Monthly Archives: March 2015

“Prepare for Martyrdom!”


Sandy Rios: ‘You Must Prepare For Martyrdom’ If Gay Marriage Becomes Legal
SUBMITTED BY Kyle Mantyla on Thursday, 3/19/2015 4:58 pm
Religious Right activists and pastors gathered today for a conference titled “U-Turn: A Conversation with Pastors on Society, Culture and Leadership” that was organized by the Pennsylvania Pastors Network.

Among the participants was Sandy Rios, the American Family Association’s director of governmental affairs and daily radio host, who repeated her warning to those in attendance that they had better “prepare for martyrdom” if marriage equality becomes legal throughout the country.

“There is persecution afoot,” she declared, citing various examples of Christian business owners who are supposedly being persecuted by laws banning discrimination in public services. Eventually, she warned that the push for marriage equality would gravely impact “your wives, your sisters, your children who now are going to be forced to go into public restrooms and share them with men dressed like women.”

“In Massachusetts, where homosexual marriage has been legal for ten years,” she said, “the stories would make the hair stand up on the back of your neck.”

Rios went on to state that if the Supreme Court rules in favor of gay marriage, it will force every Christian in American to make a choice and so they had better be prepared to take a stand.

“You must prepare for martyrdom,” she said. “I don’t know what it ‘s going to look like, but it’s coming”:


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Navel Gazing


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March 20, 2015 · 10:55

The Ticket of Life (short homily – Dumfries Northwest Church, mid week service, 12 March 2015)

READING:    John 6 verses 51-58

Just over a hundred years ago, a poor family from middle Europe decided to seek a better life abroad.

A couple, with their teenage son and four little daughters decided to emigrate from their poverty-stricken little village to America and all its promise.

A week before their ship sailed, the family’s relatives and friends threw a ‘going away’ party for them, at which gifts were presented – practical things: several loaves of bread and some blocks of cheese.

A week later, the family boarded an Italian ship, sailing to New York.  Since they had never been out of their village, and since few on board spoke their language, they didn’t mix with the other passengers or crew, preferring their own company.

They had been assigned a third-class cabin below deck, and that’s where they decided to remain for the duration of the voyage, especially since the weather was so wintry.

And it was there that they ate their bread and cheese – sparingly – to make it last the entire journey.

On the last day of their voyage, the weather cleared up a bit, and the teenage son asked his father for permission to go above and explore the ship.

When the lad didn’t return within the hour, his father went to look for him, and eventually found him in a big dining room, sitting at a table, eating from a plate overflowing with meat and vegetables.

The father’s heart skipped several beats.  How were they going to pay for all this food that his son had ordered and was now devouring?

He had visions of spending his first months in America in prison, or even being refused entry into the country altogether.

When the boy saw how frightened his father looked, he said, ‘Don’t worry, Papa, it’s free!’

And he went on to explain that while the family had been eking out their meagre rations of bread and cheese below decks, all the other passengers had been feasting on meals like the one he was now enjoying.

Such feasts were included in the price of the ticket.


The world is full of people like that family, insofar as they are journeying through life, totally unaware of the incredible ‘Banquet of Life’ that God spreads out for them.  And it’s included in the ticket of life.

Jesus refers to this in our Gospel Reading Listen again to what he says:

     I am the living bread that came down from heaven.    If anyone eats this bread, he  

    will live forever.  The bread that I will give him is my flesh, which I give so that the

   world may live.           (John 6, v.51)


Jesus declares to us that because God sent him, he lives by the very power of God alive in him.

And through our relationship with him, we too are lifted nearer to God himself with all his benefits and blessings, and are given the gift of life itself.

Not just everyday existence which depends on plain ordinary bread – but more, much more – life in all its abundance: a veritable feast of life with companionship, care and love, hopes and dreams, memories, and the sustenance that only Christ, who is the Bread of Life, can offer.

It’s all included in the believer’s ticket of life!

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17 March is Saint……..Gertrude’s Day!?!

Yes, it’s St Patrick’s Day…….. but, it’s also the Feast Day of St Gertrude of Nevelles, who is the patron Saint of cats (as well as of gardeners and travellers)


She was born around 626, the daughter of a powerful Frankish nobleman – Pippen of Landen –  in what’s now Belgium.

When her father died, her mother and Gertrude established the monastery of Nivelles and retired to a religious life – Gertrude being renowned for her hospitality to pilgrims.

She died in 659 – worn out in her early thirties, says the Cambridge Medieval History, “because of too much abstinence and keeping of vigils”. A visiting Irish monk, whose brother Gertrude had sheltered, predicted she would die on St Patrick’s Day.  And so it was.


