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Showing posts from May, 2012

A selected diary of a sabbatical 1

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I found leaving the parish and coming away on retreat to the Orthodox monastery of St John the Baptist at Tolleshunt Knights much easier than I had expected. That was partly because I threw myself into the reading of St Maximus the Confessor. I am trying to work out what he writes about love. This first week I have read (a lot), cycled (quite a bit) and spent more than several hours in church.

The community here pray the Jesus Prayer ('Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner') most mornings between 6-8am and evenings 5:30-7:30pm, apart from those days when they celebrate the liturgy. By the Friday morning I was beginning to struggle with the prayers, so I knew things were beginning to work! I was also beginning to struggle generally. This would have been the time when I was preparing to go home if, as usual, I had been staying here for only a few days. So it was lovely to see Alison who came up on Saturday: it reminded me of parental visits and days out when…

Love one another

1 John 5:1-5
John wrote his letter in order that Christians would love one another. 
He writes in order 'that his readers might have fellowship with him' (1:3) and - one assumes - with each other.
It is easy to get John's letter wrong. We think that when he talks about love, he is talking about loving all people.
Now of course Christians are called to love all people. There is no question about that. We are commanded to become like God, and God, we are told, 'so loved the world that he gave his Son'. In Romans 5:8 we are told that 'God shows his love for us, in that it was while we were still sinners (while we were not his people), Christ died for us'. And when Jesus told the story of the Good Samaritan, he didn't tell the story of someone who passed by the beaten up man and asked him, 'What do you believe?' before doing good for him.
There was a song that used to be sung at school assemblies: 'And the creed and the colour and the name wo…

The story of Closed Heart

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1 John 3:16-24
I would like to tell you the story of Closed Heart.
Closed Heart saw people in need but did nothing (1 John 3:17). He said, 'They are not my problem' or 'I'm too busy' or 'They probably deserve it'.
Closed Heart was not a bad person. He was just like most of the people around him. He loved the people who loved him, and he did good to those who did good to him. He even helped out with the church appeal: 'Well', he thought, 'I'll do good to God, and he'll do good to me'.
He was a very loving husband to Mrs Heart and a good father to the little Hearts. He even texted through £10 when sports relief came on the telly; and then there was that girl who died when running the marathon (that did get through and touched Closed Heart). He also did a bit for the Alzheimer's society because his mum had suffered with that.
But one day Closed Heart heard of someone called Open Heart. He heard that Open Heart was different. At first…