Tag Archives: Trinidad

Some thoughts for Proper 13 – Year C – 31 July 2016

Colossians 3 verses 1-11

Luke 12 verses 13-21

 

The Journey

When I was in Trindad (1979-83), I sometimes had to fly off to attend conferences, go on holiday, and (a couple of times) to provide ministerial cover in the neighbouring Island of Grenada.

Very often at Piarco Airport, there would be small groups – family members – who had  gathered to bid farewell to a loved one or loved ones who were going off on holiday or perhaps permanently to foreign shores.

Sometimes, as the departing party made their way toward the Gate, someone from those gathered to see them off would shout out…”journeying  mercies be upon you!”

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

When I conduct a wedding ceremony, I often use that story to illustrate what we want 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 Gaelic 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.

 

I’ve just heard of the death of a wonderful man, Jamie Stuart, 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.

{“Jamie Stuart’s Wonderful Life” – article in the Herald newspaper – can be read here:  http://www.heraldscotland.com/arts_ents/13194496.James_Stuart_s_Wonderful_Life/}

 

However, 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 (today’s RCL Gospel Reading)

 

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The Parable of the Rich Fool by Rembrandt, 1627.

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.

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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 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 decent 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”

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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!

 

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Weddings

The first two were posted by my friend (and one of my successors at Greyfriars Church in Trinidad)

The Rev Clifford Rawlins:

  • One wedding in Greyfriars saw me giving the nuptial blessing, “God the Father, God the Son…” when the bride’s mentally challenged uncle jumped up and blurted out, “AND GOD THE HOLY GHOST!” And I continued, “God the Holy Ghost…” And the man responded, jumping up and flicking his fingers in the air like a schoolboy, shouting, “See! See what I tell allyuh! Same thing I say! I know he was going to say dat!”

 

  • Another one by a colleague had the groom tell him, “Jes now eh Father, gimme a minute.” And he proceeded to turn around and scream, “Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah, aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaah!” After which he faced he minister again and calmly asked him to continue with the service.

 

and these from a website:

 

  • The uncle of the bride sent a request in since he could not attend. He asked someone to read 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love; instead perfect love drives out fear.” Unfortunately, the reader quoted John 4:18 at the wedding: “For you have had five husbands, and the man you now have is not your husband.”
  • The groom’s ex-wife stood in the back of the sanctuary yelling “not” as the pastor read 1 Corinthians 13.

 

  • This outdoor wedding had a stray dog as a guest. He kept bringing a tennis ball to the pastor and putting it at his feet.

 

  • During the wedding service, a guest’s phone loudly declares, “You have reached your destination.”

 

And two of my own:

  • After the Marriage Schedule had been signed, and the legal formalities completed, the bride and groom (both Beatles fans) walked up the aisle to the song “Ticket to Ride”

 

  • Just as another wedding ceremony began, a guest’s phone rang – the ringtone was the theme from “Mission Impossible “

 

 

 

 

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Holy Saturday

 

One Easter Saturday during my ministry in Trinidad, I conducted an evening service at our little church in Arouca (some 15 miles from Port of Spain).

As befitted the solemnity and seriousness of the day, the theme was muted and the closing hymn was “Abide With Me” – abide with me, fast falls the eventide,the darkness deepens…

….and then it was off home, driving through the hot and humid night…….. to a power cut (an electrical outage, as it was known there). Darkness everywhere and no power (no light,no air conditioning, and burglar alarms going off everywhere; and,of course, no chance of a shower).

Now, sometimes I can be a lazy fellow and this time, typically, I hadn’t prepared my sermon for Easter Day – and I was due back at Arouca for a sunrise service at dawn. And there was no light to see what I was doing. My electric typewriter, anyhow, was as useful as the proverbial ash-tray on a motor bike

It was to be a long, hot, uncomfortable night.

But then – about four in the morning – the lights flickered, the a/c came on.

