The blog I began writing yesterday needs a few more days of work to get it ready for posting, so today I’ve chosen this poem, written a while ago. With several demanding medical issues going on at present, it’s a pleasure to dip into my store of pieces prepared earlier. I always knew they had a purpose, and now I’m discovering what it is!
Love the stranger (Deuteronomy 10:19; NKJV).
Are you a friend to strangers –
Everyone whose path
Are you a friend to strangers –
Those in trouble,
Hurt, or lost?
Are you a friend to strangers?
Your sacred task.
“In life, Were you a friend to strangers?”
This is what the Lord
In due season God will judge everyone, both good and bad, for all their deeds (Ecclesiastes 3:17; NLT).
Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).
The Rosary Hospital
To my great pleasure, I took an order for a fiat rosary yesterday, and very much enjoyed making it today. It just needs the finishing touches tomorrow with my new super-sharp trimming shears, a very thoughtful present from my husband.
What a difference our attitude makes to how we respond to all God sends. As Saint Paul says: “You must have the same attitude that Christ Jesus had” (Philippians 2:5; NLT).
Last night I dreamed I was very ill. It was clear that I was dying, and that this was beyond my control, and beyond any possibility of medical intervention.
In my dream, I was aware that my attitude to death would make a huge difference to how I experienced it. I could accept what was happening, facing it willingly and putting my trust in God. Alternatively, I could resent it, get angry, and feel bitter, or afraid, even blaming God. However, no matter how I approached it, death was still inevitable.
It was a very vivid dream, and I laid awake for a long time afterwards. Eventually I gave up hoping to go back to sleep, so I sat up in bed with a hot drink, and began to pray. To my surprise, as soon as I had said the Lord’s Prayer, today’s blog began to arrive:
In his anguish he prayed more earnestly, and his sweat was like drops of blood falling to the ground (Luke 22:44; NET).
I’m hot. I’m cold.
I’m restless. I can’t sleep.
Into my mind, Lord,
Doubts and questions creep:
Can I face all that’s coming
Yahweh, I know I can’t,
But you are here
To help me bear
Whatever you may send:
My Lord, my God,
My Comforter, and Friend.
Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friends of God (Romans 5:11; NLT).
I create the light and make the darkness. I send good times and bad times. I, the LORD, am the one who does these things (Isaiah 45:7; NLT).
TheLORDgives, andtheLORDtakes away. Blessed be the name of theLORD (Job 1:21; CSB).
The LORD gives both death and life (I Samuel 2:6; NLT).
He …became anguished and distressed (Matthew 26:37; NET).
Look – the time has come. The Son of Man is betrayed into the hands of sinners (Matthew 26:45; NLT).
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; KJV).
I want your will to be done, not mine (Mark 14:36; NLT).
He shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever (John 14:16; KJV).
Context: This prayer arrived on Christmas Day, and took two more days to write. Maybe I’m slowing down in my old age…
He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, “Yes, I am coming soon!” Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! (Revelation 22:20; NLT).
Come, Jesus, come –
Be born again in me,
And I in you.
I’ll do my best
To share your cross,
Your love for others, too.
The way is long,
The path is hard –
My efforts seem in vain,
But, Lord, despite
My fruitlessness, I long
To serve your name.
For you’re my Saviour
And my King,
My genesis and goal,
So come, Lord, come –
I offer you my heart, mind, strength
You must lovetheLORDyour God withallyour heart, allyour soul, allyour mind, and all your strength (Mark 12:30; NLT).
I tell you the truth, unless you are born again, you cannot see the Kingdom of God (John 3:3; NLT).
God is love, and all who live inlove live inGod, andGodlivesin them (1 John 4:16; NLT).
The gateway to life is very narrow and the road is difficult, and only a few ever find it (Matthew 7:14; NLT).
The Rosary Hospital
To my great pleasure, the rosaries posted before Christmas are gradually reaching their destinations, despite the postal strikes and challenging weather conditions.
Meanwhile, I remade my Fiat rosary with the inadequate knot. It came out much better the third time, so I have no regrets about starting again – it’s all good practice.
One exciting development (from a purely personal point of view), is that over the last few days I’ve become more confident about the strength of my joining knots, so I’ve stopped reinforcing them with superglue. It’s taken quite a while to reach this stage, but I’m pleased to be getting there. Purists don’t use glue when making rosaries – perhaps mine could be held together with faith!
