Tuesday, 22 July 2014

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COMING TO THE SEASHORE

I have decided to attempt a book, made up of a few of these pieces, to be ready to offer in September. The challenge is what to include, given that there are over 400 of them and(inevitably) I look upon them as of little value. But there are people who do not own or use a lap top who might like to look at them. So I have begun the task, attempting to select a balance of stories, observations, and opinions.I may abandon the quest for lack of conviction, but otherwise hope to have it ready for later in September.The hope will be that there is some small thing that creates a spark in the reader, hopefully inspiring courage, determination and pleasure. You may remember my previous quote which reads like this: ' Everyone has a spark in them; all it needs is for someone to blow on it to turn it into a flame of love'. My hope is that somehow, what they read will blow on a spark.

We can never predict what I might call 'inspirational surprises'. I am always seeking for it, but it rarely arises through searching, more likely 'out of the blue', a lovely surprise.Let me give you a recent example. We went to our church on Sunday evening for a service of old and new hymns with Holy Communion. It turned out to be a very good mix, but beyond the satisfaction was a new hymn that blew strongly on a spark in me.It was a Spanish fisherman's hymn and I will just give you a flavour of it........

Lord you have come to the seashore'
neither searching for the rich or the wise,
desiring only that I should follow

Chorus
O Lord with your eyes set upon me
gently smiling you have spoken my name
All I longed for I have found by the water
At your side I will seek other shores.

Lord, see my goods my possessions
In my boat you find no power, no wealth
Will you accept then, my nets and my labour

Chorus......

Lord take my hands and direct them
Help me spend myself in seeking the lost
returning love for the love you gave me.

Chorus.....

Lord as I drift on the waters
be the resting place of my restless heart
my life's companion, my friend and refuge

Chorus......

There is much there for me, explaining why I should not be surprised at its impact.

seeking other shores...(other adventures) ?
seeking the lost....?
resting place of my restless heart?

And, of course, there will be those it means little to. That is simply the nature of the inspirational surprise I was referring to above. We are all so different. But I suppose what it did was to remind me of what the Christian adventure is all about, beginning on the seashores of life.Intensely and deeply personal; free of church stereotypes; greater than our worship of God.

The latter mention might surprise you, but the Christian adventure begins in that personal encounter that leads on into the heart of God. We can have a church full of people worshipping God who have never heard that seashore call. But once heard and answered will manifest itself in worship. It is the old chicken and the egg once again....

Monday, 21 July 2014

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CAMPING?

Next weekend our family will enjoy a camping weekend- 'family' means 17 humans and two dogs and two cats. The animals have been consulted and the only one at all interested in the idea is Christine's collie dog Ellie.To say that all the family will be camping is a bit of an exageration- three families will be- but Stephen, Kate and Rachel live so near the camping venue of Bolton-le-Sands that is is not worth getting the tents out. Janet and myself have declined the offer, in any case I am far too old for that sort of thing. Mind you, I have got quite used to lying on the floor.

But we will pay for lunch on Saturday- a camping feast, and join them all again on Sunday for lunch in Lancaster.In making our plans no one thought to look up one of the most important issues of the seaside, the state of the tide. Fortunately, the tide is high round mid-day so that will add to it, for me at least. I estimate that no more than three campers will choose to swim in the briny waters of Morecambe Bay.

I have only camped once before and that was without a tent in a field near Chipping in Lancashire. I had(foolishly) arranged  an adventure weekend for the church youth club. The aim was three fold: to pick up clues whilst making their way back from the drop off point- 25 miles away from home-  and to achieve the return(with correct information) as quickly and cheaply as possible.The three ingredients were therefore, information, speed and economy

My team slept under a hedge, and whilst our only visitors were some cows, the entire 'expedition' had not gone un-noticed. Unfortunately our weekend coincided with the special weekend organised by the Territorial Army about underground shelters in case of nuclear attack(this being the nineteen fifties).It was not deemed appropriate that the area should have a group of teenagers about. There was thought to be the possibility that we could be hiding an infiltraitor. The police were alerted and at three in the morning they rang the church caretaker to see if we were 'kosher'. Fortunately he was a  kindly old man , and a very good friend of mine, and he confirmed he knew all about it. If I had been him and awakened  at that unearthly hour, I would have been tempted to say 'Dont know anything about it' or perhaps 'You had better ring the Minister'.

So I grew out of camping which is perhaps a pity because it seems such a most pleasurable way of enjoying a holiday. We do grow out of things, and sometimes into things and I am quite sure there are far more people who have 'grown into' camping than out of it. Last evening at church we had a lovely evening Service with some very new hymns and some grand old ones. I guess we have grown out of at least the language of the hymns, but they are just wonderful despite this.

There is a serious theme here for us all; guarding the things we need to grow out of, ensuring there are things we grow into. Nor to let the blaring voices of what is popular or deemed 'proper' interfere. I recall a well know Rabbi declaring that the difference between Christian prayers and Jewish Prayers was that Christians tend to grow out of them, whereas Jewish people tend to grow into them.

I think there is much to ponder here, don't you? The things we need to grow out of(habits, ways, opinions) and the things we need to grow into(new possibilities, new ideas, new adventures).And the challenge surely applies to life itself and not just our devotions.
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