advent 2

11 Dec

Ana & Simeon, voices; touching words.

Prophets see and speak with the sight and voice of God. 

They see what and how God sees. They are caretakers of vision and cannot add or take away from the vision, images, or sounds and words given to them, or even dreams. 

 Prophets speak; and they voice what they feel by His Spirit.

 In Luke chapter 2, two prophets, Anna and Simeon, see in a beginning, a fulfilling ending. 

Both have been promised by the Spirit that they would see the Messiah; both are at the end of childless long lives; both have stayed true to a promised vision; and both see the vision fulfilled. 
What do they see, feel?
Redemption, and their rescue, by a new-born babe. Simeon sees and speaks first. But his words only come after he touches, holds our Saviour in his arms:
 “When the time came for the purification rites required by the Law of Moses, Joseph and Mary took him to Jerusalem to present him to the Lord …Now there was a man in Jerusalem called Simeon, who was righteous and devout… and the Holy Spirit was on him. It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not die before he had seen the Lord’s Messiah. Moved by the Spirit; he went into the temple courts. When the parents brought in the child Jesus to do for him what the custom of the Law required, Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying:

‘Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace.

For my eyes have seen your salvation, which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.’”

This child’s coming dismisses the prophet in peace; and, holding the child, touching him, inspires Simeon to speak. Hopeful touch inspires faithful, prophetic and fatherly words.
Anna, a prophetess, sees and feels next. She is in the temple at the same time as Simeon. They speak as one and of one redemption, a child, Jesus:
“There was also a prophetess, Anna. She was very old; she had lived with her husband seven years after her marriage, and then was a widow until she was eighty-four. She never left the temple but worshiped night and day, fasting and praying. Coming up to them at that very moment, she gave thanks to God and spoke about the child to all who were looking forward to the redemption of Jerusalem.”
 “At that very moment.”- here- ‘at that very moment’- there is no time lag; no time for hearts to think; only a time to feel. Then Anna speaks to all; after His touch she can not stop speaking, feeling. 

What does Anna see in the promise of this baby? 
She sees eternal redemption, a new and full life. A childless widow honoured, blessed, with a beautiful child. A Naomi touched, redeemed.
Anna gives thanks as she speaks about a child, a saviour to everyone. Redemption is here, for all, and especially for her. Waiting exists no more. 
She holds the child, dearly, with all her love, in her heart and words.
 Two older servants, Anna and Simeon, faithful till the endings of their lives. What do their lives mean for them, for us?

They, and we, have had our souls “pierced” with Jesus on the cross. Why? So hearts can speak thoughts in a new way. So our voices can speak in a spirit filled moment; and so what pierces, can also touch, and love us with its harshest touch.
This season look for some faithful people around you. A teacher or a GP; a caregiver or a vicar; a police person or a cleaner. Pray for an opportunity to encourage them, even if it is with just a smile, for their faithfulness. Look for Annas and Simeons, the faithful. 
Touch them with love, words, sight. Touch and speak.

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advent 1

3 Dec

Advent, His touch, a prologue 

All our wonders are filled and made thoughtful today, through Jesus who touches 
He was ‘Sent’ to touch and also to be touched. Who does he touch? And How? 
He touches the blind, spits and, then, wipes eyes; he touches lepers with his words and heals; he touches the dead,  Jairus’ child, and gives life; he eats fish; drinks wine. Touching people, food, drinks, hopes and fears with words and hands, Jesus’ love touches, heals. But that is not all.

He also allows himself to be touched. 

The woman with the discharge; Mary with her hair in the gospel of Luke; his parents, mother Mary and father Joesph, as a baby born, who receives; by the soldiers who spat, ‘crowned him’ mocked and whipped Him-
And … in, on a cross, Jesus allows sin to touch, and become Him. 

Why? Because…

Perfect loves casts out imperfect fears; perfect love is a love that touches and allows itself to be touched.
Advent touches. Touch, be touched this season.

Advent voices

29 Oct

Bethlehem, the smallest

Sometimes the smallest voice speaks the truest. And at times it is not people who speak into our lives, but a place.

