Archive | July, 2014

July Lulu (or London update)

31 Jul

Dear Family and Friends,

We have been having a very happy and busy July summer. Several of our friends from the US have visited early July (Hi John and Mike & Jon Lin and Ellice and Karis and Ji Son & Tim, Kathy & Michael!) and they all stayed in our one bedroom flat, Osewalt style!!

(Just kidding-we only had the pleasure of two of the above-though we spent time with all above and it was wonder filled)

It addition-expectantly –in met two New Yorkers in London on the tube. Cheryl and Ed-from our Fellowship group in Redeemer Church saw Priscilla on the tube and came over to greet us. (Cheryl did not recognize Charlie-due to the weight lost)
They are living in Hampstead-our home town!!! We had a lovely dinner with them and can not believe His blessings on renewing fellowship in a new way.

We also have had the pleasure of visiting some dear Brit friends in Devon and then some other friends in the Lake District mid July. The weather on these days was beyond anyone’s possible expectations: warm in the days, but not sunny; cool but not cold in the evenings. (Buses and most tubes do not have air conditioning here. It is mostly not needed-but this fact illustrates one of the differences between NYC and London: public areas air conditioning, one place has it; the other doesn’t.)

The sky here becomes more beautiful with each passing hour. Clouds move and change; we feel as though God’s hands are reaching down to touch and guide us each passing moment. We only have to look up and see to feel Him. And we are.
Two years ago, we would not physically been have been able to go hiking on the Downs at Dartmoor (https://www.google.co.uk/?gws_rd=ssl#q=pictures+at+Dartmoor+trust+park) or hiking around the Lake District, but now, in God’s wonder and mercy, He is allowing these dry bones to live again.
Brits say, “Brilliant, fantastic,’ and they are right. Priscilla was laughing this morning as she shared with a friend how funny it was when she slipped and sank her foot down into a little riverbed as we hiked along and how Priscilla was afraid of the ‘huge’ cows, who she thought could be bulls and the very large rams that were watching as we passed by.
The joy of living in these moments with friends and family give me renewed strength to dare I say it, “carry on” (Charlie is still working on the ‘Keep calm’ bit)

The last weekend of July we spoke at 3 day Brethren church retreat on listening (the teachings-in 5 parts-can be found in draft form here: http://www.charlesosewalt.com) The weekend went –again-beyond our prayerful expectations of our time here.

Each day brings new challenges. But these times of refreshment and renewal have given us time to reflect and thank God for his word, Ezekiel 37:14,” I will put my Spirit in you and you will live, and I will settle you in your own land. Than you will know that I the Lord have spoken, and I have done it, “declares The Lord. God’s Spirit enlivens us wherever He settles us.
Pray for ‘contentment’ as we seek His place for us in 2015. Please feel free to offer any words that you are lead to share concerning how you think/feel He may be leading us as we consider next steps: either return to NYC or staying in the UK.

We are wishing we could have you all with us

on the Northern line

29 Jul

on the Northern line

to older women in light, coloured jumpers,

to the older woman in the lightly covering jumper on just
your shoulders in July

your body is cooling, dying in London’s July heat as the ancient King David, he at least was given a beautiful virgin to keep him warm, he had an Abishag, a ‘very beautiful girl; she took care of the king and waited on him, but the king had no intimate relations with her.’

did you ever think that you would be so cold in July on the tube, without a lover’s hand, their eye, to caress and warm you?

the two young blondes women to your right and
your left have no jump-
-ers

they sit
-one in a white light sleeveless top, the other in a black tank top, both have their eyes fixed straight ahead
Focused on a

A future stop
it has not arrived, yet
they are waiting on flat black heels not seeing you, your bluish purple hands
your engagement ring on top of your large gold wedding band, your left hand on the side of your face

where is that man, that woman, that person who loved you?

a business trip?
a divorce?
Separation or a
death?

Alone, as your blonde companions,

Your eyes closed, then open, then closed again you see them

try not to go past
your stop

it will come soon

Maria Stuarda, Joyce Didonato and Carmen Giannattasio

25 Jul

Sometimes, the wrong sets and costumes highlight sounds; the visual no longer matters, just the voice.
Such was the case with the Royal Opera House Production of ‘Maria Stuarda’16 July.

