We are Star Dust!

WE ARE GOLDEN

We are stardust, we are golden
We are billion year old carbon
And we got to get ourselves back to the garden”

Crosby, Stills, and Nash.   

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Amazing God,

when you took Abraham by the hand

and showed him the depths of the heavens

and the endless stars

whose numbers none can count,

you had already known and named

his descendants who would outnumber

the numberless.

As the psalmist says,

“all the days ordained for me were written in your book

before one of them came to be.”

 

We are billion year-old carbon

reimagined, knit together,

fearfully and wonderfully made.

A miracle indeed,

yet more miraculous still

made in your image

as golden as the stars.

 

We are not worthy

to be called your children

yet through our Lord, Jesus Christ,

you count us worthy!

 

Lead us as you led Abraham,

to dream dreams,

to see visions,

to step out in faith,

to be swept up into your great purposes,

to be worthy of our inheritance

as heirs of the promise.

A day without Mobile

adwinannerin

#mobile #day #addiction #survive #happiness #etc

A day without mobile. Can you..? ?
Today’s world not allow you to pass a day without mobile/net etc. There are many people in this same world living a happy quite life without these all. So just try it out atleast one day. And make it a habit. And see how free you are.., how happy your home is…, how happy your heart is..

Be happy with your loved ones.

If you not ready for a try to cure your addiction, then who ‘ll?

Just imagine if there won’t be any notifications to trouble you, no tweets to argue, No messages to tension you, no calls to make you anger etc etc etc. Enjoy your day to its fullest. What you are waiting for is so near you.. you can..

You all can…

Your body need a change. Your mind needs rest. Your life…

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Walk in Union with Him.

Well worth think through for our walk with Christ…

josephsdailywalkwithjesus

with-all-your-heart Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in [union with] Him [reflecting His character in the things you do and say—living lives that lead others away from sin],having been deeply rooted [in Him] and now being continually built up in Him and [becoming increasingly more] established in your faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing in it with gratitude. Colossians 2:6-7 Holy Bible Amplified Version

Do you walk in union with Christ every day?

Now how you gonna do that?

For me it begins with morning prayer and Bible reading. I begin by saying a prayer of thank you which then proceeds with a prayer for Divine providential care and guidance for myself and for others. Yes it is just as important for you to have a prayer list where you pray for brothers and sisters as well as for yourself. Yes make it personal…

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Christian False Advertising

Kathleen O’Sullivan tells of meeting Jesus as a tramp in a Fish & Chip shop. Where did you see him last?
I suppose it depends where you are looking and for whom.

Please read on…

Real as the Streets

Allow me to rant about my biggest pet peeve when it comes to Christianity. I’m talking about how mainstream Christianity has photoshopped Jesus into a marketable brand.

Mr. Christ is not a product.

Yet in this era of commercialism, our Lord and Saviour has been reduced to something of a commodity.

When marketers want to sell something what do they do? They doll it up and advertise. Please don’t misunderstand. I’m not bashing the Christian responsibility of sharing of the gospel.

I’m referring to all advertisements of Jesus as a blue-eyed Anglo Saxon.

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Safe home!

breakingGalatians 3.23-29

On Tuesday morning, one traumatized mother and daughter in Manchester said – they just wanted to get home where they would be safe. We too tend to think of home as a place of safety even of peace. It is our castle, refuge and fortress. Or as Mary Jac wrote:

 

May angels fly with you wherever you roam,

And guide you back safely to family and home.

 

 

Yet if we leave it as a citadel, we may find that we only have a house and not home.

Since a home is not directly equated to walls, roofs, patios and double glazing. In truth, we all know that our homes are much more than that. For we turn houses into our homes by making them places of happy memories. Places of growing and celebration and reunions.  Buildings usually become true homes where people feel included and include.

 

Paul knew that. And that is why he corrects the Galatians so firmly. Because not only were some needing utter obedience to the Jewish law to be a Christian, there also seems to have been racial and social barriers being thrown up as well. Put bluntly, their house was not a place of inclusion for all. It wasn’t a place of welcome for all. And so, it wasn’t a home to all.

 

Why?

 

Well, Paul mentions several divisions in his text. In Christianity, for him there are neither Greek nor Jew, male or female, free or slave.

