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Holy Week with the Existentialists: Wednesday – Betrayal

Wednesday – Betrayal
Mt. 26:14-16; Mk. 14:10-11; Lk.22:1-6

“Now I know I’ve got a heart, because it’s breaking.”
The Tin Man, The Wizard of Oz

“One should not underestimate the courage it takes to heal from a human betrayal. Betrayal invariably affects the psyche to its deepest roots. When it is made conscious, it is experienced as a threat to one’s own being, and the path toward healing is paved with pain.”
Diane Courineau Brutsche (Jungian Analyst)

“There is no betrayal more wounding than the betrayal of love. It touches us in our most vulnerable spot, that of the helpless child who is totally dependent on another. This child always emerges in any relationship where the possibility of trusting in another person exists.”
Jacqueline Wright (psychologist)

“Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard
Some do it with a bitter look
Some with a flattering word
The coward does it with a kiss
The brave man with a sword”
Oscar Wilde, The Ballad Of Reading Gaol

Meditation – Make some space to think

As he placed that final final kiss on Jesus’ cheek, Judas must have wondered how he ended up in this situation. His love for Jesus was certain, he’d followed him, listened to him, believed in him.. he was the one. Yet here he was handing him over to authorities, only now sensing the weight of inevitable tragedy that was about to unfold.
To love, and to betray… he had always imagined they were so far apart, yet now, in this gloomy garden he understood they were closely connected. The exposure to love and be loved walks closely to the cliff edge of loss, betrayel or misunderstanding.

Yet, what did Jesus feel? The horror of being betrayed is one of the worst experiences in life, it devours trust, re-writes history and story, it cuts deep into our sense of identity. How hollow did the kiss on his cheek feel, what emptiness was placed there? Pain becomes language-destroying.

To love God might mean to betray God, to sense the Judas within ourselves. Maybe it is inevitable. We say we love God but miss the call of the stranger; the outsider, the hungry, the homeless, the earth. Yet loving God is these things… To love God is to fail, and to still love, and to know love.

But there is more.. maybe to love God is to lose God anyway; the images, the codes, the practices we have built up around God. As we empty ourselves of the expectation we contain God within, we ask are we really betraying God, or the imagination of what we think God is about? Did Judas betray, or obey?

And finally, can that emptiness be given by God to us… or the experience of it. What if God lets us down? Are we betrayed by God or our own expectations? The Psalm writers wrestled with God, argued with God, challenged God to be God. What is the authentic engagement with God in the situation of a harsh landscape?

Prayer

In silence think about these issues. Allow your prayers or your silence to hold you safely and then brush close to the past; but not too close. Be kind to yourself, keep a safe distance and observe yourself. Allow the space to reflect. Be honest to yourself and to God.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:

Undertow by Warpaint      (Gary’s path)
Bros by Wolf Alice      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here


Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

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Holy Week with the Existentialists – Tuesday: Quiet/Questioning/Teaching

Tuesday – Quiet / Questioning / Teaching
Mt. 21:23-24:51; Mk. 11:27-13:37; Lk.20:1-21:36

“Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. Do not now look for the answers. They cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question.”

Rainer Maria Rilke

Meditation – Make some space to think

Questions give us life. They are the fuel and energy for discovery and innovation. Science, art, theology, childhood discovery and play all begin with the simple question, “what if?”

Questions also hold our presumptions to account, ‘Can we really be sure, how about this alternative, or this challenge?’
Questions keep us humble, they keep us looking, thinking and discovering more. They contradict the arrogance of fixed religious ideas.

Jesus was asked many questions, and many – by the religious leaders – were to trick him.
But allow yourself this imaginative thought, “did Jesus know the answer he was giving already; or was it because of the questions that he was asked, that he discovered something novel within himself, and in what he was trying to say?” In other words, did Jesus need the questions and doubts of others to discover himself?

