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Christmas Nights

Bright Christmas Tree designAs a child the most magical of times were the nights before Christmas. The Christmas tree with its multicoloured lights, I imagined had a thousand places within its boughs where tiny arboreal people lived, the wall decorations cast sparkling reflections from the open fire and bedtime was less of a chore as each sleep got me closer to ‘the night’. Christmas Eve itself was succession of wakenings so that I could reach down to the bottom of my bed to feel the long woolly sock. This was of course in expectation that Santa had been to fill it. Time and time again the garment was disappointingly empty. Then… then as if by magic, it felt fat and heavy and above all crinkly with the small presents inside. Sleep was gone for ever as the woollen sausage was hauled up and item after item retrieved from its innards. Sweets, toy cars and once a flute were unwrapped and put to usually noisy use. In some ways this little gifts were more looked forward to than their bigger companions hopefully below the tree itself . It was as if then these were gifts in dreams rather than of dreams.

 

But what now of the Christmas nights in late adulthood? Well, it has to be said that most are too similar to those of the rest of the year to get much notice. But from time to time, the old spirit of excitement wells up. And for an instant there is something special about them. For if we are open, there is a whiff of wood-smoke mellowness, a sense of a deeper hope and an intangible feeling that this year things will be different. In fact, strange as it may seem, at the end of the year we can sniff a new beginning.

 

However, unlike childhood’s desire to rush towards the big day, now we want to walk to towards it slower and to linger in each minute of carolling waiting. We want to stop the clock.

 

Needless to say we can neither hurry this time nor decrease the pace of its passing. On the other hand, we can relish each second as it passes, open it as the presents they are and savour the thought – the thought as to how we could make the next one bigger and even better.

 
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Posted by on 21/12/2014 in christianity

 

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Street Preaching – effective?

This is worth thinking about!

The Pondering Alchemist

Well these are my highly critical observations about street preaching, at least from within New Zealand.

People Type A attempt to preach on the streets to People Type B.

People Type A are different people to People Type B.

Too different.

When Type A speak, Type B struggle to understand what they are harping on about. Type A conform to the injection myth which is that no matter what I say or how I say it, because it makes sense to me it will make sense to you. Therefore the more I inject information into you, the more you will hear from Jesus. Thus the louder I preach, the better the message gets.

But no matter how ‘anointed’ we think we are, people cannot make sense of a different language. Hardly half the story spurts out as Jesus is ripped out of his own context. And let’s be honest, it…

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Here and Now

Picture courtesy of Rome.info

panorama_vatican

This week will see an ever increasing attention on Rome by the world. Since Papal conclaves naturally fascinate the faithful and the unbeliever in almost equal measure. More to the point for today is that the new leader of the Roman Catholic Church will have a global influence on the future of the whole Christian Church not least in the way that those outside see it.

From that viewpoint, I have been more observant of the news than usual. Yet this has thrown up some surprises. Not least a Catholic priest in St Peter’s Square, on being asked about possible changes the new Pope might bring in, claimed that such possibilities would not happen as they were not of God. Next day, a Channel 4 commentator made clear that  without changes the Roman Catholic Church and, by inference, Christianity would fizzle out.

Both speakers seemed intimate with what God thought! Yet who can? For the last lines of Minnie Louise Haskins’ often quoted poem – I said to the man at the gate of the year – are much less repeated. But they contain a warning for they are:

In all the dizzy strife,

of things both high and low

God hideth his intentions.

Let us then put our hand into the hand of God, look after the now and trust Him to take care of both the past and future.

 

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Some Summer Thoughts

Well it is the holiday season again. Hopefully, this year we will see more clement weather than we have seen previously. For, there is no doubt about it, holidays are far better with holiday sunshine!

 

Yet there must be more to days away from our daily toil, than just enjoying warmth and fresh air. Since real breaks also involve thinking just what is important in our journeying.

 

Now as a frequent visitor to National Trust and other stately homes on holiday, I often get ‘on the chat’ with the various room attendants who must guard the many treasures on display. And what an interesting ‘crew’ they tend to be! Take for example, the lady who had installed the latest green power generation system in her Yorkshire house or the one who had an encyclopaedic knowledge of weekend house parties in the 20’s. However, none can rival the guide who informed me, when I had planked myself down in a window seat at Sandringham, that ‘The Queen also likes to sit there’!

