Archive for the 'Grief & loss' Category

Anzac Day

Martin Andrews was an Anglican priest who decided in World War I that as a pacificist he would not fight, biut he could serve Kingand Country as a stretcher bearer. He was sent to Gallipoli with the bristish troops. On the eve of the invasion of Gallipoli, there was a great party on board ship. An officer told the troops they were in for one hell of a time the next morning and if anyone survived they coudl count themselves lucky.

Around midnight one of the officers sought out Martin Andrews and asked if it were true that he was a priest in civilian life. Martin said he was and the officer asked if he would be willing to conduct a communion service for the men as some were asking for a padre. Martin willingly agreed. The announcement went out that at midnight a Eucharist would be held on the deck.

Men I have never seen before come up and whisper, “I haven’t been confirmed; can I come?” Tell them all can come of they want to: everybody, Andrews replies.

A box is converted into an altar and the men crowd into one end of the ship. A silence descends. “We do not presume to come to this Thy table in our own Righteousness,” Martin begins and row upon row of men kneel upon the deck.  “I can hardly reach them,” writes Andrews, “soldiers and sailors from all parts of the Empire, suke’s sons, cook’s sons, sons of a hundred kings. It is too dark fo rmy tears to be seen as I whisper to each one, ‘Preserve they body and soul unto everlasting life.”
Martin Andrews later vecame a Canon in the Anglican Church and a South Australian airman from Moonta was billetted with him during World War 2 for some R&R. Canon Andrews told him he was rowed from ship to ship and gave Holy Communion to as many as he could before the attack on Gallipoli began.

Christians believe that the ordinary elements of bread and wine in the Holy Communion carry a special quality of Christ’s life once they are blessed by the Holy Spirit of God – irt is one of the sacramental rituals of the church that nurtures in christians th elife of Christ, empowering them to live that life and work for his peace and justice in the world.

 

On the night of the 24th April 1915, many soldiers received the sacrament of the life of Christ for the ordeal they were to face. An ordeal not of their making, nor of their wish, but one they were willing to face for the sake of the freedom and joy of the Christian world they knew and loved, because it was built on the values of human dignity and love. It was built on an ethos of doing good to all, because everyone is your neighbour and forgiving your enemies as a sign of seeking peace and reconciliation.

In th euglinessof war; in the inhumanity of humankind against each other and in our capacity to do eveil to each other, people often ask, and I count myself among them sometimes – Where is God in the midst of this? Why doesn’t God step in and stop it?

 I have come to the conclusion that God is always there in thre midst of war. God is always stepping in to stop it and to call people to peace. Who can hear his voice? Who will dare to look for another way?

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Jesus the Mother Hen

Reverend Sue Ellis › Create New Post — WordPress

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Jerusalem, Jerusalem…how I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me. Luke 13: 34

As a single parent, these words of Jesus echo in my head. I wanted so much to protect my children from the stigma of poverty, of not having a father living at home. I wanted to protect them from feeling rejected or feeling less than anyone else – feelings I oftenn experienced as a child. So I felt I was like a mother hen, protecting my brood.

I can remember when daughter #3 had chickens for a time with her prize specimen being a rooster named Keiren ( yes, after the swimmer). Looking out of the kitchen window one day I saw Keiren’s progeny with their mother hen running around our backyard. When something startled the hen, she clucked and her babies came running and snuggled under her. She fluffed her feathers and tucked her beak down…a formidable barrier!

When I feel close to God, I feel like those little chicks. Warm, loved and protected. My God is like a formidable barrier and nothing can take me away from his love and protection. Sometimes I feel very small – like a chick, especially when I am feeling vunerable…I’m so pleased I said Yes to Jesus all those years ago and can run to him and feel safe and strong, to venture out and grow more.

Hannah’s barrenness

In 1 Samuel 1 we read of Hannah weeping before God because she is barren. She is ridiculed by the “other woman” she shares her husband with. Her barrenness in those days is seen as a sign of God’s disfavour. She is so overcome that she appears “drunk” to Eli, the High Priest of the Temple, as he watches her weeping and praying silently. He immediately makes assumptions about Hannah – she is drunk!!

