Tag Archives: Religion
I would like to tell you this morning about a family.
The couple aren’t married, but have been together for about 10 years. He’s 40 next month & his partner is three years younger.
Both are very intelligent- in fact, he’s got three degrees – all from Glasgow University.
They have two beautiful daughters – one is 8 & the other is two.
They’re a lovely and loving family and are very happy with life.
The parents aren’t church members, nor have the girls been baptised.
Who are they?…………
One of my sons and family!
(It rather proves that I’m a lousy minister – when I failed to involve my off-spring in the kirk!)
Two surveys were published over the last two weeks.
The more recent of the two, from ComRes, found that only 6% of British adults are practicing Christians.
The other Survey suggests that 53% of people are explicitly non-religious.
Unfortunately for the church, the people who continue to claim that Britain is a Christian country, and claim to be Christian, are also those who show little compassion for people with disabilities, as the repeated failure of the Work Capability Assessments show.
However, the Rev Norman Smith, who is Convener of the Church of Scotland’s Mission and Discipleship council, has commented: “The Church of Scotland is well aware that formal church membership has declined, yet as our own research shows, the role of spirituality in people’s lives remains important. As a church we are not driven by numbers, although we are committed to sharing our faith through our words and our deeds.”
That’s an interesting word “spirituality”
It’s not religion – that, if anything else is spirituality in a formal & organised setting and context.
All of us have a spiritual dimension to us, whether we recognise or acknowledge it or not.
In general, it typically involves a search for meaning in life. As such, it is a universal human experience—something that touches us all. People may describe it simply a deep sense of being in touch with the “inner me”
I believe my son and his family have that, without religious commitment- as is the case with many other people and families.
But….should there not be more? A farther step toward commitment?
I heard a deeply moving story last week.
It involves a retired servant of Queen Victoria. She had been a housemaid in the Royal Household for more than 40 years, but now was living in squalor and poverty in a insalubrious area in London….and she was dying from TB.
She was known as a woman of simple but deep faith.
John Wesley got to hear about her, and paid her a visit.
Talking to her, praying for her, comforting her, in her squalid slum, he noticed something pinned to one of the walls.
It was a banker’s draft (an old form of a cheque) – it was made out for hundreds of ££ – and was a personal payment from Queen Victoria herself!
The retired servant hadn’t realised what it was nor its worth, because she couldn’t read or write.
Here she was, living in abject poverty and squalor, when she could have been living in comfort during her final days.
So many people aren’t fulfilled, because of their religious and faith illiteracy.
In our New Testament reading today, Jesus tells his disciples – and remember they didn’t always fully understand what he was getting at – that true faith can be divisive…… that even amongst families (and we started hearing about mine, remember) there can be different outlooks and interpretations of life.
He’s effectively saying that some may stand apart from others because of their convictions and how their faith is articulated in how they treat others.
Jesus is telling us he demands a commitment that just might cut across families ties, that just might cut across at how others see us, a commitment that says as a Christian you are different in this world.
Jesus senses in his disciples as he is now headed for Jerusalem and the cross that altitude that they were not taking his claims seriously in their lives.
Jesus sensed an attitude of curiosity among his followers.
And that’s not nearly enough.
He wanted love, loyalty, obedience, a sense of commitment, but they were merely being curious, seeing what this poor country preacher was saying and doing.
So Jesus tells them about the obedience, the commitment, the loyalty, he demands from his followers. A commitment that could and does even cut across families lines.
Does he really want that kind of commitment from us?
Isn’t “spirituality” a good enough option?
Does it have to be so radical and decisive.??
Well, it certainly takes conviction.
Think, for example, of Paul:
In his letters, Paul uses the terms, “I know,… I am sure” many times. Paul had a conviction.
Paul’s conversion on the Road to Damascus by Peter Paul Rubens
We heard earlier the story of Daniel. He was forbidden to pray to Jehovah.
Violation would result in being thrown into the lion’s den.
It wasn’t a tough decision for Daniel to make for he had already made some strong convictions concerning his relationship to God.
He kept praying. He was thrown into that den.
Daniel in the Lions’ Den – Peter Paul Rubens
That takes courage – the inner strength that God provides – the fortitude that comes through trust in him.
The inner strength is available for every one who is willing to call upon the resources of God to give them the courage to stand by his or her convictions.
This is the kind of life Jesus is calling us to live: to react in the way that puts God first.
It is a life that even sometimes calls us to stand apart, to stand alone maybe even in a family.
Jesus calls us to live for Him. He calls us to a life of loyalty, a life of commitment.
That’s the major difference between the fashionable concept of spirituality and true faith
For we know that Jesus is truly the way, the truth and the life for us…..all of us….now and forever.
A real sign by religious preachers in Manchester’s main shopping street. How many are YOU? pic.twitter.com/MaktmeLnjV @mattbloomfilms
Article in “The National” newspaper
Religion is losing influence on Scottish life … except in education
FEBRUARY 29TH, 2016 – 12:43 AM ANDREW LEARMONTH
SCOTLAND is losing its religion in just about all areas of public life, according to a new report.