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St Patrick’s Day


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March 17, 2015 · 11:47

One Lewis congregation gets even smaller – Lesley Riddoch’s Blog (12 March 2015)







Angus and elma


By Lesley Riddoch

A month ago I wrote about the sad death of Angus Morrison from Valtos on Uig. I first met tall, softly-spoken Angus Kenneth (to use his Sunday name) and his twinkling wife Elma in 2007, when Maxwell MacLeod and I stayed at their B&B on the lovely, remote west coast of Lewis near the border with Harris. We were recording material for a Radio Scotland programme, On the Bike and later I wrote a book about the experience, Riddoch on the Outer Hebrides. Max and I planned to stay for just one night but eventually stayed for three — such was the warmth, humour and support offered by the Morrisons to their noisy, demanding guests. I went back to stay with the couple several times in the years that followed – hauling initially doubtful family members to share the delights of long walks and swims on nearby Uig beach, the Gala Day and a ceilidh at the local hall. Most of all I loved the Morrisons’ insatiable appetite for stories. No matter what time of day and night, Angus and Elma lit up at the prospect of hearing well-told yarns about the day past and had a fount of stories about their own long lives on the Western Isles. Angus died suddenly in Raigmore Hospital on February 1st after complications following surgery. He was 70. That was shocking enough for Elma and their children Christina, Angus , Donald Calum and Cathie Margaret who were all with Angus during the final days at Raigmore. But more unexpected difficulties lay ahead.

Once home, Elma contacted an elder at her church – the Free Presbyterian Church at Miavaig, Uig — to arrange the funeral. Elma had been an adherent for 47 years (attending church but not taking communion) – Angus for 70. The Church currently has no minister – there are only two Ministers covering four Free Presbyterian congregations on Lewis. So Elma asked if Angus’ cousin and retired Church of Scotland Minister, Rev Willie Macleod from Barvas could conduct the funeral. The couple had agreed that if Rev Macleod was alive when either of them passed on, Willie would be the man to officiate. He had known four generations of Angus’ family. Indeed, Willie remembered meeting Angus’ great grandmother when he was just a lad of five. Anyway, the elder said the Rev Macleod would be made welcome and Elma relaxed. But later that evening Reverend Allan MacColl from Ness called – Uig’s interim moderator. His message was abrupt. He was sorry but couldn’t allow the family to use a Church of Scotland minister to preach. Elma explained the family connection and the agreement between the couple and said the Rev MacLeod was “a gracious, godly man” Allan would doubtless enjoy meeting. The Minister replied that the Free Presbyterian church couldn’t allow a Church of Scotland Minister to preach on their premises because of the Kirk’s support for gays and lesbians. Elma pointed out the funeral was a private family affair and that the church was – after all — only bricks and mortar. The Rev MacColl held firm. He asked if Elma would still come to hear him preach. Elma replied; “You’ll never see me again inside a Free Presbyterian Church” to which the Reverend said, “You will come and listen.” She hung up.
Elma’s next call was to the local Church of Scotland who told her she was welcome to use their church. So Angus’ funeral was finally held in Uigean Church of Scotland, Miavaig on February 6th with the church full to overflowing. Elma reckons there were almost 300 people present including the twelve-strong congregation of the Free Presbyterian Church. The turnout wasn’t surprising since Angus was well known in fishing circles across the islands as part-owner and skipper of the “Sovereign.” It was by all accounts a marvellous, knowing and intimate service led by Rev Willie Macleod. The night before, another long-standing family friend and Free Church Minister — Rev Kenny I. Macleod from Stornoway – led prayers at the wake. It was also held in the Miavaig Kirk. None of the Ministers or elders from the Free Presbyterian Church has since been in touch — in stark contrast to Elma’s neighbours, friends, family – and new congregation members at the Church of Scotland.

I knew nothing about all this until I went up to visit Elma in Uig last week. You’d think a grieving widow might want to avoid any further friction – instead Elma wants other islanders to know how the Free Presbyterian Church handled the worst hours of her life. She told me; “I went to church twice on Sundays and once on Wednesdays — health permitting. I looked after the building for the past 12 years. I did the hoovering, dusting and cleaning – and that was all fine. But this – is just a slap in the face. No Christian names are used at a Free Presbyterian funeral. Angus would have been called ‘the deceased’ throughout — and I’d be ‘the widow.’ There’s no warmth, no compassion in their services.”

It seems Free Presbyterian numbers on Lewis have been dwindling since the former Lord Advocate, Lord Mackay of Clashfern was suspended as an elder for attending the Roman Catholic funeral masses of fellow judges. But Elma has been torn between competing loyalties even more harshly. She has lost a wonderful husband and life partner. Did Elma have to lose her church too?

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After this morning’s service, there was a small group of worshippers having a chat outside.

As I approached my Landy, a lady asked, “Is that your car?” (The number plate is a bit of a giveaway)


“Yes, and it’s in real need of a wash”

“Why did you buy a white one?”

“Because it was the only colour available in my price range”

“Why did you buy a Freelander? Why do you need one?

“I bought it because I could, and it’s British”

“Huh! It was probably made in South America”

“More like India; Jaguar/LandRover is owned by Tata – an Indian company”


“Ta! Ta! to you too – lovely speaking to you!”