 

Let’s think about the later – neither free or slave.

Now strange as it may seem to us today, Paul does not directly comment on his slave owning culture. In fact, we cannot be certain about his feelings towards slavery; it may well be he accepted it as just part of ancient Mediterranean life. But what he would not accept was that there was a different degree of humanity between free and slave. To him, Galatians whoever they were, had become one in Christ. They had been forged into one home congregation not by their rule keeping or social status but by including and being included by Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ alone.

 

Well of course we do not live in a society with legal slavery nowadays.  Yet whilst we cannot see that extreme division in our community, there are many other divisions. There are many who are included and excluded due to various unspoken rules and regulations. There are many who do not feel hugely home across our nation.

What is to be done?

 

I don’t know about you, but I do feel God close by when I am in the countryside or some great cathedral. But it is at home that I feel most intimate with him. For there is a great truth in the tapestry sampler so often seen on the Victorian wall. It said – Jesus is the silent guest every room and witness to every conversation.

 

If then we are to make our community a home, we need to include and be included, we need to help others grow towards their celebrated reunion with their creator. Above all, we need to free the slaves of loneliness, fears and difference. And we do that by welcoming them into a building that Christ is not a guest but the home-owner.

 

Something of this sort of welcome can be envisaged by the response to Steve Jones, one of the two homeless men who rushed to the Arena in Manchester on Monday night to help the wounded and dying.

 

I am pleased to tell you not only has a public appeal raised £20,000 for him but the owner of West Ham Football Club is giving him 6 months’ rent-free accommodation and he has even had a job offer.

 

Let us then rebuild our common community with inclusion for all. Let’s not get bound up in rules and practices and offer a safe harbour to neighbours in Christ. Let us not wait until evil strikes again in any place before we are angels of good, apostles of welcome and heirs to another sampler saying – Home is where your day begins.

 

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Love Actually

Luke 2.25-38

Matthew 7.15-23

 

Well, did you open the window and kiss 2016 goodbye last night with a sigh or a cheerful ‘don’t come back’? Either way, last year is locked and we face a clean slate for another twelve months. Not that has stopped political and ecclesial luminaries trying to under-draw what we will find ahead. They often came on the telly over the festive session to bring their message of Christmas cheerlessness. Repeatedly was the message of us entering an age of uncertainty. However, despite being at the bottom of the clerical food-chain, I have the temerity to suggest that concern would be better raised of us going into age of certainty.

 

To explain – one of my pleasures at this time of year is to watch the Christmas lectures from the Royal Institution. This year’s series was on energy and powering the planet. During these scientific tours de theatre, usually the only risk is some precocious child being covered in green glop. But the first lecture was different. Since, none other than Richard Dawkins, now elevated to the rank of Professor, demonstrated his certainty in the laws of physics. It was experiment that I once saw Richard Fynman demonstrate. You take a large metal ball that swings on a string and place it in front of your nose. The you let it go. It swings away from you and then back endangering your good looks. However, air resistance has reduced the balls momentum and so it swings only back to a point few inches from you.As a result the Dawkins’ visage survived as did his certainty in his scientific understanding.

Here then is a good form of certainty.

His certainty that there is no God however is a less valid form of certainty. Indeed, it could illustrate the era of false certainty that we have entered. Since last year was infested by those with the cast iron certainty to be wrong at the top of the voice. A certainty that selected facts are easier than the complexity of the whole picture to bombast on. In truth, a certainty that division is more effective than unity when appealing to people’s hunger for simplistic answers. Put directly, today’s growing certainty across swaths of our global neighbours is born of a limiting prejudice and not of a wider observation of reality and greater feeling of humanity.

 

Here then is what Christ had in mind when he warned of false prophets . For this morning we heard –  ‘Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves.

 

Here indeed is what Hundertwasser warned of when he said – When we dream alone it is only a dream, but when many dream together it is the beginning of a new reality.
 

 

 

So as we enter a New Year on what can be base a more wholesome certainty?

 

On Boxing Day, I watched that now Christmas classic film and it is ‘Love Actually’. Based on a series of inter-related relationships it contains most of life from funerals to weddings via 10 Downing Street, autism and the school nativity play.