Both Ms. Didonato and Ms. Giannattasio sang their parts tenderly, vowels flowing at the soft moments of regret and love lost or never to be.
Hardness of hearts, stubborness of mind, sung in beautiful voices, echoes in my mind today, weeks after their singing.
Ms. Didonato’s closing notes before her death were especially soft and aching-as a hand reaching through bars to a beloved friend, soft and barely touching.
In contrast, the costumes and the set were bare and modern. (Though why then dress the Queens in period?)
The forest set was especially laughable-at least go for high end grahics-or the abstract-not a power point like cut and paste job.
But-perhaps this is a brillant director’s choice to make us close our eyes and listen.

I did.

the Hulk, change in an instant

24 Jul

the Hulk, change in an instant

instant relationships

instant forgiveness; instant food; porridge, waffles, ice cream?

instant love

instant service, friendship, closure, truth

lies in an instant; thieve in a moment, right on the spot, you deserve it, so take it-NOW

Instant forgiveness, let’s begin again, anew, fast, no talking about your past: forgive
& forget

instantly, like

Marvel Comic super heroes on my scene to save me

in an instant

but sometimes, there is danger, like

when

Hulk changes in an instant
It is Bruce Banner changed in an instant for a life time that really scares me
(though he looks good in green; tearing his shirt effortlessly, without thoughts-in an instant)

She changed

for me it seemed an instant; for her, two life times

I loved the Hulk; I can see the change, the instant, coming

I see the instant in the moment before it comes;
reassuring. It is what I can’t see, won’t see, that really changes me.

scary

Change in an instant

orphan 3

23 Jul

Orphan: a moment with Samuel Allen’s ‘A Moment, Please’

still, it takes a moment
worlds created and destroyed in a
moment

twin lost; mother and father haters
babies created

a Palestine woman cooking breakfast for Ramadan sees ten family members killed, destroyed and dies her self of kidney failure
the next day

a moment please
orphans in the storm
orphaned from love
from words
and touch
by S type missiles, operated as
by
drones

a story was told of babies, orphans in a hospital after a war who were too numerous to be held by nurses then and they died in a few months for lack of touch

orphans from emotion and
hands, eyes, ears
orphaned by
cares

orphan, I choose always those who can not, will not, are not able to love. They are my love choices, my cares,

to hold me

as a flower in a well, a woman combing, fixing her hair on the tube
all matching
black in July, desiring eyes to
move her hairs as a comb’s teeth

I seek another type of touch,
not quite sure of what it us; but I know what it isn’t

Perhaps it is from myself, a touch of my right hand over a broken joint

those who are dying need to be held

listening, part 5, the close

21 Jul

Essential Point 1: just as God the Father loves listening to Jesus’ voice, so will we love Him by listening through the scriptures. By ‘through the scriptures’ I mean: reading them; delighting in and meditating on/with them; (Psalm 1:2) and acting on them with justice, love and mercy. (Micah 6:8) This is one of the reasons we used three different translations of John 17 in these listening exercises- to wash ourselves; to listen to His word, His love.

Through listening, Jesus’ and the Father’s words are melted together in our hearts when we sit, or stand; lie down or kneel. The listening melts and melds us. This is Jesus prayer for us and how He prayed for us: (Young’s Translation) ‘sanctify them in Thy truth, Thy word is Truth.’ John 17:17 Sanctification here is washing in the word.

The Spirit melts His word as we listen in our hearts. As we close these exercises, consider John 17:12. Here, Jesus asks His Father to ‘to guard them (us) as they (we) pursue this life that you conferred as a gift through me’(The Message)

Essential Point 2: Listening to Jesus, the Spirit & the Father is part of the gift conferred. Why? Listening has a softening effect; good listening melts our hearts. Listening transforms, making us more like, Jesus, like the Father and like the Spirit. We remain uniquely ourselves, yet we are transformed, renewed.

When we go to the Lord’s table, let us go to Him knowing He hears; he loves; He acts. He listens. All this is an ‘indescribable gift.’ 2 Corinthians 9:15. This is what we need to remember to listen to.

personal takeaway: Essential questions (EQs): How can I better listen to Him?

When and where will, can I expect Him to speak to me? How does He speak to me?
Do I have expectations on how He will, can speak? If so, do these expectations help me to listen or do these expectations interfere?
In the near future, what is one change I will enact in my praying, speaking and listening to God and for or with others?

