Please select an issue from the list on the right, to view the articles which have been uploaded to the website.

Issue 27

Chaplains Annual Letter

Dear Friends,

How does one come to terms with the tragedy of untimely death and suffering? As Martin Tunnicliffe wrote to me, at the recent violent deaths of two good friends, \"I AM the Resurrecti on and the Life .... What else, what better, is there? But I feel, as you must, deep sorrow and grief for two lovely friends of former years\". And yet this tragedy - and other such tragedies - in a way illustrate the tragedy in our world, of madness and unspeakable brutality, killing love. \"I am the Resurrection and the Life\" - these words were originally spoken by Jesus to Martha after the death of her brother Lazarus; Martha of kitchen fame, who at one time was unable to sit and listen. These are words which in no way diminish the tragedy of what had happened, and suggest no practical means by which anyone could improve the situation. They are words which say that where death and suffering bring a complete halt to life and conventional belief, God creates utterly new life and creates it now. Moreover, if by contemplating those words we receive them into our heart, then we too become the Resurrection and the Life to those we meet. We are the touch of God.

Perhaps it strikes some as scandalous that we can seem to talk with such apparent conceit of ourselves. However, Jesus said \"you will do as great works as I do, yea even greater works, because I go to the Father\". We are intended to be children of God, born not by human desire, but of God. We are designed to be filled with God. That is what our Christian belief is about.  Jesus said that the way to God dwelling in us and to our prayer being answered was to obey his command, which was to \"love one another as I have loved you\".  If such love characterises our Christian community, then our faith will grow and it will not seem odd that God touches people through us. It is not good advice, philosophical answers, or all too human i mprovements that we bring, but the life of God. \"What else, what better, is there?\"

Our contemplation is precisely about this, the life of God within us, and our being woken up to the life of God in all things. The FCP way of contemplation has three elements, Mind, Heart and Will, three elements that serve to focus and intensify the life of God within us. It is a way that takes seriously our mind, our reason and emotions. It takes seriously the fact that as humans we must be still so that the life of God can flourish within us. It takes seriously the fac t that the life of God is about love, about working and creating in our world.  If we are truly awake, as Jesus said we were to be, then our whole world and our whole lives become an expression of the love of God. An analogy might be the light bulb, which needs to be constructed properly through scientific understanding, but only is truly itself when a power from outside fills it with incandescence, whereupon it sheds light and makes living possible.

We each have different points at which we move from Mind to Heart to Will in our contemplative praying, bu t the focus of it is the point at which we are made incandescent by the Word of God within us, when we become transparent to God\'s presence. I must say, I do not always feel incandescent! For me the presence of God is usually seen in its fruits, in events coming together at the right time, in being at the right place at the right time, in an understanding of scripture which reveals God in the right way at the right time, in prayers being answered. These don\'t all happen at once! They are simply examples of how I personally can say I have experienced the fruits of the presence of God.

\"I am the Resurrection\" - new life comes after we have in some way died. \"I am the life\" - the life of God is unconditional, it is there, it is abundant, it is beyond our human understanding, it cannot be planned. As we wrestle with the meaning of life both in its joys and tragedies, let us begin by taking to heart \"I am the Resurrection and the Life\". In this way we begin to understand how our whole world and our whole lives become an expression of the love of God, and begin to transform and give ho pe to the lives of others.

With my love and prayers,     Charles Dobbin,