God the invisible. God the uncontainable…

Had a lovely time at our housegroup this evening.

I had more or less come to the conclusion that it was time to stop housegroup- that it was time to do something new. But instead of stopping all together, people decided that they would like to continue to meet monthly. So tonight Michaela spent a little more time preparing some simple mediations, and I sat in the corner and played guitar. It was lovely.

You could say that it was a ripple made by the Spirit.

And something about our discussions reminded me of this-

The blocks might be seen to represent our theology- or our value system. The means by which we make sense of the vastness of the universe and our tiny place within it.

But even though the thoughts we have are woven into some kind of system of apparent cohesion and even certainty, there is always something else- something indefinable and difficult to lay hold of.

Something that at times we yearn for, without knowing what it is.

Something that is beautiful and whole- something hopeful.

Something dangerous.

Something that some of us would call- God.

So as we stare at our construction of solid blocks of knowledge, there dancing in the middle of it all- playful and full of Joy- is this other thing. The blocks might describe some of it, but it is not contained by the blocks. The spaces between might seem to be it’s place of dwelling- but these too are transient and transparent.

Rather this thing that we seek- this God- is not contained. He is in and through and without.

The question is how we might respond to this capricious and undefinable God? How do we follow?

I know my own answers to this question- and they are to found in community with my friends. We follow together. We build our (temporary) blocks of understanding with small stones.

We build humbly because our answers are only partial.

But still we build- because within this communal dwelling there is not just us- but something other. Something indescribably beautiful.

The bearing of burdens…

Our housegroup met tonight- as we do every Tuesday.  A smaller group than usual, just 7 of us. We have been reading through the Gospel of Mark and talking and debating the meaning of these wonderful stories. Encountering again the words of Jesus, recorded by someone who was right there to hear them spoken…

I needed to be there tonight more than usual. I was tired and weary, with a familiar weight on my soul that I feel like a band around my chest. Nothing dramatic- nothing unexpected, just the old black dog reasserting himself and shadowing me again for a while. A window given by a combination of circumstance and vulnerabilities that never quite go away.

Before we began to read, we spent some time in a simple meditation. We sat around a table on which were stones and rocks brought in from the garden, a small cross and a jug of water and glasses to drink from.  Audrey read these familliar words from Matthew 11-

Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.

We were then invited to take a stone and consider the burdens we were carrying. And to deliberately lay them down at the foot of the cross.

Next, it was suggested that we drink in water, as a sign of God’s promise to bring life and refreshment- to fill us with living water.

But I rebelled a little. I did not want to lay down my stone. The more I looked at it, the more fascinated I was by the shape in it- which was entirely natural- cracks revealed as the stone was eroded by the action of waves on the beach we picked it up on.

What was I looking at?

Initially it looked as though I was looking at a man- and I wondered if this somehow symbolised a person.

But then I realised that the markings on the rock actually looked like a man with his arms and legs wrapped around a huge burden- and that in fact, they were carrying this burden.

Almost like they had taken on the weight of others…

It seemed to me that there was a message here of promise- or perhaps a reminder of a promise. My burden is being carried- not by me, although I easily labour under the weight of it. Rather the burden is being borne by someone else. Leaving me with the possibility of lightness and freedom. Because he is gentle and humble in heart…

This life of faith is wrapped up in mystery and doubt, or at least it is for me. But today I hold in my hand a solid sermon in stone.

And for those of us who look for doubt- we will find it.

But we should also consider this. At some point, we picked up a few stones on a beach, and left them in our garden amongst a rockery. There are thousands of stones there. Michaela gathered a few, and as part of a meditation, at a time of need, I picked up this very one…



Or- a God who seeks after us, despite everything?