Julian’s 2nd Showing

A little before the fourteenth century, the word for our species, ‘Man’, had begun to be used also for the male of our species. Even ‘he’ and ‘she’ had once been different local accent words for person with no gender significance until ‘she’ shifted to mean a female person (for more see here). I have differentiated between man meaning a male person, and Man meaning a member of the species of either gender, by using a capital M for the species term.

Chapter 10

“The second Revelation is of His discolouryng etc; of our redemption, and the discolouring of the vernacle; and how it plesith God we seke Him besily, abiding Him stedfastly and trusting Hym mightily. Tenth chapter.”

Then I saw with my own eyes,
the crucifix continually before me,
part of His passion –
spite, spitting, sullying, buffetting
and many languishing pains, more than I can tell,
with often changing colour.

Once I saw half the face, beginning at the ear,
covered with dry blood to the centre.
Then the other half similarly,
while the first vanished as it came.

I saw this with my own eyes, dimly,
straining to see more clearly.

It was put in my mind,
if God would show me more
He must be my light;
I needed none but Him,
for Him I sought.

So I had seen Him and sought Him,
for we are so blind and unwise
that we never seek God
until He shows Himself to us in His goodness.
When we glimpse Him by His grace,
we are stirred, by that same grace,
to seek with great desire to see Him more.

So I saw Him, I sought Him; I had Him and wanted Him.
This is and should be, our common purpose.

Once, in my mind, I was led down to the deep sea bed.
There I saw green hills and dales,
moss-grown with sea-wrack and gravel.

Then I understood.
if a man or woman could keep sight of God,
who is with Man continually,
even under the sea he would be safe,
in body and soul, taking no harm.
Above all, he would have more solace and comfort
than all this world can tell.

God wants us to know we see Him always
though we think it is but little,
and in this belief He gives us everlasting grace.

For He wishes to be seen,
He wishes to be sought,
He wishes us to wait for Him,
and trust Him.

This second shewing,
so low, so little, so simple,
made my spirits mourn.
It filled them with dread and longing,
and I doubted it was a showing.

Little by little our good Lord
gave me true understanding.
It was a showing –
an image of our foul mortal flesh
that our fair, bright, blessed Lord
bore for our sins.

There is a holy kerchief in Rome,
on which is portrayed His blessed face in His hard Passion,
going with steadfast will to death,
and often changing colour.

The holy vernacle of Rome.  According to the legend of the vernicle, St. Veronica’s kerchief became impressed with an exact image of the face of the suffering Christ when she compassionately wiped His face as He carried the cross to Calvary. Preserved at St. Peter’s in Rome, the cloth became an object of pilgrimage.

Many marvel how brown and black,
how rueful and wasted this image might be,
since He portrayed it with His blessed face,
who is the fairness of heaven, flower of the earth,
and the fruit of the Maiden’s womb.
How can this image be so darkening in colour
and so far from fair?

I desire to tell it as I have understood by God’s grace:
We know in our faith,
and believe by Holy Church’s teaching,
that the blessed Trinity made Mankind in His image.

In the same manner we know
that when Man fell so deep,
so wretchedly by sin,
there was no other to restore him
but He that made Man.

He that made Man for love,
would restore him by that same love
to the same or greater bliss,
in the image of the Trinity
seen in our first creation.
Like Jesus Christ, our Saviour,
in heaven without end, in our remaking.

Between our creation and remaking,
He would, for love and worship of man,
make Himself as a man in this mortal life,
in our foulness, and our wretchedness,
as a man might be without guilt.

This is the meaning of that written above:
it was an image of our foul, black, mortal flesh
wherein our fair, bright, blessed Lord God is hid.

But I dare to say, fully and surely,
that never was so fair a man as He,
until His fair colour was changed
with travail and sorrow and passion,
dying.

More of this is in the Eighth Showing,
where it says the vernacle of Rome moves,
changing colour and expression,
sometimes more comfortable and lifelike,
sometimes more rueful and deathly.

And in this vision I learned
the soul’s continual search pleases God greatly,
for it can only seek, suffer, and trust.