When it comes to marriage and moral issues the church is no longer the powerhouse it once was, but in education faith organisations remain strong and influential.
Academics at Glasgow University have carried out an audit of religion in Scots law, poring over legislation to find out exactly what rights the country’s different churches and religious communities have in 2016.
Commissioned by the Humanist Society of Scotland, the purpose of the report was to make sure law- makers and the public were fully aware of the role and the power of religious groups.
Gordon MacRae from the society said the “increased public and political awareness of the changing role of religion and belief in Scottish public life” had prompted the commission.
Key findings include that church ministers receive a 50 per cent reduction in council tax; religious communities where people live, such as monasteries or nunneries, do not need to pay the minimum wage; and blasphemy is still a crime in Scotland, though there have been no prosecutions for well over a century.
Professor Callum Brown, one of the report’s authors, said religion’s place in Scots law was “by and large now being eroded by human rights legislation from Europe, Westminster and Holyrood”, but in education its influence could still be felt. The 11 members of the General Teaching Council of Scotland are required to include one member from Church of Scotland and one from the Roman Catholic Church.
The report said there may also be schools in Scotland that are, in effect, “quasi-denominational schools.” After a Catholic school is discontinued and its pupils are sent to another, non-denominational building, provision is made for those pupils to receive religious instruction four times a week from a Catholic Church representative and one hour a week of religious observance.
Currently in Scotland there are 366 Catholic schools, three Episcopalian schools and one Jewish school. The Humanist Society say that given Scotland’s history and institutions had been shaped by religion over centuries, the report was necessary as the country discusses “where it’s going”.
MacRae said: “Many people in Scotland will be surprised by the quirks highlighted in this report, such as church ministers getting a 50 per cent discount on council tax, religious communities being exempt from the requirement to pay a minimum wage, and the fact that Scotland never quite got around to repealing the blasphemy law. But for us the most significant theme is a weakening of the position of religion in Scots law in all areas, except education; where it has been significantly strengthened in recent years.”
An elderly man was once driving down the M74 and turned on his car radio for the BBC Scotland news headlines on the hour.
After the news came a brief sports report and weather update and finally the traffic news…..”police report that a car is travelling in the wrong direction on the M74 motorway”
“That’s funny” ,he said to himself, “one car; there seem to be dozens of them driving the wrong way toward me”
That little story perhaps illustrates a principle that’s not altogether uncommon. Many people, in spite of all evidence to the contrary, believe that they are absolutely correct. Those other cars on the motorway are the ones that are wrong. It couldn’t possibly be me. And in the process, we lose our focus and our sense of why we do what we do.
An old story tells of a man who fell ill. It just so happens that the place where he fell was exactly between two villages. This presented a problem. The authorities tending to the situation decided that the village to which he was closest would take care of him. But one village maintained that the distance should be measured from the man’s navel; the other village argued that it should be calculated from the man’s mouth. As the two communities argued the case, the poor fellow died.
The same kind of thing happens as some people attempt to relate to God. Like the man driving the wrong way on the motorway, people seeking to honour God can actually be travelling the wrong way. Like the authorities of the two communities arguing about who was closest to the sick man, that people seeking to honour God can be majoring in the minors while souls are dying.
The religious authorities of Christ’s time were somewhat like that.
They insisted that the law be followed – but as they saw it. So they developed exacting requirements and rules and rituals, and they demanded that everybody live by those requirements. Anybody who didn’t, they said, was not honouring God.
For example, the hand washing law became something like this: Before they ate, 1½ egg-shells of water had to be poured over the hands. But this couldn’t happen in just any manner. It had to be done just so. The hands were held with the finger-tips upwards. The 1½ egg-shells of water was then poured over them until it ran down the wrists. Each palm was then cleansed with the fist of the other. Then, the hands were held with the fingertips pointing downwards. Water was poured on them from the wrists downwards so that ran off at the fingertips. Now, mind you, this was not a matter of hygiene. It was a matter of ritual. It had to be done even if a person’s hands were spotless. To them it was needed in order to please God. To fail to do it exactly this way was to sin.
So when the Pharisees and Scribes saw Jesus’ disciples not wash their hands before they sat down to eat, they went berserk. They even accused Jesus. Their accusation was, “You are not teaching your disciples to honour God like our ancestors did.” The implication was, “So You must not be from God either.”
Let’s put that in a modern context: The Pharisees and Scribes were driving the wrong way on the motorway – and they thought that Jesus and the disciples were wrong. They were worried about crossing the t’s and dotting the i’s while people around them perished.
In short, they spent their time majoring in the minors and forcing other people to do the same. And the real tragedy is that they did this all in the name of serving the Living God. But it was a complete perversion of God’s law.
Worship of God is not about rules and regulations; It is not exclusively about liturgies and hymns. It is not about how well we memorize Scripture verses.
