Sunday, 27 December 2015

Christmas - what is the point?

Christmas has come
Presents unwrapped
Tree emptied of gifts
Carols joined in with
Card written and posted
Is this all there is?

No snow this year
White Christmas only in dreams of yesteryear
The Earth is changing rapidly
Adapting to what we have done
Floods, hurricanes, storms as never before
If we don’t adapt, then what will happen?

Political point scoring
Apocalyptic madness
Refugees of war
The disease of corporate greed
Worshipping money and power
Can we not see the consequences?

The Christ has come
Yet still unrecognized, unseen
Unwrapped, ignored, imprisoned within his manger
Jesus, Immanuel
God in human form

Jesus out of the manger
Jesus at large, to the world a danger
Jesus the rebel, the healer
The sacrifice
The King
Our Lord and our God


Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Waiting - a poem for Advent

I sit at home, waiting
Waiting for a mac to boot up,
Waiting or the kettle to boil,
Waiting for the phone to ring
Waiting for an email.

Waiting for something less banal on daytime TV
Waiting for truth from an MP
Waiting to see the GP
Waiting in a queue for the blood lady
Waiting to see a therapist

I have become almost an expert at waiting
And yet I know so little
Energy levels deleted
A mind wrapped in fog
Too tired to think or plan

I cry out to God, not sure if he is listening
Why?  What do I do with this?
“Wait and rest in me” – the reply
Wait and rest in me

So I try to see God in my waiting
To see God in the moment
And so I sit at home waiting.
Waiting for God who came as a child outcast
For God who will come again as King

And who comes now – in our waiting.

Thursday, 12 November 2015

A psalm for the 21st Century life

Exhaustion
mental or physical, chicken or egg
trapped by a rat race.
Extra hours, no lunch
smart phones
no time for family or pleasure.
Work work work

Felled by my own success
called to a stop,
an inability to go on.
So I'll get off the rat race
that I didn't think I was on!
I will listen again to the ryhthms of life

I am plain exhausted
in body mind and spirit
can't think, can't plan.
What can I do?
R'n'R the doctor says
and on a bleak November day
I manage "Clementine" on the keyboard
small shoot of recovery?

The only word from God is
"Rest in my arms"
Lord God, creator of all
hold me safe as I rest
hold me safe as I accept your love
wash me again in your Grace

(c) Colin Waldock  12.11.2015

Monday, 26 October 2015

Stress..my nemesis

 My last post spoke about why we worship and briefly about the reasons why I was unable to deliver the sermon as I had planned to.

In truth , I have hit a block where I have had to accept that I am exhausted, and as a consequence my long term tendency to suffer with anxiety has reared it's head.  I suspect that I am also mildly clinically depressed as I find it difficult to read for long periods of time, my concentration spans have shortened, and I have lost interest in things generally.  Despite being successful in my job, I somehow feel that if I were to retire tomorrow, what the heck?

My GP has been very helpful, and I have been a dutiful patient and made contact with the counselling service.  The huge irony in all this is that run a counselling and listening service at my local church, I completed some training in counselling to assist me in my active listening, and yet my commitment to listening has in part led to me becoming plain "wore out" to use the vernacular.

I don't know why I feel this way.  There are certainly a number of factors at play, I am still missing my sister who died 9 years ago from anorexia, my other sister is unwell and we hardly speak due to complicated family stuff with her current partner.  My own family is incredibly supportive, but my wife has a chronic disability that caused her to become medically retired; my eldest daughter has Aspergers, and whilst incredibly intelligent suffers with anxiety related disorders herself.  My youngest is currently in the midst of doing A levels.  My work is interesting and valuable, I am an extended scope practitioner , which is odd speak for a Physiotherapist who also injects and prescribes and refers for investigations.  I have been chairman of a research ethics committee and am currently tasked with leading research for MSK Physiotherapy and am a Principal Investigator for a research project we are involved in.  Why then am I sitting here lacking interest, and thinking that building a shed would be so much more fun.

I made a model of a USS Enterprise - the spaceship variety, yesterday.  My wife had bought it for me as a present some 2 years ago.  I just haven't had any time for anything like that.  People talk about having hobbies and I have a guitar upstairs that I hardly touch, the effort to learn it properly is just too great, though I would dearly love to play to support my preaching.  The preaching is the one area that I think has and will be spared in all this, though time will tell when I start to prepare a service for the end of next month.

