Posts by Ruth Alkema

Reflections on Good Friday

It was a lovely Good Friday this year. I left the morning service feeling profoundly comforted by the idea that I need not try and bend my emotions into a state of remorse, focusing more on accepting Jesus’ gift instead, and wondering about the meaning of sacrifice. I went for a walk, enjoying the obvious beginnings of spring. For some reason, my attention had been captured by a very short sentence in the sermon: ‘when…

Healing a broken heart

The LORD is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18) I once asked: “Can we heal the soul, if it was wounded?”. I have come to the conclusion that the answer is ‘yes, we can contribute to the health of our souls’. This is not intended as a success story: I am thoroughly aware that we live in a broken world, where many things are not cured, regardless of how…

Love loves love

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8) I’ve embarked on the daunting project of trying to make sense of the Trinity. Daunting indeed, because really, I am quite sure that my brain is too limited to understand God. Still, I wish fervently to be open to reality and get to know whatever God wants to show us of himself, just in…

The End of the Affair

A book review of ‘The End of the Affair’ by Graham Greene. Warning: the following review does contain some spoilers, I need to explain some of the plot in order to describe why it moved me so. I will restrict that to the minimum, but if you want to be surprised, then you must stop reading now and read the book first. “This is a record of hate more than of love,” writes Maurice Bendrix…

Important things are not rational

There is the funny story of two scientists who meet at the house of one of them. The visitor notices a horseshoe on the wall and says: “Surely you aren’t superstitious?”, whereupon the other replies: “No, but I’ve been told that it works even for people who don’t believe in it.” I like this joke, because it puzzles me. Does this scientist now believe in horseshoes or not? I think his actions betray that he…

Wait patiently for the Lord

Wait patiently for the Lord. Be brave and courageous. Yes, wait patiently for the Lord.(Ps. 27:14)
Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a desire fulfilled is a tree of life. (Proverbs 13:12)

“Wait patiently for the Lord”: It is a recurring theme in the psalms, as for example in Psalm 27 quoted above. It reminds me of moral stories, that we tell children to teach them that honesty will eventually be rewarded, although that may take long. But how long? At what point will we conclude that perhaps God’s plans are different, and opt for second-best? Will our hearts become sick by the deferred hope, as explained in Proverbs 13:12? How will we find the promised life?

My relationship with God

Written in response to an invitation in the #LiveLent 2018 app, where it said: “Make some time to write down the story of your relationship with God, how it began, how it has grown, what it means today”.

Can we have a relationship with God? What would, or could, be the nature of that relationship? Is anything like an equal balance and mutual respect possible? When I read the invitation in the Live Lent app, I was immediately enthusiastic to reflect on my own relationship with God, which has not always been easy, but still fills me with gratitude, awe and love.

Longing for God

O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you; my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water. — Ps 63:1

This is a translation of a text that I wrote earlier (February 2016) in Dutch, for the congregation of the Jeruzalemkerk.

A long time ago I heard in the time before Easter a sermon in which Psalm 63 was quoted. Particularly verse 3: Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you. I considered this, and thought it was quite nonsensical. I thought: “What point is there in having a God when you are not alive?” And honestly, I still think that it is humanly impossible to believe in God’s love, when in this life we do not receive that which we need.

Inspiration speaks to the heart

Words which emanate from the heart, enter the heart (Jewish saying) My fascination with words has led me to write ‘Words of Life’ and ‘Meaningful Words’. While I was writing those, I knew in my heart that a third needed to be written. For there are words that go beyond the surface of our understanding, and actually do something within our hearts. How does this work? How can words move us, touch our hearts, and…

You, child

And you, child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High, for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way, to give his people knowledge of salvation by the forgiveness of all their sins. Luke 1:76-79 No human being can pay full attention to the words that he or she is praying every single day, and apparently this is how God would have it. Sometimes, particularly at crisis points in our lives,…