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The Tree

4m1W7GThe tree remembered being planted in the churchyard those many summers ago. For he saw the young daughter of the squire slipping in a copy of that new book on ‘Pride and Prejudice’ to wile away the long sermon. This blissful rural scene was oblivious to the battles being fought on land and sea to fence in the tyrant Napoleon.
The tree brought to mind the parishioners chattering excitedly having been told of a war far away over whether humans could own humans; trees never own each other more than they can own God’s sunlight.

He then lived many summers and slept for many winters before Johnny, the blacksmiths boy, proud in his khaki uniform marched off to France.  A few months later, his family came weeping to the yard even though Johnny had no grave there.

It seems hardly any summers at all after the Great War, that his branches were swept back by a gaudily painted plane sprouting smoke and crosses flew overhead with another firing in pursuit. Now he saw the night sky filled with new stars, all talking to each other as they silently rotated above.
More recently, he was overjoyed when a young family came to stay in the disused church which had been converted to a house.  They played in his shadow and touched his bark in games. And so, he felt the pain even more as the chainsaw cut into his flesh to make way for another room for washing, games and fitness machines. But through it all, he knew sorrow for humans who neither live for summer or sleep in winter but destroy or are destroyed in ever season.

 

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A good thought for Christmas

Desmond Tuto quotation

Excellent thought about forgiveness

 

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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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Eulogies to Life

Today I heard another eulogy at a memorial service. With time you pick up certain patterns. Firstly there is a broad outline of the life celebrated. Then we hear  the funny stories – the little events that bring smiles of remembrance and love. But there is always mention of the trials and tribulations faced and usually conquered. The whole story of each life then is a mixture, an amalgam and a pastiche that is bitter sweet.

Well this afternoon’s service included the playing of the theme from Colin Dexter’s Inspector Morse – a British detective series based around Oxford. And for the first time I noticed the depth of this music. It was a bitter-sweet tune which seemed to encapsulate not just the funny and the sad but the mystery, contradiction and enigma which is  life. I was going to comment of this fact. But left it, for the music had spoken the better for me.

 

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A vexing day

Yesterday was a vexing day! By all accounts it was a vexing day. It started with my car not just failing its annual road test, it also requires a very expensive repair. This bad news was followed by a series of meetings each with its vexing moments. and all this was punctuated by those silent calls probably spewing out from call centres with dubious purpose.

 

Yet through out the various annoyances,  I saw something else. It was flashes of people in need. In fact, folk more vexed than I was and with much better reason.

 

The day ended with me watching ‘My house in Umbria’ in between phone calls. It is a gentle comedy which nevertheless deals with many difficult life issues. And in it we see the various characters dealing with their own and others’ brokenness. In the end, it is their mutual acceptance of what sometimes is vexing beyond solution that they find acceptance – they find healing – they find contentment at least for the day.

 

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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.

 

 
 
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