the Spirit hovering over the waters. We are very much in John’s Gospel here: the cross is part of creation! There are six jars, as at Cana, and a basin in which to wash each other’s feet as in John’s account of the Last Supper.

The figures at the top right are in an attitude of adoration, which they express physically, they are not mere armchair Christians. And their attitude, their bowing, is athletic rather than abject. Thus is fear and trembling felt at a moment of great joy.

The three dancers across the middle of the painting are in harmony rather than unison with each other: there are may ways for Christians to be united, after all, but all hear and react to the same music.

The Cross – the blood-spattered Cross as Rupert points out – dominates the space, but is not a symbol of defeat. Rather like an Eschler work, its perspective is more than two dimensional, thrusting out of the frame, And where its shadow would be, were it not a blaze of light, the Light of the World, the undefeated Christ is carrying his banner forward. The dancers have seen him and respond in joy: the fourth person has appeared in the blazing fiery furnace: they are joyful, suffering, people of the light.

MMB.

Worship by Jun Ramosmos.

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18 May: The Absorbeat.

stars.constantina

Following on from my contemplation of the fiery stars I am on a roll with the theme of fire. The fire of the Holy Spirit, the fire of God’s unconditional love, the fiery power of Christ’s love for us. We can experience this fire in joy: when we are filled with awe and wonder at the beauty of the day; the sky; of nature; of laughing children; smiling people; an act of lovingkindness; through another’s humility and gentleness. Through so many things, yet they are in themselves outward forms, an exercise or practice of experiencing joy via the perception of our senses.

The joy in the prayer above is one of complete consuming attention and focus upon the love of Christ to the exclusion of all else. Immersion in Christ is like being in the fiery furnace where Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were condemned by King Nebuchadnezzar, and who were not consumed by the fire being protected and sheltered by a fourth figure. We can only guess at who this fourth figure may have been but the fire of our faith combined with the fire of Christ’s love is a mind-blowing experience. Dare we allow ourselves to be so consumed? The mystics and saints were marked with such willing natures and as a result became extraordinary examples for us to follow…….

CW.


……Grant that we may be ready
to die for love of your love,
as you died for love of our love.
Amen

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26 March: “Is Christianity Dead?”- Our Response to BBB: I, Christianity cannot die.

pilgrims.wet (640x229)

I invited Doug to respond to BBB’s blog, ‘Is Christianity Dead?’ which you’ll find re-blogged here. In the next few days I’ll follow Doug with some reflections on particular points raised by BBB, who is one of our most faithful readers. Over to Doug.

Will.

I recently read the thought provoking lamentations of a concerned Catholic writer who raised the question “Is Christianity dead?”  Despite a litany of bad news ranging from a half empty church at Christmas Midnight Mass, to Pew (no pun intended) Research findings of decreasing church attendance, prayer, and living the faith, she answers her own question with a resounding, yet less than inspiring, “No”.

Her contention is that, “Christianity is not dead. It is alive in our hearts. In our homes. In our prayers.”  But while she concedes Christianity is not dead, she doesn’t seem convinced that it might not be gravely, or even terminally ill.  She sees inviting others to fill the empty parish seats as one way to save Christianity from certain death.

No, Christianity (A.K.A the Church and the Body of Christ) is not dead, nor is it dying.  It cannot, and will not die.  Christ told Peter (Matthew 16:17), the Church was built upon on the rock of Peter’s faith, “and the gates of the netherworld shall not prevail against it”, and as the Prophet foretold about the strength of the Church entrusted to Christ (Isaiah 22:22), “…what he opens, no one will shut, what he shuts, no one will open.”

While evangelizing is the baptismal obligation demanded by God, if we fail at this mission because of our fallen nature, God will still prevail and the Church will not die.  Take comfort in the fact that our heavenly father has “set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed…”  (Daniel 2:44).

DW.

 

Pilgrims in the rain, Krakow, August 2016.

