Monthly Archives: July 2009

Nothing to be frightened of

I haven’t blogged for some weeks, but the recent news stories around assisted dying prompted me to share with you a fantastic book I have just finished. It is called The Welcome Visitor and is co-written by John Humphrys and Dr Sarah Jarvis. I have touched on this book in a previous post when I was reflecting on the death of my brother-in-law last year see https://unfinishedchristian.wordpress.com/2009/07/03/dignity-and-death/ .

This book is incredibly moving, and I would recommend it to anyone who has not yet mulled over the practical issues around caring for a loved one as they may pay the price for living longer and not dying as you are they would want them to. You see Humphrys and Dr Jarvis deal with the ethical, mental, physical, physiological ,spiritual and practical issues around the death of a loved one with such care, dignity, empathy and humanity. These are people who care about people;  they know what it is to have loved and lost for themselves and they want to see others learn from their experience. They take a wider look at how our attitudes to death have changed as doctors have learned how to prolong life beyond anything that could have been imagined a few generations ago. So, are we keeping people alive because we should or simply because we can? As the book itself outlines; “there are no easy answers, but the first step must be to accept that death can be as welcome as it is inevitable.”

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Filed under bereavement, death, ethics, suicide

The work of His fingers

Apollo 11I 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?

Truly awesome!

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Ballet like no other

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.

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Serendipity

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.

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Filed under Christianity, faith, faith Christianity, Jesus, mission, religion

Thursday morning prayer

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.

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Healing the world

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.

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Filed under bereavement, death, Michael Jackson, music

Challenging Times

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.”

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