Eileen Regan

Eileen Regan

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December

Thursday, 04 July 2013 22:15

Blessed are they who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they shall be filled.

Reading: Isaiah 55

Hunger and thirst are basic words. They are powerful metaphors for what move us most, what is deepest within our beings. It was no accident or coincidence that Jesus used these specific words. If our hunger increases unabated, if our thirst is not quenched, eventually we die. They’re basic words, and they highlight what is necessary to keep us alive. The same basic truth applies to the spiritual dimension. Jesus tells us that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, then everything else will be given as well. In other words we shall be satisfied, filled, lacking no good thing.

The word righteousness really means right relationships. It is the heartbeat of what we call justice, the desire for which pervades, or should pervade the whole of creation. What we are challenged with in this beatitude is right relationships between ourselves and God, with our own inner beings, with the other and with the whole of the created order.

There is, if you like, a God shaped gap or hole inside each of us, and no matter how much we try to fill it with other things, its still there, no matter how well we perform, no matter how we busy ourselves, there’s still this yearning and aching. Isn’t it wonderful to think that there’s always more, that God is a God of lavish generosity and he delights to give gifts to humankind. If we have been faithful in using the one, he’s going to make us faithful over more. He never gifts us for ourselves alone. There’s always a treasure to share with others as we exercise the gift in thirsting for right relationships. And as we are faithful in the little, then God will lead us into bigger and deeper areas where righteousness is demanded. At the very end of Psalm 85, almost like a postscript, there is this amazing and challenging statement: “Righteousness goes as a herald before him preparing the way for his steps.” What is it that prepares the way for God to come? It is right relationships that open up the way for him, and are the prerequisite for a fresh outpouring of his Spirit. And as we seek, as we hunger and thirst, the promise is that we shall be filled.

Jesus never lost his thirst for unity, for reconciliation between God and his people and between those who were hostile to each other. Throughout John’s Gospel that thirst is always to the fore. It is his passion. Even nailed to the cross that burning desire never leaves him. His penultimate cry before he dies is, “I am thirsty.” It is a thirst that those who crucified him did not understand. But it is followed by the word of affirmation, the cry of triumph, “It is finished!” Years later St. Paul was to write with total assurance: “He (that is, Jesus) has broken down the wall of hostility that used to separate us. His purpose was to make peace – by creating in himself one new person from the two groups. Together as one body, Christ reconciled both groups to God by means of his death, and our hostility towards each other was put to death.” It is finished. Jesus has already done it. What we are asked to do is simply to pick up the challenge and get on with living out what has already happened.

Suggestions for Sharing: 

  • What is it that your spirit hungers and thirsts for?
  • How can you set about restoring relationship within yourself

November

Thursday, 04 July 2013 22:10

Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.

Reading: Matthew 11: 25-30

Words like meekness and gentleness run counter culture, certainly in the Western world today. They are low in people’s list of priorities, if they feature there at all. In most there is a desire to dominate, to be in control. Much of this may arise out of a deep insecurity. Not content with, or perhaps not even knowing who they really are, terrified of being seen as less than strong, taking over from other people and from God, unable to wait, to listen, to be ‘servant.’ Littleness has no value in today’s world, yet, seemingly, it has first place in God’s kingdom.

Some of the confusion arises from wrong definitions. Contrary to popular perception, meekness is not the same as being shy, or always putting oneself down, or retreating into the background or becoming a doormat! It’s about something far greater, with heart expanding, mind blowing consequences that can inspire, challenge and bless. Perhaps the word that comes nearest to describing it is humility. All of the great prophetic voices throughout the ages, including the present, have this mantle as part of their vital equipment. It is not something that can be bought or inherited, but something that is hard won as these great souls, in the knowledge of their ‘littleness’ struggle through to an intimacy with God that the rest of us can only wonder at. And this intimacy does not diminish who they are in their God given creation. I can think of Jean Vanier, Martin Luther King, Gandhi, Dorothy Day, Brother Roger, Mother Teresa, Richard Rohr, Oscar Romero and many, many others who, recognising both their own littleness and the greatness of God changed, or are in the process of changing the world of their day.

