I know a few Christians who keep Sunday special- so much so they don’t even bother going to church – so I was amazed to read about Dan Walker one of the new faces of the BBC’s football coverage. Dan will not work on a Sunday because he is a devout Christian. This took me back to the story of Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire (who ended up playing or was it refereeing football on Sunday as a POW ) and of the early days of triple jumper Jonathan Edwards (who now is not even sure he believes in God). In today’s edition of The Sun newspaper
Dan is reported as saying “When first told the producers on a major radio station I wouldn’t work on a Sunday they told me I’d never get anywhere in broadcasting. They thought the fact that I said on my CV that I wouldn’t work on a Sunday was some kind of joke. When I explained I was a Christian, and why I felt the way I did, one of them just sat with his mouth open for about ten seconds. Hand of God … Sunday ban It was a great job and they fully expected me to give up everything to work for them, but I wouldn’t – I didn’t get the job. I take my faith quite seriously and not working on a Sunday is part of that. I don’t even watch football on a Sunday.”
Dan firmly believes that Sunday is time for spending at church with his family and gives some background to his decision; “When I was 12, and about 2ft taller than all the other kids, I was asked to play for quite a few teams. The problem was all their games were on a Sunday. I had only recently become a Christian and this was the first time I was confronted with the issue of how I should be spending my Sundays. I firmly believe God was using that experience, even at an early age, to prepare me for situations in the future when I would need much stronger convictions. People often say it must be really hard to be a Christian and to do the work I do – I disagree. Special I think my job puts me in the same situations everyone else faces. The only difference is that people who work in the media are usually paid to have opinions so you can get involved in some heated debates.”
He accepts his stand is not a position all Christians would take; “Many people – even Christians – have asked me why I feel so strongly about the Lord’s Day. For me it seems quite obvious. God, our creator, has given it to us for our own good. Some will argue that Jesus Christ’s coming means we are no longer obligated to keep it special but I fundamentally disagree. There are still ten commandments and it is more important than ever to guard the fourth one – remember the Sabbath and keep it holy.”
In the film Chariots of Fire Eric Liddell (who switched from the 100 metres because he refused to run on a Sunday) is handed a piece of paper by the American Sprinter Jackson Schultz as Liddell is settling down to run the final of the 400 metres written on it were the words “The Lord says he that honours me I will honour.” Liddell went on to win the race and the gold medal against the odds. There is no doubt that in the world of sports broadcasting Dan Walker is winning against the prevailing tide- let’s hope he makes it to the better ground he has staked out for himself and that his stand doesn’t become a millstone like so many others have found.
You may have heard of Antony Gormley’s One & Other project- the fourth plinth on Trafalgar Square occupied by anybody who entered the draw. The idea is that any man or women can bid to spend an hour on the plinth to do whatever they like. The whole things is broadcast live on the Internet and Sky Arts. In the early hours of Sunday morning this week (2am to be precise) my friend Alison Wooding occupied the plinth with an hour of virtually silent prayer. It was an amazing experience. She started off being heckled by bystanders who wanted her to do something and entertain them, and yet after about 25 minutes or so the peaceful presence of God was felt across Trafalgar Square as people stopped, stared and reflected on what it means to be quiet in the presence of God and for the sake of others. Silent prayer caused silence to descend on one of the busiest parts of London amongst clubbers and night owls. As the whole things has been filmed, why not set aside one hour to re-live Alison’s experience and offer up those in your community for prayer for one hour today. Be a fourth plinther for prayer right here, right now wherever you are- you don’t need a pedestal for prayer!
See the vigil @ http://www.oneandother.co.uk/participants/alison_w_1 Alison follows the shouting John Craddock who was supporting MS.
I was at school 40 years ago when the USA Apollo 11 programme managed to put the first man on the moon with less processing power than my mobile phone. I was entranced by the whole adventure and have been fascinated by the space race ever since. I read today in The Church of England Newspaper that astronaut Buzz Aldrin shared Holy Communion in thanks for a safe flight and was inspired to write our verses from Psalm 8 as he stared into the blackness of space from the lunar surface. The following are the only bible verses to be written and left on the moon:
A psalm of David.
1 O LORD, our Lord,
how majestic is your name in all the earth!
You have set your glory
above the heavens.
2 From the lips of children and infants
you have ordained praise [b]
because of your enemies,
to silence the foe and the avenger.
3 When I consider your heavens,
the work of your fingers,
the moon and the stars,
which you have set in place,
4 what is man that you are mindful of him,
the son of man that you care for him?