Prayer

If you were with Jesus, what questions would you ask? But than ask what would you do with the answers?
Faith can be understood as less about knowing and more about being… about living with contradictions and challenges.
Allow this time of prayer to be about the not-knowing of God, about emptying, and simply being.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:

Dear God by XTC
Turn on, Tune in, Drop out with me by Cracker

All Holy week posts can be found here


 

Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
‘One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

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Holy Week with the Existentialists – Monday: Rage / Anointing / Clearing the Temple

Monday – Rage / Anointing / Clearing the Temple
Mt. 21:10-17; Mk 11:15-18; Lk. 19:45-48

“As if the blind rage had washed me clean, rid me of hope; for the first time, in that night alive with signs and stars, I opened myself to the gentle indifference of the world.”

Albert Camus, The Outsider

“What is unbelief but the despair, dictated by the dominant powers, that nothing can really change?”

Ched Myers, Binding the Strong Man

 

Meditation – Make some space to think

When it comes to injustice, oppression, ecological destruction and exploitation it can feel easy to despair. The call for justice is simply too demanding. Yet time and again we hear that call in our own sense of be(com)ing human, and in the life and inspiration of Jesus.

Where we stand, how to act, what to say or do, become questions of imagination – is another world possible, or not?… What drives us to keep going? Ched Myers political study of Mark re-frames questions about belief as an act of imagination. What funds the dreaming of an alternate reality of justice, equity and peace?

What do you think Jesus was imagining as he tore through the temple traders? Did he realise that he may be setting up a conflict with the status-quo which would only intensify through the week?

Prayer

Allow your thoughts and prayers to dwell on Jesus’ rage against the abuse of temple and people.
As you are inspired, let your prayers be guided by these; pray for the world, your community, and those you know.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:

Fight The Power by Public Enemy
Innocent Man by Rag ‘n’ Bone Man

All Holy week posts can be found here

 


Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
‘One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.


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Holy Week with the Existentialists – Palm Sunday

Welcome to this series of Lent Reflections.

These reflections can be used in conjunction with the second Lent Album,
One Day Like This’, which is intended to evoke both space and mood.

Existentialist thinkers were concerned with how it feels to be alive. An awareness that we are alive—in any situation—reinforces a sense of identity. What do moments in time give to our awareness of who we are, where we fit in the world, in our communities, in the universe?

Holy Week is the most vivid and emotional week of the Church calendar. In it we see Jesus and his followers going through extreme human emotions; celebration, hope, doubt, fear, friendship, betrayal, isolation and surprise—emotions that we all encounter through our lives. The sharp contours of our lives, struggles and joys all contain the touch of divinity.

These daily meditations invite you to reflect upon your moments in time and place. They remind us that extremities of human experience can make us feel fully alive or totally isolated. Yet in sharing our experience, we realise that we are not alone; there is solidarity in humanity, and solidarity with the very human Christ.

 



Palm Sunday – Hope & Expectation
Mt. 21:1-11; Mk. 11:1-11; Lk. 19:28-44; Jn. 12:12-19

“… When I am moved by a painting or by music, by clouds passing in a clear night sky, by the soughing of pines in early spring, I feel the distance between me and art and nature dissolve to some degree, and I feel at ease. I then feel that there is, briefly, no past and no future, and I am content… And when I think of someone I really care for, I feel an exchange of understanding and acceptance that is the measure of love. This is how the saints feel about God. . .”

Ralph Harper, On Presence

 

Meditation – Make some space to think

Some people speak of ‘flow’ to describe when we are working, or thinking, or acting in a way that is productive yet totally natural. We almost can forget we are even doing it! Flow is allowing ourselves to be carried by a moment.

“Be Bold, Be Beautiful, Free, Totally, Unlimited”

When did you last feel that you were doing something good, productive, creative? Were others in support of you? Examine the feelings of that moment.

Prayer

Allow your thoughts and prayers to dwell on these suggestions and moods.
As you are moved, let your prayers be guided by these; pray for the world, your community, and those you know.

HolyWeek-Album-2017

Music:
Low Burn by Underworld      (Gary’s path)
Second Life Replay by The Soundtrack of Our Lives      (Vincent’s path)

All Holy week posts can be found here;

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‘Lent Embers’, an album for Lent

Not only do we have the amazing Lent Film Club Perception this year, Vincent & Gary have also compiled a Lent Album, ‘Lent Embers’, for your delight and delectation.

