Lent 5 The Darkwood Gift of Emptiness

There’s a path though it winds its way through darkness
we would choose to avoid it if we could
We awake to an unexpected calling
God says “Come – there are gifts in the Dark Wood.

 

Reflection by Gordon

During the past week I had my final Council meeting at here.
(There are obviously lots of “finals” happening at the moment)
And one of the things that we did was spent some time in conversation
with the Council about some work that the Presbytery has been doing
gaining a sense of different congregations in this region.

It is clear that in terms of congregations in the UCA, Kippax is a large congregation
It is clear that by dispositions to ministry and innovation,
Kippax is creative and engaged
It is clear that by its response to a call to mission,
Kippax is compassionate, effective and life changing.

And in this Lenten time – a time of reflection about who we are and what is our worth
I want you to hear and hold on to two extremely important statements.

  1. Each of these measurements, each of these comparisons, each of these observations
    is extremely important and you should not play them down or forget about them
    and
  2. Each of these measurements, each of these comparisons, each of these observations
    ultimately means nothing about your worth and how important you are.

We have stated on many occasions in the life of this congregation over the years
that one of the Biblical stories that is a forming story for us
is the parable of the talents.
A few years back we affirmed as a congregation
           We have a significant capacity for ministry.
With that capacity comes a significant responsibility

If you like, in terms of the reading today: Kippax is gold, and it cant think of itself as tin.
BUT. And this is an ENORMOUS BUT.

You are not important because of your capacity, or your ministry, or your creativity
or your energy, or your compassion, or your effectiveness.
None of that makes you important.

If and when we measure our importance by any of that, we have truly become lost.
Our worth is not measured – individually or collectively –
by our effectiveness or our capacity
Because when we do that, we will inevitably bounce through emotional highs and lows
that ultimately depend on people continuing to tell us we are doing good.
It is nice to hear those words. And the gift of encouragement cant be lost

But, especially in Lent, let us remember that our worth, our importance, our value
is that we are created in the image of God,
we are deeply loved as children of God
and that our identity is in nothing more and nothing less.

Response by John

Voices surround me
Chanting dischordantly:
I am what I do…”
“I am what I do…”
“I am what I do…”

But I sense no harmony within,
no inner accord,
no spark igniting imagination,
firing creativity.
All law.
No grace.

Voices surround me
Singing raucously,
“I am what I have…”
“I am what I have…”
“I am what I have…”

I sense forced conformity.
Threatened with
possession by my possessions.
Defined by stuff.
No flexibility.
No acceptance of diversity.
All is conditional.
All is self
Self is all.

Voices surround me
throbbing in monotonous rhythm
“I am what others say about me”…
“I am what others say about me”…
“I am what others say about me”…

I sense my being
held captive to the ideals
and opinions of the mob.
A thousand whispers
weave a suffocating net.
No free will.
Nothing unique.
Disempowered.

Yet, these repetitive voices are persuasive
and I am teetering on the knife-edge
between self acceptance
or self-rejection.

I fear I am
peering into the abyss,
in danger of slipping
over the precipice
into a black hole.

I am anxious about loosing myself.
Worried about rejecting myself because
my doing is inadequate
possessions define me
my being is discarded.

Am I being emptied of
that which makes me who I am?

What can I do?
Where can I turn?
Who will hold me?
When will the voices be silenced
in this time and place of emptiness?

And then
another voice rises
to silence and still the many.

A single, sweet voice
whispers softy
to my soul;
dances gently
with my aching spirit,
renewing my mind.

I have known you before you were born…
You are my beloved…
I know the plans I have for you,
           Plans for good and not for evil.

Quietly, slowly, surely
Love ‘s warmth arouses me.
Grace flows,
freeing and empowering.
Holy compassion reconciles
God to me,
me to God.
And I receive
the ministry of reconciliation.

I am who I am in God’s Christ
I am who I am in the life of God’s Spirit.
I am who I am in the community of God.
I am all that I am in God’s great “I Am!”

When am I most full?
I am most full
when I find myself
resting in the fullness of God’s Christ. 

‘We have this treasure in clay jars,
so that it may be made clear
that this extraordinary power
belongs to God
and does not come from us.

 

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