Category Archives: meditations & poems

On Hearing the Word of the Lord

On Hearing the Word of the Lord

God seemed more vocal in my younger days –
more tangible, embodied and defined.

A sense of presence came in clearer ways –
it seemed that words were given, underlined.

The vision in my mind I knew as gift,
the words so wryly apt I felt God formed,
or gave the book that readied me to shift
my sights, my soul, to claim a world transformed.

Now though I still await the given word,
I trace it lightly on the page, not clear
what meaning quirks in what I thought I heard.

It swirls like steam drawn up to disappear;
yet insubstantial clouds can catch the light,
and draw the eyes that find the sun too bright.

Barbara Messner September 2017

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CHRISTIAN MEDITATION QUOTE August 2017

CHRISTIAN MEDITATION QUOTE August 2017

“Once into this journey most of us face periodic crises of confidence and stamina. Few have started without ever having given up at some point. There is a grace in this, as in everything, though, because it confronts us with our own weakness. Starting again always takes us deeper. One reason for this difficulty in sustaining the practice smoothly is the feeling that it is wasted effort or that the results do not justify the investment. This problem is considerably lessened if self-knowledge itself is seen as a major fruit of the practice.”

A letter from Laurence Freeman 2009/02

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Offering

Offering (Barbara Messner c. 2005)

His heart went out to them
and he fed them,
hoping they would recognize:

that the satisfaction of hunger
lies in leaving accustomed
sustenance, and waiting for him
to come amongst them, waiting
in the open, in emptiness,
needing to meet him and share
whatever may be on offer.

People were fed,
but grew greedy
to depend on such providing.
They would have made him king
so they need never hunger again,
although need had brought them
there, where abundance was possible.

His heart went out to them
and he fed them,
offering self-emptying openness,
offering his very being, and hoping.

His heart went out to them
and he healed them,
hoping they would recognize:

that awareness of weakness
is the only strength required –
to desire enough to reach out
to the hem of his garments,
or call out to him by the wayside,
to be lowered to him through a crowd,
or singled out by him in the synagogue.

People were healed,
but grew greedy
to claim the power of restoration.
They would have made him king
so they need never hurt again,
although pain had brought them
there, where wholeness was possible.

His heart went out to them
and he healed them,
offering suffering compassion,
offering his very being, and hoping.

His heart went out to them
and he taught them,
hoping they would recognize:

that space is needed for growth,
and hollowness for listening,
inwardly, for the word, proclaimed
or silent, for the hallowed name
above every name, which is
unpronounceable, and yet a word
on every baby’s babbling lips.

People were taught,
but grew greedy
to possess and regulate the word.
They would have made him king
so they need never wander again,
although wondering had brought them
there, where wisdom was possible.

His heart went out to them
and he taught them,
offering receptive silence,
offering his very being, and hoping.

His heart went out to them
and he died for them,
hoping they would recognize:

that life rises up, reborn
from the tomb of emptiness,
from the space of utter abandonment,
where blood is poured out
and flesh broken open,
and the seeds of life thrown down
where the harvest might well be lost.

People were saved,
but grew greedy
to be spared the loss of dying.
They would have made him king
so they need never fail again,
although surrender had brought them
there, where resurrection was possible.

His heart went out to them
and he died for them,
offering body and blood,
offering his very being, and hoping.

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The Song of Lazarus

The Song of Lazarus

He called. I returned.
What else could I do?
Though hard it was, and dark
To put on failing flesh,
I did not think to blame.

He called. I came forth.
What else could I do,
Though hard it was to walk
All swaddled like a babe?
I heard him speak my name.

The crowd shrank away.
What else could they do?
He grew so pale and still.
I thought I heard him say,
“What was it like to die?”

My heart overturned.
What words could I say,
When God within my friend
Should undertake to die
In agony and spurned.

I let him go on.
What else could I do?
But when he lay entombed
My prayers stood at his side.
When he arose, I knew.

I’ll follow him still.
What else can I do?
In life or into death
It matters not to me.
In both he is my Lord.

Barbara Messner

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Reflections on Sunday’s Gospel

Reflections on Sunday’s Gospel

Another Way of Seeing

I slip my glasses off and free my eyes

to sense the stirring touch of wind and sun.
These lenses can’t expand what this mind sees
when all I look at is the ground ahead.
I walk the dog through landscape widely spread,
but peer instead at ruts and heavy ground
where circling thoughts are plodding unaware.