Prophets were people who speak God’s word, spoke of and for His presence, His being, His character. Yet Bethlehem is as a place of prophecy. It is a place spoken of and sung over. It is a place where God’s voice is heard, from the Father’s words about suffering, to His inspired Pslams by His prophet David; to the first soft cries of the baby Jesus and the lulling of animals. God has chosen Bethlehem to be a place that receives and then echo his voice to His people. It is a special place that holds his voice truly, tenderly and speaks it truthfully.

Micah 5:2 speaks Betlehem’s beginnings,

“But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me/ one who will rule over Israel, whose origins are from old, from ancient times.”

The Messiah is to come from the small, the ancient, the Father’s special place. And He will come for God the Father, for this Father and son love their children. And they come to the smallest to ask us to be the least.

The adult Jesus teaches on the ‘small’ or least principle in Matthew 19: 30 to a rich ruler,

“But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Here, In Bethlehem, the Lord God began to teach us to reverse what we usually value, expect and have been taught. The least, the small, is the way of our Generous Father God. The world is to be turned upside down through Jesus’ teaching.

And what did Bethlehem speak of from its ancient past before His birth? It speaks of loss, of suffering.

King Herod, in his rage to find and destroy the baby Jesus, orders that all boy children under two be put to the sword. Matthew in his gospel (2:18) quotes the prophet Jeremiah describing this loss,

“A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”

This city where the children died has Rachael’s tomb at it’s entrance (Genesis 35:19 ‘So Rachel died, and she was buried on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem))She died in child birth. Her child would not know her, a life taken, gone, a loss.

He hears sufferings spoken and those unspoken; our Father listens to silent voices. He understands loss.

Bethlehem is also a town of song. The home city of David, the smallest of Jesse’s eight sons, (1 Samuel 16) the shepherd boy David was overlooked, and forgotten as he sang to God tending sheep in the Bethlehem fields,

“But the Lord said to Samuel, ‘ Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. ( a good looking son of Jesse) The Lord does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”

Hearts are seen, their beats heard by this listening Father. Songs are heard. And he sees and hears them from David of Bethlehem’s boy shepherd and future King.

All these past voices join together, and culminates with a baby’s birth cries. A child who was called Jesus. He is to be our Saviour, our Lord.

This baby is to become ‘a man of sorrow’ ‘; a ‘suffering’ Messiah. (Isaiah 53); and yet He comes to end all sorrows; to ‘wipe away every tear.’ (Revelation 21:4)

Our Lord is a Lord who reverses what man, people, usually value . We value: Queens and Kings; appearances and beauty; power and wealth.

He values the poor and suffering; He values children; the poor; the widow; the weak. People who are born in mangers. The homeless. The refugee. Here, In Bethlehem , He shares His love; and this loving Messiah will heal.

He values all of us. He especially desires us to see the smallest, the most insignificant. He wants to see and hear how ‘little town of Bethlehem’ is our town, our place. His home.

A town with the same name for over 3,500 years. A town, the place of a prophetic voice that says,

“The last, the least, will be first.”

This season hear the smallest, the weakest voice season. Listen to the aged and children; the poor and the powerless. This is the generosity of The Father that Bethlehem embodies: He listens, to the smallest, softest, the most silent of voices. To babies cries. This season, Listen to His heart. Listen to the smallest voice.

It speaks of Bethlehem. His special place; His voice; home.

 

 

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advent, or christmas in July

7 Jul

The Magi’s speak

Micah 5:2

“But you, O Bethlehem Ephrathah, who are too little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is be ruler in Israel, whose coming forth is from old, from ancient of days”

Matthew 2:1

“Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herold the King, behold, wise men from the east came to Jerusalem, saying, Where is he who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw his star when it rose and have come to worship him”

From ancient days the Magi’s families watched the skies. The wisest of their community, they had one responsibility to their society, households and selves: to watch the skies for a light.

Their life had this one purpose. It must have been both freeing to be given just one certain life-time task to do and also crushing. Suppose the light did not appear? Suppose this was not the time for the light, his star to rise? What is they went on vacation or slept and missed the light’s appearance?