In the soul that has it,
this is the work of the Holy Spirit, finding clarity
when He wills it by His special grace.
Our seeking, with faith, hope, and love,
pleases our Lord.
Our finding pleases the soul,
filling it with joy.

So I was taught, in my mind,
that seeking is as good as seeing
while He allows the soul to be in travail.

God wishes us to seek to see Him.
By this He shall show Himself to us,
by His special grace, when He wills it.

And how a soul shall be, beholding Him,
He, Himself, shall teach.
That is most worshipful to Him,
most profitable to you,
and receives greatest meekness and virtues
with the Holy Spirit’s grace and leading.

For a soul fastening onto God
by seeking or beholding,
with nothing but true trust,
does the greatest worship possible to Him,
as to my sight.

Two workings may be seen in this vision:
seeking and seeing.

Seeking is available to all.
Every soul may have the discretion
and teaching of Holy Church;
and ought to have,
with God’s grace.

God wishes us three things in our seeking.

First, that we seek wilfully, through His grace,
busily, without sloth,
gladly, merrily,
without senseless heaviness,
without vain sorrow.

Second, that we wait for His love,
steadfast, without grumbling,
without striving against Him, to our life’s end,
for it shall be but for a while;

We know He shall appear suddenly, blissfully to all His lovers,
He works secretly but we shall see Him,
He shall appear suddenly, and He will be believed,
for He is fully courteous and homely.

Third, that we trust Him greatly
in full, secure faith,
for this is His will.

Blessed may He be.

Julian’s third showing will follow in the beginning of May.

A Study of Religion

Some years ago at a difficult time, I wrote these words.
The first part is compiled directly from the Oxford English Dictionary, beginning with the word ‘religion’, finding its definition, and repeating that in turn with each keyword I found in the definition.
The second part is a short verse inspired by this, and the third, an introspection leading from it.
I present it as it may (or may not) help those who feel that faith comes easy to some, and that others do not share the same struggles.

I

Religion is the human recognition of,
and response to,
a living being,
higher than man,
possessing superhuman capability and powers;

Having a rightful claim and title
to possess and control the universe
and all creatures in it,
including mankind.

Having an absolute claim, in right and title,
to the reverence,
respect,
adoration,
and devotion of mankind;

Having power over nature and human fortunes,
known by mankind as GOD,
the Supreme Being,
inviolable,
morally and spiritually perfect.
whole, holy.

To this Supremacy,
this Divinity,
there is no other higher power or prior cause.

The universe proceeds from GOD alone,
GOD is its great creator and its king;
created from GOD’s own self by GOD’s own will,
sustained by GOD’s supreme and sole command,
copied from no model,
from no ‘other’ substance drawn,
placed in no ‘space outside’, apart from GOD.

II

Grown within the Earth-womb,
mankind, the child of GOD,
beloved yet poorly loving, lives by grace
herein is love: not that we love GOD
but that GOD loved us first,
we that give him pain
(for we do love, but hurt the one we love,
denying Him in blank and close-walled fear).

True religion
is this recognition
and its due response.

III

I am a Christian.
I believe in GOD the Father Almighty,
and in Jesus Christ, His only Son our Lord.
and in the Holy Spirit,
Three in One.

I have never seen a miracle,
I have never heard the voice of GOD,
I have never seen an angel,
a vision,
or a ghost,
except at such a time
and in such a need
that I suspect it was hallucination
or a dream.

I have never seen the certain hand of GOD
intervening in His universe.
I have not seen one certain answered prayer,
I have seen many seeming prayers in faith Unanswered.
I have seen Christians go sad to their grave
and wondered why.

My only answer is that of Peter,
‘Lord, to whom shall we go?
Yours are the words of eternal life.’
The unexamined life is not worth living ,
Socrates
wherever Truth may lead us we must go.
To fail to do so is self deceit
and death.

If truth leads to death
we lose only what we never had.
If truth leads to life
we have gained the whole universe
and our souls.

I am not one who has seen and believed,
but one who has not seen, and yet believes.