Jesus indicates that when we learn from him meekness/humility then we will find rest. Where does rest come from? It comes from knowing that no matter who we are, where we’ve come from, whatever our gifts and abilities or lack of them, we are loved. In that security we can let go of the masks and the striving and rest in the knowledge that we are cherished – just as we are. Those who know themselves to be the little ones, who take upon themselves the easy yoke and the light burden of Jesus, even now receive the promise of this beatitude. They inherit the earth in the sense that they are given what could never be bought – an intimacy of relationship with him, a sense of being at home with him and of receiving his promises. From such a place of blessing we, too, could change the world of our day!

Suggestions for Sharing: 

  • What are the ‘heavy burdens’ you (and we as a community) need to lay down in order to find the rest that Jesus promises?
  • Each person has something in their lives that has been ‘big’ for them, something that made a difference in their world, even if it seemed little to outsiders. Can you take time to share that with the group?

September

Tuesday, 02 July 2013 20:13

Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

Reading: Mark 10: 17-31

There is a longing in all of us for a safe place, somewhere where we are cherished, where our needs are met. For many it is a place where we feel in control, where possessions and money are our security. The more we have the more 'independent' we become. We think we can make it on our own - without God.

While this beatitude does not specifically refer to those who are economically poor or destitute (a sizable proportion of the world's population), it is true that those who are literally impoverished often don't have any refuge but God. All barriers are down. They know that he alone is their security. There isn't anything or anyone else. To be stripped of even some of the things that have been the shelter from life's storms for us is a frightening place to be. It can leave us feeling naked and vulnerable. If, however, we have taken a little time to cultivate a space within where Jesus is welcome, where the riches of friendship with him are nurtured, then some of the menacing shadows disappear.

Once a rich man came to Jesus, really wanting to follow him, but he was already "full". Jesus said to him, "Sell all you have". In other words, "i love you. Do you love me enough to allow me space, to nurture a relationship that will be life giving, one that will be your ultimate security?" the man couldn't respond to what he was being offered. He was possessed by his possessions!

With each beatitude, there comes a promise. For those who recognise their need of God, the promise here is that the kingdom of heaven is theirs - already - and not at some vague point after death. We can in this present moment begin to experience what it is to be a citizen of the Kingdom in the here and now as we discover our true place of safety in God.

Jesus once told a story about a priceless pearl of love of which a man sold everything. is there within me an urge to do that, perhaps not literally but in terms of my priorities? In finding the treasure I begin to discover that I, too, am special, unique, a priceless pearl to Jesus. The bottom line is God loves me just as I am. And love is cause for celebration and the Kingdom is celebration. It's a place where I know that in my poverty, he is my wealth; in my emptiness, he is my fullness; owing nothing, I am possessed of all things needful.

Suggestions for Sharing:

  • Where is my safe place? Where would I like it to be?
  • Is there somebody in your family, your church, your community who needs to hear from you that they are a priceless pearl?

 

 

 

 

 

History of Restoration Ministries

Tuesday, 02 July 2013 20:01

Restoration Ministries was formally established as a charity in 1988. Since 1977 Ruth had been parish minister in Kilmakee Presbyterian Church, Seymour Hill, Dunmurry – a large housing estate on the outskirts of Belfast. During these years, that spanned some of the toughest times of the conflict, there had been highlighted for her and others not only the desperate need for reconciliation, but also, and probably initially more important, the need for people to recognise their true identity as beloved daughters and sons of God. Those years saw at least a number of people move from a second hand religion to a living friendship/faith. From such a standpoint it was not so easy to label or dismiss others who were different from them. There also began a prayer ministry for healing, in particular the healing of some of the emotional wounds and scars that everyone carries with them, both immediate and ancestral.

This work grew so much that in 1988 a small interdenominational group got together to pray about the future. The words from Psalm 23 became central, especially the line ‘He restores my soul.’ So Restoration Ministries was born. After three years Ruth left the congregation to work full time in this fledgling ministry. Over the years we have quietly continued to be present to individuals from diverse backgrounds who need someone to listen and to pray. Running parallel to this largely hidden work we have also, through various events, lectures, group work and hospitality provided opportunities for people to meet one another and to build friendships, believing that it is through relationships that attitudes change.

In 1992 Restoration Ministries bought the manse that had been the property of Kilmakee and it became our centre. In 1994 we built an extension, providing us with an attractive conference room and more space in which to welcome people. We have operated largely through a willing band of volunteers. For twelve years until 2010, Eithne Agnew was our invaluable PA and since 2001 we have been blessed to have Rose Ozo as our current PA/secretary.