No matter. As seers, prophets, wise men of their community, they just had to follow the ancient prophecy. All they had to do was to see, to follow the light. It would seek them. Ready to move and follow, they could rest in the certain belief that if it was their time, the light would find them. And it did. And they followed His generous star, His light.

Unnamed and uncounted the Magi represent all of their past forefathers and the future generations who would speak of what they saw, the generous fulfilment of light, of a new King, a new world, a new creation. All their community would hear the Magi speak of where the light took them, to a Saviour, a babe. All are invited to follow.

The Magi would rise with the star and pack gifts of extreme value to travel with, gifts of gold and frankincense and myrrh. Gifts to heal, to anoint, gifts to bring rich abundant life. The child King and his family will have great need for these gifts. Soon this family will be driven by Herod to exile in Egypt. Homeless, these gifts would provide shelter.

The Magi would journey first to Jerusalem. It is a great city. A crossroad of empires. Down its low stony hills, armies of ancient Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, Persia, Greece and now Rome, had marched. Jerusalem and the surrounding towns are sacred ground: Abraham travelled here; Moses brought an enslaved people to this land; Joshua fought and claimed it and David ruled over it. David’s hometown was Bethlehem. And this is where the Magi’s and Jesus’ star leads-to the smallest town, to a family, to a baby, to a child.

A small group of men follow a lone bright star to the smallest of towns. They see the light: they speak of it among themselves and when they return to their sending community. People want to, need to, desire to hear about the light. God is sending the light, His light, His son into the world so all will know: all past and future people, all are loved by His life, His light.

This is the rich and generous message the Magi returned to their homes with: we are loved in His and by His light. This is what they speak of.

This is the generous message of Advent celebration. We ar

temple thoughts 6

18 Mar

“I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.”

Revelation 21: 22-26

God, the Father, Son and spirit, are our temple. We enter as overcomers thru the words of our testimony and the blood of our lamb, Jesus. Purity comes from Him; He is light, a lamp, and life.

We sing because He first sang over us. We love because He first loved us. We enter Him, our Temple.

 

a very late 2016 lulu

9 Mar

Very late January/February Lulu

Dear Friends,
You are must think we have disappeared the last two months. In a sense Priscilla and I have followed in Harry Potter’s footsteps by Apparating, moving in a seeming instant from one place to another.
We were in London, left for NYC at the end of November for Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday, then I was onto Staten Island for a week and half to be with my mother and father as my mother, Joan, was very ill; back to London 5 January; then back to Staten Island by myself mid January; back to London and then in late February a sad journey to NYC for my mother’s wake and funeral. (See SI obit below)
http://www.silive.com/obituaries/index.ssf/2016/02/joan_osewalt_85.html
Presently, we are in our London home.
Last week one of my favorite writers died, Pat Conroy. Though he was at times repetitive and over the top, at his best moments he wrote beautifully. (See NY Times obit here http://www.nytimes.com/2016/03/05/books/pat-conroy-who-wove-his-family-strife-into-novels-of-carolina-dies-at-70.html)
The last paragraph closes with this quote from Mr. Conroy,
“One of the greatest gifts you can get as a writer is to be born into an unhappy family,” Mr. Conroy told the writer John Berendt for a Vanity Fair profile in 1995. “I could not have been born into a better one.” He added: “I don’t have to look very far for melodrama. It’s all right there.”
I too was born into such a family. So my mother’s passing has been difficult for me on spiritual, emotional, physical and even practical levels. I am very grateful for those of you who have reached out through cards or attending my Mother’s wake or visits to our London home on our return. I greatly appreciate you all.
My thoughts now are to try to reflect and write on these pass weeks, not with a view to publically publish but with the possible to apparate from the past to the present. How will to do this? By writing…and just for myself at this time. In order to apparate I must be, according to Wilkie Twycross, Ministry of Magic official and Apparition Instructor, but recall The Three D’s: Destination, Determination and Deliberation. One must be completely determined to reach one’s destination, and move without haste, but with deliberation.
So as I endeavor to write everyday, pray that I am completely determined to get there by faith, where I am not sure but where I must go
Much love,

Charlie

on being empty, an essential question

15 Feb

eq: how can emptiness build trust?