Heaven and Earth may fade and flee,
First born light in gloom decline,
But while GOD and I shall be,
I am his, and he is mine!1’
                                         J. M. Muller

Julian’s 1st Showing – part 2

Introduction>

Chapter 7

“How our Lady, beholdyng the gretenes of hir Maker, thowte
hirselfe leste; and of the great droppys of blode renning from
under the garland; and how the most joy to man is that God
most hie and mightie is holyest and curtesiest. – Seventh chapter.”

To teach me this, our Lord God showed our Lady Saint Mary
also beholding the high wisdom and truth of her Maker,
so great, so high,
so mighty, and so good.

This great nobility seen in God
filled her with reverend awe,
seeing herself so little,
so low, so simple, so poor,
compared to her Lord God,
that she was filled with meekness.
By this she was filled with grace
and all manner of virtues,
surpassing all creatures.

As I said before,
all the time He showed this
I saw, in spiritual sight,
the continuing, profuse bleeding of His head.
Great drops of blood fell down
from under the garland like pellots
as though they came from the veins.

In coming out it was brown red,
for the blood was full and thick,
and in spreading abroad it was bright red,
and when it came to the brows it vanished.
This bleeding continued
’till many things were seen and understood.

It was clear and lifelike, full and undisguised,
profuse as drops of water falling from the eves,
dropping so thickly after heavy rain,
that no man may number them.
They were round as scales of herring
spreading on the forehead.
This showing was quick, lively, hideous,
dreadful, sweet and lovely.

Of all I saw this was most comforting,
that our Lord God, so reverent and awesome,
is so homely and courteous.
This filled me with most delight
and security of soul.

To help understand this
He showed this open example.

The most worship a solemn King or great Lord
may do a poor servant
is to be homely with him,
particularly if he shows it himself,
with full, true meaning and with glad cheer,
both privately and before all.

Then this poor creature thinks:
Ah, what more might this noble Lord do
in worship and joy to me
than to show me that am so simple
this marvelous homeliness?

Truly it gives me more joy and happiness
than if he gave me great gifts
but were himself aloof in manner.
This bodily example was so generous
that man’s heart might be ravished,
almost forgetting himself
in the joy of that great humility.

So it is between our Lord Jesus and us,
for truly it is the highest joy that can be,
as I see it,
that He that is highest and mightiest,
noblest and worthiest,
is lowest and meekest,
homeliest and most courteous.

And truly, genuinely, this marvelous joy
shall be shown us all when we see Him.

And our Lord wishes that we desire and believe,
rejoice and delight,
comforting and solacing ourselves
with His grace and help,
until we really see it.

For the fullest joy we shall have,
is, in my sight,
the marvelous courtesy and homeliness of our Father,
our maker, in our Lord Jesus Christ,
our brother and our Saviour.

But in this lifetime,
none may know this marvelous homeliness
except by our Lord’s special showing,
or by great plentiful grace
given inwardly by the Holy Spirit.

But faith, hope and love deserve the reward;
so grace is certain;
for our life is founded in faith,
in hope, and in love.

This showing, made to whoever God will,
teaches the same, plainly and openly,
declared with many matters of our faith
which are worshipfull to know.

And when the showing, given once, is past and hidden,
then, by the Holy Spirit’s grace,
faith holds until our life’s end.

Thus the showing is none other than our faith,
not less, nor more,
as may be seen as our Lord’s unchanging word
until it comes to the end.

Chapter 8

“A recapitulation of that is seid; and how it was shewid to hir generally for all. Eighth chapter.”

And as long as I saw this sight,
the profuse bleeding of the head,
I could not cease saying,
“Benedicite, Domine.”

In this showing I understood six things.

First,
the tokens of the blessed passion
and profuse shedding of His precious blood.

Second,
the Maiden, His precious Mother.

Third,
the blissfull Godhead
that ever was, is, and ever shall be,
almighty, all wisdom, all love.

Fourth,
all that He has made:
Heaven and earth and all that is made,
is vast – large, fair and good,
but it showed as so little in my sight
because I saw it in the presence of Him,
the maker of all things.
To a soul that sees the maker of all,
all that is made seems very little.

Fifth,
He that made all things for love;
by that same love it is kept
and shall be without end.

Sixth,
God is everything that is good, as I see it,
and the goodness everything has
is Him.