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Closing prayer: a poem, I carry your heart with me (I carry it in
e. e. cummings
i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

Jesus carries us.

temple thoughts

17 Jul

Every night you
Walked up to our home
from Hampstead, High Street, up

the cobbled streets up
past the Mary Poppins chimneys
to

East Heath Road, & our home
#10 Lady Well Court, a pink house, till
knees and body fail then

the 268 bus carried us two

Jesus walked

every night after teaching

you were in your temple
you, dead with the tiredness
of a NYC South Bronx teacher
in June (perhaps they are spent
as you had to be?) spent as a
Widow’s mite

and then rich
Pharisees, teachers of the law,
Sadducees, disciples,
questions, empty hearts,
eyes and ears
people stealing and hoarding

all trying to fill
themselves

You walked up
The Mount of Olives
every night

still a steep steep climb
did you sing? Listen to the breeze? Look only at
your feet, your hands?

when we walked by your
steps

Priscilla held the wall and the handrail steep but then we climbed down

driven up by a Palestine cab driver who when ‘I said take me where you would go in Jerusalem’
Drove to top of the Mount

He said ‘I’ll see you at the bottom in two hours.’

Two hours’-pause-
‘Walk.’

we walked at the day’s break.
Two hours to reach the bottom, the Garden of Gethsemane. A throng of peoples; a garden of olive trees; fence around. We walked, stood, cried silent tears.

You couldn’t walk up the night before you passed’ …he began to be deeply distressed and troubled. “My soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death, ‘he said to them. “Stay here and keep watch.”
They slept. You sweated blood.

We had climbed down your Mount the dawn of our first Jerusalem day.
Our driver was there.

You had one more cross to climb; but
Not that night.

but You had climbed up after, as day light fades

at the end of your days teaching at the temple

I can, could, see and feel, you resting on your way

the sun would have been setting
the temple and Jewish hill top
graves are white facing a hot sun.

these graves face the temple so that they would rise first when the Messiah comes

they were looking the wrong way.

listening parts 3 and 4

17 Jul

listening 3, a prayerful community

EQ: How does God the Father listen to His people?

Ephesians 3: 14-19
‘For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.’

EP: There are five ‘yous’ in this passage. In the Greek they are all plural. They point to community; the trinity; Jesus and His disciples; His spirit with ours; His church. There is power in community. Power in a prayerful, listening community. It is the power of listening love.

talking, teaching points:
notes:

A. We listen to nature; others; our city. Listening -is by its nature about relationship; ____________________________________________________________________________________________

B. _Listening is hearing-hearing is about reflecting; thinking without assumptions or judgements. ____________________________________________________________________________________________

EP: He listens to us as unique individuals; and He listens to us all, in our community,
thoughts:
___________________________________________________________________________________________________

Small Group activity: In your group (or by yourself-though try to find a ‘community’ to do this exercise) share one verse you have read (John 17?) that spoke to your heart today. State why/how this verse spoke to you. At the end of your sharing time, praise God thankfully (Step 3 from this morning, the Garland of Praise) in small group community. (12 minutes.)

• your community’s thanksgivings:

• Whole group sharing time:

listening, part 4

Open in a prayerful reading of John 17 in still another translation, Young’s Literal Translation

EQ: How does the Holy Spirit take Jesus’ words and life into our hearts and minds? What is the work of the Spirit?

We keep our unique voice, our unique character when we listen to, by, with and in the Spirit. Yet, as Christians, we become like Christ by listening to the same word, the same heart, the same mind, by the same Spirit that worked with Him. NLT John 17:17 ‘Make them Holy by your truth; teach them your word, which is truth.’

Essential Question/thoughts:
EQ: What stops our hearts; our minds from listening?

• Hard hearts (Pharaoh; Aaron’s sons-Nabab and Abihu; Ananias and Sapphira;)
• Unreasoning animals, darkness of words & thoughts (Jude)

ET: How are our minds, our hearts taught to listen?

• Soften, listening hearts (Acts 2)
• Transformed minds (Saul/Paul) Romans 7; Romans 12

Romans 12 shows a path to listening,

‘Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. 2 Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ NIV

Now, let’s look at Young’s Literal Translation of these verses,

I call upon you, therefore, brethren, through the compassions of God, to present your bodies a sacrifice — living, sanctified, acceptable to God — your intelligent service;
2 and be not conformed to this age, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, for your proving what [is] the will of God — the good, and acceptable, and perfect.

EQ: What is a transformed mind, or in the Greek, a ‘nous? ’nous?’