I slip my glasses off and lift my eyes:
my gaze turns outward to a world grown blurred,
the edges softened and the shapes more strange.
Expected outlines shift before my eyes.
Here certainties dissolve and sight is drawn
to blends of colour and the wash of light.

The world is made like this with layered veils,
and stories patched like quilts, ambiguous
to naked eyes, and yet perhaps the lens
we look through tames awareness to plain sight.
We miss the warp of chaos, interlaced
in patterns underpinned and edged with grace.

See how the Spirit broods upon the waters,
bringing form from chaos, and the Word
says: “Let there be” and so there is, and three
in one Creator God will see and show
that it is good. So in this image made,
we co-create. Let water and the word
inform our mind and sight. Let dust take shape!
Let words and spit and tears be mixed like mud,
while wind we cannot see, but gladly sense
will mould the clay and challenge it to be,
and wake our eyes to life with healing touch.

Then I’ll see trees, like people, move in time
to music still beyond the reach of ears.
Speak to the dust of which my flesh is made.
With word and touch make something more than clay.
Let reshaped ears discern beyond what’s heard,
and vision take in more of depth and height,
the sight revealed by wisdom and the light.

Barbara Messner 2012

 


A Man Born Blind

A man born blind finds more to see than those
who choose to set aside the gift of sight
for fear of what may face them in the light:
the chasms gaping in the path they chose,
the pools of darkness that their shadow throws;
for these, without awareness of their plight,
refuse the vision which might set them right,
and miss the hope which light might yet disclose.

The man born blind found light enough to see
the healing offered in the spit and dirt,
to find the pool to which he had been sent,
to wash away the darkness and be free,
and then despite rejection, scorn and hurt,
proclaim the truth of what his healing meant.

Barbara Messner (undated)


Sentence

‘I am the light of the world,’ says the Lord; ‘those who follow me will have the light of life.’


Prayer of the Day

                Gracious God,

in order that we children of earth
might discern good from evil
you sent your Son to be the light of the world:
as the light of Christ shines upon us,
may we learn what pleases you,
and live in truth and goodness;
through the same Jesus Christ our Lord,
who is alive and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and for ever.                        Amen

 


A reading from the First Book of Samuel,

Chapter 16 beginning at Verse 1

                        1 The Lord said to Samuel, “How long will you grieve over Saul? I have rejected him from being king over Israel. Fill your horn with oil and set out; I will send you to Jesse the Bethlehemite, for I have provided for myself a king among his sons.” Samuel said, “How can I go? If Saul hears of it, he will kill me.” And the Lord said, “Take a heifer with you, and say, ‘I have come to sacrifice to the Lord.’ Invite Jesse to the sacrifice, and I will show you what you shall do; and you shall anoint for me the one whom I name to you.” Samuel did what the Lord commanded, and came to Bethlehem. The elders of the city came to meet him trembling, and said, “Do you come peaceably?” He said, “Peaceably; I have come to sacrifice to the Lord; sanctify yourselves and come with me to the sacrifice.” And he sanctified Jesse and his sons and invited them to the sacrifice.

                        6 When they came, he looked on Eliab and thought, “Surely the Lord’s anointed is now before the Lord.” But the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not look on his appearance or on the height of his stature, because I have rejected him; for the Lord does not see as mortals see; they look on the outward appearance, but the Lord looks on the heart.” Then Jesse called Abinadab, and made him pass before Samuel. He said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” Then Jesse made Shammah pass by. And he said, “Neither has the Lord chosen this one.” 10 Jesse made seven of his sons pass before Samuel, and Samuel said to Jesse, “The Lord has not chosen any of these.” 11 Samuel said to Jesse, “Are all your sons here?” And he said, “There remains yet the youngest, but he is keeping the sheep.” And Samuel said to Jesse, “Send and bring him; for we will not sit down until he comes here.” 12 He sent and brought him in. Now he was ruddy, and had beautiful eyes, and was handsome. The Lord said, “Rise and anoint him; for this is the one.” 13 Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the presence of his brothers; and the spirit of the Lord came mightily upon David from that day forward. Samuel then set out and went to Ramah.

[NRSV 1 Samuel 16:1-13]

Hear the word of the Lord,                                          thanks be to God


Psalm 23 [Page 243 APBA]

The Lord is my shepherd:

therefore can I lack nothing.

He will make me lie down in green pastures:

and lead me beside still waters.

He will refresh my soul:

and guide me in right pathways for his name’s sake.

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,

I will fear no evil:

for you are with me, your rod and your staff comfort me.

