Saturday, June 17, 2006

The Lord’s Table

On the thirteen year old tape of David Mansell’s that I recently found, he is talking about the breaking of bread.

His basic message was that breaking of bread is not just as symbol but that it is a spiritual reality. God is really in it – although not chemically as though the bread and wine were Jesus literal flesh and blood – but by faith. As we eat bread and drink wine we receive realities not just symbols. It is the body of Christ. Jesus provides the food at his table and he is the food – his flesh is meat indeed and his blood is drink indeed.

His exhortation was to refocus church life so that the Lord’s Table is central rather than the pulpit. We are invited to be with him it is not for us to invite him to our meetings. He was encouraging us to see the breaking of bread as the primary reason for the church to get together rather than to see it as something that is tagged onto our meetings once in a while.

I don’t usually find it easy to listen and take notes of someone talking for a whole hour. But it was gripping stuff.

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Friday, June 09, 2006

Bread of Life

At last I'm back on line! I'm uploading the last few blog entries that were made offline in my spiritual journal. This includes thoughts about last Sundays meeting. For a bit of fun I've included a relevant photo from flickr.

Last Sunday Barry Fitzpatrick - who has a pastoral role towards our church - was speaking on the bread of life from John 6. He was saying that Christ himself is the true and living bread and that nothing can be a substitute for him, not even bible-study, prayer or church! Though these are good things that we should take part in, they can get in the way of us experiencing the living bread from heaven. Just as bread was a staple food in the middle-east - no potatoes or even rice for them then - so Christ is the staple food for Christians today. Only this divine bread can be truly satisfying. And only this bread endures for all eternity. It was truly inspiring talk.

In the evening I was searching through some old tapes in the bottom of a drawer and found an old tape of David Mansell talking about the breaking of bread that I remember was excellent too. I'm really looking forward to listening to that.

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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Multi-Sensory Pentecost

Nettes and I set aside time regularly to be together with God. This often takes the form of what we call a “Sacred Space”. We create an atmosphere of calm (not known at any other time in our house!) using throws, cushions, relaxing music, incense, candles etc. They are very special times to us and we have had some great encounters with God through them.

Last night we used this time to celebrate the coming of the Spirit. We started, as we often do, by praying - in British Sign Language - for the Holy Spirit to come. Another aid to prayer which we often use is a labyrinth, printed on paper. Tracing the path into the middle, pausing to listen to God, and then bringing the line back out, helps focus our minds on who God is and what he wants from us. Last night, as we did this we began to contemplate the work of the Holy Spirit, and were reminded on the outward path of our task to take God’s message out into the world, as the disciples did after that first outpouring. I found it strangely exhilarating. We also made fans and used them together with poetic liturgy to reflect on the wind of the Holy Spirit.

But the climax of the night was melting ice cubes – in which we had embedded chains – over a candle. We were praying for God to melt our hearts preparing us to receive his power. Melting the ice was slower and trickier than we thought it was going to be. It was a powerful image of God’s patience and gentleness. It reflected the persistence with which he works to enable us to see his power in our lives. We talked about what his empowering means to us and how we limit it. Finally, we broke bread, anointed each other and asked God for this empowering.

Over an hour had passed. It was very late but, as always when we have these times, the hour had flown by. Why do we so often think spending time with God is hard?

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