Pastoral care is a funny old beast and, because it sometimes looks a bit like other things, it is often confused with them. But it’s not therapy, or life coaching, or social work, or conflict management, or even spiritual healing. Instead, pastoral care is about loving you and pointing you towards the Great Physician himself: Jesus Christ.
My friend from Adelaide called as I was walking into my driveway. ‘Hang on,’ I said, ‘I’ll just take off my face mask.’ There was a slightly stunned silence, then, ‘That doesn’t sound much like you!’ she said. ‘It’s the LAW!’ I replied, and she burst out laughing. She doesn’t have to wear a mask, you see; and she had forgotten that those of us living in Victoria do. For a moment there she had thought I was wearing a mudpack which, to those who know me well, seemed very unlikely indeed.
‘Do I not fill the earth?’ says God (Jer. 23:24b).
Our ancestor Jacob woke from his sleep and said, ‘Surely God is in this place, and I didn’t know it!’ (Gen. 28:16). Like Jacob, people have sensed God’s presence in creation for millennia, and perhaps this is why Jesus so often prayed outdoors. What follows is a simple grounding exercise to help you observe God’s presence in the place where you are. Move through the steps in order, or float between them: they are just a tool. And remember, like all spiritual exercises, it gets easier with practice. Continue reading “Sensio divina: Attending to the presence of God”
Moses asks questions and makes demands on God. To each question and demand, God promises one thing: to be present. What questions and demands do you bring to God? When have you glimpsed God’s presence? How has this presence addressed your questions and demands? Continue reading “Cartalk / Tabletalk 19: God’s answer”
To every question and demand, God’s answer is simply presence. (Listen.)
Who among us hasn’t said something like: God, show me your plan. Tell me what I’m supposed to be doing here. I need clear guidance, a proper sign. Not some mimsy-wimsy spiritual hint, but something solid, something real. Otherwise, how will I know that you’re even with me? And how will anyone else know? Continue reading “Presence bathed the room with love”
we cannot be at a table with many friends;
we cannot be in a crowd.
But just as you heard the grumbling of the Israelites
and rained down food from heaven,
you hear our grumbling in the wilderness now.
You know our deepest hunger, and you feed us. Amen.
So shutdown continues, and I keep hearing people trying *not* to say how bad they feel about it. We know it could be so much worse: who are we to feel terrible about being isolated, cooped up, or driven insane by our own beloved children? And what I notice is how much energy and effort it takes to suppress what we are feeling. Today, then, I encourage you to instead use that energy to feel and then let go of your strong emotions, using the pattern of The Welcoming Prayer. There are four simple stages. Continue reading “The Welcoming Prayer”
Sunday’s story about Shiphrah and Puah drew out a wonderful spontaneous prayer from Ollie. In it, he named that true change does not happen from the top down, but emerges from within and below; he gave thanks for the midwives he sees around us: the shareholders of Rio Tinto, holding executives to account for the destruction of the Juukan Gorge caves; the basketballers in the US temporarily standing down over BLM; the Djab Wurrung peoples fighting VicRoads; and he prayed for each of us as we follow our various callings to midwife God’s life into the world in ways big and small. Continue reading “Midwifing God’s life into the world”
I absolutely love words, and I just found an absolutely lovely one. Uhtceare, pronounced oot-key-are-a, means ‘lying awake before dawn and worrying.’* It may be Old English, but it’s a word for our times as so many of us are doing just that: tossing and turning as we fret about tomorrow, next week, next month, next year. Continue reading “Slow reading: A remedy for uhtceare”
Susannah Wesley (mother of Charles and John) had eleven children. Despite the chaos of a very full house, she prayed daily. When it was time, she sat in the middle of her busy kitchen and threw her apron over her head, and her children knew to be a little quieter around the house. Continue reading “Creating a prayer space in the midst of chaos: Seven simple suggestions.”