Beltane Eve Meanderings

A posting from the Community of Aiden and Hilda got me thinking about this season, which so far for me is bringing many changes. I’ll copy and paste it here, to give a flavour:

Tonight (April 30th) is Beltane eve, drawing us through the night to the dawn of the season of Beltane, the season of the sun. For the next three moons the Celtic calendar was focused on the warmth and light of the sun, of the strength of light over darkness with the summer solstice in the middle. It was the season of celebrations and feasting, but also of war and reclaiming what may have been taken from you, and of battling the enemy.

For the Celtic Christians this celebration and season lost none of its potency. It was a celebration of the Sun of Righteousness (a prophetic term for the Messiah), who comes, according to the prophet Malachi, with healing. It is a celebration of the strength of the Light of the world over spiritual darkness, and of reclaiming through ‘the Sun of Righteousness’ all and any parts of your life which have been taken from you by spiritual darkness, or ‘the enemy’.

Happy Beltane!
May the Great Light overcome all your inner darkness
May the warmth and healing of the Sun of Righteousness be with you and within you
And may you know the overcoming of ‘the enemy’ and a reclaiming of any part of your life or inner self which has been lost.

This last part of the prayer in particular struck me. It particularly reminded me of a short “statement of faith” I clung on to a few years ago, love is never wasted. Recently I was reminded of this by this meme from Action for Happiness:

There’s something both strong and bittersweet about this reflection, and I think that links well to this post:

http://barnonecollective.wordpress.com/2014/04/28/the-minor-fall-the-major-lift/

Of course after listening to that I had to find a version of the song in question to actually listen to…

 

Somehow this mix of the broken and the beautiful is so apt for humanity. I particularly therefore appreciated these two reflections on “unlikely characters” that God had good purposes for:

http://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.com/2014/04/my-lord-and-my-god-john-2028.html

http://cyber-coenobites.blogspot.com/2014/04/a-stripling-in-loose-garment-stripping.html

The hotch potch of real people in the bible gives me real hope at times!

 

To end, I had looked to the Carmina Gadaelica (online here:http://www.sacred-texts.com/neu/celt/cg.htm ) for a Beltane Blessing, but decided on just picking a few segments from the possibilities for today:

“…The strength of the Triune be our shield in distress,
The strength of Christ, His peace and His Pasch,
The strength of the Spirit, Physician of health,
And of the precious Father, the King of grace.

…Be the Cross of Christ to shield us downward,
Be the Cross of Christ to shield us upward,
Be the Cross of Christ to shield us roundward,
Accepting our Beltane blessing from us,
Accepting our Beltane blessing from us.”

“…Bless everything and every one,
Of this little household by my side

Place the cross of Christ on us with the power of love,
Till we see the land of joy,
Till we see the land of joy,…

Thou Being who didst create me at the beginning,
Listen and attend me as I bend the knee to Thee,
Morning and evening as is becoming in me,
In Thine own presence, O God of life,
In Thine own presence, O God of life.”

Not quite there yet, but looking forward to Calan Haf…

 

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Methodist Prayer for the Day

Grant to us, O Lord, ears to hear your voice, eyes to see your beauty and hearts to love your name, so that hearing, seeing and loving we may come at last to the joys of your kingdom; through Christ our Lord. Amen.

Christina Rossetti (1830-1894)

Christ, be our hope
when sadness overwhelms us.
Christ, be our strength
when testing times are near.
Christ, be our light
when darkness would engulf us.
Christ, be our cornerstone
when quaking in our fear.
Christ, be our victory
when we lay our lives before you.
Christ, be our all-in-all,
today and evermore. Amen.

Alison Judd, Area President (Britain and Ireland) of the World Federation of Methodist and Uniting Church Women

A Good Beginning

Very thankful for my lovely friends and family and the love of God this morning. Reading from http://www.commonprayer.net had a few gems today:

O Lord, let my soul rise up to meet you

as the day rises to meet the sun.

Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit,

as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be forever. Amen…..

May the Lord direct our hearts : into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Psalm 116:14

I love the Lord, because he has heard the voice of my supplication : because he has inclined his ear to me whenever I called upon him.

The chords of death entangled me; the grip of the grave took hold of me : I came to grief and sorrow.

Then I called upon the name of the Lord : “O Lord, I pray you, save my life.”

Gracious is the Lord and righteous : our God is full of compassion.

May the Lord direct our hearts : into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.

Christ of the cross and of the empty tomb, strengthen us to bear the burdens of the day, to seek you amid the hurts and questions, and to trust you for mercy enough for this day. Amen.

