Tag Archives: blessing

A Journey (on the threshold of the New Year – 2018)

Some thoughts – as we stand on the threshold of a New Year.

Colossians 3 verses 1-11

Luke 12 verses 13-21

The Journey

As I’ve mentioned before, when I lived & worked in Trinidad, a popular farewell to loved ones (as they embarked on some trip) was “May journeying mercies be granted to you!”

Isn’t that a wonderful phrase? More than a phrase; a hope, a wish. More than that – a blessing!

When I conduct a wedding ceremony, I often use that prayer for the newly-weds as they embark on their marriage journey – a prayer and blessing: “May God bless you as you travel down the years that lie ahead of you. Journeying mercies be upon you!”

It’s not just appropriate for weddings; we could wish the same of the school-leaver or the Graduate as he or she sets off into the workplace or career.

I guess we could use it (though I haven’t – so far!) at a baptism, when the infant begins her or his life as a child of The Way.

I’m reminded of that familiar traditional Celtic blessing:

May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face;
the rains fall soft upon your fields
and until we meet again,
may God hold you in the palm of His hand.

A wonderful man, Jamie Stuart, died a year or so ago, at the age of 96

What an extraordinary journey his was.

His life story reveals he had to survive endemic poverty, endless disappointment and the death of those closest to him. Yet, whenever faced with a real uphill challenge, he’s raced up them. Literally. In this James Stuart’s wonderful life he’s been a champion runner, a blanket salesman, an actor, an aircraft wireless operator, a social worker, a paper boy (at the age of 68) and a best-selling writer…….

……and, if you didn’t recognise the name at first, then, if I mention “The Glasgow Bible” – the Scriptures written in the vernacular, you’ll know him as the author of that wonderfully accessible work, full of flair, wit, and the insight only a Glaswegian has.

Among the many yarns that he re-tells is that of what is essentially the story of a journey – from curiosity, to interest, to faith……

Listen:

“When Jesus went oan inty Jericho, there wis this man cawd Zacchaeus. He wis the heid tax man for the district an so wis quite rich – in fact he wis really loaded!

“But though he had plenty o money, he wisny whit ye might caw happy, an he wis dead keen tae meet this Jesus he’d heard aw aboot.

“Zacchaeus, bein a wee man, canny get near oan accoont o the great crowd o folk roon aboot Jesus. So he decides tae sclim up a sycamore tree beside the road tae watch.

“When Jesus eventually comes alang, he spies Zacchaeus. Lookin up, he shouts, ‘Hi there, wee man – come doon will ye! Ah’ve decided tae invite masel tae yer hoose for a meal this efternin.’

“Tae say that wee Zacchaeus wis fair chuffed is pittin it mildly!

“But the rest o the folk, by the wey, wir no very pleased that Jesus wis gauny eat wi a bloke they cawd a crook.

“But already Zacchaeus is a chinged man! He says tae Jesus, ‘Lord, see me? Ah’m gauny gie hauf o ma money tae the puir. An ah’ll promise tae look efter aw the folk that ah’ve cheated, so ah will.’

“Jesus turned roon tae the dumfoonert crowd an telt them tae haud their wheesht: ‘This man wis a sinner,’ he said. ‘He’s fund peace at last.’

Of course, not all journeys go to plan. There can be obstacles in the way; there may be detours which we would rather not have taken; we find ourselves in cul de sacs; we may end up feeling that we can’t travel another step.

Sometimes we try to make the best of it, often in our own strength. Although we may succeed after a fashion, only occasionally does it reach anything like a satisfactory conclusion.

There are many stories in the Bible of people and tribes who have made the wrong decision. Some have come to the Lord to seek wisdom and direction; others have muddled on, unrepentant and confused.

Jesus gave some sound advice to his followers in the parables recorded in the Gospel of Luke, including the story of the rich man who stored up his abundant crops.

There is, also, for example, the parable of the beggar, Lazarus, and the Rich Man (“Dives”) who wanted to enter heaven, and the one about the Ruler who wanted to inherit eternal life.

They all wanted the ultimate, but their decision was wrong, and they left it too late to make that “U-turn” as it were on their personal journey.