Filed under bible, God, space
A friend of mine drew my attention to this clip on You Tube- I thought I’d share it with you all. It speaks to me of beauty and grace.
Yesterday I got my highest number of hits on the blog all week- yet I didn’t post a thing! This may have something to do with the fact that extra traffic seemed to come my way thanks to it being listed in numerous press releases and websites for being highly commended in the Surefish/Christian Aid web awards. If you are one of these people I hope you find something of interest amidst my unfinished musings and come back or sign up to the twitter feed @ https://twitter.com/unfinishedchris .It got me thinking about the concept of serendipity or happenstance- where we just come across things by accident and then take to them. Down the years this has happened to me with authors, artists, musicians, plays and even sport. Isn’t it amazing how we sometimes restrict ourselves to the familiar, uncertain of the risks or hassle we may be given by just pushing things out a little further. Just recently I was talking to a couple of parishes about mission in relation to a new build housing estate a couple of miles from some long established village churches and I read this from Acts 1:6-8:
“So when they met together, they asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel? He said to them: It is not for you to know the times or dates the father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
I pointed out that the disciples were looking for the restoration of their Kingdom of Israel, something that was past but they felt needed to be restored before anything else. Instead Jesus gave them a new vision- to share the good news and be his witnesses, not just in their immediate locality- the familiar capital city of Jerusalem but to Samaria and the ends of the earth. I asked them to think about how the ends of the earth to them could be this new estate only a couple of miles down the road and how they could engage with the challenge and opportunity for mission this throws up. My prayer for you today is that you would allow God’s Holy Spirit to lead you with spiritual serendipity into the unfamiliar and equip you to be able to respond to extending something of God’s love and grace to those you find there. You may be pleasantly surprised what you discover about yourself and the gifts God has given you on this journey by being open to take on the unfamiliar.
Today I joined a very small number of people for morning prayer as part of a couple of days I am spending at a lovely retreat/conference centre in the heart of Limehouse in London. I was struck by the words from Common Worship’s Morning Prayer on Thursday and wanted to share something of them with you:
The night has passed, and the day lies open before us; let us pray with one heart and mind. As we rejoice in the gift of this new day, so may the light of your presence, O God, set our hearts on fire with love for you; now and forever. Amen. I have given you as a light to the nations, and I have called you in righteousness. Fear not, for I have redeemed you. I have called you by name; you are mine.
Let’s take some time this day to consider how we may be called by God; know that we belong to him and that through his grace, mercy and inspiration have the ability to touch the lives of others and reflect something of the presence and light of God. May you be uplifted, inspired and expectant this day.
Yesterday we witnessed a combination of showbiz spectacle and memorial serviceas the family, friends, fans and show business colleagues said goodbye to Michael Jackson at the Staples centre with Michael’s casket in attendance throughout. We heard from civil rights leaders, ministers, politicians, former girl-friends, actors, musicians and movingly from his young daughter what MJ meant to them. A few of them were brave enough to confront the issue of his strangeness and the whispers about his morality and relationships with young children.- innocent until proven guilty was the matra. The crowd stood to applaud a misunderstood, hugely generous humanitarian who made God his motivation for his incredible acts of charity and love. The show (for it was at least partly that) ended with everyone on stage singing the anthem Heal the world- a song which symbolised the hope and generosity of Jackson who is acknowledged as the pop start who supported the most charities. So the fans had their chance to have some sort of closure on the death of their idol, taken from them unexpectedly when on the brink of a triumphant return ;and the family graciously allowed us a glimpse into their private sorrow. World spectacle and media event it may have been, but there was no doubting the love and grief in the Staples Centre yesterday. Let’s pray that the love Michael Joseph Jackson represented and shared with so many causes will be his legacy and inspire many more to reach out in love to help heal the world.
Thanks to Nick Fawcett for this prayer which sums up something of how I am feeling this week:
“Gracious God, when life is testing and your purpose is hard to fathom, help me to remember that you are able to see me through. When I feel overwhelmed by the challenge before me, yet so nowhere and no one to turn to, remind me to reach out to you, knowing that whenever I need you, you will be there. Teach me that with you, no situation is beyond hope, and that no darkness can ever fully extinguish the light, and in that confidence may I walk each day in faith, to the glory of your name. Amen.”
This morning I discovered that the Unfinished Christian Twitter feed had over a thousand followers. Thank you if you are one of these. If you are not maybe you would care to join and get a prompt each time the blog is updated.