When I was head of school, a parent came to see me one morning at 7 am. (Without an appointment. Her child, Jasmine, was living with the grandmother as the mum had some life controlling issues.) In the South Bronx this visit was quite unusual. Parents of high school students, in general, rarely came to school even when we requested a visit. Jasmine’s mother had given her a pair of UGG boots for the child’s birthday the week before. Mom had come to school to take the boots back. She wanted them that day.

… When I looked at Jasmine’s Mother, I thought, last week, the Mother gave just about everything she had to her daughter. She emptied herself but the anxiety of being empty filled her and she needed the boots back. She could not sit with the emptiness. Then I thought to Remus Lupin of the Harry Potter series. Here is he on emptiness,

“You can exist without your soul you know, as long as your brain and heart are still working. But you’ll have no sense of self anymore… no memory …anything. There’s no chance at all of recovery. You’ll just -exist. As an empty shell. And your soul is gone forever…lost.”
(Remus Lupin is speaking about a dementor’s-kiss)

I once heard someone say, “you must know nothing before u can learn something, and be empty before you can be filled, Is it not the emptiness of the bowl what makes it useful?”

All objects are empty of inherent existence.

They, we, may seem full and yet we are empty. Only the Spirit of God with God’s word can truly fill us. Then all the Judas’ of the world can never empty us with a kiss.

Jasmine kept the boots. She never knew from me that her mother came.
Fill us oh Lord, fill me O Lord.

temple thoughts, a powerful reminder

11 Feb

Isaiah 6:3 have seraphs, angels, flying around the Lord’s throne in the temple,
“And they were calling to one another:
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.”
And they were calling to one another:

My question, so why aren’t they singing out,

“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty;
the whole earth and all of heaven is full of his glory.”

My answer: they are speaking to each and to Isaiah a powerful reminder: everything in the earth sings of His glory, speaks to His glory, reflects His glory. (Psalms 95 and 96)

The seraphs voices are us: stop, see, listen reflect. He is everywhere.

family update

26 Jan

Hi friends and family

So after the late last 2015 lulu we sent out on our visit to the States and then (now) our return to London, I would like to share facts interlaced with prayer concerns. Please excuse the bullet format, but so much has occurred that this format is best for me at this time.

+ My father is home in Staten Island, recovering from a very near bout with pneumonia. At 89 the long extended time in hospitals watching and waiting for my mother’s open heart surgery did not help his condition. He misses his wife of 63 years tearfully. He spoke last week to her on the phone, (she is alert and conscious) stating ‘get well soon…I am lost without you.’
+ My mother Joan has always been a fast, quick talker; now -two weeks after her ‘successful’ open heart surgery,- she is a step down ICU unit breathing through a ventilator. She can’t slow down her anxiety enough to breathe deeply and slowly. Our prayer: that she breathes deeply and gets off the ventilator. This week I am feeling is a key week.

+ My brother, Donald, sister, Susan, and father Donald have a number of key, family decisions to make. Pray that as we speak and meet His spirit will lead.

+ me: a number of you have called and texted. emailed me. Truthfully, I am not quite up to responding individually at this time. Today I saw a counsellor and she helpfully pointed out that being ‘sad’ and even at times being angry was ‘alright…normal.’ She also pointed out that the past comes in for all during these end days, the good as well as the poor times. My prayer request: to allow myself to feel without judging myself as a person, son, brother, father, Christian.

Thank you all

Geordies

22 Jan

Flying home to London from NYC Tuesday, I was standing in the BA aisle waiting for the people to fill in my row before I took my assigned seat. The steward and I began talking and they asked me where I was from and my business in London. Hearing their accent, I asked where they were from and she responded ‘Newcastle.’
I then said, ‘you are a Geordie.’
They were so impressed that I knew Geordies our conversation continued and as I moved to be seated they came to me and moved my seat on this slightly filled airplane to first class.
God Bless Geordies!!