This ol’ tree – Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

A personal post of reflection, thankfulness and confidence… 29 April 1973 is a day of memories. At about 7pm, in Portslade Baptist Church, I was baptised as a believer in Jesus Christ. I had the privilege of being baptised by my father- and later I followed a similar call into service as a pastor in Baptist churches across England.

Believer’s Baptism for me was the beginning of really taking my faith seriously. There is something powerful about making a public witness and commitment, and the act of being immersed in the water is a graphic illustration of faith. It marks the “burial” of an old way of life, a “bath” of symbolic cleansing, and a “birth” into a life of obedience to the God of Love and mercy.

Nearly half a century later, I’m standing firm on the foundation I took hold of back then. My memories of the churches…

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Light brings Life

Such quick change.  A few weeks ago, the wild daffodils earthed the sunshine and made the world a cheerier place.

Just a few weeks later the trees are breaking their buds and soft new leaves clothe the landscape. These back-lit copper beech leaves blend vibrant colour with downy gentleness.

Soon those leaves will turn darker in colour: but will continue turning sunlight into nutrients, and absorbing carbon dioxide so oxygen can become the breath of life.

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Easter celebrations have reminded us of Jesus, who is the Light of the World. Shining the Light of Glory out of the mouth of an Empty Tomb, the grace of Almighty God announced that Darkness and Death were destroyed.

Eternal Light is making Life grow again.  Every time we witness the awesome ordinariness of a Spring day, and the procession of colour and song provided by nature, a spark of True Light is planted in our innermost being. We may not recognise it, we may even try to hide it- but that Light is a gift, a message of Love sent by the Faithful One who will use any opportunity to call us back into divine Presence and awareness.

I intend to enjoy as many moments of Spring Light as I can: and hope that my heart will interpret the Message wisely, so that my whole being is infused with that Heavenly Light that has always been the Light of all humankind. Let us look, so that we see: and in seeing, we may pray, praise, and serve the Kingdom of God here on Earth- until the final Promise is unveiled, and the heavens and Earth will be renewed as the Lord dwells among us.

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it…”  (John 1 v1-5)

 

Gethsemane. Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

Gethsemane. That’s a name forever etched in my memory. It’s been a favourite spot to pray, sitting in the olive trees in the blessed shade.

Now it’s getting dark. Something bad is happening, I know it. Judas is up to mischief, I think. He looked so small and uncomfortable when Jesus spoke to him at supper- he slunk off looking embarrassed and angry. Perhaps he had forgotten to do some errand. But it seemed to make Jesus sad to watch him go. I’ll ask him about it when I have a moment.

Those words about the bread, and the wine cup, they are ringing on in my head and I don’t know why. I must remember to write them down, they feel important.

You could cut the atmosphere with knife today. The whole city seems on edge, and the mood was nasty out there. Jesus has been speaking strangely again…

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Precious Silence- Look, See, Pray

Holy Week is generally full of the hustle of frenetic activity. Jesus entered Jerusalem to be acclaimed as a King. He stirred up a load of trouble when He cracked the whip to drive out the cheats and exploiters from the Temple:  “This should be a House of Prayer!”

The end of the week is full of betrayal, heart-breaking prayer, injustice and a Cross.

Squeezed in the gap is the one day where it seems silence reigned. The Gospels don’t say anything much about this one day. As far as we know, it was a day of quiet for Jesus.

Silence and growth go together. The glorious tulips bloom without fanfare. New leaves break out of tight buds. In silence.

A world full of noise and words need to draw breath.

Silence is an invitation to listen for the Presence of God. In the rush of Holy Week, Jesus has moments of quiet reflection and prayer- he prepares himself for what must happen.

Others use the silence to conspire and prepare trouble. Who knows what was going through the mind of Judas? Pilate? Caiaphas? Herod?

“We need silence to be able to touch souls” said Mother Teresa as she served the poorest and most abandoned people on the streets. Actions speak louder than words when we share love with the helpless.

Will this silence touch MY soul? Will silence prepare me to love with compassion? When all the drama ends in the silence of an empty tomb, will I be more or less in the Presence and Awareness of God? When my lips convey the message of hope- He is Risen! – will my soul- and yours– have been in that quiet still place where silence has proclaimed Truth?

For we speak of Christ crucified, and shown to be Saviour and Lord, through His death and resurrection. For the sake of our souls, let us grasp silence and learn to grow. Amen.

Teresa silence leaves

 

 

“My Diary” by Thomas the Twin

Really, what could go wrong? Off to Jerusalem in the morning, going up to the city for the festival. Jesus is going to ride a donkey. I expect some will mock the “Teacher from Galilee” but that’s nothing new.

Jesus insisted, he said it was important to go this way.

If you ask me, we should have gone home instead. There’s trouble brewing, you mark my words. Perhaps if we can keep Jesus out of the crowds all the fuss will die down.

Somehow I don’t think that’s the plan. Jesus had a glint in his eye, and he’ll probably preach, so that will upset Caiaphas and the Temple crew. I don’t think Jesus minds stirring people up a bit. He tells some pretty pointed stories – and some folks even started saying “Messiah?” when they heard him.

It will be alright as long as the “Blessed is the King” song doesn’t catch on. That would really be the end.

I wish I hadn’t said that thing about going and dying with him…

Extract from the diary of Thomas, a friend of Jesus and a man of great faith… some of the time…

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(Words & photo Copyright 2019 by Richard Starling)

Promise Kept- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

Bluebells beginning to fill the woods- it’s a wonderful point in Spring. Shortly there will be carpets of blue haze gracing the ground, and delicate perfume graces the nose.

Until very recently there was nothing to show that glory was rising. Now the evidence is… well, self-evident.

God created a wonderful universe. Every flower, every crop, is a symbol of a promise kept.

On the brink of Holy Week, it’s good to remember that Jesus made a promise. He spoke of his own death, and promised that His suffering would bring a new beginning. Jesus accepted His death as the fulfilment of covenant promises made through the ancient Law and Prophets of Israel- and He hinted at more than His friends could yet understand.

On the third day after His crucifixion and burial, the Great Promises were kept. On that Resurrection Day, Jesus proved that Love cannot be buried forever…

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