Greetings everyone This is my third newsletter and I have included Act 2 of creation. I have also continued with an Aspect of Mindfulness and responses to The Bible Behaving Badly. Later in the week you will also be receiving an order of service for this coming Sunday which is Palm Sunday and a reflection on the theme. I have just learnt that a member of my previous church (Patcham Brighton) has died from the Corona Virus. John was a widower who lived alone. It’s a reminder that we must be aware of those living alone in our community. Charlene and myself have been most grateful for the telephone calls and emails checking up on us. Keep them coming.
SOCIAL ISOLATION According to a Jewish cultural Professor, is not new. He, Eli Lizorken-Eyzenberg draws attention to Leviticus 13: 3-6 which is a command that those with a skin ailment need to isolate themselves for 14 days. Sound familiar? There was a deep understanding of social isolation (including handwashing) for the collective health of the community.
In Scene 1 we heard about the endowment of life given to us by God. We are alive with the beauty and colour of creation. Brian McLaren (one of my favourite theologians) points out that God said “good” rather than “perfect” because it is not a finished work of art. He was looking at humankind to continue the story and development of creation.
SCENE 2: Being human Gen 2:4-25; Psalm 8; Mark 3:1-6 • Two eyes give better perception. 4 gospels give depth to Jesus…and two creation stories intensifies bible beginnings. • 1st Story from a God perspective: Humankind is good and in the image of God. • 2nd Story from the perspective of humankind. Possibly good or not good as reflected by the two trees. • Tree of life is about striving for health and being alive. • Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: challenged by choice of good or evil • Being an image bearer is a big responsibility • Our hand can be a destructive selfish fist or an open hand of peace and generosity
QUESTIONS • What one idea from these passages intrigues, provokes, disturbs, challenges, encourages, helps or surprises you. • Share a time when someone played God and judged you. Also try vice versa. • What is something kind and creative that you can do with your hands? • You are an image bearer. How can you be an image bearer within your environmental post code.
MINDFULNESS BEING AND DOING • Read about Mary and Martha. Luke 10:38-41 • NB Jesus was a great doer. Therefore, he was not decrying the issue. He was looking for a balance between being and doing.
NEGATIVE ASPECTS OF DOING BEFORE BEING • Our world is in a whirlwind of nonstop doing. • Creates stress specially when we have to isolate. • We go into a mindless auto pilot where we DO without thinking. (The opposite to mindfulness) BEING
• Use isolation as a time to learn to BE. • REXAMINING YOUR LIFE. • Mindfulness is about retraining your mind into being. • You mind is like a muscle. It needs to develop through meditation moments. • Mindfulness encourages us to switch off the autopilot and to be aware of our surroundings.
BEING PRESENT • Not worry about the past and the future. • Recognising that the presence is a powerful situation. • Taking the good of the past into the present as the basis for a future journey. • Being consciously present can make you happy according to therapists.
THE RAISIN PRACTICE: AN EXERCISE IN BEING IN THE MOMENT. This exercise has become a classic in the teaching of Mindfulness. It doesn’t have to be done with a raisin; but raisins seems to work very well. So find a few moments to yourself, read through these instructions and then see if you can follow them as best as you can.
- Take a raisin and place it on the palm of your hand. You are going to eat it at some point but not just yet.
- First take time to simply see the raisin sitting there on your hand and explore all the visual aspects of this raisin. I know you know it is a raisin and you have seen many before, but you have never seen this one, never at this point in time and never in precisely your current state of mind. So, see if you can see this raisin as though you have never seen one before and you just want to experience it as fully as possible. See the smoothness and the rough patches; the various shades of colour; the way the light plays on the surface; can you see any shadows etc?
- Then when you feel ready, pick the raisin up between your thumb and forefinger and begin to explore its texture and how it feels to the touch. Perhaps roll it around between your fingers and see how the texture changes over time as it warms up.
- Next explore its smell by bringing it up to your nose. What do you notice? If you have a cold there may be no smell! If so, then notice simply the absence of smell but if there is a smell allow yourself to become aware of it for a few moments. Smell is often complex, and there may be more than one kind of aroma around, including, of course, the smell of your own fingers.
- Now place the raisin on your tongue. If you can manage it, don’t chew or swallow yet, but explore the sensations in your mouth caused by having a raisin on your tongue. You might even move it around to see how other parts of the mouth respond to the introduction of this raisin.
- Now when you feel ready, bite into the raisin and notice the flavours that are released, and once again, how the different parts of the mouth respond to these flavours. Where are the flavours most noticeable? Where else are they apparent?
- Finally but only when you have decided to, swallow the raisin. But let the practice not end there; stay with your attention and notice all the after-effects on your mouth, throat, and body of having swallowed the raisin.
THE BADLY BEHAVED BIBLE CASE OF THE CAMELS Last week I suggested the idea that camels were only domesticated in about 800 BC . Yet there are refences to camels in Genesis. The thought is that the 5 books of the Law were not written by Moses but by writers during captivity in Babylon. They were keen to record the story of their lives with God, before it was lost. Camels would have been a normal part of society in 800BC.
THE CASE OF THE UNICORNS IN THE KING JAMES VERSION OF THE BIBLE
Depicted as a symbol of purity and grace it was part of folklore in medieval Britain. Later in 1500 it became popular as a heraldic image. This serves to highlight that the books of the bible were written and translated in the context of local cultural understanding . How do we explain that all scripture is inspired by God? See 2 Timothy 3:16,17. My response as usual next week. I look forward to receiving your thoughts.