Showing posts from October, 2015

All Hallows' Eve

The Halloween celebrations of my childhood seem so innocent in retrospect, as indeed they were. 

For a start they were very low-key. Bobbing for apples in a bucket of water without using hands was about as dangerous as it got at the Sunday School party on 31 October. Well, I suppose a child could have been drowned if there had been someone there of such evil intent or if the supervision had been lax.

Passing round a paper bag containing 'eyeballs' to feel in the dark was as scary as it got. And when the light was turned on and the eyeballs revealed to be grapes gave reassuring relief.

One year at a friend's house I remember  carving lanterns from swedes (turnips for some of you), standing those outside the door, then running around inside house covered in an old sheet as a group of children pretended to be 'ghosts' to frighten each other. There was much more laughter than fear.

The Irish/American custom of 'trick or treat' was completely absent around our way a…

St Luke's Day

What's the best way to honour Luke the Evangelist and Physician on his Feast Day today?

One tradition is to eat beef. I only discovered that yesterday after we'd already decided to give our lunch guests beef today. The reason for that tradition in some places is that since early Christianity Luke's Gospel (and its writer - the evangelist) has been identified with one of the 4 living creatures around God's throne, described in John's vision in
Revelation, namely the winged bull or ox.

If eating beef and attending a 'red-letter' day church service is all we do to honour Luke I think we miss the point. I suggest that in remembering Luke we need to hear and share his message. Luke's message in his gospel and its sequel the Acts of the Apostles is the message of Jesus, good news for all people, including people seen by others as outsiders.

Jesus' message of God's power to heal, save and set free is what we give thanks for today and Luke's skill and f…

#RaiseYourVoice 2015

Blog Action Day this year has the theme of #Raise Your Voice.

The idea is for bloggers to celebrate people "who raise their voice when faced with censorship, threats, and violence."

Today I want to celebrate journalists who keep on reporting the facts in areas of the world where that is a really dangerous thing to do.

In some places, to be a news reporter is to risk your life or your freedom.

Last year 2014 nearly 100 media workers were killed directly because of their work.

In 2015 so far 22 have been killed and 160 imprisoned. 

These figures are from Reporters Without Borders, a non-profit organization founded in France in 1985 but now international. The quote below, from their website explains why freedom of information is so important:
"Freedom of expression and of information will always be the world’s most important freedom. If journalists were not free to report the facts, denounce abuses and alert the public, how would we resist the problem of children-soldiers, defend…

Value of small things

“Great things have small beginnings.

Every downpour is just a raindrop;

every fire is just a spark;

every harvest is just a seed;

every journey is just a step;

because without that step there will be no journey;
without that raindrop there can be no shower;
without that seed there can be no harvest.”
William Wilberforce

A Parable of JesusHe also said, ‘With what can we compare the kingdom of God, or what parable will we use for it? It is like a mustard seed, which, when sown upon the ground, is the smallest of all the seeds on earth; yet when it is sown it grows up and becomes the greatest of all shrubs, and puts forth large branches, so that the birds of the air can make nests in its shade.’Mark 4: 30 - 32
Image Credits: Sprouted acorn: Flickr, CC License
Raindrops: Public domain Images Spark: Pixabay, public domain

Silent Prayer

I belong to a small 'Contemplation and Faith' group. We meet once a month for an hour, which includes 25 minutes of silent contemplative prayer. We do this in a church, sitting in a circle around a lighted candle, although we could meet anywhere.

Over the last few months we have have used a word or phrase from the Lord's Prayer to act as a focus. Nearly a year ago we began with 'Our Father' and at our next meeting we will have reached the doxology which Protestants usually add at the end of the Lord's Prayer:
"For thine is the kingdom,the power and the glory,for ever and ever. Amen.In our monthly meetings, at the end of the silence we may share with each other something about the experience - or not - there is no compulsion. 25 minutes now seems rather a short time, but to go for longer could be daunting for new members. Once a month is not often, but part of our purpose is to encourage each other to engage in similar silent prayer when alone for a short tim…

Blog Action Day 2015

Last year I took part for the first time in Blog Action Day, posting in 2014 about food inequality.

I have registered again this year and will be posting for Blog Action Day 2015 on 16 October. 

Blog Action Day started in 2007. The idea behind it is to encourage bloggers around the world to blog on the same day about one significant global topic. It is a simple idea that gives an opportunity to raise awareness of important social justice issues of our day. Each year has a theme. In the past this has included Human Rights, Climate Change, Food and Water. 

The theme for Blog Action Day 2015 is #RaiseYourVoice. This is how the theme is explained on the Blog Action Day website: "This Blog Action Day we celebrate those heroes who raise their voice when faced with censorship, threats, and violence. We will raise our voices to defend their right to raise theirs. On October 16, we invite you to speak out with others around the world, as we support those who cannot do so safely. To showcase t…

On Being Still

Be still in this present moment. Don't look for anything, just look in this present moment.
Be still in this present moment. Don't listen for anything, just listen in this present moment.
Be still in this present moment. Don't try to achieve anything, just be in this present moment.
In your stillness, looking, listening and being in this present moment, know God is with you, in you and around you in this present moment.

Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

What are Bishops for?

What are Bishops for? What is their purpose - if any?  And what sort of people ought to be appointed to that office in the 21st century? How would you answer those questions?
Last Tuesday, on Michaelmas Day, three new bishops of the Church of England were consecrated in St Paul's Cathedral, London. They were the Revd Anne Hollinghurst as Bishop of Aston, the Ven Ruth Worsley as Bishop of Taunton, and the Revd Ric Thorpe as Bishop of Islington.
I heard that the sermon delivered by Bishop Stephen Cottrell on that occasion was an inspiration, so I looked it up. You can read the full text on his website here. One of the things the sermon seems to do is to present a view on the purpose of bishops and both challenge and encourage any feeling daunted by their new role. (OK - that's 2 things.)
What particularly arrested me was Bishop Stephen's suggested 'new line for the litany'. I quote it below, but changing the prose form of setting it out to poetic/prayer form as that is …