Here is one scholar’s definition.
Commonly translated as ‘mind’ or ‘intellect’, the Greek word nous is a key term in the philosophies of Plato, Aristotle and Plotinus. What gives nous its special significance there is not primarily its dictionary meaning – other nouns in Greek can also signify the mind – but the value attributed to its activity and to the metaphysical status of things that are

‘noetic’ (intelligible and incorporeal) as distinct from being perceptible and corporeal.
In Plato’s later dialogues, and more systematically in Aristotle and Plotinus, nous is not only the highest activity of the human soul but also the divine and transcendent principle of cosmic order.
In its pre-philosophical usage nous is only one among a number of terms for mind. It is chiefly distinguished from these other words by its tendency to signify ‘intelligent’ activity – realizing, understanding, planning, visualizing – rather than mental processes more generally, including the emotions.(emphasis mine)
http://www.muslimphilosophy.com/ip/rep/A075

Romans 12:1-2 uses this Greek word, nous, for mind, in this phrase, ‘be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’

Evening talk/teaching notes:

• The Greeks understood that listening involved both the heart and the mind and the spirit. You listen as a ‘whole’ person.
• You can’t hear if you are not living in a ‘transformed’ moment. By this I mean the quick, present, passing moment. If you are living with assumptions and judgements before or as you listen, you can’t hear in the the moment. You are listening to someone or something else.

Review & vision casting _________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

It is time to cast a vision. (step 4 in our ‘Simple way to pray’) If you really believed this scripture is true, how would the scripture change your life? Now pray for change; for transformation, the next step. For ‘nous’

Closing: We are now at the dimming, the closing of the day. Now is a time to sit silently with Him and move to private individual confession.

Closing individual activity, confession: On the basis of this scripture, what can you confess to God?

listening, part 2

16 Jul

Listening part 2: John 17 is Jesus’ prayer for His Disciples (that’s us) This prayer is about ‘listening.’

EQ: How does the Father listen to us when we pray?
The same way He listens to His son; He loves to hear our voice.
He listens to us as a Father listens to a child. He knows our voice; our cries; our words. Our prayers. He hears.

The Message states John 17: 9-10 as, ‘For they are yours by right. Everything mine is yours, and yours mine.’ If we are ‘by right’ His, how will our prayers sound to Him?

Exercise: Compose a one sentence immediate, right now, response:

___________________________________________________________________________________________________

__________________________________________________________________________________________________

Let’s look at another prayer. This time Jesus is teaching His disciples how to pray. . (In John 17 the disciples saw Jesus Himself praying.) The ‘Our Father’ (Matthew 6) is so well known that to hear it fresh ears and eyes let us listen to The Message version:

‘Here’s what I want you to do: Find a quiet, secluded place so you won’t be tempted to role-play before God. Just be there as simply and honestly as you can manage. The focus will shift from you to God, and you will begin to sense his grace. The world is full of so-called prayer warriors who are prayer-ignorant. They’re full of formulas and programs and advice, peddling techniques for getting what you want from God. Don’t fall for that nonsense. This is your Father you are dealing with, and he knows better than you what you need. With a God like this loving you, you can pray very simply. Like this:
Our Father in heaven,
Reveal who you are.
Set the world right;
Do what’s best—
as above, so below.
Keep us alive with three square meals.
Keep us forgiven with you and forgiving others.
Keep us safe from ourselves and the Devil.
You’re in charge!
You can do anything you want!
You’re ablaze in beauty!
Yes. Yes. Yes.
14-15 “In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part.16-18 “When you practice some appetite-denying discipline to better concentrate on God, don’t make a production out of it. It might turn you into a small-time celebrity but it won’t make you a saint. If you ‘go into training’ inwardly, act normal outwardly. Shampoo and comb your hair, brush your teeth, wash your face. God doesn’t require attention-getting devices. He won’t overlook what you are doing; he’ll reward you well.’

Matthew 6:9 begins with this phrase, ‘Our Father…’
He is ‘Our Father…’ Now ask yourself,

Step 1. What does this phrase, ‘Our Father’ tells us about God?

Small group activity (or by yourself):

1. Within your group discuss how a distracted parent may listen to their child. List some qualities from your discussion. (5 minutes) Quick report and recording to whole group.