An audio journey in two sides; Side A compiled by ‘Mixmaster of Glum’, Fr.G: Side B Compiled by ‘DJ Smoov’, Fr.V. We hope that this will be a genuine resource, a soundtrack to your Lent reflections.

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LentAlbum-WEbCover-SideB

Hard copies will be available, but you can also listen to the compilation right here;

 

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Perception – The Lent Film Club

Please join us for the next five Thursdays as we journey through Lent with the aid of great film-making.

This years theme is Perception, asking questions about what happens when our perceptions are forced to change.

Films are;

I, Daniel Blake – 9 March

Julieta – 16 March

Arrival – 23 March

Notes on Blindness – 30 March

Jackie – 6  April

The full booklet is available here.

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Satire, Resistance, and The 1975

I watched “The Brit Awards’ last night and saw a new band called ‘The 1975’; charismatic singer, catchy pop tunes etc. They won an award and looked very proud!

But I’m reliably informed, (the gift of teenage children), they have received criticism for looking ‘Emo’ (moody, angsty, sullen) whilst not sounding it. The Emo look is all about black nail varnish, black eye-liner, messy hair, black clothes.. but the 1975 are singing happy pop tunes… the outrage.!

So I was watching their latest video ‘The Sound’ with my children the night before, and we laughed at the fact that throughout this rather arty video and enjoyable tune, there would be occasional flash cards repeating some of the more negative criticisms they received in previous years;

‘out of tune’

“boring”

“there is no danger in this music at all”

“pompous arena synth pop”

‘bland monotone beats’

“punch-your-tv obnoxious”

“genuinely laughable”

“cringeworthy”

Trying too hard”

“Do people really still make music like this?”

“they’re essentially making robotic Huey Lewis tunes”

 

So what’s going on? a promotional video which displays some of their most withering criticisms?

Well it’s a tough world this pop business, and a lot of criticism comes to bands trying to work towards a successful career. Criticism can be pretty devastating.

But equally devastating can be taking those same challenges and rolling them over, subverting them and showing the weakness and shallowness of the criticism, as one commentator, Emma, on YouTube says;

“this, ladies and gentleman, is how you deal with hate”

So why discuss these things at café eucharist, what about the God bit?

Well I’d suggest that we all face challenges in our lives; and across the UK we are also facing huge challenges to the way the world is. We cannot ignore global inequality, environmental destruction, poverty and desperation in our own neighbourhoods. We also see the rise of a pernicious right wing agenda in global politics, and the persistence of un-reason-able terrorism.
The world feels dangerous, and it is.

But what is our response? Can humour offer something to break the deadlock of us/them politics, can subversive satire reveal a new way of seeing, lampooning the hatred of those who would want to shut others down, (like the band).

When we celebrate the Eucharist we are celebrating God’s subversive resistance to hate. The crucifixion is not God ‘fighting fire with fire’, it is not shutting down our borders, it is not the domination of any worldview.

Instead it is the final joke, the biggest satire; God allowing the flood of hate to flow, and yet respond with love. The crucifixion is God’s joke on the powers which want to belittle and subdue, it is the force of love which laughs at the violence,, sees through the sword waving and says ‘you are still loved, for love is stronger than all of these’.

Jesus joked so many times in these ways, lampooning the prejudice of those around him, creating absurd images of logs in eyes and naked people in court. and the Syrophoenician woman (Matthew 15.21) described as a dog; we can imagine Jesus and her wryly observing each other as they satirise the prejudice of those around them.

So what do we do? How do we respond? Looking for ways to avoid confrontation head on, we can subvert the logic of conflict; looking for humour and laughter as a way to humanise and to de-escalate the conflict, means we don’t fight violence with yet more violence.

We must resist, we must engage, we must stand for justice and for a renewed, hope-filled vision of the world… but let humour and satire fund our struggle, let it reveal the absurdity of the voices that wish to divide us. Humour can be powerful; deflating privilege and power. It has always been, but we may need it now more than ever ..

 

Thank God for satire!

 

(Talk given at Cafe Communion – 23 Feb 2017)

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Candlemas 2017

A meal was shared, candles were blessed, the children led the service wonderfully and the tree finally came down, (there must be a God!).

Thanks everyone – it was a lovely service.

Thanks to Carol for the pictures…

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