 

Hugh Grant, in his role as Prime Minister, reminds us at the very start of the movie that on the day of 9/11 the phone calls made were not of hatred but of love. As a result, he presents the movie’s tenant that the only certain foundation for living is love. Jesus too knew just what he meant. He knew that the purest certainty for life in all its fullness comes from loving relationships – relationships between creatures – relationships between created and creator. In fact, the very relationship that Simeon and Anna had with God. Since it was though this spiritual certainty they saw the whole picture, they grasped the whole picture and they embraced the whole picture.  They in truth met God’s own love in flesh appearing.

 

When watching ‘Love Actually’, as usual I shed a tear with Emma Thompson’s devoted mother character crying over her husband’s infidelity.  In the background, Joni Mitchell sings her bittersweet song:

 

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I’ve looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way

I’ve looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It’s cloud illusions I recall
I really don’t know clouds at all.

 

Is then even the love of God an illusion?  Is it no more than looking at the clouds of our own longing for certainty the wrong way around?

 

Well the most popular version of ‘Both sides now’ is sung not by its writer, Joni Mitchell, but by Judy Collins. The latter is bright, fast paced and simple. Yet a recent re-recording Mitchell is filled with all the hurts and joys that the years encrusts us with.  It indeed, give the wider picture of life with its truths and illusions. Here then is a reminder perhaps that we can only prove Christ’s foundational love by living it for all humanity. We can only dispel the false prophecies of this era through living for a greater reality. We can only give ourselves utter certainty by waiting for God, expecting of God and then being surprised by God.

 

Because if we do we may well bring the Mitchell’s central verses into being:

 

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say “I love you” right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I’ve looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I’ve changed
Well something’s lost, but something’s gained
In living every day.

 

Amen

 

 

 

Cuban Dreams

Joel 2.28-30a

 

The death this week of Fidel Castro brought one old crisis back to the surface. And whilst I was too young to realise the danger, history has certainly recorded the grave risks we are all in during the Cuban missile crisis of October 1962. Because, 44 years ago, US reconnaissance photos showed that then Soviet Union was installing nuclear missile sites on that island. President Kennedy sent his Navy to blockade the incoming Russian freighters with the actual weapons. The Soviet fleet was also on hand and the world held its breath. Indeed, government officials in Washington and probably Moscow got up each morning wondering if we would all see evening.

 

And so, on 24th of October, Pope John 23rd sent a message to the Soviet embassy in Rome to be transmitted to the Kremlin, in which he voiced his concern. In this message, he stated “We beg all governments not to remain deaf to this cry of humanity. That they do all that is in their power to save peace.”

 

The whole affair culminated in the American ambassador Adlai Stephenson demanding in the UN Security Council for a response from his Russian counterpart. And when Valerian Zorin did not answer – he famously replied – I will wait until hell freezes over!

 
And it is into this volatile situation came the President’s brother Bobby Kennedy. Since he realised they had received two differing signals from the Kremlin. One was uncompromising and the other was more conciliatory. Which was correct? He advised the American cabinet to reply to the latter and ignore the former. Thus, a compromise was reached, peace was restored and the world breathed again.

 

Yet what has this to do with dreams and Christmas? Well, it seems that the Kennedys chose to follow the dream and reject the nightmare. They saw the possibility when surrounded by gross negativity. They grasped peace from the jaws of almost unimaginable conflict.

 

Now I cannot say if the various political decisions made by voters this year will lead us toward another such heart stopping moment. That, we will let the years ahead, take care of. Nevertheless, we do live in time of conflicting opinions, painful divisions and possibly risky brinkmanship. Yet we also live in an era of unparalleled opportunity to start to get this planet’s act together. We live in a time crying out for confident prophetic voices. We do live in a moment for dreaming with our eyes open. Since there is a wise if anonymous quotation that says – some people dream of great accomplishments while others stay awake and do them.

 

 

So, this Christmas preparation time, let us keep any eye on the warning signals. But then let us not pull the knot tighter. Since at the deepest point of the Cuban missile crisis, Khrushchev send to Kennedy a letter starting:

 

Mr. President, we and you ought not now to pull on the ends of the rope in which you have tied the knot of war, because the more the two of us pull, the tighter that knot will be tied.

