22.11.22: Coming out!

Context: For a long time now, as some readers will know, I’ve been finding it more and more difficult to write as if God is somehow solely “masculine”.

There is considerable social and religious pressure regarding this issue, so it’s taken a lot of courage for me to “come out” by making some significant changes here on my website over recent weeks. As a Christian woman, I believe very deeply that God has no gender, but includes all that is masculine and feminine, as well as everything beyond. Anything less just doesn’t make sense to me.

However, because I’m ill with Covid at present, I’m having to post some pieces from my store-house, rather than writing new material every day. Unfortunately, I don’t have sufficient energy to replace all the previously-chosen Bible quotes with more modern versions using non-sexist language. This means that you may notice a few purely masculine pronouns for God still creeping in from time to time.

Despite this, it’s a great relief and joy to have “come out” as a Christian woman who believes passionately in the genderlessness and inclusiveness of God, and the unavoidable parallel truth of human equality. All this recently found expression in a rare, humorous poem about myself. As soon as I began to write down the first few words I was given, the rest simply flowed without hesitation:

Humankind was created as God’s reflection: in the divine image God created them; female and male, God made them (Genesis 1:27; TIB).

I’ve come out as a woman,
And it really does feel good:
A woman, and a Christian,
Made of real, live flesh and blood.

A woman with a mind and heart,
A woman with a soul:
A woman who has waited many years
To be made whole.

I’ve faced discrimination,
And I’ve worked through every test:
I’ve come out for equality –
It really is the best.

I’m a person in the image
Of the God who fashioned me:
No longer is there male and female,
One in Christ – I’m free.

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).


References

God is not a man (Numbers 23:19; NLT). 

God is Spirit (John 4:24; NLT).

The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has chosen me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to set free the oppressed and announce that the time has come when the Lord will save his people (Luke 4:18-19; GNT).


Rosary news

Covid makes it very hard to think straight, and to concentrate. After failing repeatedly to join on my crosses adequately, yesterday I came pretty close to thinking I would have to give up my rosary-making hopes altogether. However, later in the day I made one final attempt, whilst scrupulously following the instructions kindly supplied by my friend Maureen in the UK. This producing a nice-looking Fiat Rosary, which gave me fresh hope:

Very sadly, though, when I picked it up it to feel and enjoy it, the cord junction simply fell apart, so now I’ll have to start all over again. But at least I remembered to say, “Thank you, Jesus”, which was a real achievement, given the circumstances!

17.11.22: Like Jesus

Context: This prayer came to me last Monday, after a very bad weekend as my covid began:

The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord (Job 1:21; CSB). 

No matter what you send today,
May I respond like Jesus.

No matter what you take away,
Don’t let me fail, or sin. 

No matter how you test my love,
May I respond with patience,

Yielding to your will, Lord God,
With tears and prayers, like Him.

I want your will to be done, not mine (Matthew 26:39; NLT).


References 

He became anguished and distressed. He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death” (Matthew 26:27-8; NLT). 

The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT). 

Patient endurance is what you need now, so that you will continue to do God’s will. Then you will receive all that he has promised (Hebrews 10:36; NLT). 

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal (Job: 5:17-18; NIV).

He prayed more fervently, and he was in such agony of spirit that his sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood (Luke 22:44; NLT). 

Pray continually (1 Thessalonians 5:17; NIV).

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness (2 Corinthians 12:9; NLT).


Rosary news:

Despite everything, I managed to make this Fiat Rosary yesterday:


However, when I used it with my zoom community group in the evening, I discovered that the colours shown by the pattern I’ve been given are in a different order from that shown in the community’s prayer book. So, I’ve written to the Sister who knows more about these rosaries than anyone else, in the hope that she can clarify the situation. I’ll let you know if there is any news about this. Meanwhile, each rosary I make, then take to pieces again, is a great learning experience, so there are plenty of positives to celebrate.

I’m walking (#2 of 2)

Context: Today’s prayer is linked to yesterday’s (https://wp.me/p45bCr-c0w), which divided itself in two, with the second part then taking on a life of its own. The process reminded me strongly of learning how an amoeba divides, in school biology! Here is the result: 

This is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love.
(2 John 1:6; NIV). 

1. I’m walking in your love, Lord God,
I’m walking in your love.
One with you before my birth,
One in exile, here on earth,
One with you in heaven, at last:
I’m walking in your love. 

2. I’m living in your love, Lord God,
I’m living in your love.
One with you in joys and tears,
One in troubles, tests and fears,
One with you in all you send:
I’m living in your love.