2. Now, how would the best and most loving and most attentive parent listen to their child? List qualities; share in whole group (Share and discussion 10 minutes)

We read John 17 out loud as a group. (NIV translation) Our purpose, to listen. To listen for the voice of our loving Father.

Move to an individual reflection: Reread the John 17 NIV hand-out. We will spend 20-25 minutes following steps 1-3 below:

A Simple Way to Pray
(Adapted notes from Tim Keller’s teaching from Martin Luther’s way of meditation: Letter to his barber)

Pray that the Lord would speak to you through His word. Start with scriptures you have chosen to study; read. Continue till some passage strikes home to you. Trust the Spirit to lead here. Now:
1. What does this scripture tell you about who god is? (How he thinks and feels?)
2. What does this scripture tell you about you?
3. Garland of Praise. On the basis of this scripture, what can you thank God for?
And a new step, a last question:

4. Confession: On the basis of this scripture, what can you confess to God?
This last question should not be answered to the end of your day. TK calls it casting a vision. If you really believed this scripture is true, how would the scripture change your life? Pray for change, the next step.

Pray for change, the next step. We will do this at the end of our day. Wait; listen; wait.

Prayer/reflection:

listening, a spiritual exercise

15 Jul

listening,

He delights in hearing His Son’s human voice
How did God speak, communciate, to His Son and the Spirit while they were in the Heavens? Did they speak Greek to one another? English? Thoughts? Can, is, a thought a language? Below is a first exercise I am presenting at a conference at the end of July 2014. It is based on a premise, a thought: God loved hearing Jesus’ human voice; therefore He loves to hear our voices in prayers especially. He listens and so must we, with special attention to ur own thoughts.

‘Listening.’ Essential point: in its essence, prayer is listening

One exercise in listening:

A Simple Way to Pray
(Adapted notes from Tim Keller’s teaching from Martin Luther’s way of meditation: Letter to his barber)

Pray that the Lord would speak to you through His word. Start with scriptures you have chosen to study; read. Continue till some passage strikes home to you. Trust the Spirit to lead here. Now:
1. What does this scripture tell you about who god is? (How he thinks and feels?)
2. What does this scripture tell you about you?
3. Garland of Praise. On the basis of this scripture, what can you thank God for?

Our key scripture to explore: John 17
Jesus Prays to Be Glorified (NIV)
17 After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed:
“Father, the hour has come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you. 2 For you granted him authority over all people that he might give eternal life to all those you have given him. 3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent. 4 I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do. 5 And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.
The Message
Jesus said these things. Then, raising his eyes in prayer, he said:
Father, it’s time.
Display the bright splendour of your Son
So the Son in turn may show your bright splendour.
You put him in charge of everything human
So he might give real and eternal life to all in his charge.
And this is the real and eternal life:
That they know you,

The one and only true God,
And Jesus Christ, whom you sent.
I glorified you on earth
By completing down to the last detail
What you assigned me to do.
And now, Father, glorify me with your very own splendour,
The very splendour I had in your presence
Before there was a world.

Step 1: What does this scripture tell me about God the Father?

________________________________________________________________________________________

_________________________________________________________________________________________

Step 2. What does this scripture tell me about myself?

_______________________________________________________________________________________

______________________________________________________________________________________

Step 3. What can I thank God for? (Garland of Praise)

____________________________________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________________________________________

Summary: what are two Essential Questions for this first exercise?

1. EQ: How does God the Father feel when He listens to His son?
He ________ His son Jesus.
Matthew 17: 1-5 After six days Jesus took with him Peter, James and John the brother of James, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light. Just then there appeared before them Moses and Elijah, talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good for us to be here. If you wish, I will put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.”
While he was still speaking, a bright cloud covered them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased. Listen to him!”
EP(essential point): Listening is prayerful love. God the Father loved listening to Jesus.

And He loves listening to us too. Why? Or…

2.EQ: How does God the Father feel when he listens to us?
He ________us.

How do we know this?
The central passage for our retreat John 17, Jesus prayer for His Disciples, tells us,

John 17:23 ‘…you love them as much as you love me.’ NLT

If He loves and He loves to listen to His son’s voice, then John 17:23 underscores that by His loves He will listen to us too. We are His.

Reflection: If we are His, if He listens to us like He listened to Jesus when Jesus walked the earth, how can/would this truth change you? (You can begin to respond tonight; you can wait till the middle or end of a day. Or you can sit quietly, then read this scripture and listen. Just let it speak to you. Listen.