Phils Blog

Regular postings live and direct from the Vicars Desk at the Rectory.............

Latest update: 08/01/2018

Read previous postings HERE

 

 

January 2018

A mostly unreported but interesting story from last year concerns the  Venice Marathon. Kenya's Gilbert  Chumba and his countryman David Metto were firm favourites and were in the lead about 16 miles into the marathon.

Then they took a wrong turn.

 

Led astray by one of the motorbikes  guiding them on their route, the small pack of leading runners followed  the wayward rider several hundred meters off course and onto a busy main thoroughfare of the city.

 

They were delayed for about two minutes which is a long time in any race.

The favourites ultimately lost out to Eyob Faniel, a local Italian who was running in only his second marathon and the first Italian man to win the Venice Marathon in 22 years.

 Despite winning by a fluke due to the misfortune of the faster runners, Signore FanielI declared after the race, without a hint of modesty 'I dedicate the win to myself as I have always believed in my work despite all the difficulties."

The comments of the runners who were led astray are not recorded.

 

There's lot of  wandering, or running off down the wrong path in the Bible.

God gives us a way to live a good life, and calls us to put our trust in him no matter what, and he will see us through.

But time and time again we see people rejecting or forgetting God, being misled  or just going their own sweet way.

 

But God remains  true to his word. He doesn't damn us or turn his back on us but is always there, with an offer for us to turn around and seek after him.

 

One of the most powerful images in the Bible is found in Psalm 23, The Lord's my Shepherd. It's the valley of the shadow of death. It gives us a picture of darkness and despair. A place where there seems to be no hope. but even on this road we are assured that God goes with us. Like a shepherd caring for his flock, he is there to guard and guide, to offer protection and to see us through whatever might befall.

 

Jesus is God's signpost pointing us back to God our Father even when we wander off the track. He said 'I am the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to Father except through me'. He points us to God and however far away we are, he can bring us home to God.

Through Jesus Christ, God  hopes and seeks for our return to him.

 

As we enter the new year with a number of opportunities, decisions to be made and a good number of roads we might choose to travel, we may wander away.

But remember, we are never too far away from God, and God is always near.

 

May God go with you to bless you and those you love, keep you in his care and guide you onwards,

Phil

December 2017

'Twas the night before Christmas (etc) ..... but downstairs, there was an argument going on: All the Christmas trappings were having a heated discussion about which of them truly represents the Christmas season.

 

The tree spoke first. 'I’m the most important. I’m centre of attention. I’m bright and sparkly and pretty  and the family put their gifts under me. People look at me and immediately think 'Christmas.'

 

'Ah' said the lights on the tree. 'Without us you’re just be a stupid tree stuck in the corner of the room. We're the ones who make you  bright and sparkly and pretty. People look at us and think 'Christmas.'

 

'Hey, don’t forget us said the decorations hanging from the tree.

Some of us have been in the family for years and we're special. People look at us and think 'Christmas.'

 

'No No No' said the presents wrapped and ready under the tree. 'We're what everybody wants. We're the most important.'  

People look at us with our bright colourful wrapping paper and think 'Christmas.' We're what it's all about.

 

Then a half empty bottle of Baileys piped up ….He staggered a bit and slurred his words. 'You’re all wrong. You’re all very very wrong – I’ll tell you … I’ll tell you  - hic  - what are we talking about? Then he fell over, fell asleep, and snored contentedly.

 

'Ok' said the angel at the top of the tree. I've listened to all your arguments, but there's someone you've forgotten. She’s in a box over there with her brothers and sisters. They won't come out till tomorrow, Christmas Day.

 

'The cracker'?  they all laughed. 'What’s so great about a stupid cracker'?

'Well, have a think' said the angel

'You pull a cracker and it goes bang. There's a surprise. Rather like the surprise Mary got when she was told she was going to have a baby, and the surprise the shepherds got when the angels appeared and told them to get themselves to a stable in Bethlehem where a child had been born.

 

Then there’s the party hat. A crown. It reminds us that the baby in the manger was born to be our king,

 

Then there’s a joke or some clever quote which reminds us of what we read in the Bible. This child is Emmanuel. God with us.

 

And of course there’s a gift. It may be some tatty bit of plastic that is forgotten or lost very quickly. But it reminds us of the gift that was given on that first Christmas: God so loved the world, that he gave his Son that all who believe in him should not perish but have everlasting life.

 

You lot, Christmas  tree,  decorations and lights,  presents, all go towards making  Christmas, but at the heart of it all is Jesus.

Here is God reaching out to us to offer forgiveness of our sins, to promise us peace, and to guide us through this life and forever.

 To some people it’s crackers, but to those with a bit of  faith it is God's gift to us - Himself.

