Tag Archives: auction

Address – SANDS service, Crichton Memorial Church, 19/12/2013

I heard of a very strange auction that was held back in the 1920s in America.

Not the usual items that you find on all these daytime TV antique shows that I watch if Jeremy Kyle isn’t on (what an admission! – well, I am retired….and one’s got to watch something before “Pointless” comes on at 5.15!)

The items in this particular auction consisted of 150,000 patented models of old inventions which hadn’t really worked nor caught the imagination of the buying public.

There was, for example, a “bed-bug buster” and an “illuminated cat” that was designed to scare away mice.

Then there was a device to prevent snoring: a trumpet that reached from the mouth to the ear; and was designed to awaken the snorer and not the neighbours.

And then there was the adjustable pulpit that could be raised or lowered according to the height of the preacher. Tall minister – UP it goes! Wee bauchle like myself – the lowest setting

Well all or most of these 150,000 items caused a lot of mirth amongst the bidders.

But for 150,000 others, it was no laughing matter, for these were the inventors.

These 150,000 old patent models also represent 150,000 broken dreams.

They represented disappointment, of hard work and love and time and patience that had come to nothing

Most of us – particularly this evening know about broken dreams and disappointments

‘Tis the season to be jolly. But it’s not jolly for everybody, is it? For those who have lost loved ones this can the hardest part of the year.

I love Christmas.

But this Christmas will be the first I’ve spent at home without my wife who died last year.

She used to sit opposite me at the other end of the dining room table – but her chair is empty – she’s gone.

How many of you have “empty chairs” in your hearts, particularly at this time of year?

Most of you; most of us.

Whatever the time of year, for many of us gathered here, life can be a difficult – Christmas or any other time and especially, when events trigger a thought or a feeling that brings it all back to us – the disappointment, the unfairness of it all, perhaps even a creeping sense of bitterness or resentment that others have fuller family lives than we do.

The family side of Christmas is important, of course it is.

But deeper within those of us who are people of faith, it is the appreciation of the tremendous gift of salvation given as God in Christ stepped into time at Bethlehem to accomplish our salvation that is most important.

Salvation – it means saving from sin, of course. But, non theologically speaking – are we not saved also from ourselves, from bitterness and sorrow, negativity and a sense of unfairness? Perhaps even from envy and resentment that others have what should have, ought to have?

And what does one do with this appreciation? How do we please God during this season?

One way is by reaching out to others, especially when we are sorrowful

We who have been through the “ the valley of the shadow” can end up being a comfort for those who walk in darkness.

Happy or sad, may the Lord Jesus bless your Christmas with joyful thanksgiving of what Almighty God did to make a way for us to be renewed with peace , because of that first Christmas.

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic

Love in Action

There once was a very wealthy man, who, when he was widowed, hired a housekeeper to look after his young son.

She and the boy hit it off immediately – she was like a mother to him, and he a son to her.

Tragically , the lad died in his teens, but she kept on keeping house for the devastated father, who himself, sadly, passed away within a very short time – dying, it was said of a broken heart

After his death, despite the best efforts of his lawyers, they couldn’t find his will, even though they knew he had made one.. The estate was eventually taken over by the state and an auction was held to dispose of the man’s personal property and his mansion.

The house keeper went to the sale, not because she had so much money to spent, but there was one item that she hoped she could get.  It was a picture of the little boy that had hung on the wall of the house for years.  She loved that boy so much, she desperately wanted it, to remind her of all the happier times.

No one else bid for it, she got it.  She took it home with her, and because it was in a pretty manky state, she took it apart to clean and restore it

As she was taking the frame apart, some very important looking papers fell out of the back of the picture. At first she didn’t know what to make of them, so she brought them to the family lawyer of the rich man. 

As the lawyer read the papers, he soon discover it was the long lost will which everyone had searched for, but could not find. There was a note with the will which said, “I leave all my wealth to the one who loved my son enough to buy that picture.”

This lady had a love that carried her over the rough times, that carried her over the sad moments, a love for that boy that continued to after her life every moment she lived., And  because her love was turned into action, she was rewarded beyond her wildest dreams.

Christ asks us if we are we willing to turn the love we have for him into an action that will separate us, or set, us apart from, our families and even from those values and ideals we. hold, dear in our’ own life?

Jesus is saying, if you want to be my disciple, if you want to follow me, here is what you are called to do. Place, me first above everything else in your life and then before you say you are willing to do that, you better look before you leap, you had better count the cost, see if you are willing to make such a sacrifice :or me, see if you are really willing to pay that kind of price?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“We have cheapen grace and cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting for costly grace. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.


Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must know. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.”

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic