Reblog: God has plans to prosper you? Thriving in exile. Jeremiah 29:11

Excellent post.

Enough Light

I’ve had 2 recent posts that looked at Bible verses that are often taken out of context and misused. This post is about another such verse:

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” Jeremiah 29:11

I’ve seen this verse used in an encouraging way in a variety of life situations – such as a graduation, a birth, or just as a general reassurance that God is for us. He wants us to prosper and have a great future without harm. I recently taught about these misused verses as a Sunday school lesson, and someone mentioned that Jeremiah 29:11 was the theme at a graduation party they recently attended.

Once again, we need to look at this verse in context.

Jeremiah was a prophet both before exile and as…

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Keep Calm and Carry On

In memory of all who have died as the result of recent violence, wherever they may be:

Nothing is more certain than death and nothing is more uncertain than the day and hour of our death. The great folly of worldlings consists in putting the thought of death far from them, and acting as if they were to live forever.

~ Flowers from the Garden of St. Francis

Our little systems have their day;
They have their day and cease to be:
They are but broken lights of Thee,
And thou, O Lord, art more than they.

~ from In Memoriam A.H.H. by Tennyson

The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

~ Isaiah 40:8 (NKJV)

For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

 ~ John 3:17

“O Death, where is your sting?

O Hades, where is your victory?”

The sting of death is sin, and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

~ 1 Corinthians 15:55-57

Picture by Manfred Heyde – Own work, GFDL 

No More

The killing of people enjoying a concert is unimaginable. I just can’t get into the mindset of someone who would do such a thing. What could they possibly hope to achieve? Manchester – such a great city, so vibrant and full of life. Death and destruction have no place here.

Violence begets violence and evil begets evil – the spiral descending. There is only one way out: say no. No more violence. In its place, compassion. No more hate. In its place, loving kindness. No more revenge. In its place, open-armed forgiveness. Hatred has no place here.

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…no more shall the sound of weeping be heard…
    or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
    an infant that lives but a few days,
    or an old person who does not live out a lifetime…

Before they call I will answer,
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
The wolf and the lamb shall feed together,
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox…

Isaiah 65:19,20,24,25 (NRSVA)

My thoughts and prayers, with deepest sympathy, are with the victims and families of the Manchester bombing. My prayers are also for the misguided souls on the path of destruction who think this is a ‘righteous’ thing to do. May they all know the love of the risen Christ, who overcame sin and in its place gives new life. May they know the peace that passes understanding. May those of us on the outside, looking in, find a role in repairing the damage done by this terrible tragedy – all the while knowing that the holes blown in families’ hearts are never going to be filled.

A voice is heard in Ramah,
    lamentation and bitter weeping.
Rachel is weeping for her children;
    she refuses to be comforted for her children,
    because they are no more.

Jeremiah 31:15

 

 

The Antithesis of Anamnesis

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I learned a new word this week: anamnesis. If you’re a medical person it means taking a patient history, but in a theological context it means a remembering – the act of remembering the last supper and the crucifixion in the re-enactment that is the eucharist.

Jesus gave us this one thing to remember Him by. Only one. And when we do it we are bringing to mind the night that He sat with His friends, knowing He was about to be betrayed, tortured and killed – and told them to love one another and to remember, always remember, this meal that they had shared. When we take communion we share again with the disciples, all unknowing, the mystery of the sacrifice.

‘For though we are many, we are one body’ says the Anglican prayer. Are we broken enough for Him? Are we welcoming of brokenness, for His sake? Do we allow ourselves to be broken in the breaking and the making of His Kingdom?

This is my body, broken for you.

When Jesus spoke these words He gave us something to replace the remembering that took place every year at Passover. The seder meal was (and is) a remembering of the slavery of the Israelites, and a symbolic re-enactment of their redemption, by grace. Our 21st century eucharist is a remembering, a symbolic re-enactment of our redemption, by grace, through Christ.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is the opposite of this. PTSD is a remembering and an unwitting re-enactment of something awful that won’t let go. It is a suspension of time and space and a re-living, a re-experiencing, of the awfulness that caused it to be labelled a ‘trauma’ in the first place. Trauma is the Greek word for wound. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a wound that won’t heal, a festering, gangreous wound. Just for extra fun, Complex Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is when you experience so many wounds and so many un-forgettings that it screws you up even more.

But maybe – maybe we have to be broken?

By His wounds we are healed.

Do the healthy need a doctor?