All these our Lord showed me in this first showing
with time and space to behold it.
The bodily sight faded,
the spiritual sight stayed in my understanding.
I remained in reverent awe, rejoicing in what I saw,
desiring, if it were His will,
and as much as I dared,
to see more,
or see the same for a longer time .

In all this I was greatly stirred,
in love for my fellow Christians,
that they might see and know that which I saw,
for I wished it to be comfort to them.
For this sight was shown for all.

Than I said to them that were about me,
“Today is doomsday with me”;
expecting to die,
and in my understanding,
the day a man dies,
he is judged for eternity.

I said this wanting them to love God better,
to remind them that this life is short,
as they might see in my example,
for I expected to die.
That was strange to me,
and somewhat sad,
as I thought this vision was for the living.

I say this personally, to all my fellow Christians,
for in our Lord God’s spiritual showing
I have learnt that He intends this.
I pray you all for God’s sake,
and counsel you for your own profit,
do not behold the wretch to whom this vision came,
but mightily, wisely, and meekly behold God,
who, in courteous love and endless goodness,
wishes it shown generally
to comfort us all.

For God’s wishes you to take it
with great joy and happiness
as if Jesus had shown it to you all.

Chapter 9

“Of the mekenes of this woman kepeing hir alway in the feith of Holy Church; and how he that lovyth his evyn Cristen for God lovith all thing. Ninth Chapter.”

This showing does me no good unless I love God better.
And inasmuch as you love God better,
it is more value to you than to me.

I do not speak to the wise, for the wise know it well,
but I say it to you that are simple
for your ease and comfort.
We are all one in comfort.

Truly I was not shown that God loved me better
than the least soul in grace.
I am sure there are many who have had no showing,
or sight other than Holy Church’s teaching,
that love God better than I.

If I look only to myself I am truly nothing;
but if I look to all I am one in hope and charity
with all my fellow Christians.

For in this unity stands the life of all mankind
that shall be saved.
For God is all that is good in my sight.

God has made all that is made
and loves all that He has made;
and he that loves all his fellow Christians,
for God’s sake,
loves all that is.

For in mankind that shall be saved,
all is understood as saying 
all that is made,
and also the Maker of all;
for God is in man,
and God is in all.

And I hope by God’s grace, that he that sees this,
shall be truly taught,
and strongly comforted when he needs comfort

I speak of those that shall be saved,
for at this time God showed me no other.

But in everything I believe as Holy Church believes,
and preaches and teaches.

The faith of Holy Church, was always in my sight.
I hope, by God’s grace, I kept with all my will,
in use and custom, forever willing and meaning,
to receive nothing that might be contrary to it.

With this intent I beheld this showing
with all my diligence, for in all its blessedness
I saw it at one with God’s meaning.

All this was shown three ways,
in my bodily sight,
by word formed in my mind,
and by spiritual sight.

But I cannot, may not, show the spiritual sight
as openly and fully as I would wish.

But I trust our Lord God Almighty,
that He shall in His goodness,
and for your love,
make you take it more spiritually,
more sweetly, than I can or may tell it.

This ends Dame Julian’s first showing.
I shall post her second in the first week of April.

Introduction>

Revelations of Love, Chapters 1-3

Julian’s introduction to what is to follow.

These first three chapters outline the whole book:

  • first, a summary of the chapters to follow (omitted for brevity).
  • second, how when younger, she prayed to share or understand more of Christ’s pains.
  • third, her  serious illness in 1373, in which, during receipt of the last rites, she received the ‘shewings’ or visions which occupy the rest of the book.

In fact she survived. The last record of her still living was in 1413.

What follows is far more than I originally intended. Two or three years ago I began a free verse précis of her book, promising completion in a few months, then a year. But I found such richness and compassion in her writing that the précis became a fuller translation and the timescale grew.

Although written in English it is that of the early middle ages. Spelling was elastic then, not only from writer to writer but within a writer’s own work, hence it is very much a translation into modern English. Fortunately I did not have to work from the original mediaeval alphabet or, worse, from handwritten originals. This has been done by far better writers than myself, particularly Georgia Ronan Crampton.