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Sheik Rattled & Ruled out of order


from “The Metro”

An Islamist scholar came to regret his attempt to shout down a female television host.

Hani Al-Seba’i was interviewed by Rima Karaki for Lebanon’s Al Jadeed to discuss reports of Christians joining Isis.

The footage, translated by Middle East Media Research Institute, shows Al-Seba’i reacted poorly to Karaki’s attempts to get him to stay on-topic.

After going off on a tangent, her refused to listen to Karaki’s request to answer the question.

‘Listen. Don’t cut me off. I will answer as I please. I will not answer the way you like, because I’m here to serve the idea in which I believe,’ he said.

He went on to call the host ‘high and mighty’, continuing to rant before Karaki interjected: ‘In this studio, I run the show.’

After Karaki politely requested that they return to the topic rather than argue, Al-Seba’i raged: ‘Are you done? Shut up so I can talk.’

He then went on to claim it was beneath him to be interviewed by a woman, at which point he found his microphone muted.

Still managing to keep her cool, Karaki held her hand up and ended the exchange by saying: ‘Either there is mutual respect, or the conversation is over.’

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Short Homily – Lent 3, Year B

READING:   John 2 verses 13-22

Imagine a fine Spring today.  A man is driving cheerfully along a country road, when, suddenly, from around the bend ahead, a car comes lurching toward him in his lane.  He brakes hard.  As he swerves past, the woman driver screams at him, “Pig!  Pig!”

Furious, he shouts back at her, “Cow!  Cow!”

Pleased with himself, he drives around the curve and runs smack into a pig.

There is no doubt that anger will cause us to do things that we would not do otherwise.

Anger is normally perceived as a negative emotion.  Shouting, bawling and getting all worked up usually doesn’t get us anywhere.  ‘Losing the head’ does not achieve very much, and can make us look quite ridiculous

However, sometimes, there is another kind of anger that is, in context, acceptable, even necessary, if good is to be done.

I suppose we could call it ‘righteous indignation’ – anger which is directed toward some kind of injustice or unfairness.

In the gospel story – appointed for this Third Sunday in Lent (Year B) – we encounter an incident in Christ’s life when he acted very uncharacteristically.

This is not the ‘gentle Jesus, meek and mild’ that we are used to.

This is Jesus getting his dander up.  Here he is anything but meek and mild.

But his anger here was of the ‘righteous indignation kind.

In this story, he was angry at the way the temple traders were profiteering at the expense of the poor.  Here he was directing his anger at those who abused the sacred.

Sometimes there is nothing wrong in taking an aggressive stand for God – if the situation and circumstances seem to warrant it.

Better to speak or act forcefully for what we believe is God’s way, than sit on the fence or do nothing.  And to do so, even if the consequences might hurt us.

This brings me to this very well known story, with which most of us are familiar.  A true incident that happened in 1858.

The young Rector of the Church of the Epiphany in Philadelphia, the Rev. Dudley Atkins Tyng, boldly and aggressively preached against the evils of slavery to his congregation, telling them plainly and bluntly, that to hold a fellow human being in slavery was a sin.

They did not like what they heard.  Many of his congregation owned slaves, a common practice in those days, and they booted Mr Tyng out of his Charge.

Undaunted, he hired a hall in the city, and very successfully carried on his ministry there.

Then, one day, when he was walking alone through the fields of his farm, he stretched out his arm to pat a mule, which was working a machine stripping corn from the cob.

One of the long sleeves of his preacher’s gown was caught in a cog, and he was drawn into the mill, where his arm was torn off.

It was a long time before he was found, and carried to his home.  There his friends and associates gathered to witness his agonising end.

One of those present was a Presbyterian minister, George Duffield.  Moments before he died, Tyng took Duffield’s hand and gave his last instructions for the continuance of his mission.

“Tell them” he said, “to stand up for Jesus”

Deeply moved, and with these rousing and encouraging words ringing in his ears, George Duffield went home and wrote a hymn.

The following Sunday, he preached on a text from Paul’s letter to the Ephesians: “Stand therefore, having your loins girded with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness”

He concluded the sermon by reading out the words of his new hymn, “Stand up!  Stand up for Jesus!”

When we encounter evil, hypocrisy, corruption, or anything else that is counter to the world of truth, beauty, peace and justice that is God’s will, let us, with righteous indignation, take an aggressive stand for God.  Let us, too, ‘Stand up! Stand up for Jesus!’

Let me finish by quoting a verse from the original version of the hymn:

Stand up, stand up for Jesus!

The solemn watchword hear,

If while ye sleep he suffers,

Away with shame and fear,

Where’er ye meet with evil,

Within you or without,

Charge for the God of battles,

And put the foe to rout.

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Santa Cross

Just read about a Western businessman who went to Japan in the middle of the 19th century.

His hosts wanted to make him feel at home and knew he was of the Christian tradition.

He was surprised to see an effigy in the hall of Santa Claus nailed to a cross!

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