Tag Archives: witness

Sermon – Dumfries North West: Sunday, 17 November 2013


A bit of culture to begin….. this is a poem written by Thomas Hood – English poet lived in first half of 19th century:

No sun – no moon!

No morn – no noon –

No dawn – no dusk – no proper time of day.

No warmth, no cheerfulness, no healthful ease,

No comfortable feel in any member –

No shade, no shine, no butterflies, no bees,

No fruits, no flowers, no leaves, no birds! –



Now ain’t that the truth?!

 These are dull, dark and dreich days.

 November – it’s a gloomy and murky time.

 And it’s a time of sadness for many

 At the very beginning of this month, it was All Saints Day when we remembered those who have died – painful memories for many of us.


Remembrance Sunday and Armistice Day and memories of those – especially those cut down in the prime of life in war: the Great War, the Second – and thoughts too of these young servicemen and women killed in more recent conflicts – in Iraq and Afghanistan particularly…..  what tragic waste and for what?

 But, as Christians, we are called to live in hope,-.

 To be voices in the wilderness.  To be lights to the world


Have you ever tried to make predictions?

 I have and I predict that a new age is around the corner.

 In a couple of weeks’ time it will be Advent when we begin to anticipate the coming of the one who is the Light of the World – the one who banishes gloom and darkness and brings life.

 The one who promises so much – and who delivers.


Predictions can be funny things.

 Thomas Watson, who was chairman of IBM said in 1943  “I think there is a world market for maybe five computers

 There was an inventor by the name of LeeDeForest who claimed that “While theoretically and technically, television may be feasible, commercially and financially it is an impossibility.

 The Decca record company predicted that “We don’t like their sound and guitar music is one the way out.”  That was in 1962 when they turned down a band  (the Beatles)

 The disciples must of thought that Jesus was crazy when he predicted that the mighty Jerusalem Temple would be in ruins one day soon.

 It was the bedrock of faith for the Jewish people.  A huge structure that would last forever unto eternity.

 They must have thought him mad.

 Christ’s prediction that a building – or collection of buildings – so immense seemed implausible.

 They wanted to know when.  What would be the sign that this would take place.

 In their voice was fear, uncertainty.  Gloom.

A November mood of desolation if you like.

 Forty years later Jesus’ prediction came true.  In 70 AD the Temple was destroyed by Rome.


Destruction of the Temple of Jerusalem, Francesco Hayez, oil on canvas, 1867. Depicting the destruction and looting of the Second Temple by the Roman army.


But the church of Jesus Christ still stands, founded on the bedrock of faith.

Despite persecutions, despite divisions, despite apathy and criticism, mockery and opposition.  Despite all the November-like forces of the world can throw against it, the Church still stands.

 It may lose direction at times; it may appear to have suffered setbacks; it may have been considered to have made errors of judgement


But it still stands and asks US to carry out God’s will and Christ’s divine manifesto.

 We know that the Church finds itself these days in November-mode with decline in numbers here in Britain and elsewhere.


I was a member of Lothian Presbytery some years ago.  We once had a speaker from Church Headquarters – at 121 George   Street.

 He was talking about the reduction of membership in the Church of Scotland.

 At one point, he predicted that by 2029, there would be nobody left in our neighbouring Presbytery of Edinburgh.

 Ironic laughter from we Lothian chaps and chapesses.

 Then he said, I don’t why you find this amusing – your Presbytery will cease to exist in 2030


But as long as we stand firm in the faith.  As long as we don’t just DO Church but BE church – then there is a future.

 The Church world wide is growing.  Catholics are returning to chapels in Italy because of that most humble charismatic man, the new Pope.  It’s been called the “Francis effect”

 As long as there are people receptive to the good news, we can achieve great things for God.

 Prophesying doesn’t just mean predicting; it means being a VOICE


We may be a tiny voice in these November times – but as long as we are shining lights to the world – followers of him who is the Light of the World……  then resurrection is there

 And the gloom and the shadows will be dispersed forever.


We started with a poem, lets close with one:

 This was adapted by Alan Gaunt (based on an original piece by Norman C. Habel: “Dreams for Celebration”)

We look for a time

When every day will be a celebration,

When solemnity will effervesce and piety will swing;

When death will be celebrated like birth

And people will know that they are loved and wanted and beautiful;

When they will see you in each other

And use each other’s eyes as mirrors.