How often do we make assumptions about people simply on their appearance or their behaviour? We need to take time to get to know someone, to develop a simple trust between each other that allows for open communication.

Even though Eli ticks off Hannah and tells her to get out and get herself together, Hannah has enough courage to say she is not what he thinks. Eli does listen. Often people don’t! They can be so consumed by their own opinions and so insecure that judgement is passed immediately. Eli recognises he has made a mistake about the woman and joins her in her suffering by praying for her and asking that her petition be heard and granted by God.

We are called to enter into the pain and suffering of each other, by being understanding of one another. By offering words of comfort and hope with the person. By praying for them.

The Scriptures say that Hannah left feeling much better. Her encounter with Eli began with misunderstanding, but because time and effort was made to share and listen and join in solidarity through empathy and prayer, Hannah was uplifted. She went home, had intercourse with her husband and became pregnant.

Not everyone has the happy outcome. There are many childless couples who long for a baby and their prayers are not answered. As their community we are invited to listen to their sharing, to join them in their suffering, to pray for them for a child, for a hope, for an acceptance and means to deal with their pain so that they may feel supported and understood and be uplifted.

Whatever your sadness and its cause, is there someone who has demonstrated they just don’t understand? Takle a moment to share what is really going on with you. God may well use you to help them listen and empathise and as a source of spiritual energy through your prayers. They may uplift you in spirit – you may encourage them in loving and caring for others. together you will make community.

Grief and Loss in the Book of Ruth

The opening words to the Book of Ruth talk about a famine in Bethlehem (which means “house of bread” – it would seem that God’s provision was not present in that place at this time) and how a man from there Elimelech (whose name means “My God is King”) takes his wife Naomi and 2 sons Chilion and Mahlon to live in the land of Moab.

Here is great loss and grief already present. Elimelech must no longer have faith in his God as King…ruler and provider for his life. Did he feel God had let him down? He had no bread for his family so he chooses to go to the Land of Moab. But why would he choose Moab and not Egypt or some other land? The choice of Moab is a choice against God for an Israelite. The story of Lot and his daughters in Genesis 19 tells of the incestuous origin of the Moabite people. The Moabite people were cut off from the Lord God (Deuteronomy 23: 3 – no Ammonite or Moabite shall be admitted to the Assembly of the Lord) The Lord God was angry at the Israelite people for having “sexual relations with the women of Moab” (Number 25: 1) in their journey to the promised land. It would seem that the Moab would be the last place that an Israelite would want to go and still be in relationship with God. Yet Elimelech chooses to take his family there, away from the “promised house of bread.”

Have you ever been disappointed with God? Let down? Does God ever seem silent to your pain? It is tempting in this post-modern age of pluralism to give God the heave-ho and move onto one of the many other religious groups and try out their gods.  So many religions: which one is truth?  Jesus said, “I am the Way; the truth and the life…no-one comes to the Father but by me.”  I think he meant that in him we can find truth about our religious questions.  Peoples all over the world seek to worship a god.  If God, the Creator of the Universe does seek to live in a close relationship with all the created order, then it would make sense that God would place within human hearts the desire to find their God. Many religions around the world do reflect the nature of God.  Why would God not reveal Godself to the Australian aborigines, the Indians, the people of Africa or the Pacific Islands?  Jesus came to show us the nature of God.  In him we see the true God…that is why we can only find the Father by running it past what Jesus said and did.

So if your god demands you to do certain things like sacrifice, pay for your paryers to be answered etc, then that is not the true God.  We can all feel let down when our prayers are not answered, but be careful not to throw the baby out with the bath water when you are thinking that maybe God isn’t there after all, or cannot be trusted to meet your need.

Loss takes something away from life…Elimelech felt a loss in his hunger and desire to care for his family.  Loss always creates change, but they are not the same things.

Change adds something to life.  Loss is a black hole: change is a quantum leap into a new galaxy.  We can never avoid loss, but we can choose the change it brings.