I have kept Julian’s chapter introductions in her Middle English wording in italic, but using our modern alphabet. Her book, as mentioned in an earlier post, was written in a dangerous and unforgiving age; a time of post- Black Death fear of heresy. The shewings should be read in order.

Revelations to one who could not read a letter. Anno Domini 1373.

A Particular of the Chapters, Of the tyme of these revelations, and how shee asked three petitions, and Of the sekenese opteyned of God be petition.

Chapter 1.

 A Particular of the Chapters. The first chapter, off the noumber of the Revelations particularly.

This is a Revelation of love that Jesus Christ, our endless bliss,
made in sixteen Showings or special Revelations.

I have omitted this chapter’s summary of her sixteen revelations as, in the light of the historical background in which they were written, they are better read in in order.

Chapter 2

The second chapter. Of the tyme of these revelations, and how shee asked three petitions.

These Revelations were shown to a simple unlettered creature in the year of our Lord 1373, the eighth day of May, which creature had desired previously, three gifts of God.

The first was to understand His passion.

The second was bodily sickness in youth at thirty years of age.

The third was to have God’s gift of three wounds.

As to the first gift,
I thought I had some feeling of Christ’s passion,
but desired more by God’s grace,
as though I were there with Mary Magdalen
and others that loved Christ;
desiring an actual sight
to know more of our Saviour’s physical pains,
our Lady’s compassion,
and of all His true lovers that saw them,
in that way I would be one of them
and suffer with Him.

I desired no other sight
nor showing of God
till my soul departed from my body,
so that by this showing alone
I should more truly understand Christ’s passion.

The second gift came to my mind with contrition,
freely desiring a sickness so deathly hard
that I might undergo all rites of Holy Church,
believing I was dying,
and that all that saw me might suppose the same,
for I would get no comfort from earthly life.

In this sickness I prayed to have
all manner of physical and spiritual pains
that I would feel if I were dying,
with all the dreads and tempests of the fiends,
except the outpassing of my soul.

By this I meant to be purged by God’s mercy,
afterward  to live more to His worship
because of that sickness;
and that it might speed my death,
for I desired to be soon with my God.

These two desires, the passion and the sickness,
I desired with a condition, saying,
“Lord, you know what I desire.
if it be Thy will, may I have it,
and if it be not Thy will,
good Lord, do not be displeased,
for I want nothing but Thy will.”

For the third gift, by the grace of God and the teaching of Holy Church,
I conceived a mighty desire to receive three wounds in my life:

the wound of full contrition,
the wound of kindred compassion,
and the wound of willfull longing for God.

And all this last petition I asked without any condition.

The first two desires passed from my mind,
but the third dwelt with me continually.

Chapter 3

Of the sekenese opteyned of God be petition. Third chapter.

When I was thirty and a half years old,
God sent me a bodily sickness
in which I lay three days and nights.
On the fourth I had rites of Holy Church
and did not expect to live till day;
but after this I languished
two days and two nights.

The third night I often thought I had passed,
as did they that were with me;
still young, I thought it great pity to die;
not for anything in earth
that might give me pleasure to live,
nor fear of any pain,
for I trusted in God in His mercy.

But to have lived to have loved God better
and for a longer time,
that I might have more knowledge and love
of God in the bliss of Heaven.

For I thought,
the time I had lived here was too slight,
too short to deserve that endless bliss.
It seemed nothing.

I thought,
“Good Lord, may the end of my life be Thy worship?”
And I understood by my reason,
by my feelings of pain,
that I should die,
and assented fully, with all the will of my heart,
to be at God’s mercy.

Thus I endured until day,
and by then my body was dead
with no feeling from the middle down.

Then I was stirred to be set upright,
and was leant back with help,
to have more freedom in my heart
to be at God’s will,
thinking on God while my life might last.

My curate was sent for to be at my end,
by the time he came my eyes were fixed
and I could not speak.

He set the cross before my face and said,
“I have brought the image
of thy maker and Saviour.
Look thereon and have comfort therewith.”

I thought I needed no comfort
for my eyes were set upward to Heaven
where by God’s mercy I trusted to come,
but I assented to set my eyes, if I could,
in the face of the Crucifix
and so I did,
thinking I might endure longer
looking ahead than right up.