 

Indeed, every holiday encounter is a reminder that when we are relaxed and at leisure there is no better time to share companionship in the way that Christ would want us too. Because that is the time-honoured way of the pilgrim; or as a prayer in Ely Cathedral goes:

 

God of pilgrimage, be with me on

My journey through life;

Guard and defend me,

Shelter and feed me,

Challenge and inspire me,

Teach me and lead me,

And when my journey has ended

Welcome me home at last –

To rest in your love forever.

 

May these words go with you wherever you may roam this summer.

 

 

Walk with God

Dear friends,

Well, our new ‘term’ at St Luke’s has started off with a bang! Already we have enjoyed our Art & Craft Exhibition, reconsidered how we use our gifts from God in our Stewardship Campaign and held another most enjoyable film night and camping weekend. Of course, our Guild will soon start up with a superb programme of talks and fellowship. Nevertheless, we must never forget that which makes our companionship unique and that is its spiritual dimension. To that end, I have preached a sermon series on ‘called to be’ and am preparing to talk about the Reformation over a number of Sundays.  Similarly, I have got around, at long last, to launching the Emmaus Christian Course; this is a series of studies primarily aimed at those wanting develop their faith as well as new Christians and those inquiring into what we believe and stand for. And, needless to say, our Sunday School and Youth group are also off to a cracking start.

However, this autumn we must not lose sight of our own personal walk with God; an aspect of ourselves that we can easily forget through tiredness, busyness and distractions. I know that when life is hectic, it is often my inner meeting up with Christ that gets scored out of the diary. And this was the very point made by our Elder who preached at the Elders’ Service in August (sermon included in this edition of ‘The Notes’). For Elaine most appositely reminded us of the need to be quiet and know again our friend, Saviour and Creator. In fact, it is this very need to close down to the world and open up to God’s Spirit that prompted me to getting back to listening to the audio meditations from http://www.pray-as-you-go.org.

However, if you are less ‘techie’, don’t worry! There is plenty of material around to help focus the mind on the true essentials of life. Perhaps a few minutes pondering a verse from the Bible are all you need to drink deep from the fountain of spiritual refreshment. Because there is no doubt that scripture, thoughtful, prayerfully and intelligently used, is as Ezekiel describes “But the river itself, on both banks, will grow fruit trees of all kinds. Their leaves won’t wither, the fruit won’t fail. Every month they’ll bear fresh fruit because the river from the Sanctuary flows to them. Their fruit will be for food and their leaves for healing.”

Let me then leave you with a morning prayer, to help you towards having a spiritually rewarding day:

O light of light, O Dayspring bright,

Co-equal in thy Father’s light:

Assist us, as with prayer and psalm

Thy servants break the nightly calm.

All darkness from our minds dispel,

And turn to flight the hosts of hell:

Bid sleepfulness our eyelids fly,

Lest overwhelmed in sloth we lie.

Jesu, thy pardon, kind and free,

Bestow on us who trust in thee:

And as thy praises we declare,

O with acceptance hear our prayer.

O Father, that we ask be done,

Through Jesus Christ, thine only Son,

Who, with the Holy Ghost and thee,

Doth live and reign eternally.

With every blessing

Graham

Emmaus Christian Course

Tuesdays @ 2 p.m.

Choir Room

Come along and ask for yourself

 
 

A Marketing Strategy

Luke 10.1-9

Acts 3.1-10

Not so long ago Black & Decker were preparing for a large promotional campaign. And to get the angle just right for their advertising, they sent out market researchers to find what ‘Joe Soap’ actually wanted. They returned with the discouraging news that people didn’t want drills they wanted holes. In other words, they weren’t interested in power tools only what they can do for them.

Now that was not a surprising discovery really. Few of us get on a bus to have a ride in a Van Hool special – we get on to go somewhere. And here is an important point for the church. Because it is often said that those in church don’t want to evangelise others they just what full and vibrant services. On the other hand, those outside Christianity don’t want uninvited missionaries selling them religion on their door-steps. Where then is the answer?….

To read the full sermon, please click here.

 

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Sermon – The Bible as a gift from God

This week’s sermon is now posted at St Luke’s blog:

http://broughtystlukes.wordpress.com

 

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