Sunday, June 26, 2011

Slow Time.

I have read a bit about the slow movement recently. It interests me that people are choosing to intentionally slow down their lives. One of the advantages of having lived in Asia for so many years is our lives are already quite slow; that is the way life is lived here. I think my personality also inclines me to a relaxed pace of life. I remember when we were living in Auckland the words 'I'm busy' were often used as a greeting - in reply to 'How are you doing?' We were pressed to conform but resolutely refused! Of course we have times of busyness but we try not to lead busy lives. Ruminating on my pace of life lead me to think about the liturgical lifestyle and what effect it has on us and the speed we live at. I think that it has changed the way I see time; I now think of time as cyclical rather than linear. My year starts in December at Advent and climaxes at Pentecost in June. After that I enjoy a few months of Ordinary time, until the tempo again begins to increase at the end of November when we look forward to Advent again. The celebrations of the year give rhythm to our time and help us to focus on the main thing - the life story of Jesus. His story is played out year after year and digging deeper each year, we learn more of Him.We are told that slowing down is good for us but maybe only if we take note of what and who really matter. God does not seem to be in a hurry. If we are, we miss seeing what He is doing and the opportunity to join in with Him.
Living through the year with this perspective I  also appreciate the changing seasons with increased attention.The seasons of nature are linked to the seasons of the church; nature often acts as a metaphor for the God stories that we celebrate.
In our house we often celebrate the liturgical year with activities that particularly cultivate stillness: reading, cooking and making things by hand. Actions that promote meditative prayer, take time , require concentration and the achievement is slow.
Even when other aspects of our lives are busy carving out time to celebrate pulls us back to what is important - God's story in our lives.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Ordinary Time.

After Pentecost we begin 'Ordinary Time'. This does not mean 'usual' time or 'boring' time but it is a quieter interlude, without any major periods of penitence or feasting. The colour for Ordinary time is green, the gentle, glowing,  colour of growth and  growth is what Ordinary time is all about. The steady progress of everyday life, without the excitement of feasts and celebrations, gives us the opportunity to concentrate on cultivating our spiritual life, maturing our prayer life and growing 'in grace and favour' with God.

The Sunday after Pentecost is Trinity Sunday and the season from now until Advent is known as Trinity Season. Because , in the Northern  hemisphere, Trinity Season falls during the summer I like to think of it as time to relax with God. I do breathe a small sign of relief after Pentecost; for a few months I can wind down, there are no celebrations to plan or intense periods of worship and exhilaration. I can read, pray, enjoy holidays with no theme or agenda, nurture relationships and enjoy being outside in the garden or in the countryside.

For our dinner table last Sunday my daughter made white dove shaped name places, on one side we wrote someones name and on the other one of the fruits of the Spirit. I did this in such a way that I did not know which fruit was linked with which name. Each of us now have a fruit  to cultivate in companionship with the Holy Spirit during Ordinary time.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Pentecost.- Happy Birthday Church.

The day of Pentecost, when Jesus' promise of a counsellor , the divine presence with us was fulfilled. A day of fire and wind.

The temperatures in Cebu at the moment are 30C and more , consequently we long for and appreciate any tremor of breeze and the slightest lift of air brings momentary refreshment. In the Old Testament the Hebrew word used for the Spirit of God was 'Ruash' - wind; it is a beautiful metaphor for the Holy Spirit who brings fresh air and movement to our spiritual lives. He blows reason and love through our hot headed, egotistical thinking and sets our course regardless of our own plans and expectations. He brings drama and excitement but can also perturb us !

Birds are another metaphor used for the Spirit; in the bible He is also a dove - gentle, loving, a bird of sacrifice. To the Ancient Celts He was a goose - strong and fearless. Teresa Morgan , in her book Seasons of the Spirit , describes Him as a swallow- 'a shrieking, playful dart of joy' who cannot be held but only received with gratitude. Reading this made me think; what sort of  bird do I see the Spirit as?

For me, the Holy Spirit is a like a swan; it is He who makes life elegant and seamless.  The swan glides effortlessly , graceful and gentle in it's movements, yet, it is a bird of strength and power, and somewhat unpredictable.

Our Pentecost celebrations are usually red and fiery. We decorate with doves, flames and streamers on the fans. We eat red food and wear red clothes. This years menu will include:
Chicken Cacciatore
Rosy Potatoes( potatoes with paprika)
Red and Yellow pepper salad.
Dessert is always a special Pentecost birthday cake, cherries represent the fruit of the spirit, sugar roses the gifts and candles for the tongues of fire.

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Poetry on Ascension Day

I enjoyed this post by Maggie Dawn about Ascension Day. We had fun with some poetic license today on our picnic, watching the clouds for the shape of a lamb and eating jam cloud tarts.

This morning I read the passage in Ezekiel chapter 1 describing the strange vision that the prophet saw of the Son of Man. It is very hard to picture , but what beautiful and powerful images of the glorious throne that Jesus had left and that He returned to that day on the mountain top.

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Ascension Day

It is Ascension Day on Thursday. On this day we remember the ascension of Jesus  into heaven from the mountain top in Galilee. A dramatic scene is played out, with the disciples as witnesses as Jesus is lifted up into the clouds and taken from them. Before He leaves He gives them a command and a promise. 
 This is a day to go outside and up high; processions and picnics are the usual celebration.

I am planning a picnic, up a hill overlooking Cebu, followed by swimming. We will eat chicken sandwiches because it is traditional to eat something that flies! I want to make a dessert that reminds us of clouds and  had thought of blue jelly with a whipped cream or meringue 'cloud' on top but jelly does not travel well in Cebu's heat. And, where do I get blue jelly from? So, we will have jam tarts with a cloud of meringue on top.

On Sunday I may make Nigella Lawson's Chocolate Cloud Cake.