Sunday, 31 August 2014

Back to School - the laidback version

We are now returned from our holiday in France. Photos and a post on that later, I hope. But meanwhile, in honour of days which mainly revolved around when the shops were going to open and what we were going to eat for dinner, I am stumbling around tiredly letting a back-to-school plan largely formulate itself:

1) Rather than properly wash the Autumn coats, instead hang them out in the breezy sunshine to air, ready for Wednesday.

2) Drink coffee.

3) Focus on the happy joy of our family life and ways, without flaunting them on Facebook, or wasting time looking at what other people do & how they flaunt it on Facebook.

4) Recognise that the times that aren't happy or joyous, and the differing needs of our four girls, are okay and although I can pre-prepare for school on Wednesday to help ensure a smooth start, I can't plan for every eventually, so I won't kill myself trying to.

Relaxing in France

5) Thank God I purchased new school shoes for the big girls before we went on holiday, and have an old pair of Clarks that remain sturdy and fit Rebecca.

6) Remember that although a glass of French red wine wasn't the answer to all life's problems, it can be soothing and remind one that sometimes, you just need to slow it down.

7) Pray. I can never do back-to-school alone. It's time to bring in the big boys. (By which I mean, erm, God. Duh.)

8) Idly philosophise as to whether to wash last year's schoolbags, which aren't completely worn through, or pick up new ones last minute if there are any left in the shops...

9) Realise how adaptable and mature the kids were on our travels and that they can cope with life's little adversities better than I can. (or, don't sweat the small stuff.)

10) Re-read this post every time I feel myself getting overwhelmed with the amount of laundry and back to school preparation I have to do :-)

A tout a l'heure!

Friday, 18 July 2014

Versions of the Lord's Prayer

I say the Lord's Prayer every day.

Not always the same version.

And not really through any sense of duty, or because "that's how Jesus taught us to pray", either.

I wrote before that maintaining a regular prayer life keeps me together.

And what do you know,I just happen to find the rhythm of a daily, regular prayer comforting and a way of stabilising a prayer life with our family life and all its commitments. It's almost like God had this is mind!* That whether you are attending a Mass, a Morning Prayer, a children's service, a non-denominational Christian worship in the hospital Chapel - there will always be the Lord's Prayer to encounter somewhere.

And if you don't - well, there's The Lord's Prayer cube. For those of you have never encountered this, it is AMAZING! It was a Baptism gift for 3rdSister - at the moment we use it most nights. (Sometimes we don't use the cube, we just pray it. She pretty much knows the whole prayer off by heart because of it.)

The Lord's Prayer CubeThere's something about holding and folding it in and out, as well - something similar to the beads on a Rosary, perhaps? - something soothing yet profound.

But all this praying The Prayer - encountering different versions at the different services we have in our Anglican church, for starters and in the non-denominational services in the hospital chapel - set me thinking.

I have my favourite.

Ssssh! Not favourites amongst my children (although at the moment, any that allow me to get 7 hours sleep are champions.) But favourite version of the prayer.

Because I have prayed it since I was small, the traditional Anglican text beginning "Our Father, Who Art in Heaven" was always going to have a hold on my heart.

But I'm not necessary a traditionalist (ahem, women in ordained ministry, people!), so there has to be other reasons, right?

Oh and just to be clear, I say what we Anglicans know as The Lord's Prayer. I don't say an 'Our Father' like the Catholics, although sometimes in my head I call it this. But to me - marked especially by the time I was loudly praying after my nephew's Catholic baptism - the doxology always goes on the end:
For Thine is the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory, forever and ever, Amen. 
And this, this is where I prefer the traditional version. FOREVER and EVER. The Kingdom, forever and ever. That's just amazing in itself.

So where did "For the Kingdom, the Power and the Glory are yours, NOW and Forever" come from? The 1970s, that's where. And I know. I know that the Kingdom is everlasting and amazing. But that's in God's time. It's not now. It's still coming. I can't get my head around it completely in the now. And yes, I'm quibbling! But if it was all now, where would we have to go?