3. I’m resting in your love, Lord God,
I’m resting in your love.
One with you in loss and gain,
One in sickness, grief and pain,
One with you for evermore:
I’m resting in your love.

Truly my soul finds rest in God (Psalm 62:1; NIV).


References 

1. Show love to the LORD your God by walking in his ways and holding tightly to him (Deuteronomy 11:22; NLT). 

Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NKJV).

2. God is love, and all who live in love live in God, and God lives in them (1 John 4:16; NLT).

Enjoy prosperity while you can, but when hard times strike, realise that both come from God. Remember that nothing is certain in this life (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NLT).

You who have made me see many troubles and calamities will revive me again (Psalm 71:20; NRSV).

3. This is what the Sovereign LORD, the Holy One of Israel, says: “Only in returning to me and resting in me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength” (Isaiah 30:15; NLT).

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light (Matthew 11:28-30; KJV).

I believe (#1 of 2)

Context: The stresses and strains of yesterday inevitably triggered a migraine, so today I’m being as still and quiet as possible. Whilst praying without words just after 6am, today’s blog arrived very easily and gently, for which I was very grateful. Then, to my astonishment, it divided in two, one part for today, and one for tomorrow. 

Believe in me, and understand that I alone am God. There is no other God – there never has been, and there never will be.
(Isaiah 43:10; NLT).

1. I believe in you, Lord God,
Yes, I believe in you.
One with you before my birth,
One in exile, here on earth,
One with you in heaven, at last:
Lord, I believe in you.

2. I put my trust in you, Lord God,
I put my trust in you.
One with you in joys and tears,
One in troubles, tests and fears,
One with you in all you send:
I put my trust in you.

3. I live with you in love, Lord God,
I live with you in love.
One with you in loss and gain,
One in sickness, grief and pain,
One with you for evermore:
I live with you, in love. 

We live in fellowship with the true God.
(1 John 5:20; NLT).


References 

1. I tell you the truth, 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). 

2. In you, LORD my God, I put my trust (Psalm 25:1; NIV). 

Don’t let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, and trust also in me (John 14:1; NLT).

I trust in God, so why should I be afraid? (Psalm 56:4; NLT). 

Though I walk in the midst of trouble, You will revive me; You will stretch out Your hand against the wrath of my enemies, and Your right hand will save me (Psalm 138:7; NKJV).

3. I will live with them and walk among them, and I will be their God, and they will be my people (2 Corinthians 6:16; NIV). 

Trust

Context: This prayer started to arrive just before the appointment with my consultant, and (to my great surprise), continued to arrive after it! My doctor couldn’t give me any definite news, though some conditions have now been ruled out. It’s looking more and more likely that I have Autonomic Neuropathy, so the next step will be a trip to London for more detailed tests. These should lead to a conclusive diagnosis. Meanwhile, here is today’s prayer:

Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows.
(John 16:33; NLT).

Lord,

1. I put my trust in you
To help me face each test.
Depression and anxiety?
Well, all you send is blest.

2. Sorrow, fear and suffering?
Your will is my command.
Darkness, panic, grief and tears?
I place them in your hand.

3. For these have now become my “pearls”,
My pearls beyond all price.
Through them, Lord, I learn to grasp
Your perfect sacrifice.

4. My trials are now my offerings:
I share them all with you,
While you, Lord, share them all with me,
And love to help me, too.

5. Thus, you show me how to live,
To learn, and grow, and care
For others, while you help me face
The burdens I must bear.

6. My faith, my pain, my love, my life:
I lay them at your feet.
My Lord, my God, my All-In-All,
Your healing is complete.

Those who suffer he delivers in their suffering;
he speaks to them in their affliction (Job 36:15; NIV).

Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly
we are wasting away, yet inwardly
we are being renewed day by day.
(2 Corinthians 4:16; NIV).


References 

1. I have put my trust in you. Show me the way I should go, for to you I entrust my life (Psalm 143:8; NIV). 

The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT). 

Blessed is the one whom God corrects; so do not despise the discipline of the Almighty. For he wounds, but he also binds up; he injures, but his hands also heal (Job: 5:17-18; NIV).

2. He went on a little farther and bowed with his face to the ground, praying, “My Father! If it is possible, let this cup of suffering be taken away from me. Yet I want your will to be done, not mine” (Matthew 26:39; NLT). 

 3. The kingdom of heaven is like a merchant’s search for fine pearls. When one pearl of great value was found, the merchant went back and sold everything else and bought it (Matthew 13:45-6; TIV). 