Power, Light, new Hope – EASTER!

Sermon written, cuppas consumed, showered and dressed – eastward back toward Arouca and a rising sun

And the opening hymn, sung with gusto –

“Blest morning, whose first dawning rays

Beheld the Son of God

Arise triumphant from the grave

And leave his dark abode”

 

….. and then the lights went off again!

 

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A Wedding in Sangre Grande, Trinidad

It was, by Trinidadian standards, a comparatively quiet affair – but so respectful and over-flowing with love and harmony that it was wonderful.

A young man who was a member of our church in Sangre Grande (one of our rural preaching points) was marrying a lovely Hindu lassie, who had converted to Christianity. The ceremony was to be conducted at the home of her parents

We met at the home of the Groom’s folks and drove in cavalcade (horns sounding all the way) the short distance to where the Bride lived. Their home was just a plain wooden structure down a dirt track; a small house but filled to overflowing with family, friends and well-wishers.

And what joy! What happiness! What sharing of love and friendship!

Christians and Hindus together, linked together (however temporarily) to participate in this beautiful occasion.

The atmosphere was relaxed and informal.

Immediately before the wedding ceremony itself, the couple became officially engaged (!) – accompanied by loud cheers and applause.

Then the solemn words of the Church of Scotland’s Book of Common Order (there was a degree of surrealism here), before the legal paperwork was tackled.

And, as we finished, a guest spontaneously burst into an unaccompanied solo of the 23rd Psalm.

We then moved outdoors and, under the shade of a banyan tree, the men sat down at long tables,waited upon by the women. Well, it had been the menfolk who had prepared the meal (as is traditional,I was told).

And what food! curried goat and chicken, dhal and channa (chickpeas), rice and roti (like a chapati, but better).

In the background, tablas were being played, hummingbirds were a-humming, crickets chirping – and I tried not to look at the tree to which the poor goat had been tethered before given the coup de grace.

In one corner,a group of old men, hats on head, were huddled together exchanging confidences and recalling past glories; in another, youths boldly flashed their smiles at girls who looked demure and only giggled in response.

What a wonderful day. Here there was no artificiality, not a “wedding-planner” in sight, no videos – just simplicity and innocence and yet, at the same time, great profundity. And, above all else, great joy (why, I even thought I saw two lizards dancing together!)

And then perhaps strange in our eyes – after the meal was finished, all the Groom’s side of the family left, taking with them the young couple back to his parental home.

With car horns sounding, we drove back to another reception there – with more food of a similar kind and of identical large quantities.

Then followed more speeches and warm words of welcome to the girl who was now part of the family and who, from that moment, would be taking up residence with her new husband and in-laws, as is customary.

It may, I suppose, seem strange to some that a Church of Scotland minister should be conducting a Church of Scotland marriage ceremony some 4000 miles away and in unorthodox surroundings.

But Christ knows no barriers.

And seldom have I been given such a warm and sincere welcome on that particular day.

The Kingdom of Heaven is likened to a Wedding Feast – that incident was the perfect illustration of it.

(p.s. I got a doggy-bag of my favourite goat roti to take home)

 

pps   I revisited Sangre Grande on 22 February 2016 – almost 34 years after the events described above.  I went to the home of the mother-in-law of the bride. Almost immediately a photo was produced; it shows the wedding party and myself.

Later, I was to go into town and there I met with Patsy – the bride in the photo.  We embraced warmly.  What a welcome and what a lovely and loving family.

 

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Patsy Dattoo – 2016

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Visit to Susamachar Presbyterian Church, San Fernando, Trinidad. 20/2/16

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It was a memorable day on February 20, 1871 when Dr. Kenneth J. Grant started a school in a building known as the OLD THEATRE situated on Cipero Street. The spot was known as TOLLGATE and was well located for all the East Indian children in the town, and more so, at a point, which attracted a large number from the country. Church services were conducted in this building and steady progress was made in attendance of both the day school and Church services. From this humble beginning Susamachar Church started.