 

Indeed, to these uncertain times let us respond with Joel-like prophecy. Let us remember to dream better and loosen the knots of conflict. Let us remember we always have a voice – a voice for peace, reason and common-sense.

 

Since so speaking is the only way to make Christ’s dream happen. It is the only way to turn crises into watersheds. And it is the only way to respond to God’s signal of peace, his light of hope and his promise of a kinder judgement.

 

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

Believe the Promise

Genesis 15.1-5

Matthew 6.25-34

 

Bonan matenon

 

Well that is good morning in Esperanto. Now until recently I have rather thought that Esperanto was a good idea. After all a universal language with simple grammar that can be learned in a few hundred hours seems a grand concept.

 

However, a while back, I caught the end of a radio interview with a proponent of this lingua franca. She started by giving its worldly benefits. Then she said it was the language of the spirit world – OK! It is also the language spoken in heaven – hmm this is getting silly I thought. Finally, she proclaimed that it is even spoken by Mozart who is alive and living in his house on Jupiter. That’s it – obviously this is a load of utter codswallop!

Yet deep down I still feel it was a shame. Because the idea of everyone able to communicate in one language still seems a meritorious one.

 

So were the childless Abram’s hopes in a similar category as the Esperanto pipe dream? Or instead had it a basis in experience that would allow faith not so much in a mere dream as a cast-iron promise?

 

Well yes it had. For if we read the paragraphs before the culminating promise of God to Abram, he seemed to be living as if that promise had already been given. He was already living out an acceptance as God as shield and benefactor. For, earlier in Genesis, we hear of him leaving his ancestral lands at the urging of God. He then worshipped God even in the wilderness. He entered the dangerous new territory of Egypt under the Lord’s guidance and finally he fought in the name of God for Lot.

 

And, throughout these act of ever deepening trust, he had the experience of realising again and again the promise of God; the promise to make his hopes a living reality.

 

No wonder then his faith was credited as righteousness. For he had acted for the divine and the divine had acted for him. Or even, he had trusted God in the dream and so the dream came true. For the promise was indeed a reality!

 

Talking of living the dream and making it a reality, it is one of the great adventure stories of all time. It came from the then war ravished country of Norway in 1947.  Because Thor Heyerdahl wanted to test the theory that people from South America could have settled the Polynesian Islands in the South Pacific long before Columbus sailed to the New World.
So Heyerdahl took a small team of men to Peru, where they constructed a raft out of balsa logs. These logs were tied together with rope much as a group of sailors might have done in earlier, less sophisticated times. Heyerdahl named the raft the Kon-Tiki. He and his crew of five then set out on the Pacific from the coast of Peru and sailed the raft over 4,300 miles across the Pacific Ocean before smashing into a reef in Polynesia 101 days later. They had accomplished their goal.  And, as you doubtless know, Heyerdahl wrote a best-selling book about their adventure entitled, Kon-Tiki: Across the Pacific by Raft.

 

Here then is a tale of faith in a dream and that faith being repaid by the dream coming true. True not just for Kon-tiki’s crew but for a nation coming out the hopelessness of German occupation and into the promise of freedom and democracy.

 

With the inspiring stories of Abram and Kon Tiki before us, what then stops us from following our dreams, of relying on our promise from God and from making our faith a reality?

 

Well, whilst there could be a hundred and one reasons, the most common are worries. For it could be argued fears, concerns and anxieties do more harm on a daily basis to the Church than any utterance by Richard Dawkins.

 

Jesus knew this only too well. And, as a result, he gave us his wisdom to worry about today and leave tomorrow to look after itself. Put simply have faith to worry less and hope for more.
While the Kon-tiki venture was successful, it was not without worries. During the three-month journey, the crew of the Kon-Tiki had little control over the direction of the little raft and no way to stop its forward progress. They learned early in the voyage that anything dropped overboard was almost impossible to recover once the raft had left it behind.
Two months into the voyage and thousands of miles from land, the actual craft builder, Herman Watzinger, lost his footing and fell overboard. The raft, driven by a strong wind in heavy seas, moved ahead faster than Herman could swim. The five remaining men were naturally horrified. They tried to throw Herman a life belt on a rope, but the wind blew it back at them. In seconds, Herman was all but lost to their sight in the mass of waves.
Suddenly Knut Haugland, a veteran of the famous Telemark Raid, grabbed the life belt and dove into the water. He swam back to Herman and wrapped his arm around him, holding his exhausted friend and the rope while the men on the boat pulled them both back to the safety of the raft.  All six of the men subsequently finished the journey unharmed.