Though the Lord gave you adversity for food and suffering for drink, he will still be with you to teach you (Isaiah 30:20; NLT).

4. When Christ came into the world, he said to God, “You did not want animal sacrifices or sin offerings. But you have given me a body to offer” (Hebrews 10:5; NLT).

God’s will was for us to be made holy by the sacrifice of the body of Jesus Christ, once for all time (Hebrews 10:10; NLT). 

Trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge (Psalm 62:8; NLT). 

In all their suffering he also suffered (Isaiah 63:9; NLT). 

This High Priest of ours understands our weaknesses, for he faced all of the same testings we do, yet he did not sin. So let us come boldly to the throne of our gracious God. There we will receive his mercy, and we will find grace to help us when we need it most (Hebrews 4:15-16; NLT). 

Then Jesus said, “Come to me all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light” (Matthew 11:28-30; NLT).

5. Then he said to the crowd, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross daily, and follow me” (Luke 9:23; NLT). 

His command is that you walk in love (2 John 1:6; NIV).

The LORD is my strength and shield. I trust him with all my heart. He helps me, and my heart is filled with joy. I burst out in songs of thanksgiving (Psalm 28:7; NLT). 

6. “My Lord and my God!” Thomas exclaimed (John 20:28; NLT). 

Now when all things are made subject to Him, then the Son Himself will also be subject to Him who put all things under Him, that God may be all in all (1 Corinthians 15:28; NKJV). 

Though you have made me see troubles, many and bitter, you will restore my life again (Psalm 71:20; NIV).

He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever (Revelation 21:4; NLT). 

Wherever I go

Context: After yesterday’s very concentrated writing effort, today I’m posting a much shorter blog I prepared a little while ago. At present, my energy for writing is in very short supply. However, since I started this website in 2013, I have always had some unpublished pieces set aside, ready to use during the periods when I can’t write. Here is one I’m glad to have the opportunity to share with you:

Be sure of this: I am with you always.
(Matthew 28:20; NLT).

Wherever I go, we go there together.
However I feel, we share it, as one.
Whenever I fail, we mourn it together,
For you never leave me,
My Saviour, God’s Son.

Whatever I lose, we face it together.
Wherever I am, you’re close by my side.
Whatever I bear, we bear it together,
For you never leave me,
Good Shepherd, my Guide.

Whatever you ask, we face it together.
Whatever you take, *I give with a smile.
Whenever I fear, I turn to you swiftly,
For you never leave me
Throughout every trial.

*Give whatever he takes, with a big smile.
(Mother Theresa).

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.
(Psalm 23:4; NLT).

Take life as it comes (for J.C.)

Context: When I woke up today, this prayer was already arriving. I began writing it down immediately, without even a moment to pray. As I have a migraine, which started yesterday, eye ulcers and a corneal abrasion, I was deeply grateful for the way this poem came together over the following hours.

I want your will to be done, not mine (Luke 22:42; NLT). 

1. I want to take life as it comes,
To praise, as it unfolds;
Accept your will,
And love you still,
Be faithful, brave and bold.

2. I’d like to take life as it comes,
For you send bad and good;
To hear your voice,
And learn, by choice,
Until I’ve understood.

3. I need to take life as it comes,
For you both wound and heal;
To do my best,
And face each test,
Until you are revealed.

4. I’ll try to take life as it comes,
For you bring good from bad;
To value both,
Delight in growth,
And let my heart be glad.

5. I choose to take life as it comes,
Right here; right now; today;
Face everything
With you, my King:
My life, my truth, my way.

Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life.
No one can come to the Father except through me.”
(John 14:6; NLT).


References

2. 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).

Should we accept only good things from the hand of God and never anything bad? (Job 2:10; NLT).

3. I am the one who wounds and heals (Deuteronomy 32:39; NLT).

4. In all things God works for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28; NIV).

Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NIV).

5. Choose life (Deuteronomy 30:19; NLT).

Don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today’s trouble is enough for today (Matthew 6:34; NLT). 

Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me (Psalm 23:4; NLT). 

You light a lamp for me. The LORD, my God, lights up my darkness. In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall (Psalm 18:28-9; NLT).

Even the sparrow finds a home, and the swallow builds her nest and raises her young at a place near your altar, O LORD of Heaven’s Armies, my King and my God (Psalm 84:3; NLT). 