In 1872 Church services were moved to the first Susamachar Church Building on Coffee Street, San Fernando. When a subscription list was drawn up, the sum of Two Thousand and Sixty Dollars ($2,060.00) was collected for the Church Building to accommodate four hundred (400) persons. It was a wooden structure fifty feet by forty-five feet with a pitch pine floor. In front, on either side, was an imposing tower, capped by a dome. The Susamachar Presbyterian Church, the Church of “Good News” was dedicated on the 7th July 1872 by Rev. Kenneth K. Grant, the founder and first Minister.

As the work of the Church increased, a Board of five (5) Managers was organized in 1875 to assist in the business of the Church. A Session was later formed for the spiritual aspects of the work at Susamachar. In August 1875, Babu Lal Behari and Clarence Soodeen were ordained as the first two (2) East Indian Elders of Susamachar. In 1882, Rev. Lal Behari was ordained as a Minister of the Presbyterian Church. He was closely associated with Rev. Grant for thirty-five (35) years as “a pupil, assistant and teacher combined and a beloved colleague and trusted friend”.

Rev. Grant resigned in 1907 on the grounds of the failing health of Mrs. Grant and returned to Canada. Mrs. Grant died in 1912. The marble baptismal font placed near the Pulpit was presented by the Women of Susamachar in memory of Mrs. Grant. Rev. Angus Firth succeeded Rev. Grant. Unfortunately, he died of a tropical fever the same year.

By 1926, there was urgent need for a new Church building as the first building was too small for the growing congregation. A Building Committee was set up to raise money for this new project. The appeal for contributions had an excellent response. Plans and specifications were prepared by Mr. Maurice Accane, architect and builder. Mr. Emmanuel Lucky was awarded the contract to erect the new Church which was built at a total cost of Thirteen Thousand Dollars ($13,000.00).

The new Church Building was dedicated on the 27th May 1932 by Rev. J. A. Scrimgeour. The door of the building was opened by Miss Sylvin Grant, daughter of Rev. K. J. Grant. Rev. Victor B. Walls was the Preacher. Rev. James Clarke MacDonald was the Minister at that time.

Some Historical highlights are:

April 27, 1932: The Scottish Presbyterian Church of High Street, San Fernando, merged with Susamachar Presbyterian Church.
January 8, 1933: The Stained Glass Window depicting St. Paul’s First Missionary Journey was unveiled and dedicated. This was a gift from the late Thomas Geddes Grant in memory of his father, Rev. J. K. Grant.
May 3, 1933: The Manual Two-Pipe Organ was dedicated in memory of Rev. John Smith Wilson, the last serving Minister of the Scottish Presbyterian Church of High Street.
Other notable gifts from the Grant family include the Lectern, Pulpit, Communion Table, the Minister’s Chair, the Choir Stalls and the Electronic Chimes, which were dedicated on July 17, 1960. The Chimes Cabinet was donated by the Jagroop family in memory of their parents and dedicated on the same day.

The history of Susamachar would not be complete without some reference to Rev. Dr. James C. MacDonald. This teacher, scholar and theologian still lives in the hearts of many who worship at Susamachar. Susamachar’s growth owes much to his efforts and dedication to duty.

The first native Minister appointed to Susamachar was Rev. J. A. Ramjit in 1959. His ministry was fruitful and Susamachar lost a worthy son when he resigned in 1964 to take up an appointment in Canada. He served for five (5) years.

The new Church Hall, an imposing structure at the Carib Street entrance was built through the untiring efforts of the Board of Managers of which Dr. C. E. Hubah was Chairman. Funds were raised to finance this building through systematic giving by the Congregation by way of envelopes. The builder was Mr. A. C. Goberdhan who died during the construction of the Church Hall. The building was dedicated on June 29, 1963 by the Rt. Rev Cyril Beharry, B.A., B.D., Moderator of Synod, Rev. J. A. Ramjit conducted the service and Rev. Dr. J.C. MacDonald brought the message.