May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you : wherever he may send you;

may he guide you through the wilderness : protect you through the storm;

may he bring you home rejoicing : at the wonders he has shown you;

may he bring you home rejoicing : once again into our doors.

 

 

 

The Hardness of Love

“To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable.”

“Love’s as Hard as Nails

Love is Nails

Blunt, thick, hammered through,

The Medial nerve of One

Who, having made us, knew,

The thing he had done,

Seeing (with all that is)

Our cross, and His”

Sometimes, I just can’t find the words, so I quote CS Lewis.

Shell shock

Sometimes something happens that really knocks you out of the water… not something even that big, in the scheme of life tragedies… but when you d given up hoping and then somehow hope again… then hope deferred does indeed make the heart sick.

Finding all that Easter thinking extraordinarily apt today.

 

Pasg Hapus 2014 – Still Combobulated

There’s a “churchy” word for the stuff we don’t fully grasp, even when we’ve got some kind of gist: Mysteries. But I think combobulated sounds just right for today. I’ve come across some pretty naff “explanations” of the christian (and pagan) celebrations taking place around this season, but I’ve also come across some pretty outstanding stuff, so I’m scrapbooking it all for my imaginary reader.

Firstly, something personal, a place that I am keen to visit again in Easter Future… Malta… the explanations are very tourist centered, but there are some lovely images and explanations of the atmosphere in the islands at this time of year… much harder to pin down, but I do find myself missing it. One further photo, of the shrine on the hill to Laferla Cross this Maundy Thursday:

Malta Thursday Candles

So, “Maundy Thursday”… remembering “the last supper”… I spent mine sharing a meal and an informal communion in a newly discovered pub/ eatery with close friends. A very different communion experience to the one later this week, in a very “high” church in Wales visit… and yet at their heart, two striking similarities. As we passed the bread one to another in the pub we said to each other, “the body of Christ, broken for you” and today in church we affirmed, in a formal way, that, “We are all one body because we all share in one bread.” A theme which this little video clip captures, playing with the historical themes, as well as a hints of a song that’s more than a bit famous in Cymru:

These themes are embodied in these symbolic re-enactments in some old church traditions:

A Coptic Christian Clergyman washes the feet of a congregation member in Egypt... image courtesy of http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentMulti/99368/Multimedia.aspx

A Coptic Christian Clergyman washes the feet of a congregation member in Egypt… image courtesy of http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentMulti/99368/Multimedia.aspx

With Pope Francis giving some focus on what this act means: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/17/pope-francis-foot-washing-maundy-thursday_n_5166531.html

Good Friday

Some good Friday traditions seem to make more sense to me than others do, but I did appreciate the selection of different photos collected here: http://english.ahram.org.eg/NewsContentMulti/99368/Multimedia.aspx

Ones which seem particularly related to good friday follow:

Jerusalem Procession

Jerusalem Procession

Pope Francis at the Vatican

Pope Francis at the Vatican

Brazil Procession

Brazil Procession

Pakistani Christian Women gather to pray in Lahore... site of church that was attacked...

Pakistani Christian Women gather to pray in Lahore… site of church that was attacked…

That last image segways nicely into what I liked most about this particular collection of photographs… they weren’t all “religious”… they encompassed political protest, human tragedy, injustice, anger… which also leads on to this idea of Countless Calvaries.

Some deeper reflections on this theme, come from a news article from Australia, linking the actions of activists with this one event… Easter made me do it!

I think something also reflected, but differently in this reflection on the brutality of what happened to Jesus.

And a very personal reflection on the physical reality in this account, which opens with a quote by TS Elliott, “human kind cannot bear very much reality…”

 

That link to considering the stark realities of this particular death, comes across vividly in the next collection of pieces considering Easter Saturday.

First a link to a very striking piece of art, by Hans Holbein the Younger…

And these two considerations of the perspective of Jesus’ Followers:

“Saturday…”

Before the Dawn Comes

A similar atmosphere then permeates these first two pieces of writing considering Easter Sunday…

“Seven Stanzas at Easter” by John Updike

“With Fear and Great Joy”

It’s a very contrasting approach to that used in this Easter Day Invocation

which instead weaves the old story into everyday life in this season of the year.

So to close, I thought I’d hark back to a post I’ve already fawned over. But I still like it. It puts into words that link between bloody material reality, and the hope expressed in the short declaration of faith, now familiar, and yet still powerful for me:

“Christ Has Died. Christ is Risen. Christ Will Come Again.”

Logos…

One day I will get John’s poetic description of this tattooed on me…

but for now a picture of a chick, it is Easter after all 😉

Duckling that was rescued and nursed back to health by R&H.

Duckling that was rescued and nursed back to health by R&H.