You are my worship


Context: Yesterday I had breakfast in bed, followed by a very quiet morning, as the day before had included a migraine. Then, in the afternoon, my family took me to Wicken Fen, one of my favourite places in the UK. Wicken is a very “thin” place, where God whispers from the reed beds, stirs the water, and walks beneath the trees. For me, it represents the Garden of Eden. I’ve enjoyed many visits over the years, so being there brought back memories from when I was able to cycle, walk for miles, and explore freely. I thought my physical limitations might make me feel sad, but in fact I experienced no regrets. I’m getting old, and God is all I need now, as today’s prayer describes:

I will come to the altar of God, to God, my greatest joy.
(Psalm 43:4; CSB). 

1. You are my worship,
And my joy,

2. My Teacher,
And my creed;

3. My suffering, my test,
My way –

4. My God:
You’re all I need.

My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.
(2 Corinthians 12:9; NLT). 

The LORD is my shepherd;
I have all that I need (Psalm 23:1; NLT).


References 

1. Send out your light and your truth; let them guide me. Let them lead me to your holy mountain, to the place where you live. There I will go to the altar of God, to God – the source of all my joy (Psalm 43:3-4; NLT). 

2. You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and you are right, because that’s what I am (John 13:13; NLT).

Jesus is ‘the stone rejected by the builders which has become the cornerstone.’ There is no salvation in anyone else, for there is no other name under heaven given to the human race by which we must be saved (Acts 4:11-12; TIB). 

3. If we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering (Romans 8:17; NLT). 

The LORD your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

Jesus answered, “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (John 14:7; NLT). 

4.  You are my God! (Psalm 31:14; NLT). 

After the Eucharist (for J.K.)

Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood,
you cannot have eternal life within you
(John 6:53; NLT).

Remain in me, and I will remain in you.
For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine,
and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me
(John 15:4; NLT). 

1. After the Eucharist,
Stay in my hands,
Then, all I touch will be blessed.
Stay on my tongue, Lord,
Remain in my thoughts,
Then I will pass every test.

2. After the Eucharist,
Stay in my heart,
Then, I’ll serve others with care.
Stay in my blood,
And remain in my bones,
Then, I’ll help others, through prayer.

3. After the Eucharist,
Stay in my life,
Till this long exile is done.
Stay in my spirit;
Remain in my soul –
Then, we will always be one.

You …are complete through your union with Christ
(Colossians 2:10; NLT).


References 

1. When we bless the cup at the Lord’s Table, aren’t we sharing in the blood of Christ? And when we break the bread, aren’t we sharing in the body of Christ? (1 Corinthians 10:16; NLT).

We …touched him with our own hands (1 John 1:1; NLT). 

We will speak the truth in love, growing in every way more and more like Christ (Ephesians 4:15; NLT).

Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely (Psalm 139:4; NIV).

We take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5; NIV).

Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus (Philippians 2:5; NKJV).

The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

2. I have hidden your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you (Psalm 119:11; NLT). 

Anyone who wants to be first must be the very last, and the servant of all (Mark 9:35; NIV).

Whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me (Matthew 25:40; NIV).

Don’t you know that your bodies are a part of Christ’s body? (1 Corinthians 6:15; CSB).

Pray for all people. Ask God to help them; intercede on their behalf, and give thanks for them (1 Timothy 2:1; NLT).

3. Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us (Colossians 3:11; NLT).

Whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord (Romans 14:8; NIV).

Suffering

God teaches people through suffering
and uses distress to open their eyes.
(Job 36:15; GNT). 

1. You teach, and train, and test us all
By sending good and ill –

2. We only hurt ourselves, Lord,
When we fight against your will.

3. May we accept our suffering
With joy, and thanks, and prayer,

4. Trusting you to help us grow in love,
Through all we bear.


References

1. The Lord your God is testing you to see if you truly love him with all your heart and soul (Deuteronomy 13:3; NLT).

Is it not from the mouth of the Most High that both good and ill go forth? (Lamentations 3:38; NASB95).

When times are good, be happy; but when times are bad, consider this: God has made the one as well as the other (Ecclesiastes 7:14; NIV). 

2. It is useless for you to fight against my will (Acts 26:14; NLT). 

You are hurting yourself by kicking against the goads (Acts 26:14; NET). 

It’s foolish to fight against me! (Acts 26:14; CEV). 

Submit to God and be at peace with him (Job 22:21; NIV).

3. This is my intense suffering, but I must bear it (Jeremiah 10:19; CSB). 

Always be joyful. Never stop praying. Be thankful in all circumstances (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18; NLT).

4. Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God (2 Corinthians 1:3-4; NIV).