 

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Day visit to my old congregation at Sangre Grande, Trinidad. 22 February 2016

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February 23, 2016 · 03:03

Sunday Worship at St. Ann’s Church of Scotland, Port of Spain, Trinidad

21 February 2016 – first time back since August 1983

Sunday worship at my old church, St Ann’s Church of Scotland in Charlotte Street, Port of Spain.

It was a 9.00 am service – and, in typical Trini style, we started at ten past the hour.

A kind of liturgically different service. Though we did use (as in my day) CH3. The organist however, played the wrong tune (wrong metre too) to “The God of Abraham Praise” ….reminded me of my organist in the church where I ministered on my return from Trinidad; he would turn his hymnary to the wrong page, and play whatever hymn was there to the metre and tune recommended. So, while the congregation was trying to sing – say – Hymn 367 which was Common Metre, he’d be playing the tune for Hymn 368 which might have been 76.76D. (please note that I don’t have a clue what these hymns are – I picked the numbers at random. I don’t actually carry a hymnary with me when on holiday! Nor a “dog-collar”, although I did hear of a C of S minister who, even when vacationing in foreign climes, wore his…”so that I can be recognised as a clergyman, in case other holiday-makers need pastoral support”)

Ministerial friends and colleagues- how about this: no children’s address, even although there were about half a dozen kids there. Instead, they were asked to come forward, and “The blessing of the Sunday School” was prayed.

OK, so you get the youngsters out, pray that they’ll have a spiritually enlightening time at SS, then they leave!! No story, nowt, zip, zero!!!

Oh, the prayers – for the first prayer (confession and assurance) the Minister actually stated that he’d got it off the internet…. wow!

The sermon was obviously not from “Sermon Central” or whatever other American/Canadian “help for lazy pastors” website

It was one minute short of half an hour – fully ten or more minutes of which was an explanation of what the early Christian symbol of the fish meant.

Laboriously, he went through the Greek word for “fish” (ICHTUS), which he explained was an acrostic for I = Jesus, C = Christ, TH = God’s, U = Son, S = Saviour

And was literally spelling out each Greek letter – occasionally glancing at me to see if this were right!

He looked at his watch twice during the half hour, and then abruptly stopped.

Now, don’t get me wrong – he was a warm and welcoming guy; totally sincere and dedicated…. but, “hey, man!” ah didn’t preach like so!

What a wonderful welcome for this old pilgrim! Handshakes, hugs, reminiscing – and so many folk remembered me.

I felt very emotional when asked to address the congregation, especially when I recalled that Helen loved worshipping there. This old softie had a tear in his eye, and a lump in his throat.

Lovely, warm, special time of fellowship and of memories.

Just a very special and moving experience.

A post-note: in the congregation was one of two sisters who were very straight and narrow, and although very pleasant, just a wee bit too religious.

Yvonne was there – she’s 96!!!!! And we talked for a while after the service.

I’d been “advised” beforehand that she might be there. I was told by Cliff (my Trini pastor friend) that many years after I left, she still referred to me disparagingly as “The Minister who drinks beer” shock! horror!

It goes back to a Sunday lunchtime when, after church, the two sisters (for some reason long forgotten) turned up unexpectedly at the Manse. In those days, shops were closed on a Sunday, and we’d run out of fruit juice for Mat and Richard; so Helen and I gave them a VERY small glass of Carib lager. The ladies looked askance, but Helen justified it by saying that “it’s not very strong”. I’ve since discovered that it’s 5.2 % proof!!!

 

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February 22, 2016 · 13:08

A Sermon for the First Sunday in Lent

Luke 4:1-13

 

 
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  Jesus Temptation on the Mount by Satan Duccio di Buoninsegna

 

 Tomorrow, I’m off to Glasgow.

