Our Hidden Rooms

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Blenheim Palace is one of the most photographed buildings in England. Many pictures also encompass its lake with the Grand Bridge.  At first sighting, we think that it is made of solid stone. But it has a secret. For, inside the bridge are many rooms that were used to entertain the guests of the Dukes of Marlborough. Today, these are closed to the public as some are full of rubble, others are submerged in water, and one needs a boat to enter.

Christ didn’t see people differently, he saw their hidden ‘rooms’.  He perceived secret strengths and abilities in others that we overlook. That’s why he asked Peter to found the church with his unseen leadership and determination. He wasn’t disappointed.

I wonder what he sees in me?

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Time to Harvest?

My home is in the countryside surrounded by fields. Yesterday, the local farmer had obviously thought it was time to harvest her crops and sow seed for next year. She had also read the weather forecast for rain and, as a result, she and her hands worked through the night. Even at dawn, their tractors could be heard toiling away.

Christ talked a lot about harvesting crops. While he didn’t refer to the weather much, he did tell us to read the times. Then and only then, could we know what he wants us to do.

These are difficult times to read but the headlines are obvious.  It is especially clear that our planet is reaching a crossroads environmentally. Maybe then, God’s word is to think carefully what we are doing so that future generations will have the privilege of harvesting any crop at all. landscape-982178_1920

The House of Second Chances

A great story of the name of a new home…

Real as the Streets

Historically, special estates are given names. For example:

  • Satis House (Great Expectations, Charles Dickens)
  • Grey Gardens (Long Island home of the Bouvier Beales)
  • The White House (Home of the United States President)

Much like a boat or a child, naming something makes it unique and set apart. Now that I’ve officially been a homeowner for two months (yay!), I want to name my house.

I woke up wondering what I could call this humble abode. This place that saved me from an single room apartment on the wrong side of town.

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As I was researching ideas to revamp old patio furniture and upcycle items, it came to me. My home is where I:

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It’s all in the mind

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Last night’s movie was ‘Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows’. It’s a very dark story which must be quite scary for children. Not least that the hero dies. But in a scene set in a heavenly King Cross Station, Harry asks the dead Dumbledore, “Is this all going on in my head or is it real?”. To which the sage replies, “It can be going on in your head but still be real.”  At the saga’s end, Harry does rid the world of Voldemort and they all live happily ever after.

Today, there are a few who have created nasty worlds in their heads and are striving to make them a reality. the killing of innocence personified in a 7-year-old boy and the waving of a flag which over 80million died to defeat are good examples.

However, there are others who have a vision of a better planet of everyone and are valiant in trying to bring it into reality. Indeed, Christ talked repeatedly about ‘the Kingdom coming’. He had that better place constantly in his mind. With him, the quest then goes on to make it a reality so that more of us can live happily now as well as ever after.

Hardwick Pair

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Together the surveyed Hardwick’s glassy lake. Reflected in it, was their constellation far up in the starry sky. They had seen it often and as a couple, they would gaze at it again. For they together had weathered their own storms and days of darkness. And so, as one, they were forever bound.
But it was time to move on. Their young had grown, found wing and fled. The year too showed signs of turning and the earth tilting. At dawn, they made ready to leave for a warmer season elsewhere.
Out, out into the waters, they swam. Soundlessly, they wished each other well. They pushed through the leaden water, gained speed until they were free in the air. Flapping their long wings, the Hardwick pair stretched their necks towards the rising sun.
A bystander watched with breath held tight, thinking only of the elegance of paired swans in flight.

The Cyclist’s Fight — Tayview’s Blog

Through the illness, this moment kept him going. He unearthed his bike and dusted it off after long disuse. He mounted and the wind breathed on his face. Down the main street with a few early shoppers barely glancing at the lycra-clad figure speeding pass. He, however, enjoyed being on a surfboard weaving easily around […]

via The Cyclist’s Fight — Tayview’s Blog

Armour of Christ

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Ephesians 6.10-20

 

Ferreting around to find a good book to read on holiday, I made a surprising discovery. It appears most popular at the moment are paranormal stories where zombies, vampires and invisible worlds abound. And that’s a problem if you just want a good down-to-earth thriller like The Day of the Jackal or House of Cards.

Yet if we listen to Saint Paul, these genres of fiction are similar.  Since, in this morning’s passage, he is saying that people alone don’t do malevolent deeds. Repressive regimes, endemic corruption and mass brutality are not tares just of the human mind. Instead, he sees these being inspired and encouraged by supernatural forces. For Paul then, the world’s ills are due to real entities of wickedness and evil.