I am not writing this for sympathy or anything like that, merely as a form of reflection so I can better understand my own thinking.



Friday, 23 October 2015

Why do we worship?

I was due to deliver this sermon this Sunday, but have had a setback with my long term anxiety, something that I though I had successfully managed to a point that it was no longer an issue, however due to multiple strands of stress, including behaviour patterns from people in Churches and at work and my own inability to say NO, I have found myself exhausted, emotionally fragile, and in a bit of state really.  GP has said stop, so stop it is.

I have therefore relinquished my position as Steward at my local Church, but will continue in my work as a local preacher as that is what God has called me to do, be a prophet in effect, sharing his word.

below is the Sermon I was due to deliver in a service that was themed as "Worship stripped bare".

As I started to pray and to reflect on the message for today, I found myself struck by a question.  Why do we worship, and why do we nearly always get it wrong?  I know, before anyone whispers under his or her breath – that’s technically two questions, but they are linked.  I am therefore considering them as parts (a) and (b) of one question.

The first part then is this: Why do we worship?  Why are you here today?  I’m not talking about the social aspect of going to church, meeting people, sharing coffee and cake, or enjoying hymn singing that can be very cohesive and meaningful in its own way.  All those are in the end made and provided by us for our own self-pleasuring. 

Why do we do liturgy?  Why do we break bread and share wine?  Because it is what we do?  Because it is Tradition?  Is that enough?

If we go to the source, God’s word, Deuteronomy 6 calls upon us to deeply respect God and God only.  The Israelites who had been rescued from Egypt had a tendency to create images of God to aid them in their worship – and God’s answer was unequivocal, we are to worship God and God alone.  Any creation on our part, statues, images, churches, created worship itself always comes with a theological health warning of separating us from God as we focus our worship on the statue or image or worship itself instead of God and then we “miss the mark” of the proper object of our worship.  Note the words carefully here – we miss the mark – which means that we are left in a state of sin.  Sin means that we are separated from God, potentially the very opposite of what we were seeking.

Think of Jesus’ response to Satan in Matthew 4 at the ending of his time of testing in the wilderness, “beat it Satan!”, “Worship the Lord your God, and only him.  Serve him with absolute single heartedness.”

In a book I have, a novel about Jesus’ missing years, Jesus, Judas Iscariot and Mary Magdalene find themselves as outlaws; (don’t ask – it’s complicated).  Any way in a barn at night with the wind howling outside our three intrepid travellers had found somewhere to shelter just before the Shabbat.  Jesus was keen on celebrating the Shabbat, but he stopped Judas from just rushing ahead to ask, “Why are we doing this?”  Judas just wanted to get on with it because he felt to stop and celebrate Shabbat was putting them at risk of capture, but Jesus was insistent.  “Why are we doing this?” The point of Shabbat was to remind the chosen people of who they were.  To remind them of the truth that they were a holy people.  If they forgot this, then where would they be?  Lost in a wilderness – perhaps there is a topic for another sermon.  Isn’t this why we meet to worship on a Sunday?  To remind us that we are also God’s chosen people, that we are Holy and we seek union with God, quality time with the one who is Holy and beyond sin.

And so we come, but even from the beginning humanity has regularly got it wrong, and we still do.  In Isaiah, the prophet rails at the “church” of the day, reminding them that God isn’t impressed with the religion that they have created, the conferences, the meetings for this or that; in fact He’s sick of it all.  This is instead what God wants from us in our worship, and end to bullying each other, saying no that which is wrong, watching out for those among you who are suffering.  Micah 6:8 has this to say; “God has already made it plain how to live…It’s quite simple.  Do what is fair…. be compassionate…don’t take yourself too seriously; take God seriously.

Hosea 6:6 has this reminder, just in case we thing we are doing OK in our smug 21st Century high tech version, “ Your declarations of love last no longer that morning mist and predawn dew.  That’s why I use prophets to shake your attention, why my words cut you to the quick.  To wake you up to my judgement – blazing like Light!  I’m after love that lasts, not more religion.  I want you to know God, not go to more prayer meetings.  You broke the covenant…. You broke faith with me!”

This church has been through some tough times of late, is this us?  Are we really worshipping God or are we tending to worship each other or ourselves!