 Now, that’s exciting…. sort of!

 But, more exciting, is where I’m going to at 7.00 the next morning, leaving from the airport.

 I’m travelling to Trinidad where I used to work, way back in the late 70s/early 80s.  I haven’t been back since August 1983.

 This time, I return as a tourist… or do I?  I think that it’s more as a pilgrim. Seeing sights and places that had a profound affect on me as a young Minister in my early 30s.

A pilgrim.

 I know that probably makes more sense when one thinks of a visit to the Holy Land, and the experience of visiting, for example, Bethlehem… the birthplace of Jesus.

Or it could be a journey to the Spanish city and shrine of Santiago de Compostela.

The “Way of Saint James” has been a leading Catholic pilgrimage route from the 9th century, and a particular friend went there just last year, saying what a spiritually moving experience it was.

Some people whom I know, have travelled to Graceland, the home of Elvis, not so much as tourists, but as pilgrims to a musical legend’s “shrine”.

My late wife, Helen, visited Pella in Greece, effectively to pay homage at the birthplace of Alexander the Great.

 

I think that there’s a subtle difference between being a holiday-maker, and someone who is a pilgrim.

A pilgrim is someone who travels to a place of great personal importance; a tourist is someone who travels for pleasure, typically just sightseeing.

Usually, the pilgrim experiences something deeper, more profound, enlightening, life-enhancing on his or her journey.

I think the key word is “experience” – personal experience.

I travel a lot, and have been lucky enough to visit Buddhist Temples in Shanghai and in Kandy in Sri Lanka.  I’ve been sprayed by the waters of Niagara Falls, and have enjoyed seeing the glories of historic Istanbul …. and so on.

I enjoyed these trips… but that’s what they were: trips, holidays, excursions, tours.  I’ve got the memories, and the photos, but, they didn’t change my life for good or ill.

 

But…..

…. as the great 20th century theologian put it:

“Pilgrims are persons in motion passing through territories not their own, seeking something we might call completion, or perhaps the word clarity will do as well, a goal to which only the spirit’s compass points the way.”  (Richard Niebuhr)

 


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The tourist travels wanting the journey to be comfortable, safe, and, to a degree, familiar.

The pilgrim also sets out on a journey, but travels in search of something outside the cosy. At its core, pilgrimage is a journey into the unknown undertaken so that something new can happen.

 

Some years ago, I spent a wonderful time touring the amazing site of excavated Ephesus.

 

The tour-guide was excellent, but his pitch was aimed at the lowest common denominator

For example, at the entrance to the site are three pillars… “can anyone tell me what these are?”

Silence.

Me: “Corinthian, Doric and Ionic”

Later, a sign or symbol to Nike – “anyone know who Nike was?”

“God  of sneakers?”  (?????!!!!)

Me: “Goddess of Speed”

The sign of the fish – “Anyone?” 

Me: “ICHTHUS    etc”

By this time my better half was prodding me in the ribs and telling me to stop being such a show-off.

The Guide, now curious, asked if I’d been on this tour before – which I hadn’t

“So what do you do work at?”

“Clergyman”

“OK – we’re just about to reach the Amphitheatre where St. Paul preached – would you like to talk to the group about it?”

And I did – and it was one of the most moving experiences ever: to sit where the Apostle sat and to relate his story.  It was wonderful!

Ephesus 

That’s what I think I’m trying to get at…. the personal, intimate, enhancing experience.

 

I’m reading just now the autobiography of Richard Coles.

Now, I guess, that most of you won’t know who he is.  OK, he’s a broadcaster and writer, and a Church of England vicar.

But, in the 1980s, he was in a band – a very successful band with many hit records – named the Communards.

What a dissolute life he and Jimmy Somerville, the singer, lived: casual gay sex, drugs a plenty, and the louche rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle of the time.