 

Here then is why Abram could hope of having more ancestors more than the stars. Here is why Jesus counsels seek your righteous dream over the corrosive acid of worry. Since just as our courageous resistance hero saved the dream builder, Christ rescues us when or hopes are all at sea, when faith is tested and we are the unequal of our vision’s demands. He battles through the storms of our minds, bodies and souls when in pursuit of better ambitions. He cuts through the sometimes engulfing waves and depressing calms with his promise – do not be afraid – I am your shield and your very great reward.

 

So if tonight we are blessed with clear skies, look up and remember God’s vow to Abram. Now, you will probably not see the asteroid named after Thor Heyerdahl. But you might just see something else. You might spy your own dream shooting upwards and then by heaven into the stars.

 

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Going offline

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It’s there in the statistics!

It was once just a treat

for the weekend,

however  a new survey has found

that the average Brit now forks out over £110 per month

on takeaway meals.

 

Not only that  but Chinese and Indian food

has pushed  the traditional fish and chips

into third place.

 

More to the point,  this trend is set to continue

with the biggest group  of fast food consumers

being 25 to 34-year-olds who spend as much as

£2,623 a year on them.

 

So too are leisure habits changing

with the average adult

internet user

claiming to spend over 20 hours

online per week

and 28 minutes per day

on mobile phones.

 

No wonder the BBC

could claim that

Britons spend more time

on tech than asleep.

 

But they can’t be too holy

about that

as we still spend

around four hours

a day

watching TV.

 

Here is proof,

if any was needed,

we are deluged

with words to read,

programmes to watch,

and people to correspond with

not to mention

vastly differing foods to eat.

 

Indeed, hardly has one idea

entered our consciousness

than it is rudely

shoved aside

by another and another.

 

One possible choice

is usurped

by a spectrum of others.

 

One intention is thrown away

by a more novel one.

 

As a result,

what we might call

thought noise

is continuous,

deafening and increasing.

 

Now of course

there were none of these distractions

in Jesus time.

 

Yet he still felt the need

to take himself

and disciples

away to a quiet place

so as they could get

some peace.

 

In other words,

he want stillness

not so much of the body

but of the mind

and certainly the soul.

 

How much more so

then

do we need

to take ourselves

out of the maelstrom

of digital living

to find rest, serenity

and release.

 

Yet do we do that

just so that we

only survive

the fray

of another week?

 

Or is our need for tranquillity

based on something

more nourishing?

 

Do we not seek stillness

so that next week

will be better,

next week

will be more fruitful

and next week

will be palpably more valuable?

 

For, if we go into the wilds

with Christ,

it won’t be to a desert

but an oasis.

 

Since it will be there

we will discover

refreshment of purpose,

of hope and of vision.

 

It will be in that haven

he will again feed us

with quiet but delicious faith.

 

It will in that refuge,

the miracle of inner renewal

will take place.

 

It will be in that sanctuary,

Jesus will offer

the bread of faith;

faith that he is with us

in life’s perplexity and speed,

faith that he will support us

each and every day;

faith indeed

that in God’s ancient wisdom

all will be well

and all will be well

and all manner of things will be well.

 

 

So let us return

to our community

ready to use

the gift of technology

rather than be enslaved by it.

 

Let us use all of today’s communications

to tell out

the good news

of our provider and saviour.

 

Let us also give thanks

for all the potential good

it can do.

 

Let us indeed enjoy

life’s tasty snacks

occasionally.

 

Yet let us not forget

the need

to recharge our batteries

by the older ways.

 

Let us not neglect

our time of quietness,

of calmness

and of togetherness with God.

 

Since then alone

can we truly counter

the curses of today –

the drain of fastness,

of over exposure

and of superficiality.

 

For it these

that are keeping hungry people

from nutritious spiritual food.

 

It is these

that offer a quick and easy meal

that leaves the soul

starving.

 

It is these,

if untamed by holy stillness,

that will leave

a ravenous generation

without the very bread of life

which is Christ Jesus.

 

Are you still with me?

 

Amen