 

May God bless you and those you love at this Christmastime, that you might find peace and joy in the knowledge of his unfailing love,

Phil

November 2017

 

Along with all the television  programmes  showing buying or renovating houses, baking and cooking, dancing and singing, bodies being tattooed or modified, people who are rich, people on benefit, and minor  celebrities trying to eke out a last few minutes of their fleeting fame, The Apprentice is back.

Entrepreneur Alan Sugar – or Lord Sugar as his minions call him– has offered a big cash prize  that will be invested in the successful candidate  setting up his or her own business.

 

Each week the contestants work in teams in a series of tasks that test their business skills to the maximum, to prove themselves worthy of Lord Sugar’s patronage and more importantly, his cash.  The programme is edited in a way that shows the candidates  to be at best, a bit deluded about their business acumen, and at worst, totally incompetent. And  every week at least one of them is eliminated with those final and fatal words. ‘You’re fired’!

 

Now imagine God has a business plan, and like Lord Sugar  he wants an apprentice – the best disciple of all.

So he gets a bunch of candidates together - let’s call it a church – and there are various tasks they have to do to find out who’s the best – best at praying, the most spiritual, most faithful or patient, loving his or her neighbour…till we find out who’s the best Christian.

But it doesn’t work like that. (Thank God.)

 

The contestants on the Apprentice must push themselves forward, prove they are the best and put everyone else down if they are to succeed. It's dog eat dog

But the message from God is,” My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

 

God love isn’t based on how good we are, or how powerful or talented. It has nothing to do with what we own or indeed, what we do.

However strong we might be, our strength is really very limited and will ultimately fail, but God’s strength will never fail. And it is in our weakness that we see God’s strength and power.

 

This of course is shown in Christ’s death on the cross where he is seen to be stripped of all power and dignity and status, to be broken and beaten and literally left for dead.

But in the weakness of the cross Gods power is revealed

In the utter helplessness of Christ’s death, the strength of the living God is shown in all its glory

And the majesty of that strength and power breaks forth in resurrection.

Death itself is no match for God.

 

Like it or not, to be human is to be ultimately weak and fragile.

As Bob Dylan gloomily put it - 'he not busy being born is busy dying

 

And when we add to that those things in life that can batter and bruise us in so many different ways - where we may be crushed under the weight of pain and sorrow, fear and anxiety, and just sheer helplessness

It is there, that God’s power can be revealed

 

If we put our trust in our own strength we will ultimately fail

But to put our trust in God gives us a great assurance because God never fails

 

There may be times of weakness and suffering. That is what it is to be human

But God’s grace is enough for us and God’s power will sustain us through all things.

 

Alan Sugar may be a lord, but he’s not the lord

And when the Lord Jesus calls us, he calls us just as we are, with our weakness and imperfections and our humanity just as it is.

And he points the finger at each one of us and tells us ‘You’re hired’.

 

May God bless you, and keep you in good health, in good spirits and in good company,

Phil

October 2017

We’re brought up to be independent and  make our own way in the world so it might be difficult to accept that we are not as self sufficient as we think we are.

As humans we are not as tough as we think we are. Life can be fragile and fleeting. We get badly hurt at times and no one knows what tomorrow might bring.

Yet  here is God holding out his hand and saying stop struggling, stop worrying, trust in me for the peace and security you can find nowhere else, and a growing understanding that life has a deeper truth and meaning.

 

I remember as a child going for a walk with my Grandad. My Grandad was a coal miner, hard as nails, and we'd go along with my little hand in his big hand. I could feel his strength and power. Come hell or high water my Grandad would look after me because in that strength was love and protection.

This is the picture Jesus wants us to get a hold of when he speaks of God as our Heavenly Father.

Of course, we're not wrapped up in cotton wool and life can leave us battered and bruised ...and sometimes worse.

But God goes with us and like a father he calls us to trust him,  and like children who are learning but cannot really imagine the grown up world, we put our trust in him.

And in that love we will grow and mature and our understanding and relationship with God will deepen and mature.

 

A short time ago there were pictures on the news  of troops firing on civilians. A terrible sight that  has become all too common. There was a man crouching at the bottom of a wall, using his own body to shield his child from the bullets. His love went so far he was willing to die for the life of his child.

 

We remember that God is the father who offered himself to us through his son Jesus Christ, who died on a cross and was raised from the dead. Through this we might know his presence with us in all things and all times  and stand firm in his promise of eternal life.

Like a child who grows and learns, each step we take, in trust, is a step on that journey.

 

Some are born great, some achieve greatness and some have greatness thrust upon them.

In the Kingdom of God, greatness is seen in humility and trust

 

May God the Father guide you and guard you this day and always,

Phil

 

 

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