One of the most gifted players ever to grace a football pitch was the great George Best. Sadly, we still remember how booze and birds eroded what was once a remarkable talent.

Doing the rounds of TV chat shows and the after-dinner speaking circuit, he woul tell a particular story against himself.

One evening he recalled, having won a large sum of money at a London casino, he and his then girlfriend, a former Miss World, booked into a luxury hotel.

He then explained how he spread the money – lots of it, in high denomination notes – on the king sized bed, before phoning room service for champagne to be sent up.

The waiter duly arrived. Open-mouthed, he looked in disbelief at all the cash that was spread over the bed. And agog at Miss World draped seductively over a chaise-longue.

Nervously, in a voice that was barely above a whisper, he said: “Mr Best, I hope you don’t mind me asking – but where did it all go wrong?”

An amusing anecdote (but, by the way, I once recounted this tale to an audience largely made up of wealthy businessmen and high-flying professionals – and their reaction was….. zilch, zero)

However, there is a lot of truth in that story. George Best’s journey began in humble but essentially decent circumstances, with a down-to-earth upbringing in a devout Northern Irish family home.

Blessed with a wonderful talent, he could have continued to travel a road accompanied, as it were, by thousands of youngsters inspired by someone who could have been an ideal role model….but….he chose another route that led ultimately to his own self-destruction.

{btw he was reduced to playing for Hibs as he reached the end of his playing days! Said he who is a staunch Jambo}

How often have we seen glittering careers tarnished by self-orientation, self-seeking, self-indulgence. Ruined because of living for the moment.

“Take your ease” said the rich man in Christ’s parable; “Eat, drink, be merry”

Tomorrow never comes – well, actually, it does….and often when we least expect it.

The sad, but obvious, thing is that you can’t take it with you when tomorrow comes. I’ve yet to see a Securicor van as part of a funeral cortège.

The thrust of Christ’s parable should speak to those who want to shop till they drop, those who put getting to the top regardless of the means to climb there, those so involved in the rat race that family life takes a back seat, those who travel on a personal journey that may be temporarily satisfying but leaves no room for the needs of others.

Does it boil down to faith – this journey?

It depends on how we define “faith” – “Seek the things that are above…” writes Paul; “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”

It’s all a matter of direction and priorities – as both Jesus in his Parable and Paul in his Epistle indicate.

The choice is ours.

Sometimes, we may miss the obvious route to travel; but sometimes – just sometimes, the Spirit may lead us to a better destination.

A story to finish – it’s about a journey; in this case, a voyage that went “wrong”

In Southern Tasmania, there is a promontory of land on the shore of the Huon River.

On one side is Castle Forbes Bay, named after the Irish ship “The Castle Howard”

In 1836, the Captain mistook the entrance of the Huon River for that of the Derwent River a few miles farther along the coast.

The Derwent led to Hobart Town, his destination, one of Australia’s finest deep water ports, and an important centre for the whaling trade.

From the census of the previous year (1835) Hobart Town contained 13,826 inhabitants, and the whole of Tasmania 36,505.

But they missed it; things got worse when sickness broke out on board, and fresh water was running out.

A terrible miscalculation on the ship’s journey.

They made landfall – miles from their original destination – and set up camp.

But there was no drinking water there, and the passengers were suffering.

However, after a while, desperately scouting the area, a fresh water rivulet was discovered.

They erected tents to hospitalise the sick passengers….. and to this day the area is known as Hospital Bay.

Although they settled this place by default, many of the female passengers remained and married the local timber workers.

And they prospered and many of their descendants still live in or around there.

Not all journeys may go to plan…..but God has plans for all our journeys.

May journeying mercies attend you all, wherever your life-travel takes you, especially as we enter this New Year of 2018.