After this my sight began to fail,
the chamber dark as night about me
except in the image of the Cross
which I saw by its own light,
I knew not how.

All beside the Cross was ugly to me
as if greatly occupied with fiends.

The rest of my body began to die.
I had scarcely any feeling,
with shortness of wind;
and believed I had truly died.

And in this, suddenly, all my pain was taken from me,
I was as hale, and sound in body as ever before.

I marvelled at this sudden change,
I thought it was God’s secret work
and not of nature,
yet feeling this ease
I trusted no more in living.

This ease was no full ease to me,
for I would rather be delivered from this world.

Then came suddenly to my mind
that I should desire the second wound
of our Lord’s gracious gift,
that my body might be fullfilled
with mind and feeling of His blessed passion,
I wanted His pains my pains with compassion,
and afterward to belong to God.

I desired neither bodily sight nor showing of God,
but compassion,
as a kindred soul might have with our Lord Jesus,
who for love became a mortal man.
I desired to suffer with Him.

Julian’s visions follow approximately monthly, interspersed with other posts.

Dame Julian

Revelations of Divine Love

INTRODUCTION

 ‘This is a Revelation of love that Jesus Christ, our endless blisse, made in sixteen Sheweings or Revelations particular.’

Revelations of Divine Love by Dame Julian of Norwich is a remarkable book; probably the first in English by a woman. Some of its themes ran counter to the church’s teaching – dangerous in the troubled century in which she lived. Her calm and compassionate writing, visionary and mystical, came from sixteen visions or ‘shewings’ in 1373 during a severe, paralysing illness, so severe that she received the last rites.

In Middle-English language, she called them shewings (showings) and revelations. Others have called them visions but they were sometimes visual, and other times intellectual, auditory or spiritual. I use showings to keep the sound and intent of the original.

She describes them as personal revelations to herself by God that she was to pass on to her fellow Christians. She reviewed the first 14 showings with twenty in-depth chapters of comment, preparing the way for the dangerous ground in her 15th and 16th showings.

Her Middle-English is hard to read today. Most translations are  readable but use much original wording and phrasing to keep the mediaeval colour. I have tried to avoid this. Words then can have different meanings to the same words today. In my modern renderings of Julian’s visions I have used Georgia Ronan Crampton’s excellent version of her later, longer book here. This is probably the closest to the original Middle-English but uses our modern alphabet. Another more comfortably modernised version is in the Christian Classics Ethereal library here.

Beware: you may find yourself on a beautiful but long road. Sometimes the meanings of words have changed, sometimes it is our understanding of what underlies those words. For instance, fear in Julian’s day carried far more sense of awe than it does today. Now it has been simplified to mean fright. We use the same word but a sense of wondering caution has given way to one of cowering. To fear God has lost something in the process. Dread carried a combined sense of respect and awe rather than horror.

14th Century Background

Continue reading

Ransom

This arose out of some emails I exchanged with someone I hold in great respect. Should you read this I apologise for not telling you first.

I have always struggled with the idea
of Christ being punished for us.
Many believe He was,
but it was punishment set by us,
not by God.

I cannot feel God saying,
‘Someone must pay for this.’
and Jesus replying, ‘Yes,
but I shall pay instead.’

Did Christ die for our sins?
take our punishment on Himself?
Did our Father send His only begotten Son,
begotten, not created,
beloved, pleasing, one in love with Him,
to die as a blood sacrifice,
as the Paschal Lamb,
for us?

We rejected and murdered Him,
but that is not why He came.

For God so loved the world that He sent His only begotten Son that all who believe in Him might not perish but have eternal life.

I came that they might have life, and have it more fully.

Like Dame Julian of Norwich,
when I see Jesus Christ
I see the Trinity in Him,
God the Father
acting in His creation,
and in Love.

I see our Father in Jesus
showing the length that He will go
to show His love for us,
to suffer, in Christ, to save us.
As our Lord said,
I and the Father are one.

His suffering was more,
infinitely more, than crucifixion.
He loves us as his dear children,
eternally loving, not condemning
though we betrayed Him.

To bring damned sinners back
He went into the deepest hell
(which we made for ourselves,
bolting the door inside).