So this personal, ridiculous reason is why I like the prayer I grew up with.

And - I like the THYs and THINEs in the older version. Just because. (The same reason I had the thys and thines in my civil marriage service, which I think most people tend to avoid because they want something modern.)

And the only other variant I do like is when we say 'HOLY' is your name rather than hallowed. I mean what does hallowed mean, anyway? Other than to 'make holy', of course. See, I kind of like saying 'Your name IS holy' rather than 'We make your name holy'. Although some regard holy and hallow as synonymous. We could go round in circles here. Again, just a personal preference.

As for debts, trespasses, and sins - I don't really mind. All in all, it's the same to me. Stuff I shouldn't do. Stuff I need to set before God and make right with Him. Stuff I need to avoid doing if I can help it, in thought, word and deed.

Now, must be time to start thinking which Bible translation is my favourite :-)

* yep, I know, OF COURSE HE DID. (Why doesn't Blogger do footnotes?!)

Monday, 7 July 2014

Solid as a rock?

It may or may not be more apparent by now that I have issues with St Paul. I'm sure at some point I'll go into those at great, uninteresting length. (In short - he was flawed, I am flawed, he rubs me up the wrong way when he's bossy, he did good stuff too, I forgive him.)

I do know there is great inspiration in his writing and his ministry, and while my conversion wasn't Damascene, it was a huge about-turn (and I'm bossy too) - so you'd think I'd identify more.

But actually I identify more with St Peter.

I know, I know. It's not really very humble to identify with saints. But remember St Peter and St Paul were sainted despite their flaws. And I think I love them more because of their flaws. (And I'm not just talking about 1 Peter 3.) So I lay my flaws right down at Peter's feet. Because:


Denial is a word so many of us are so familiar with in today's secular lexicon, it falls off the tongue without much thought. It's not just an action, or a state of mind, it's a place to be - IN Denial. It's somewhere to hide, to be ignorant of what's going on around us. The classic head in the sand, or self under the duvet moment.

All humans tend to be good at denial.

Many, if not all of us, are superbly skilled at denying God, too, if not as historically as St Peter did.

I've often felt a tremendous guilt about my wilderness years, when I thought I was doing it all by myself, and wasn't I the clever girl.

It wasn't until a sermon on The Prodigal Son took me completely unawares and I realised that God didn't mind, because in the end I came home, that I started to release that guilt. And also I rediscovered Peter.

Or I should say Simon, who when Jesus first called him, still had his doubts. ("Master, we've worked hard all night and haven't caught anything.") But obeyed regardless ("But because you say so, I will let down the nets." - Luke5:5.)

Simon who was then named by Jesus as Petros, Cephas, Peter - "the Rock of the church". The foundation stone on which the early church was based. I like to think that this wasn't just Jesus having faith, or expectation. Rather, it was prophesy. Because despite - or because of - Peter's humanness, his temper, and his very literal and vocal denials, he had great potential as a faith leader. Peter + the Holy Spirit = Greatness. It was a done deal.


Sort of makes me feel a little better about the way I ignored God as a young person.

(And OF COURSE the church I attended sporadically as a youngster where I felt as if
 questioning scripture and church teaching was looked down upon so much I pretty much ran out screaming - yes, it was dedicated to St Peter himself.)

And a bit less guilty for keeping my Christianity at the edge of my life once it was affirmed.

And drifting along, recognising in the numinosity that I was being compelled into Christian leadership myself, but trying it on, then letting it slide? Well, that was OK too - for a while.

But in the end, I got through the denial, and I hope to realise my potential - to be everything God knows I can be.

It's not about what others think. It's about my relationship to God. What I owe to him. What I owe to the Church. How I can and will take that forward.

And if I can achieve a single speck as much as the apostle named Simon Peter did, how great that will be.