Thursday, 31 July 2014

Things come back...........

My mother (OUR mother, sorry, my sister Barbara and I) passed away last summer, a little over a year ago. For over 4 years prior to this she had been struggling with a particularly cruel form of vascular dementia which slowly robbed her of her memories, her recognition of others and finally of her very self.

She was nevertheless a real woman of faith (if not sometimes a little peculiar) and had been a real pillar in my life for as long as I can recall. During one of the most troubling periods - approx. 4 years ago, she fell and broke her hip, complications ensued and she ended up having barrier nursing in hospital for 6 months with  C Difficile. It was a horrible time , and now thankfully, a receding memory.

Her generation have seen more change I suspect in this world than any other.

Whilst in hospital, the wedding ring she always wore - originally belonging to my grandmother went missing. On top of the trauma of Mum being in such a pitiful state, it seemed like the final straw. Of course we contacted and complained to the hospital but with seemingly no result.

Moving the  story on four years, another elderly relative ( this time from Ireland) was taken ill whilst staying with my sister Barbara and her husband Will and ended up seeking emergency care from Social Services  He was rushed into one of the several care homes Mum had previously been in. As Will went into the home, a member of staff saw him, recognised him and said "I think we have your Mother - in -  laws wedding ring in the safe". 4 years ago, the hospital it seems, had found it after all and simply forwarded it to the last address they had for her - one of the care homes. 4 years on, the ring came home, a lost treasure.

The Bible speaks much of treasure, lost and found. It speaks of people being lost and found, the sure principle is that none of us are truly lost, we are all known to God and never so far away that He cannot hear us.

Take Care

Friday, 25 July 2014

Machine code?

Karen and I have been away on holiday recently. We spent a fascinating time on Orkney crawling in and out of the various Neolithic mounds which pepper the islands and everyone was very welcoming.

Though we didn't intend to, we visited two very different churches on adjacent Sundays, firstly at St Magnus's Cathedral in Kirkwall and yesterday when visiting relatives I called in to a local United Reformed Church in Malvern.

It was this last visit which has made me think. The URC was much less grand than St Magnus's, nevertheless, the speaker made me stop and think in ways I have never done before. The basic reading was a fairly well trodden one - whether we have the self esteem or not to view ourselves as the offspring of a creator God. It is a very often visited theme for me (since I have church members with a puzzling low sense of self worth), but what I heard made me sit up and take notice....

(She said)....  "Most people in church do not see themselves as children, but as machines. It is clear from the language we revert to instinctively, it is the language of industrialisation." (She said) In all my years in the church, I have never been invited to the birthing of a dream but only to the launching of projects

We speak of getting "geared up" ...................

of things "running down" ........................

of "oiling the wheels".......................

of things running like a "well oiled machine"..............

She said that she was once referred to (by a Bishop) as being "a cog in the church machine"

The implications are astounding.

The New Testament has a very different picture, instead of being part of a machine, we are described as being a part of a body. The eye cannot say to the hand, "I have no need of you" etc

......................  "You are the body of Christ, and individually members of it"

The teaching is one of a body. We have a saying - "do not cut off your nose to spite your face" have you heard it. It says that whether we like each other or not, we belong together, Jesus' teaching in John chapter 17, praying that his people would be one illustrate this perfectly. We are not machines, we are flesh and blood, when one hurts we all hurt, when one bleeds we all bleed. When one feels good and has something to celebrate - the birth of a child, a wedding anniversary, a fresh enlightenment, we should all rejoice.

I don't know about you but the older I get the more battered my body feels. I can't abuse it as I did when I was younger, I take longer to recover and I feel the aches and pains more, and that is the same with us all, we ache , we hurt, we may not like each other, but we do belong together.

Sunday, 6 July 2014

Being honest...... and saying sorry

Like lots of sports fans I have two conflicting images from recent weeks.

I freely admit that I couldn't quite believe it when Luis Suarez "allegedly" bit yet another member of the opposition after a horror strewn yet quite brilliant couple of years, and yesterday I was really touched and felt the hurt of Mark Cavendish when he had that terrible accident in the lovely Yorkshire Dales stage of the Tour de France.

What struck me about both events was the way the two individuals reacted to them. The mealy mouthed half breathed apology from Luis Suarez, days after insisting that he "fell" into Giorgio Chiellini leaves a bad taste behind. Here is someone, unable to admit to anyone, perhaps even himself that he has caused injury to others. He may be a fine footballer, but as a human being....  I am not sure that he holds the same high standard.

Mark Cavendish almost immediately afterwards - whilst dealing with the pain of a dislocated shoulder and ligament damage said straight away... "It was my fault, I take full responsibility and shall be apologising to the other riders".

Saying sorry, being honest about the kind of people we are and the hurt we cause others is fundamental to the Christian faith and living fruitful, honest congruent lives.

Today's passage from the New Testament speaks of Jesus saying that the "yoke" or load which he offers is easier than the one you bear already. Why? Because His yoke has at the centre of it, a message of offering forgiveness and seeking repentance.  Of saying "sorry" and being prepared to offer the same to others - freely give, freely receive.

I just want to challenge you this week to be aware of every slight, every hurt you either cause or receive, and then consciously offer, or ask for forgiveness.

I do not wish to comment on Elton John's fine song, sorry may be the hardest word, but it is also the first step towards healing.

Take Care