Our motto for this year for Stir the Soul Café Ministries: “In times of bleakness, darkness, fear, hopelessness, there is God, present in blessed acts of Incarnational Work.”
April 9, 2021
Stirring Amongst the Stacks: At Noon Prayer time this week, I was aware of the power of the circle. I am even old enough to remember that social and service works of most congregations were done in circles albeit generally “women’s” circles! The ancient church maintained the circle as a learning tool for the congregations to know each week what was going to be taught and preached. The Liturgical Calendar is a circle. Some of you did not come from a liturgical church and you might not know the Liturgical Year. It is easy to explain: you draw a circle, then bisect it. One half is the story of Jesus and the other half is the story of the People. Though it has no beginning or end, there is a rhyme and reason to it, however you may drop in anywhere and follow along. The circle is not a barrier.
The Calendar begins with Advent, Christmas and continues to Epiphany (which is equal in length to the first two seasons). It proceeds to Lent, Easter then Pentecost. That is the top half of the Calendar. The rest of the circle, the bottom half is what we call ordinary time. See I told you it was easy. Why does it still exist after all these years? Perhaps it is because when the circle is completed we are able to see how God’s love connects both sides. The first half speaks to us about Jesus and his love and the other half uses Jesus’ teachings to show us how to live, and love.
I am reminded of theologian’s NT Wright assessment in his book, Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church:
“Love is not a duty it is our destiny. It is the language that Jesus spoke and we are called to speak it so that we can converse with him. It is the food that they eat in God’s new world, and we must acquire a taste for it here and now. It is the music God has written for all creatures to sing and we are called to learn it and practice it now.”
Stir the Soul Studies: New material will begin in two more weeks. Keep an eye on this spot for more details.
April 2, 2021
Stirring Amongst the Stacks: Our group Lenten Study this season was about seed, soil, death and renewal. As a Benediction to that course I would like to offer some final words from Janice MacLean of the Prayer Bench:
“Dear Friends, We have arrived at Good Friday. This is not like other days. We pause. We breathe. We ground ourselves in Love. We look not just at the cross before our eyes but all the broken places of our world. This takes energy. Be strong. Be of good courage…
“…We see in the tragic death of Jesus our own human capacity for violence and, yet, our great capacity for love. ‘We love despite our fragile flaws when we see ourselves loved by One greater than ourselves,’ says wisdom teacher Ilia Delio. ‘How we see is how we love, and what we love is what we become.’
“We are loved with a Love that will never let go: a love that re-makes us, not because we are inherently flawed or did something so humanly wrong we can’t be redeemed, but because God’s deepest desire for us is so full of Love that we let go all that hinders us from God.
“Like a tiny seed we fall into the dark today.”
“Very truly I tell you; Unless a grain of wheat Falls into the earth and dies, It remains just a single grain; But if it dies, it bears much fruit.” - John 12:24
When we see the body of Christ Still broken in this world, May we meet it With lavish grace And pour ourselves out With extravagant love.” - Jan Richardson
Stir the Soul Studies: New material will begin in three more weeks. Keep an eye on this spot for more details.
March 26, 2021
Dear Friends, Our last session of Lenten Study: Planted in Faith: Season of Lent, has been sent out to Winter Women and Creative Age-ers. It is not too late to receive all of six in the series. Just email me and I will oblige. We will take an Easter Break before considering the topics for spring. There will studies for both Winter Women and Creative ‘Age-er’ and it may even contain a Zoom session or two. Just keep watching this space.
Stirring Amongst the Stacks: As we prepare for the final week of Jesus’ life, I wish to share two poems with you. The first one is filled with the imagery of Palm Sunday and mystery – neither the world or Jesus – knowing what to be prepared for, what was to be.
On the Outskirts of Jerusalem On the outskirts of Jerusalem the donkey waited. Not especially brave, or filled with understanding, he stood and waited. How horses, turned out into the meadow, leap with delight! How doves, released from their cages, clatter away, splashed with sunlight. But the donkey, tied to a tree as usual, waited. Then he let himself be led away. Then he let the stranger mount. Never had he seen such crowds! And I wonder if he at all imagined what was to happen. Still, he was what he had always been: small, dark, obedient. I hope, finally, he felt brave. I hope, finally, he loved the man who rode so lightly upon him, as he lifted one dusty hoof and stepped, as he had to, forward. + Mary Oliver
This second poem I have always believed was a glimpse of Jesus on Thursday evening on his way to the Garden.
no time ago no time ago or else a life walking in the dark i met christ jesus)my heart flopped over and lay still while he passed(as close as i'm to you yes closer made of nothing except loneliness + e e cummings