 

 Coles

 

Then something happened. A life-changing and personally enriching experience.  This wanderer through life, began a pilgrimage that was to have a profound influence on his life – in a church. ……

It was in 1990 at St Alban’s Church of England Church in Holburn, London.  At a Communion Service.

He writes of the profound experience he went through, “It was if iron bands, constricting my chest, broke and fell away and I could breathe; and a shutter was flung open, and light flooded in and I could see.  And i wept and wept…..

……in the first rush of conversion it was all about feeling, feeling with an intensity that took me by surprise……

……I prayed so intensely that I had a sensation of colour and movement rather than words or pictures……

…..Back then my experience of the mystery of God was as vivid as anything I have ever experienced.”

 

In the Old Testament, Moses, led a dispirited group of Hebrew slaves from slavery to freedom.

In following God into the wilderness, they were changed – they were now sanctified by the Lord.  They were pilgrims who were heading to a Promised Land.

 Today’s reading from Deuteronomy recounts this story, and says that the descendents of those who were part of the great Exodus were also  to live their lives as pilgrims, never satisfied with what is familiar, but moving out into the unknown where God waits to meet them.

 

Someone has said that the central event of the New Testament is also a pilgrimage, and Jesus is the pilgrim.

“He journeys through life, through suffering and death, and returns home to God with Good Friday scars and Easter glory. He travels not as a tourist, but as a pilgrim. Jesus returns home a changed person, because all of us return home with him.”

The story of his temptation emphasises that he’s a pilgrim.

A tourist doesn’t go into a desert for forty days to fast!. He trusts God enough to remain in a strange place, in strange circumstances, for a long time. He trusts God enough that the tempter’s seductive offers don’t interest him.

He leaves the wilderness a different person: he has been tested and found to be true.

Now he is strong enough and resolute enough to continue his pilgrimage into the unknown, even though suffering and death lie ahead.

He is ready to lead his people on their new and final Exodus

 

This season of Lent offers opportunities to follow Jesus on his journey. To follow the Saviour who was not afraid to live and die for us. He was not afraid to pass through strange places: his abandonment, crucifixion, death, and frightening his friends when he left the tomb.

Jesus did not try to evade transformation at the hands of God, and we are the heirs of his transformation.

Once the lone pilgrim, now Jesus is the pilgrimage path, the road we are asked to take–through Lent and through life.

 

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Trinidad Soca for the First Sunday in Lent

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Greyfriars – latest

 

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TRINIDAD & TOBAGO NEWSDAY

 

Govt give Greyfriars owner new proposal

Friday, December 19 2014

ALFRED GALY, owner of the historic Greyfriars Church of Scotland building on Frederick Street, Port-of-Spain is currently reviewing a proposal sent to him by the Ministry of National Diversity and Social Integration for the preservation and reconstruction of the partially demolished building.

“We submitted a proposal to Mr Galy. He is reviewing it. He will send back his final proposal to us,” Minister of National Diversity and Social Integration Rodger Samuel told Newsday yesterday.

Asked what was Government/stakeholders’ proposal for the preservation of the building which was partially demolished on Sunday, November 30, Samuel said he would prefer not to say. Half of the building has been destroyed. He assured Newsday that he had spoken with Galy on Wednesday. Samuel told Newsday that there were some options including working together in a partnership for the preservation of the church that was opened to a congregation during the period of the abolition of slavery.

The complete demolition of the building was halted after Samuel and his adviser Dr Nurah Rosalie Cordner intervened. Cordner risked her life to stop the works, climbing onto an excavator to stop the demolition crew of contractor, Don Ramdeen & Co, from tearing down the centuries’ old church.

Meanwhile, the Port-of-Spain City Corporation has obtained an emergency injunction from the High Court to prevent unauthorised and dangerous demolition work from going forward at the historic building. The demolition exercise had not been authorised.

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Filed under The Ramblings of a Reformed Ecclesiastic