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My favourite Wedding blessing (Celtic)

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April 29, 2016 · 19:49

Feline Folly

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August 20, 2015 · 14:13

he can’t bless SSM, but he can bless a loo. :-(

Southern Reporter 1 July 2015

Bishop earns time in loo

Episcopalian Bishop of Edinburgh, the Rt Reverend John Armes, chalked up a first when he visited Kelso on Sunday.
He had never been asked to bless the loos anywhere before and admitted that, while there wasnt an appropriate item in his book of blessings, that should be rectified in future as good toilet facilities were essential.
Fortunately he had also been asked to bless the new kitchen in St Andrews Episcopal Church and was able to adapt and extend his duties to cover the two new facilities which have been created at a cost of ?60,000.
Ensuring that as rector, the Reverend Bob King teased the church got its moneys worth out of the bishops visit, he not only blessed a new carpet for the Lady Chapel, but also authorised new chalice bearers and licensed new intercessors.
Bishop John also appointed Alan Hall as Emeritus Lay Reader one of only three in Scotland in recognition of his long-standing work for the church in Kelso.

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The Greatest Blessing……

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November 19, 2014 · 02:00

Churches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

imageChurches should perform gay blessings, CofE says

In a historic shift in thinking a panel of bishops recommend the Church of England allow special services which will amount to gay marriages in all but name

In principle the Church of England is still committed to the belief that any sex outside a traditional marriage between a man and a woman is a sin

By John Bingham, Religious Affairs Editor
11:15AM GMT 28 Nov 2013

The Church of England is poised to offer public blessing services for same-sex couples in a historic shift in teaching.
A long-awaited review of church teaching by a panel of bishops recommends lifting the ban on special services which will amount to weddings in all but name.
Although the Church will continue to opt out of carrying out gay marriages, when they become legal next year, the landmark report recommends allowing priests to conduct public services “to mark the formation of permanent same sex relationships”.
The report repeatedly speaks of the need for the Church to “repent” for the way gay and lesbian people have been treated in the past.
In what will be seen as a radical departure, it also suggests that the Bible is inconclusive on the subject of homosexuality.

The report does not recommend drawing up special liturgies for the blessing service, although it suggests new “guidelines” are drawn up.
Unlike weddings, priests will not have a legal obligation to offer such services and the decision will be left to individual parishes.
The report insists that the Church continues to “abide by its traditional teaching”, but the recommendation undoubtedly represents a fundamental shift in practice.
Opponents have been warning that any attempt to change the church’s position in sexuality would lead to a split which would make the disagreements over women bishops pale into insignificance.
It would also trigger a major rift within the 80 million-strong worldwide Anglican Communion.
The review, chaired by Sir Joseph Pilling, a former civil service mandarin, and including four bishops, was ordered last year in an attempt to resolve years of tension over the Church’s approach to gay worshippers and clergy.
But it was granted a wide remit to explore all aspects of its teaching on human sexuality – an issue which has dogged it for decade on sex.
Although the report itself will not change Church teaching or liturgy – something only the House of Bishops and General Synod can do – its publication marks a landmark moment for Anglicanism.
The debate over gay marriage earlier this year was just the latest in a series of issues exposing growing divisions as liberals and conservatives battle for the soul of the Established Church.
Questions over remarrying divorcees, its approach to cohabitation have plagued the Church for decades.
In principle the Church of England is still committed to the belief that any sex outside a traditional marriage between a man and a woman is a sin.
Any official endorsement of lifestyles outside those limits draws anger from traditionalists who argue that the Church is turning its back on 2,000 years of teaching.
But opponents argue that an apparent obsession with people’s private lives is a distraction from the Church’s core mission to spread the Christian gospel.
In practice its position has shifted dramatically in recent decades and even leading evangelicals have acknowledged a need to accept massive social change.
Last year a new official handbook for vicars on conducting weddings made clear that they should expect most couples wanting to marry to be already living together and probably have children.
The House of Bishops agreed last Christmas that openly gay clerics who are in civil partnerships are now officially allowed to become bishops – as long as they claim to be celibate.
The approach taken by the Archbishop of Canterbury, the Most Rev Justin Welby, typifies that of the Church in recent years.
An evangelical who once opposed gay couples adopting children, the Archbishop strongly objected to the Government’s introduction of same-sex marriage when it was debated in the Lords.
But only weeks later, he used his first presidential address to the Church’s General Synod, to warn Anglicans of a need to face up to a “revolution” in attitudes to sexuality.
He later said that most young people – including young Christians – think its teaching on gay relationships is “wicked” and has angered traditionalists by inviting the gay rights group Stonewall into church schools to combat homophobic bullying.
The Archbishop of York, who led the Church’s opposition to gay marriage, has himself signalled support for some form of blessing for same-sex relationships.
Speaking in Lords in July, he pointed out that it already offers special prayers and services to bless sheep and even trees but not committed same-sex couples – something he said would have to be addressed.