Matt Redman is well known as a contemporary Christian songwriter tells this story about his Church in Watford that eventually led to one of his best-known songs. “The Heart of Worship”,


The song dates back to the late 1990s, born from a period of apathy within Matt’s home church, Soul Survivor, in Watford, England. Despite the country’s overall contribution to the current worship revival, Redman’s congregation was struggling to find meaning in its musical outpouring at the time.
“There was a dynamic missing, so the pastor did a pretty brave thing,” he recalls. “He decided to get rid of the sound system and band for a season, and we gathered together with just our voices. His point was that we’d lost our way in worship, and the way to get back to the heart would be to strip everything away.”
Reminding his church family to be producers in worship, not just consumers, the pastor, Mike Pilavachi, asked, “When you come through the doors on a Sunday, what are you bringing as your offering to God?”

This Church is going through a time of significant change at the moment; it is recovering and needs TLC, lots of it.  Is it possible that we have lost our way with God?  To repent means to turn back.  To turn back towards God, if we are looking away from God how can we receive from him? 

What do we mean by prayer or worship?  Have we forgotten why we do it?  We do things we are comfortable with, or have become comfortable with.  We then are forced to justify why we do it this or that way.  We defend or positions by saying that this way is better than yours.  Matt Redman is the man, I’m with Tim Hughes, sound has to be done to the maximum, or no, Organ recitals are the way forward, or no, Taizé worship is the bs and es. 

By adhering to one approach or the other, we sin; we miss the mark.  We focus on the style of worship instead of the object of worship.  We forget that Jesus is the reason for our worship and it is God whom we come to worship.  I ask you, should anything get in the way of our worship for God?

Surely worship is about so much more that the style of the music put out on a Sunday.  Doesn’t our whole approach to life equate to our worship of God, the way we speak to each other, the way we trust each other, the way that we show our trust in God.  How much do we really place our trust in God?  How often when during the day do we take time out to listen to him?

When Peter babbled on at the transfiguration, God interjected and told him to be quiet and to listen to what his Son had to say.  Jesus is God so this equates also to Listen to me, not sing or shout at me, or give me lists of things that we want fixed.

God calls us to worship, to spend time in his company, but our sacrifices or offerings in whatever shape or form they take, shouldn’t be so self centred that they are worship of us and not of God.

How sad it is if we go to Church and just meet reflections of ourselves.  Surely we want to come and meet with God himself don’t we?  Nothing less will do.  The Holy Spirit demands nothing less.  Jesus gave himself for nothing less.

Don’t fall into the trap of worshipping worship!  In doing so, we fall short of worshipping God, and it doesn’t matter how short we are of missing the mark, the result is the same, we fall. 

Let’s get back to God, let’s get back to the heart of worship.  Let’s clear away the mess that we have made and reach out for God for to echo the words of  John; for God is spirit, and his worshippers must worship him in spirit and truth.

May the Lord bless us and help us, as we try and meet the demands of this challenge.

  Amen



Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Herod

The angel came again last night
No choirs of heaven
A silent whisper in the night
"Move the child"
Where?
"Move the child - danger!"

We listened before
We will listen again
Fear fills my soul
He didn't say "Do not fear"
He said "danger"
Move the child

We left at dawn
as fast as we could
leaving our family and friends
to God knows what
Fear drives us onwards
Fear for ourselves, dread for our friends

Hidden just over the border
Refugees at large
We hear of the killing
innocents slaughtered
my sisters raped and butchered
the village razed

All for the child
I look into his eyes
sadness and love reflected
tears fall on tiny cheeks
oh Lord, my Lord
Asleep in my arms


Saturday, 26 September 2015

Immanuel

Part 3 of my Christmas meditations:

Angel song covers a mother’s cries of pain
I am born of my own creation
Fully human, just like you
Frail and fragile
To suffer pain, just like you
To feel hunger, just like you
To be tempted, just like you
To be reviled, just like you
To cry, just like you
To be betrayed, just like you
To suffer, just like you
To die, just like you

But I created death and I am with you now
When you suffer pain, I am with you
When you hunger, I am with you
When you are tempted, I am with you
When you are reviled, I am with you
When you cry, I am with you
When you are betrayed I am with you
When you suffer, I am with you
When you die, I am with you

As the angels sing, so I sing too
‘Do not be afraid, I am with you