We have never been funded by any church or government agency, with the exception of grants from Community Relations for specific events and individual gifts from some parishes. In the early years we were grateful to be supported by some wonderful Trusts and in more recent times through the generosity of individuals who have been grasped by the vision of what we seek to do. That generosity is still needed and so much appreciated. Ruth remains a minister with recognised standing within the Presbyterian Church but the ministry is entirely non-denominational and our Board members are drawn from the Catholic and Presbyterian traditions.

In 2011, due to the recession, we took the reluctant decision to sell Restoration House. After a year in transit, when we availed ourselves of the generous hospitality of St Brigid’s Parish, Derryvolgie, Belfast, we are now established in a greatly downsized but already much loved property in Harmony Drive, between Belfast and Lisburn. The focus of these years seems to be in Ruth taking out to other parts of Ireland and much farther afield something of what we have lived together over the long years, in the hope that this will give others ‘food for their journey’ also. Those volunteers who still pilgrim with us provide huge prayer and practical support.

The golden thread running through our story is always prayer and, arising out of that, a continually growing awareness of the challenges that beckon as we seek to be part of the world wide family of God in all its diversity and belovedness.

General Information

Sunday, 30 June 2013 15:49

The Theme for the 2013 -2014 Guidelines is ‘Sacrament of Encounter.’

In late May 2013, Rev Ruth Patterson was invited by L’Arche Canada to give talks on ‘Pathways to Peace,’ facilitate Reflection Day for L’Arche Greater Vancouver and to share in ‘Wisdom on the Journey: Walking to a Sacred Place’ conference in Calgary.

Directors Emeritus

Sunday, 16 June 2013 22:21
  • Mr Jay Russell
  • Fr Miceal O'Neill
  • Mrs Phyllis Ritchie
  • Sr Jo Quinn

Rev Ruth Patterson

Friday, 14 June 2013 22:14

Our Director is a Presbyterian minister, Retreat Director, Conference Speaker and Spiritual Director.

THE SPRING NEWSLETTER IS NOW ONLINE

Wednesday, 29 May 2013 22:13

Click here to read our Easter 2013 Newsletter

Let This Be Your Attitude

Tuesday, 14 May 2013 21:38

Dear Friends,

These are the sixteenth set of Faith and Friendship Guidelines that have been offered as a stimulus to group sharing and as encourager to that building of friendship in Christ which is one of the chief motives for our existence. Over the years we have looked at many different themes from both the Old Testament and the New. This year there has been a request that we return to what was our focus in the very first edition, namely the Beatitudes. We have travelled a long way over the last fifteen years, both on our inner and outer journeys. Naturally, therefore, what I share with you over these months will not be exactly the same as it was then, but the underlying drumbeat of the mercy, justice, truth and peace of God, all held within the steadfast love which is his supreme hallmark, will hopefully be instantly recognisable. When you break the word ‘beatitude’ down, it really means ‘let this be your attitude.’ Throughout the pages of the New Testament we are urged to have the same attitude as Jesus had. You can read about that in Philippians 2:5-11. The beatitudes embody the person and the spirit of Jesus. The person most like Jesus, the Blessed One, is a beatitude person, a kingdom person. In Matthew 5 we read that Jesus, seeing the huge crowds, went up a mountainside, presumably so that all could hear – and began to teach. I like to think that he saw in the spirit, not just the crowds who were there on that day, but all those who would follow afterwards, the generations right through history of every tribe and race, who would hear these words and be challenged with what it means to be such a person.

The whole of good news living could be summed up in these eight little statements that really paint a picture of the sort of life Jesus desires for and of us. They shatter many myths, they lead us into strange truth, an upside down kingdom but a real one nonetheless – one that we eventually see is the right way up! As we seek to live them, we bless each other, we bless the community in which we live and work and worship, and we bless the world.

If we take these seriously, this will not be an easy journey. We have some climbing to do. May we be constantly aware of our Guide and Companion who has already scaled the steepest heights for you, for me and for all of humankind.

May you be blessed as you journey.

Ruth

P.S. There will be suggestions for sharing at the end of each reflection. I would like to propose that in relation to our ‘doing’ we might like to think how, as a group, we could in some little way live out the beatitude for each month! For example, during Advent perhaps we could arrange beforehand to fast for all or part of the day of our meeting. Then we could meet together for a simple meal and share with each other our thoughts about hungering and thirsting. We might even want to make a small donation (whatever we might have spent, say, on lunch) towards the relief of world hunger.

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