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The Reverend I. M. Different

One particular fellow sky pilot often forgets to announce that the Offering will be collected – and someone from the Choir has to whisper in his ear during the last hymn to remind him of this omission.  His response is usually to say to the congregation “Oh, silly me – I forgot to ask you for your cash!”

another man of the cloth who was obviously not firing on all cylinders one Sunday morning and after the congregation had sung the first hymn, he pronounced the Blessing or Benediction – thus closing the service.  My erstwhile colleague left the punters in the pew somewhat puzzled

A fellow Divinity student friend once took a service during the University vacation, and discovered that the service was going to be rather short – so he had the congregation repeat the Nicene Creed and had them say the Lord’s Prayer a second time toward the end of the service – all to pad it out.

how about the retired minister “filling in”during a vacancy  – he announced from the pulpit that some people found his sermons too long.  So, on this particular Sunday (and I was there at that church as a worshipper), he announced, “This morning’s sermon will be much shorter, in the Name of the Father and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen”……  and that was it!

One of the kirks where I was minister was used by a neighbouring vacant Charge to assess and then interview one the applicants for the post.

Poor guy got landed with taking the service on Trinity Sunday (which all clergy love – not).

His children’s story was very inventive, using three drinking straws bound together with sellotape.  He started by asking the kids what an equilateral triangle is.  Silence.  He then attempted to explain before the whole thing fell to pieces.  Quickly, he reassembled it.  Interruption from a surly teen (not part of the Sunday School contingent):  “Isn’t that now an Isosceles Triangle?”

Guest minister: “No, it’s not!  And my first Degree is in Maths, so I should know!”

He didn’t get the job.

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Pope Blesses Harley-Davidson Bikers At Vatican

2:42pm UK, Sunday 16 June 2013

Pope Francis blessed scores of Harley-Davidson riders who went to the Vatican to celebrate the manufacturer’s 110th anniversary.

Pope Francis blesses the Harley Davidson bikers from his Popemobile in Rome

Thundering Harley engines nearly drowned out prayers that were recited as the Pope greeted crowds before Sunday mass at St Peter’s Square.

Pope

Thousands of bikers in their trademark leather Harley vests stood alongside tens of thousands of Catholic worshippers.

T-shirts with pictures of Pope Francis are hung over a Harley-Davidson bike in Rome

The Pope blessed the “numerous participants” of the two-day pro-life rally – the centrepiece of which was Francis’ Mass.

Pope

Harley owners from around the world descended on Rome for the anniversary.

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The Rune of Hospitality

strangerhttp://youtu.be/36qpZZ1zegc

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May 5, 2013 · 21:06

Blessings 2 – the Arouca Church Bell

The Meenister’s Log

The bell had been forged in Scotland, taken to Canada and eventually ended up in Arouca in Trinidad.

It had lain disusused for many years, but now it was to be housed in its own belfry: in a free standing scaffolding-like tower just outside the front door of the Barrow Memorial Church.

 

 

It was their pride and joy. And I was asked to dedicate it.

Standing amid a large group of members and friends, beneath the tower, with my Book of Common Order opened at the right place, I started to read the appropriate words.

Standing beside me was the caretaker.  She was a wee totally toothless woman who never wore her dentures, had a man’s “bunnet” perched on her head and “baffies” on her feet.  She was what we’d charitably call “a character”.

She was intensely proud of her church and of this wonderful bell, so much so that when I had just said “And we dedicate this bell….” and before I’d got to “to the glory of Almighty God”, she grabbed the rope and started pulling on it with the strength of ten men”

The noise was literally deafening, and at the service which followed in the church building I felt my head vibrating and couldn’t even hear what I was saying myself.

I went back to the home of one of my elders following the service, but turned down his kind offer of “one for the road”

It was, of course, a dram of…………Bells

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