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Baptism

  • Baptism does not confer on us a status that marks us off from everybody else
  • it is to accept that to be Christian is to be affected – you might even say contaminated – by the mess of humanity
  • baptism brings you into proximity not only with God the Father, not only with the suffering and muddle of the human world, but with all those other people who are invited to be there as well
  • the life of the baptized is a life of prophecy and priesthood and royalty
 

Bible

  • hearing God’s voice
  • you must not jump to conclusions while the story is being told
  • One of the great tragedies and errors of the way people have understood the Bible has been the assumption that what people did in the Old Testament must have been right ‘because it’s in the Bible’. It has justified violence, enslavement, abuse and suppression of women, murderous prejudice against gay people; it has justified all manner of things we now cannot but as Christians regard as evil. But they are not there in the Bible because God is telling us, ‘That’s good.’ They are there because God is telling us, ‘You need to know that that is how some people responded. You need to know that when I speak to human beings things can go very wrong as well as very wonderfully.’ God tells us, ‘You need to know that when I speak, it isn’t always simple to hear, because of what human beings are like.’ We need, in other words, to guard against the temptation to take just a bit of the whole story and treat it as somehow a model for our own behaviour.
  • As Christians read the Bible, the story converges on Jesus
 

Eucharist

  • In Holy Communion, Jesus Christ tells us that he wants our company
  • Holy Communion makes no sense at all if you do not believe in the resurrection
  • So as we give thanks over bread and wine in the presence of the Lord we are – with him and in him – seeking to make that connection between the world and God, between human experience and the divine and eternal Giver. And that means that we begin to look differently at the world around us
  • To take seriously what is going on in the Holy Eucharist is to take seriously the whole material order of the world. It is to see everything in some sense sacramentally
  • If Jesus gives thanks over bread and wine on the eve of his death, if Jesus makes that connection between the furthest place away from God, which is suffering and death, and the giving and outpouring of his Father, and if in his person he fuses those things together, then wherever we are some connection between us and God is possible
  • All places, all people, all things have about them an unexpected sacramental depth. They open on to God the Giver
  • We take Holy Communion not because we are doing well, but because we are doing badly
  • When we gather as God’s guests at God’s table, the Church becomes what it is meant to be
 

Prayer

  • Origen has more practical advice: you can pray anywhere, he says, don’t imagine it’s restricted to special places. But that does not mean that prayer is just a casual matter; physical stillness and physical solitude matter (pg 67)
  • being ready to pray is being at peace with other people
  • Gregory: prayer heals relations (pg 72)
  • it is a little bit like the experience that the Zen Buddhists speak of when they have sat with the paradox or the riddle for such a long time that they finally realize that they are never going to solve it; then enlightenment happens (pg 74)
  • Cassian: “O God, make speed to save me”
  • “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner”
  • Prayer is your promise and pledge to be there for the God who is there for you

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