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October 18: Is Something Wrong?

crypt (640x481)

Where is that place apart

you summon us to? Noisily

we seek it and have no time

to stay.[1]

 

‘Wrong?’ is the title R.S. Thomas gives this poem. The question mark is important. It’s true enough, we – I – often have no time to stay in a ‘place apart’, like the crypt of Canterbury Cathedral. Indeed getting there every week, let alone every day, requires some organising, and today the place was closed to visitors for a graduation!

Some will call this ‘wrong’, but is it? It’s the way things are, and no doubt it always was. After the murder of John the Baptist Jesus took his disciples to a place apart, but they were overtaken by the crowds, so that Jesus found himself teaching and feeding 5,000 men (not to count the women and children) Matthew 14.

Earlier he had taught them to pray thus:

Enter into thy chamber, and having shut the door, pray to thy Father in secret: and thy Father who seeth in secret will repay thee.  And when you are praying, speak not much, as the heathens. For they think that in their much speaking they may be heard.  Be not you therefore like to them, for your Father knoweth what is needful for you, before you ask him. (Matthew 6:6-8)

Daniel’s praying quietly in his chamber (Daniel 6) did not prevent his enemies from denouncing him for praying to God, and then casting him to the lions.

Daniel’s quiet place was within his heart. Had he panicked in the lions’ den the angel would have had a hard job to hold them off!

R.S. Thomas concludes with God whispering to us of

…the stepping

aside through the invisible

veil that is about us into a state

not place of innocence and delight.

There are places on earth that seem to favour taking that step, let’s be grateful and spend time there when we can. Let’s also find quiet moments wherever we are to step through the veil, torn forever on Good Friday. (Matthew 27: 50-51)

 

[1] ‘Wrong?’ Selected Poems p287.

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April 23, Jerusalem VII: Where is the Holy City?

 

Jesus told the Samaritan woman that:

The hour cometh, when you shall neither on this mountain, nor in Jerusalem, adore the Father. But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true adorers shall adore the Father in spirit and in truth. For the Father also seeketh such to adore him. God is a spirit; and they that adore him, must adore him in spirit and in truth. (John 4: 21-24)

Does adoring him in spirit mean not adoring him in the body by kneeling, standing or sitting cross-legged, nor by lighting a candle or burning incense or fingering beads?

No! Our spirit is not to be disconnected from our body in this life, and we will not be healed in the next till our spirits are embodied again.

We may pray almost out of the body with Blake’s angelic Londoners; with the pilgrims of Algiers, Valencia and St Omer, adding our little tokens to theirs; or quietly in our rooms at home like Daniel the prophet (Daniel Chapter 6).

Daniel in Babylon prayed facing Jerusalem (6:10) as a bodily expression of his heartfelt prayer, but Jerusalem was in his heart already.

No matter how we spend our time of prayer, we can be building the New Jerusalem in England’s green and pleasant land, or any other land under God’s Sun.

And we can ‘Pray for the peace of Jerusalem!’

MMB.

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Of Times and Seasons

squashesWith the change in the hour we got talking of times and seasons, now winter is almost upon us. And that means the Church’s Season of Advent and then Christmas, surviving under the onslaught of Belshazzar’s ‘God of Gold’ (Daniel 5:4).

There are those who claim to be Christian who also refuse to celebrate this season or any other except Holy Week and Easter, most notably Jehovah’s Witnesses.  They assert authority from Scripture, but in the Old Testament it is the wicked who want to abolish the feasts of the Lord (Psalm 73:8). Or in England, Oliver Cromwell, all head and no heart.

After all, there could be no Easter without Christmas, no Christmas without Mary’s acceptance of Gabriel’s Message (Luke 1:38).

 It is good to give praise to the Lord: and to sing to thy name, O most High.

To shew forth thy mercy in the morning, and thy truth in the night. (Psalm 92: 2-3).

And if the pagans, even the modern pagans, give thanks for the Harvest, surely we should not be backward in acknowledging that all is given to us, not forced from our Creator by the power of our prayers and good deeds.

Pumpkins by Janet Billingsley.

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