Shapes Against the Sun- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

Watching the Sun set over the Mediterranean Sea was spellbinding. The glowing globe grew as it approached the horizon, and the thick atmosphere screened enough of the light so we could watch the Sun without being dazzled or blinded. Distant mountains were merged into the mist, vague shadows of deeper darkness.

Then, as the Sun kissed the mountain tops, wispy clouds were etched as dark shapes against the Sun. We could make out only the outline of the drama of the eternal cycle of Day and Night- and within minutes, the Sun had vanished, leaving only the embers of a perfect day.

Sometimes our faith-journey is a story of shapes against the sun. We can make out the highlights and the drama of key moments- but we have to move on, trusting that the play has a script that God has written, and that our part may be as a…

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Raging waves- Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

The last few days and seen stormy weather. Although sheltered, this part of the coast can get quite spectacular!  Alongside the mixed-up weather systems, the political shenanigans we have witnessed in Parliament have brought shame on the reputation of many politicians.

All the uncertainty and bitterness being expressed is symptomatic of a nation that has lost its way and become divided. Where is help coming from? Very few MPs inspire confidence (whatever one’s own political views may be!).

calm the seas turmoil

Ancient songs may seem an unlikely source of hope. Yet there is one collection of songs that captures the whole gamut of human emotion and experience- the Book of Psalms as found in the Old Testament.

Our question are not unique. Through the centuries people have discovered that opening our mouths in prayer and praise is amazingly health-giving. Despite the troubles and turmoil of life, the Living God stands firm in authority…

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See clearly

The Reflectionary

Advent is a season of preparation for Christians who will soon be celebrating the gift of God in the birth of Jesus.

Our precious preparation will be mostly ignored by people with little or no faith in God.

The “delight” of shopping grasped me firmly by the throat yesterday. At a big supermarket I won’t name, they were selling everything Christmassy from jumpers to hot cross buns.

Read that again. Hot cross buns? At Christmas? But they taste good and sell well all year.

Light shadow 250MedCruiseFloren2 bfly shadow

This butterfly photo came from my summer holiday. I’m putting some pics into a Photobook to remember a very special trip. This one appeals to me because of the way the sun shines through wing and leaf- except where the shadow of the butterfly blocks the light transmission.  I wonder which you saw first- light or shadow?

I fear our fellow shoppers are at risk of…

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Serenity- a Pagham Swan.

The Reflectionary

There’s a gale blowing. Politicians from many places have apparently lost their senses. Christmas adverts feature everything from Kevin the Carrot to Elton John’s piano. It’s almost December… Soon it will be shopping.

What am I yearning for? Silence, solitude, and serenity.

I escaped on my bike a few days ago looking for all those things beginning with “S.” When I found them, they had an extra “S” for company. Pagham Harbour is a paradise for water birds, and this majestic swan slipped serenely between the reed beds and into a patch of sunlight. It was just what the soul needed. My cares shrank, and my spirits rose. The swan became a symbol for me of purposeful action in a calm moment.

There is a famous “Serenity Prayer” which goes like this:

O God and Heavenly Father, grant to us the serenity of mind to accept that which cannot be…

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Grasping at Straws? Or sharing hope?

I’ve been thinking about life in this world where so much is chaotic and painful. Feeling deeply grateful that faith in Christ reminds us that we can have a hope that transcends the weight of the news, politics, homelessness and lovelessness that bombards our senses every day.
 
Every year the farmer sows in hope of a harvest. Those seeds experience dirt, cold, heat, rain, drought, storms, bugs, light and darkness. Yet still they grow and bring comfort and sustenance… after being bashed, threshed and baked! They give life to others: and some seeds who avoid the baker will be re-sown for the harvest the year after. Life wins!
 
Quote from Henri Nouwen: “Our mortal bodies, flesh and bones, will return to the earth. As the writer of Ecclesiastes says: “Everything goes to the same place, everything comes from the dust, everything returns to the dust” (Ecclesiastes 3:20). Still, all that we have lived in our bodies will be honoured in the resurrection, when we receive new bodies from God.
What sorts of bodies will we have in the resurrection? Paul sees our mortal bodies as the seeds for our resurrected bodies: “What you sow must die before it is given new life; and what you sow is not the body that is to be, but only a bare grain, of wheat I dare say, or some other kind; it is God who gives it the sort of body that he has chosen for it, and for each kind of seed its own kind of body” (1 Corinthians 15:36-38). We will be as unique in the resurrection as we are in our mortal bodies, because God, who loves each of us in our individuality, will give us bodies in which our most unique relationship with God will gloriously shine.”
 
Love wins.
Those who hold to this hope can make a difference in this life for those who are desperate for any harvest. Nations with wealth have responsibility to help those who have nothing. A real hope of eternity surely leads to working towards positive change.

Retired – Look, See, Pray

The Reflectionary

Oak leaves are falling into my garden. Little jigsaw-puzzle pieces lying around with no chance of re-assembly.  That tree may last for another century; the potential number of leaves in my garden is beyond count.

Each leaf has finished its work. A little chemical factory waving in mid-air, freshening the air and filtering carbon dioxide. Photosynthesis has changed sunlight into food for the tree. The tree is providing acorns to feed the squirrels. All is well.

018garden19118editYou see this leaf? It’s floating in the bird bath and making an intriguing pattern. Subtle colours and muted tones suit its retired status. The only thing left for the oak leaves is making leaf mould. But for now it makes a nice photo.

I’ve pondered my retired status this week. Things take longer than they used to.

I’m leading “Life Groups” on photography; and on understanding the Old Testament. It’s enjoyable – but the…

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A nation divided- Look, See, Pray

A prayer for hope to replace confusion.

The Reflectionary

As I write, the Prime Minister has been speaking in the House of Commons about one of the most divisive political issues I can remember. At this point, no-one knows what shape the British Isles will take in the future. Divided on party, class, and economy we face a real prospect of no longer being a United Kingdom- and have no clarity about our relationship with Europe or other potential trade partners.

Nation divided Peaks2010_3804haze sq

Fingers are pointed, tongues wag, and hate crimes increase. What have we come to?

Many of us have strong political opinions, which is as it should be: but we seem to have forgotten how to disagree without blaming and victimising others.

I strongly suspect that the root of our troubles lies in the fact we have uprooted ourselves from our true foundation. We have, as a nation, cut ourselves “free” from God and we have chosen to go…

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