You spread a table before me

in the face of those who trouble me:

you have anointed my head with oil,

and my cup shall be full.

Surely your goodness and loving-kindness

will follow me all the days of my life:

and I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.

 


                A reading from the Letter of Paul to the Ephesians,

                Chapter 5 beginning at Verse 8

                                For once you were darkness, but now in the Lord you are light. Live as children of light – for the fruit of the light is found in all that is good and right and true. 10 Try to find out what is pleasing to the Lord. 11 Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. 12 For it is shameful even to mention what such people do secretly; 13 but everything exposed by the light becomes visible, 14 for everything that becomes visible is light. Therefore it says,

“Sleeper, awake! Rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.”

[NRSV Ephesians 5:8-14]

Hear the word of the Lord,                                          thanks be to God.

 


The Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ according to John,

Chapter 9 beginning at Verse 1

                                                Glory to you Lord Jesus Christ.

                As he walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” When he had said this, he spat on the ground and made mud with the saliva and spread the mud on the man’s eyes, saying to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). Then he went and washed and came back able to see. The neighbors and those who had seen him before as a beggar began to ask, “Is this not the man who used to sit and beg?” Some were saying, “It is he.” Others were saying, “No, but it is someone like him.” He kept saying, “I am the man.” 10 But they kept asking him, “Then how were your eyes opened?” 11 He answered, “The man called Jesus made mud, spread it on my eyes, and said to me, ‘Go to Siloam and wash.’ Then I went and washed and received my sight.” 12 They said to him, “Where is he?” He said, “I do not know.”

                        13 They brought to the Pharisees the man who had formerly been blind. 14 Now it was a sabbath day when Jesus made the mud and opened his eyes. 15 Then the Pharisees also began to ask him how he had received his sight. He said to them, “He put mud on my eyes. Then I washed, and now I see.” 16 Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. 17 So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

                        18 The Jews did not believe that he had been blind and had received his sight until they called the parents of the man who had received his sight 19 and asked them, “Is this your son, who you say was born blind? How then does he now see?” 20 His parents answered, “We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind; 21 but we do not know how it is that now he sees, nor do we know who opened his eyes. Ask him; he is of age. He will speak for himself.” 22 His parents said this because they were afraid of the Jews; for the Jews had already agreed that anyone who confessed Jesus to be the Messiah would be put out of the synagogue. 23 Therefore his parents said, “He is of age; ask him.”

                        24 So for the second time they called the man who had been blind, and they said to him, “Give glory to God! We know that this man is a sinner.” 25 He answered, “I do not know whether he is a sinner. One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see.” 26 They said to him, “What did he do to you? How did he open your eyes?” 27 He answered them, “I have told you already, and you would not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become his disciples?” 28 Then they reviled him, saying, “You are his disciple, but we are disciples of Moses. 29 We know that God has spoken to Moses, but as for this man, we do not know where he comes from.” 30 The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. 31 We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32 Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. 33 If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” 34 They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

                        35 Jesus heard that they had driven him out, and when he found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” 36 He answered, “And who is he, sir? Tell me, so that I may believe in him.” 37 Jesus said to him, “You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.” 38 He said, “Lord, I believe.” And he worshiped him. 39 Jesus said, “I came into this world for judgment so that those who do not see may see, and those who do see may become blind.” 40 Some of the Pharisees near him heard this and said to him, “Surely we are not blind, are we?” 41 Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would not have sin. But now that you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.                                                                                                                                                                                                        [NRSV John 9:1-41]

This is the Gospel of the Lord,                                    praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.


Sentence

‘I am the light of the world,’ says the Lord; ‘those who follow me will have the light of life.’

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CHRISTIAN MEDITATION QUOTE, March 2017

CHRISTIAN MEDITATION QUOTE, March 2017

Saying the mantra is like unlocking the door of our heart. The mantra is like the key unlocking the door to allow the pure light of love to flood in. Although powerful, it is a gentle process. Do not expect dramatic miracles. In fact, do not expect anything. Be humbly content every morning and evening to return simply to the practice. In the practice itself you will find the powers of gentleness, forgiveness and compassion, all revealing themselves. Do not fear their power to change you.”