One day I shall write on my understanding of hell.
For now give it any meaning you wish.

What debt was paid upon the cross?
The amazing depth of love
in Jesus’ sacrifice
is more than any debt,
more than any price.

What debt was paid upon the cross?
The Aramaic Jesus spoke
had just one word for debt and sin,
and was guilt paid in pain?
Or was sin paid in death
to a wrathful, punishing God?

The Son of Man, the Son of God,
who prayed we may be one
as the Father and He are one,
suffered and died on the cross.
What ransom, what debt, was paid?
If He was not sacrificed for sin,
what debt, what ransom, was paid?

Because I live, you also will live.
In that day you will know
that I am in my Father,
and you in me,
and I in you.

Was our Father, in Christ on the cross,
a true lover grieving, bearing
anything for his beloved,
though we turned on Him murderously?

Is our debt that infinite love?
Was Christ’s crucifixion
not a ransom for our sins,
but a statement of that debt;
not cancelled on the cross
but rewritten in love,
which we owe in return.

Collar and Tie

I was challenged in my teens (long, long ago in the late nineteen-fifties, but still seems like yesterday) for wearing a sweater to church, ‘You would not turn up at work dressed like that so why do so in the house of God?’

As I was a student in London, and under my sweater was wearing a collar and tie. You might think I had a readily available answer but in those days even students wore jackets and ties to college. I gave a mildly apologetic response.

Things have changed since then.

Within ten years I had stopped wearing a tie to church; not from lack of respect but because I noticed that when strangers came into a service they often had open-necked shirts and looked self-consciously out of place. The presence of a few others similarly dressed gave them a chance to feel more at home.

Now things have changed even more; the wearing of ties has become rarer. For many, ties are not worn even for church. I find myself only wearing them on those autumn or winter days when a scarf might be too warm. One day perhaps I might sport a tie more regularly to ease the embarassement of strangers who come dressed in what they have seen in their only attendences at weddings and funerals – or will these also follow the current fashion?

There may be worse reasons for not dressing for church:

There is a story, a parable, of a king inviting guests to his son’s wedding feast
(which carries echoes of the King who invites guests to His Son’s wedding feast).

The kingdom of heaven is like a king
who gave a wedding feast for his son.
He sent his slaves to call guests to the banquet,
but they would not come.

He sent other slaves, saying,
‘Tell those I invited,
“Look! The feast is ready.
My oxen and fatted cattle are slaughtered,
everything is ready.
Come to the banquet.” ’

But they were indifferent and went away,
one to his farm, one to his business.
The rest seized his slaves,
insolently mistreated or killed them.

The king was furious!
He sent soldiers to put those murderers to death
and set their city on fire.

He told his slaves, ‘The wedding is ready,
but those invited were unworthy.
Go into the main streets,
invite all you find to the banquet.’
They went out into the streets and gathered all they found,
filling the wedding hall with guests.

But when the king came
he saw a man not wearing wedding clothes.
He asked him,
‘Friend, how did you get in without wedding clothes?’
but he had nothing to say.
The king told his attendants,
‘Tie him hand and foot
throw him out into the darkness,
where there will be weeping and gnashing teeth!’

Many are called, but few are chosen.

Why was the guest thrown out for not wearing wedding clothes? Was he too poor? Probably – he had been called in off the street when the king’s rich friends turned their invitations down, but the king knew that and would have allowed for it. So why was he not wearing them?

He seems no better than the rich guests, disdainful of the king’s generosity. He came to eat but without bothering to wear the clothes provided. Rich or poor we can still get it wrong.

We have the King’s clothes to wear
for the wedding feast of His Son:
compassion, care, a held-out hand,
love and the acceptance of love,
the Image of God that God bestowed on Man.

Who is the bride?

The earliest account of Christ’s Great Commission,
translated literally from Mark’s Greek, is
When you have gone into all the world,
preach the Good News to all creation.

All creation is His bride,
over which as His hearers believed,
God set all Mankind to rule.

The true clothing of a ruler
is that of the Servant King:
compassion, care, a held-out hand,
love and the acceptance of love,
the Image of God that God bestowed on Man.