If you would like more rosary news, or if you have any broken rosaries to donate, you are very welcome to contact me at “The Rosary Hospital”, on Facebook.
Context: I wrote this prayer very late at night a few days ago, after a really bad day health-wise. I was exhausted, and it was time to settle down, but the words were so insistent that I had to rough them out as best I could, then work on them next day. This prayer falls naturally into two related halves:
1. He refreshesmysoul (Psalm 23:4; NIV).
Jesus refreshes me,
Jesus delivers me,
Jesus releases me,
Jesus advises me,
Whoever is united with the Lord is one with him in spirit (1 Corinthians 6:17; NIV).
2. Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom (Luke 23:42; CSB).
Jesus, unshackle me,
Jesus, replenish me –
Jesus, my Friend.
Youaremyfriends if you do what I command (John 15:14; NIV).
Rosary Hospital news
The hospital had a good day yesterday: one Fiat rosary completed, one parcel prepared for posting, three orders received and a new work-station, which I hope to photograph for you tomorrow, God willing.
Update next morning: I made yesterday’s rosary for myself. When I came to use it in the evening, I discovered that I’ve missed out one bead, so I plan to re-make it today. I’m definitely a perfectionist, but I also really do feel that all my rosaries should be as good as I can make them!
Context: Today’s prayer is linked to “Love”, posted on 9.12.22. Here is a live link, in case you want to look back at it: https://wp.me/p45bCr-d05. It continues to explore my difficulties around feeling lovable, and therefore finding it very hard to believe that the Lord loves me.
You do not break a bruised reed, or quench a wavering flame (Isaiah 42:3; TIB).
You’ve never turned on me,
Or said a hurtful word;
Nor have you rejected me,
Or left my cries unheard;
Nor screamed, Lord, as my mother did,
Nor scared me, nor condemned –
So why can’t I accept your love,
And trust you as my friend?
I no longer call you slaves, because a master doesn’t confide in his slaves. Now you are my friends, since I have told you everything the Father told me (John 15:15; NLT).
He will not constantly accuse us (Psalm 103:9; NLT).
He loves us with unfailing love (Psalm 117:2; NLT).
God is love (1 John 4:8; NLT).
Your nature is love (Eucharistic Liturgy of the Free Methodist Church).
You are my friends if you do what I command (John 15:14; NLT).
Now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friendsofGod (Romans 5:11; NLT).
Context: Today’s prayer arrived early yesterday morning when I woke at around 4am with a migraine. After taking my medications, I sat propped up in bed, alternately dozing and writing. These verses slowly emerged over the course of the day, finishing late in the evening:
What is sweeter than honey? (Judges 14:18; NLT).
What’s sweeter than honey,
And choicer than wine?
Higher than knowledge,
And vaster than time?
What’s brighter than sunlight,
And greater than wealth?
Warmer than friendship,
And finer than health?
What’s stronger than sharing,
And deeper than love?
Kinder than giving,
And richer than blood?
What’s wiser than serving,
And dearer than breath?
Simpler than worship,
And closer than death?
What’s better than living,
And makes us all one?
It’s Christ, our salvation,
God’s dearly-loved Son.
There is salvation in no one else! God has given no other name under heaven by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12; NLT).
This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy (2 Peter 1 17; NLT).
I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:7; NLT).
There is no longer Jew or Gentile, slave or free, male and female. For you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NLT).
Your unfailing love is better than life itself (Psalm 63:3; NLT).
God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life (John 3:16; NLT).
Context: This prayer came to me in the shower yesterday morning, so I had to keep repeating the first couple of lines and rehearsing the progression of ideas, until I could get out and make notes on my iPad at top speed. Later in the day I was able to work on it at leisure, so here it is:
My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek (Psalm 27:8; NIV).
As the deer longs for streams of water, so I long for you, O God. I thirst for God, the living God. When can I go and stand before him? (Psalm 42:1-2; NLT).
I long to see your face, Lord,
When I meet you, in the end,
My Teacher, Priest and Shepherd, My Redeemer and my Friend.
Yet, may I wait with patience For the day you make me whole,
When you draw near, to bear away My life, and breath and soul,
Because I want to serve you
Till my time on earth has passed,
When, all my trials and sorrows done,
I’ll see your face, at last.