Daily Readings with John Main, July 31st

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A Choice in the Wilderness

The Spirit must have flinched to lead him there,
still glowing from the river, and the dove
alighting on him, and the embrace of air,
from which God’s voice affirmed a Father’s love.
The Comforter turned guide as it took flight:
the Spirit urged him onwards, like a flame
enticing him to reach the brink of sight.
Wild spaces in the distance breathed his name.
The journey took him to the edge of night.
The Spirit, like a breeze, caressed his hair
and then was gone, departing with the light –
no shelter from the dark in land so bare.
Alone, he knelt exhausted, cast away
it seemed, on this bare rock and sand,
exposed to what the darkest voice could say
to twist him from the purpose of God’s hand.
The wilderness invades his heart with dread,
and hunger soon becomes an urgent ache
that joins in tempting him: “Turn stones to bread.”
What harm in using power for his own sake?
“Such alchemy could feed this world,” he cried.
“Such power and marvels I could surely use
to bring the hungry rushing to my side!”
An answer comes: “Whose power then would you choose?”
“Use stones, use bread, use people in their need,
and any power you choose makes use of you.
Offer your life, and you can be the bread
needed to draw the many, or the few.
He made the choice that he was born to make:
his life, God’s gift, his only power, God’s word.
At that, the tempter leaves, and angels take
good care of him whose sacrifice is heard.

Barbara Messner 2011

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Transfiguration (song) bt Rev’d Barbara Messner

Transfiguration

Climbing up, there’s no time to complain;

we are sore but too breathless to speak.

Surely God can be near on the plain!

Tell us, why then seek God on a peak!

As for Jesus, he smiles and moves past,

and we scramble to keep him in range.

Then the view spreads before us at last:

all the world far beyond us and strange.

Let us stay, Lord, in the brightness!

Keep us here, Lord, on the height!

We would build, Lord, on this rightness!

Love and prophecy name this sight.

Now see, something has changed in the light;

in our weariness, vision has stirred:

there’s a brightness too strange for our sight,

and half-heard, there’s a resonant word.

As for Jesus, he smiles and he glows,

speaking wisdom with those of the past,

and half-waking, we sense what he knows:

that God’s glory is here, first and last.

Let us stay, Lord, in the brightness!

Keep us here, Lord, on the height!

We would build, Lord, on this rightness!

Love and prophecy name this sight.

There’s the vision of Moses in cloud

on the mountain receiving the law,

And Elijah where silence was loud –

prophet’s burden to name what he saw.

As for Jesus, he smiles through his tears

as the voice says: “My Son, I’m well pleased!”

though we fall to the ground with our fears,

now our doubts and confusion are eased.

Let us stay, Lord, in the brightness!

Keep us here, Lord, on the height!

We would build, Lord, on this rightness!

Love and prophecy name this sight.

Then we want to stay there, where it’s clear

that tradition and vision give hope.

God says: “Listen to him!” and we hear

– but it’s gone beyond us and we mope.

As for Jesus, he turns and descends

to the clamour of people in need;

and he faces the cross where it ends –

and begins again. Now we must lead.

Let us stay, Lord, in the brightness!

Keep us here, Lord, on the height!

We would build, Lord, on this rightness!

Love and prophecy name this sight.

Barbara Messner February 2017

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Christ the King

Christ the King

This Jesus is king like no other:

he reigns without hoopla of power:

no practised parading of armies,

no throne room and no prison tower.

It’s risky to vie for his favours:

the cross is a hard way to rise,

and thorns crown the brow of his highness,

this leader who won’t compromise.

He’s taken the part of the victims,

and offered himself in their place,

refusing to answer accusers,

forgiving their crime to their face.

The ones who feel threatened abuse him:

his silence is eloquent still,

and speaks of a wideness of mercy,

and love that no evil can kill.

Of those who must suffer beside him,

there’s one who would choose to deride,

but one who asks humbly, “Remember,”

will find there is grace at Christ’s side

to carry him into God’s kingdom.

The death he must live through on earth

has shown him the kinship of Jesus

and opened a realm of new birth.

Barbara Messner November 2016

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CHRISTIAN MEDITATION QUOTE, November 2016

CHRISTIAN MEDITATION QUOTE, November 2016

In meditation we commit ourselves to and we begin to experience a growth, a development, a change within ourselves that is felt in every aspect of our life and all our relationships, simply because you are doing your best at this central point, the simplest and deepest part of yourself, to pay attention. That is all – just to be present, just to pay attention. You do your best in this work, in other words, you keep returning to the work of the mantra. You lay aside the feeling of failure or inadequacy when you feel overwhelmed by your distractions. You simply do your best, and that has a ripple effect from the centre outwards. It will begin to manifest itself and show itself – this quality of attention – in everything you do.”

Laurence Freeman: Health and Wholeness

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