All I know is that I am broken. A million pieces broken. Yet I have a feeling that there is something very special in this brokenness. I have a feeling that PTSD, and its unwilling anamnesis, is a direct, if unconscious echo of the extraordinary beauty of the eucharist. Time heals all wounds, they say (it doesn’t) but I don’t want it to heal this one. Maybe this PTSD is the 21st century equivalent of stigmata? It makes no sense. It makes perfect sense.

Lord, I have cried ‘take this cup away from me’ and I have meant it. And yet I would not want You to take Your cup away – because that would take You with it. I am so sorry for my unfaithfulness, for my pathetic attempts at loving You. I have nothing and I can give nothing. Fill me with You till I am overflowing with Your grace. Amen

 

Transitory

Two versions of the same thing:

So we’re not giving up. How could we! Even though on the outside it often looks like things are falling apart on us, on the inside, where God is making new life, not a day goes by without his unfolding grace. These hard times are small potatoes compared to the coming good times, the lavish celebration prepared for us. There’s far more here than meets the eye. The things we see now are here today, gone tomorrow. But the things we can’t see now will last forever.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (The Message)

Therefore we do not become discouraged [spiritless, disappointed, or afraid]. Though our outer self is [progressively] wasting away, yet our inner self is being [progressively] renewed day by day. For our momentary, light distress [this passing trouble] is producing for us an eternal weight of glory [a fullness] beyond all measure [surpassing all comparisons, a transcendent splendor and an endless blessedness]! So we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are unseen; for the things which are visible are temporal [just brief and fleeting], but the things which are invisible are everlasting and imperishable.

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 (AMP)

With Christ it’s no longer a ‘this, too, shall pass’ – along the lines of Ecclesiastes – but a ‘this changes; I change’ by the grace of our dear Saviour. I’ve always loved the word ‘ephemeral’. It’s a cool word. It means that something is fleeting, changing, short-lived. But it always brings to mind the image of a butterfly, and then the word ‘ethereal’ seems to be intimately connected.

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How can I say no to this ephemeral, ethereal thing called Life?

Ramblings

My next door neighbour mowed the lawn wearing a bowler hat this afternoon. #This is England. Did I do the hashtag thingy right? I like my neighbour.

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My daughters cycled into the countryside and I had to go and ‘rescue’ Chip when Fluff’s enthusiasm came up against Chip’s lingering cold and the cold won.

Two of our rescued guinea pigs couldn’t stand the sight of each other this morning, but after a run around outside, followed by a thorough exploration of the dining room (with accompanying inquisitive squeaks that sound like they’re saying ‘what-what-what-what-what?’) they decided they liked one another again. They’re so funny!

Continuing our month of Living Well and Spending Zero, we are using up what’s in the cupboards, including some fairly ancient packets. Chip made strawberry blancmange for pudding. Despite the fact that she even made it with almond milk, Fluff insisted it could not be vegetarian so refused to eat it. Oh, well, more for me… I like strawberry blancmange. It’s the same colour as Bagpuss. I am a big fan of Bagpuss. I have a mug, a cushion, a tee-shirt, a pyjama case and a small toy Bagpuss that makes a yawning sound when you squeeze his tummy, just like the real thing.

I got an animation kit for my birthday and I have yet to use it. Bagpuss and Mr. Benn are definitely my inspiration. I’ll have to get it out! That’s the trouble with this stupid illness. I spend the vast majority of my energy looking after my family and then I don’t have any energy left to invest in creative stuff :-/

Frank went along to a Sunday afternoon games group. He loves role playing games but there aren’t too many people who are interested nowadays. Not that I can imagine it ever being a particularly popular pastime.

I was going to lead our Sunday night bible time with some colouring-in of printable bible verses, but I was too tired. Sorry, God :-/ It’ll have to be a Monday night bible study instead. I don’t suppose God minds.

I added a row to my crocheted blanket this afternoon, having pointedly ignored it for a month. It is blue with sparkles and is a repeating pattern, but I keep forgetting the order of the stitches and having to relocate the actual pattern. When it is finished, it will be presented to my sister, who loves all things blue and sparkly and who is, at the grand old age of 37, moving into her first unfurnished flat.

I have taken to downing a mug of Clipper Sleep Easy tea before bed and I have to say it works a treat. So much so that I have stopped taking my bedtime tablets because I don’t seem to need them.

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I have been out for a walk every day since Monday and I think it has been doing me good. I read that studies have shown that sunlight itself has a positive effect on the brain and when combined with exercise (even if it’s only the limited amount that I can manage) it is highly beneficial for health. I still fall into bed exhausted of an evening, but I suppose that’s a good thing.