I will see you face to face and be satisfied (Psalm 17:15; NLT).
Some Christians believe that women are, and should be, subordinate to men, and that wives should submit to their husbands. Having researched and reflected on this issue for many years, I want to examine it in some detail, beginning with a question:
Did Jesus ever teach, state, claim, suggest, imply, or show by his behaviour that he considered women to be subordinate to men?
Jesus’ attitude to women
The Gospels illustrate how Jesus went out of his way to include and relate to women in ways which were revolutionary for a man in a highly patriarchal society. He talked with them, listened to them, taught them, touched them, healed them and ate with them. He had close women friends and cared about women’s spiritual development. He depended on his female followers’ financial backing, and received their emotional support to the very end of his life, when all his male disciples except John had fled. Women were also the first witnesses of his resurrection.
Jesus’ male disciples were sometimes shocked by how closely and equally he related to women, as seen when they found him talking to the woman at the well (John 4:26; NLT).
Perhaps most significantly of all, there is no suggestion in the Gospels that Jesus excluded women from becoming his disciples:
Calling the crowd to join his disciples, he said, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me” (Mark 8:34; NLT).
Saint Paul’s attitude to women
So, given Jesus’ egalitarian example, where did the belief that Christian women should be subservient to men originate? Here I turn to the letters of Saint Paul. A tough, educated and opinionated man, Paul did not question the culture of his day with regard to the sexes:
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting for those who belong to the Lord (Colossians 3:18; NLT).
Going even further, he instructed churches to silence women members, regardless of their spiritual gifts:
Women should be silent during the church meetings. It is not proper for them to speak. They should be submissive, just as the law says. If they have any questions, they should ask their husbands at home, for it is improper for women to speak in church meetings (1 Colossians 14:34-5; NLT).
In saying this, Paul presumably felt he was adhering to the Gospel, even though Jesus said nothing of the kind.
It’s interesting to note that in his letter to the Galatians, Paul once stated the exact opposite of what he wrote to the Colossians. Experiencing a moment of sublime insight into the essential equality and oneness not just of the sexes, but of all people, he was able to write:
There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Galatians 3:28; NKJV).
I don’t know how Paul managed to square his contradictory views on women, but I take care to bear in mind how strongly his writing was influenced by his historical context. Although he was an extraordinary, sometimes inspired, speaker and writer, he was also a fallible man of his times, whose views were shaped by widely-held beliefs and prejudices, some of which unfortunately crept into his letters.
Unfortunately, these non-Gospel aspects of his teaching have continued to influence others ever since. Thus, when powerful men spent years arguing about which books should be included in the Biblical Canon, most of those by, for, and about women were ruthlessly excluded. The selections they made still influence Christian belief and practice over 2,000 years later.
It’s hard to understand why Paul’s conventionally patriarchal attitude to women came to be so thoroughly embraced throughout history, whilst Jesus’ consistently loving, egalitarian approach has been largely ignored. Even as I write, I’m shaking my head in disbelief that Paul’s first-century beliefs about the roles and status of women and men continue to influence so many individuals, families, congregations and denominations right up to the present day.
Context: When this little prayer arrived yesterday, I scribbled it down, then had to get up early to go into town. My aim was to tackle my most feared department store lift (see yesterday’s blog).
After four rides in 2 different lifts, I was absolutely exhausted. During the afternoon and evening, I fell asleep repeatedly whilst working on the morning’s notes, not finishing work on them until after 11.30pm. Here is the result:
Nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:39; NLT).
Nothing comes between us, Lord,
And nothing blocks our way.
We share unbroken unity;
We walk, and talk, and pray.
Our friendship has no start, no end
On earth, in heaven above,
In mind or heart, in life or death:
For we are one in love.
You …are complete through your union with Christ
(Colossians 2:10; NLT).
Everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ and become one with him (Philippians 3:8-9; NLT).
So now we can rejoice in our wonderful new relationship with God because our Lord Jesus Christ has made us friendsofGod (Romans 5:11; NLT).
Youaremyfriends, since I have told you everything the Father told me (John 15:15; NLT).
Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NLT).
Those who listen to my message and believe in God who sent me have eternal life. They will never be condemned for their sins, but they have already passed from death into life (John 5:24; NLT).
I am my beloved’s and my beloved is mine (Song of Songs 6:3; NIV).