Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Wearing Jesus

Whenever I am in Glasgow I always make a point of visiting the Pauline Bookshop. It’s a Roman Catholic Christian bookshop. You might be able to take a person out of the Roman Catholic church but you cannot take the Roman Catholic church out of the person. My days of first confession and first communion may be long gone but that does not mean that I have ceased to confess or commune with God – I just do it elsewhere.

I picked up a small book of advent devotionals exploring the thoughts of the saints. We are all saints, of course, but these saints are the RC designated ones.

Although it may be devotions for Advent – I can’t wait, so I’m dipping in. Romans 13:11-14 was among the opening verses to meditate on.

“The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed.” (Romans 13:11)

It’s an advent book, so one would expect passages to think about Jesus and the salvation that he brought with him, but it was the last sentence that caught my imagination

“Dress yourselves in Christ, and be up and about!” Romans 13:14(The Message)

What are you wearing today? I am wearing Jesus.

Jesus isn’t really a made to measure garment so at times throughout the day, wearing Jesus got to be rather uncomfortable at times. Jesus isn’t only gentle, meek and mild – perhaps not even rather than not only. Jesus wasn’t any of those things when he challenged the hypocrisy of the religious leaders of his day. He wasn’t any of those things when he said to Peter, “Get behind me, Satan.” (Meekness, BTW, is not weakness. The dictionary defines it as “the feeling of patient, submissive humility” – in Jesus’ case it was the submissive humility directed towards God. It was precisely because he was submissive to God that he challenged unrighteousness the way he did.)

“The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners” (Isaiah 61:1)

Wearing Jesus is not about being soft and fluffy. Just ask Oscar Romero when you see him in heaven.

One particular encounter during my day was unpleasant. It’s quite possible that Jesus slipped off my shoulders somewhere in the conversation. It was not my best moment and I was left feeling rather mangled.

“Forgive them.” The Holy Spirit told me that if I was wearing Jesus then forgiveness was not an optional extra. As much as I would like to have replayed the conversation, adding the things I never said, and colouring the tone of what I heard and stirring myself up to sow and nurture a grudge – if I am wearing Jesus, forgiveness not an option.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

An Effing Disgrace

“Yobs should not be punished for hurling obscenities in public – because swear words are now so common that they no longer cause distress,” said Mr Justice Bean.

I seriously object to someone making pronouncements about what should or should not cause me distress. Yobs are apparently being given the freedom to hurl abuse at policemen and policemen are told swearing at them is not causing them any alarm or distress.

I beg to differ.

I have been on the receiving end of verbal abuse. It wasn’t a yob, but some woman in a car driving out of a car park.

I discovered quite early on in the visit to see my mum that the wheelchair was too big for the boot. Maybe there was some screw that unlocked and folded wheels or footrests more compactly – but in the end, pushing the wheelchair into town was the only option. She was not a heavy woman, but the pavements were not even, and wheelchair was demon-possessed.

As I said, the woman was coming out of the car park. She was travelling very slowly and I judged that I had time to cross the entrance to the car park in plenty of time, and seeing me crossing, pushing a wheelchair, she would stop. She stopped. She must not have seen me because she acted like she had just performed an emergency stop. There was no squeal of tyres, no smell of burning rubber. She was travelling at less than five miles an hour. She just wasn’t looking, but she stopped in time.

She wound down the windows and a stream of abuse came pouring out. “Silly cow” was in there somewhere accompanied by expletive after expletive. She made a right turn to a set of traffic lights. I was still in view so a second stream of abuse flew at me. She made another right turn at the traffic lights, leaving me with a final stream of insults. It was over-kill. It was unnecessary. Did she really think that I hadn’t got the message the first time?

Obscenities were hurled in public. Just because they were common swear words did not mean that I wasn’t distressed. I got back to my mum’s house and promptly burst into tears. I pride myself on not being silly, or being a cow – but some manic driver had accused me of both – in public!

Swear words may be common and they may not offend some people but they offend me. I realise that sometimes people litter their conversation with them and they really mean nothing. They don’t set out to be offensive. They are more than happy to keep a check on their language if they know someone is offended.

Do you know, I actually wrote a swear word in a short story once? I struggled over the “f” word. I agonised. I sweated. I searched the thesaurus for an alternative, until I finally surrendered and let it stay there – because it was perfect. My creative writing tutor raised an eye brow. I was a nice girl who didn’t swear – but he knew why I had written it, and agreed it was perfect. There are some situations that simply require a well-chosen swear word. They are not everyday situations and swear words should be used sparingly.

Giving anyone the green light to swear at any time and in any place seems to me like some kind of surrender. In some way we have given over ground that we should have held on to.

Verbal abuse isn’t something that we should get used to. It shouldn’t come with anyone’s territory.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

I Blog Therefore I am

I cannot live from birth to death
From day to day and year to year
Where no one knows, or thinks or cares
That I am really here

I must leave footprints where I’ve trod
Deep and crisp and clean and clear
To show a man, his wife, his dog
That I am really here

I have a voice and words to say
Precious views, opinions dear
Like seeds cast on the wind to say
That I am really here

I choose my words and weave my world
Secrets spill to lure you near
Drama drawn from dull days just to say
That I am really here

I deal out details, pictures post
Of people, places quaint and queer
My endless commentary that says
That I am really here

I write the words you want to read
My life, to you, to best appear
So scrubbed and speckless who’s to tell
That I am really here?

I know The Father looks at me
He reads my heart leaves nought unclear
His whispers stir my soul to know
That I am really here

Deeply Troubled and Greatly Distressed

“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was deeply troubled by all the idols he saw everywhere in the city. (NLT)

“While Paul was waiting for them in Athens, he was greatly distressed to see that the city was full of idols.” (NIV)

The longer Paul waited in Athens for Silas and Timothy, the angrier he got—all those idols! The city was a junkyard of idols.” (The Message)

Now while Paul was awaiting them at Athens, his spirit was grieved and roused to anger as he saw that the city was full of idols.” (Amplified)

Acts 17:16 - words and phrases like “deeply troubled”, “greatly distressed”, “angry” and “grieved” leave me…well, just that - deeply troubled, greatly distressed, angry and grieved because the things that should leave me deeply troubled, greatly distressed, angry and grieved all too often don’t.