Then there will be joy at sunrise and peace at sunset,

And all will be free

As you are free

Now that death is past

And only life remains.

The maimed will run,

Fools will be wise,

The mentally disturbed will be of sound mind.

Politicians  will make peace and feed the people

And turn tanks into combine-harvesters.

The whole of life will be one long celebration of the vintage;

Children will be born into love

And baptised into joy.

Some day, Lord, these things shall be.

But here and now,

We will make a start on the new heaven and the new earth  You have in mind for us, 

And we thank you for the privilege


November 17, 2013 · 18:09


The Independent

Judge refuses to allow defendant to plead while wearing burka

Chloe Hamilton Friday 23 August 2013

 A judge has refused to allow a Muslim woman to enter a plea in court until she removed her burka, claiming he could not confirm the woman’s identity without seeing her face.

The 21-year-old woman from Hackney in east London, who is accused of witness intimidation, had refused to take off the full-length veil and reveal her face at Blackfriars Crown Court, the Judicial Office confirmed.

Judge Peter Murphy said there was a risk that a different person could pretend to be the defendant in the dock, and argued that the principle of open justice was more important than the woman’s religious beliefs.

He also refused a request from the woman’s barrister for a female police officer or prison guard to confirm that she was the same person as in police arrest pictures.

The judge reportedly told the woman: “I can’t, as a circuit judge, accept a plea from a person whose identity I am unable to ascertain.”

A Judicial Office spokeswoman said: “There was an issue with the judge asking to confirm the identity of the woman and he has adjourned the case until September 12, when he may hear legal argument about the issue.”

The defendant is alleged to have intimidated a witness in Finsbury Park, north London, in June.

Official guidelines were issued to judges in 2009 suggesting a “range of different possible approaches” to the matter of women wearing a burka or niqab in court, but stating that “the interests of justice remain paramount”.

The guidelines state: “For a witness or defendant a sensitive request to remove a veil, with no sense of obligation or pressure, may be appropriate, but careful thought must be given to such a request.

“The very fact of appearing in a court or tribunal will be quite traumatic for many, and additional pressure may well have an adverse impact on the quality of evidence given.”

While there is no ban on Islamic dress in public places in the UK, schools have been allowed to forge their own dress codes after a 2007 directive which followed several high-profile court cases.

The controversial garment has been the subject of an attempted ban within Parliament, however, with Tory MPs listing “ban the burka” as a proposed Private Members Bill earlier this year, alongside bringing back the death penalty and abolishing the position of Deputy Prime Minister.

The UK Independence Party, which argues that the burka is a sign of an “increasingly divided Britain”, has long supported a public ban, claiming the religious veils pose a potential security risk.

Ukip became the first British party to call for a total ban in January 2010. Both France and Belgium have banned the full-face veil from public places.

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Four Weeks

A Bible study group was discussing the unforeseen possibility of sudden death. “We will all die some day,” the leader of the discussion said, “and none of us really knows when, but if we did we would all do a better job of preparing ourselves for that inevitable event.” Everybody nodded their heads in agreement with this comment.

“What would you do if you knew you only had 4 weeks of life remaining before your death, before your Great Judgment Day?” the leader asked the group.

“For those 4 weeks, I would go out into my community and minister the Gospel to those that have not yet accepted Jesus into their lives.” one gentleman said.

“A very admirable thing to do,” said the group leader. And all the group members agreed that would be a very good thing to do.

“For those 4 weeks, I would dedicate all of my remaining time to serving my family, my church, and my fellow man with a greater conviction,” one lady said enthusiastically.

“That’s wonderful!” the group leader commented, and all the group members agreed that would be a very good thing to do.

One gentleman in the back finally spoke up loudly. ” For those 4 weeks, I would travel from Land’s End to John O’Groats using “B” roads only with my mother-in-law in an old Lada, and camp in a two person tent by the side of the road every night.”

Everyone was puzzled by his answer. “Why would you do that?” the group leader asked.

“Because,” the man smiled sarcastically, “it would be the longest 4 weeks of my life.”

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May 31, 2013 · 09:26