 

But is he being a shade melodramatic? Maybe, he is headline grabbing?

 

Well, just looking at last week. The news alone suggests that various nasty viruses are once more running riot. Since we hear of outbreaks of racism and segregation and partition. And it is believable that these violent outpourings come from a cosmic power of nastiness. It is easy to think of genies being let out of bottles. It is easiest of all to connect with David Keig who wrote:

I dreamt I saw the devil

The devil I did see

I know it was the devil

Because the devil is in me.

 

How then does Paul suggest we defeat this malicious entity?

 

Well, he suggests we strap on the armour of Christ. Or, put in the way of the current crop of penny dreadful books, we need supernatural charms to fight off supernatural foes.

 

If you are of a certain age, you will remember Dixon of Dock Green. At the end of each programme, the worthy constable gave a homily dressed in his helmet, tie and tunic. Today we see police officers dressed more appropriately for their demanding roles. Yet, in all honesty, I still find their grey and masked anti-terrorist outfits a tad daunting.

 

However, the lesson is clear. We too need to don Christ’s armour and weapons suitable for today and not the past.

 

Take the belt of truth. Nowadays, like Pilate, we can all ask – what is truth?  Because we face an incessant swirl of comments, opinions and views. We hear about fake news. Statistics, reports and dodgy facts drown us. And this uncontrollable deluge tempts us to change heart even to lose heart. But we can still find truth can with calm thought, quiet prayer and keeping in mind what we believe. Since if we remain certain we have experienced a loving God and a living Christ, we will find the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the divine truth.

 

Next, we can build on this truthful experience. That means using the shield of faith. For if have known God’s safety and guidance in the past, we can have faith that these gifts will continue. We can use this guarantee to bat away the naysayers. Those who say today’s problems are too complex. Those who are convinced that the world is irretrievable. Worse still, those who dismiss our own difficulties and maladies as insoluble. For it is with the shield of faith we will deflect those stings which deflate our hope and undermine our determination.

 

Finally, let us not forget the adage ‘the best form of defence is attack’. Because we must also wield the sword of the spirit. As a result, we must read scripture and listen to the word of God in finding our response to this world’s evils. That entails thinking through what God want us to do in every situation of conflict. That means requesting Christ to show us the way to action, resolution and reconciliation.

 

Is all this effortless?

 

In 1961 the Soviet Union shocked the free world by sending the first man into space. One month later, the USA followed with a 15-minute sub-orbital flight by Alan Sheppard. Everyone was excited, but problems abounded to actually putting a human into orbit. Yet that did not stop President John F. Kennedy making an almost unbelievable announcement. Because he then called on his nation to land a man on the Moon. Many thought this was impossible. But he then said,” We choose to go to the moon. We choose to go to the moon in this decade, not because it is easy, but because it is hard.”

 

Planet-wide problems have not been solved because they are hard. Our community’s issues appear intractable because they are difficult.  Our own tribulations seem insoluble because they are so complex.

 

But today we have a choice. We can join people everywhere who are giving into a spirit of helplessness, lassitude and even wickedness.

Or we can, like Kennedy, be undaunted even inspired to do what is hard. We can put on the armour and weapons of Christ. We can indeed fight the good fight.
Will you then this morning proclaim, “With the Lord’s help, I will fight that fight. I will serve this year. I will make a difference?” Because this is the year. Today is the day. This is the moment.

So, go on, sign up now.

 

Amen

 

Blue Balloon

ball-2218339_1920“I am a blue balloon,

I am a blue balloon not a red balloon,

I am a blue balloon living in a world

Of red balloons.”

 

Perhaps because it was a blue balloon, it was let go. Even the wind was not keen to take it. The balloon bounced along the ground before a gust lifted it grudgingly into the air. It soared higher, hungry for freedom. It was away from that mean town with its traffic aggressive in pushing through narrowness.

 

The balloon gained height and passed over a park with souls below escaping the shove of their existence. But only the geese looked up and envied its ease of flight.

 

A motorway, a castle and a patchwork of fields followed as the balloon picked up speed on a freshening breeze. Village, farm and hill passed by in the crystal light of that crisp day. No one looked up at the growing balloon skipping high above.

 

Before long, the coast appeared with the blue of the sea flecked with boats braving the tides and waves. Then, just as the balloon knocked on the door of the stratosphere and bloated with expanding gas, it burst asunder. It gave its blueness back to sky leaving the world to the held-fast red.