Honouring God is about meeting him on his terms. Worship is not about coming together to do something for God, but rather to receive from God. To receive his forgiveness; to exchange our guilty, sinful nature with the perfect, holy righteousness that Jesus won for us on the Cross.
Jesus has set us free from the burdens of the law. He has done it all and has left no thing undone for us to receive the Father’s full forgiveness.
He has crossed the t’s and dotted the i’s for us. May God grant us the perfect peace that comes with the forgiveness and freedom that Jesus has brought us.
It’s about three years now since I retired from my post of Healthcare Chaplain to the Dumfries Hospitals. Part of my remit was to teach medical students and student nurses.
I’ve just come across this photograph of “a teaching aid”. I can’t make any sense of it – poor young men and women who had to listen to my rambles…. no wonder they looked dazed when the session ended!
Charlie Chaplain’s Tales
KIDS WERE ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT THE OLD AND NEW TESTAMENTS. THE FOLLOWING 25 STATEMENTS ABOUT THE BIBLE WERE WRITTEN BY CHILDREN.
THEY HAVE NOT BEEN RETOUCHED OR CORRECTED. INCORRECT SPELLING HAS BEEN LEFT IN.
1. IN THE FIRST BOOK OF THE BIBLE, GUINESSIS. GOD GOT TIRED OF CREATING THE WORLD SO HE TOOK THE SABBATH OFF.
2. ADAM AND EVE WERE CREATED FROM AN APPLE TREE. NOAH’S WIFE WAS JOAN OF ARK. NOAH BUILT AND ARK AND THE ANIMALS CAME ON IN PEARS.
3. LOTS WIFE WAS A PILLAR OF SALT DURING THE DAY, BUT A BALL OF FIRE DURING THE NIGHT.
4. THE JEWS WERE A PROUD PEOPLE AND THROUGHOUT HISTORY THEY HAD TROUBLE WITH UNSYMPATHETIC GENITALS.
5. SAMPSON WAS A STRONGMAN WHO LET HIMSELF BE LED ASTRAY BY A JEZEBEL LIKE DELILAH.
6. SAMSON SLAYED THE PHILISTINES WITH THE AXE OF THE APOSTLES.
7. MOSES LED THE JEWS TO THE RED SEA WHERE THEY MADE UNLEAVENED BREAD,WHICH IS BREAD WITHOUT ANY INGREDIENTS.
8. THE EGYPTIANS WERE ALL DROWNED IN THE DESSERT. AFTERWARDS, MOSES WENT UP TO MOUNT CYANIDE TO GET THE TEN COMMANDMENTS.
9. THE FIRST COMMANDMENTS WAS WHEN EVE TOLD ADAM TO EAT THE APPLE.
10. THE SEVENTH COMMANDMENT IS THOU SHALT NOT ADMIT ADULTERY.
11. MOSES DIED BEFORE HE EVER REACHED CANADA THEN JOSHUA LED THE HEBREWS IN THE BATTLE OF GERITOL.
12. THE GREATEST MIRICLE IN THE BIBLE IS WHEN JOSHUA TOLD HIS SON TO STAND STILL AND HE OBEYED HIM.
13. DAVID WAS A HEBREW KING WHO WAS SKILLED AT PLAYING THE LIAR. HE FOUGHT THE FINKELSTEINS, A RACE OF PEOPLE WHO LIVED IN BIBLICAL TIMES.
14. SOLOMON, ONE OF DAVIDS SONS, HAD 300 WIVES AND 700 PORCUPINES.
15. WHEN MARY HEARD SHE WAS THE MOTHER OF JESUS, SHE SANG THE MAGNA CARTA.
16. WHEN THE THREE WISE GUYS FROM THE EAST SIDE ARRIVED THEY FOUND JESUS IN THE MANAGER.
17. JESUS WAS BORN BECAUSE MARY HAD AN IMMACULATE CONTRAPTION.
18. ST. JOHN THE BLACKSMITH DUMPED WATER ON HIS HEAD.
19. JESUS ENUNCIATED THE GOLDEN RULE, WHICH SAYS TO DO UNTO OTHERS BEFORE THEY DO ONE TO YOU. HE ALSO EXPLAINED A MAN DOTH NOT LIVE BY SWEAT ALONE.
20. IT WAS A MIRICLE WHEN JESUS ROSE FROM THE DEAD AND MANAGED TO GET THE TOMBSTONE OFF THE ENTRANCE.
21. THE PEOPLE WHO FOLLOWED THE LORD WERE CALLED THE 12 DECIBELS.
22. THE EPISTELS WERE THE WIVES OF THE APOSTLES.
23. ONE OF THE OPPOSSUMS WAS ST. MATTHEW WHO WAS ALSO A TAXIMAN.
24. ST. PAUL CAVORTED TO CHRISTIANITY, HE PREACHED HOLY ACRIMONY, WHICH IS ANOTHER NAME FOR MARRIAGE.
25. CHRISTIANS HAVE ONLY ONE SPOUSE. THIS IS CALLED MONOTONY.