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  • Truth in Jest

    Go here for a laugh... and to think.

  • Horseradish... Maror...

    Yesterday I sourced and procured a fresh horsereadish ready for next week's Seder... I am happy.

    I know, small things, small minds.

  • Lent Reflections (35)

    Today we are invited to ponder

    Psalm 119:9-16
    Haggai 2:1-9, 20-23
    John 12:34-50

    Haggai is one of the less well known parts of the Bible, at just two chapters or thirty-eight verses long it does not exactly constitute a major work.  I have read it, but to be honest have never really given it much thought.  We have two writings, I would suggest since each chapter opens the same way, describing oracles or prophecies that were delivered, it appears, within a period of about three months.  In the first the people are heavily chastised for their misguided priorities - they live in panelled houses whilst the Temple lies in ruins.  In the second chapter we move on to promises, a rebuilt temple of greater glory than the former.  The 'trick' of course is not to confuse the literal Temple, lovely though it may have been with the Temple-mindset which is really what is alluded to here.  Making our own lives more comfortable, acquiring more possessions to the detriment of all things spiritual is not acceptable.

    The John passage seems to offer a summary of much of what this gospel writer is about, with its emphasis on Jesus as the Light.  But if we slow down a little, we find a few less familiar verses...

    The crowd answered him, "We have heard from the law that the Messiah remains forever. How can you say that the Son of Man must be lifted up? Who is this Son of Man?"
    Jesus said to them, "The light is with you for a little longer. Walk while you have the light, so that the darkness may not overtake you. If you walk in the darkness, you do not know where you are going.  While you have the light, believe in the light, so that you may become children of light." After Jesus had said this, he departed and hid from them.

    John 12:34 - 36 NRSV

    Two things strike me...

    Firstly, here is a clear - and valid - question about the Messiah.  The Messianic age lasts forever, according to Jewish teaching, so if Jesus is as he claims Messiah, how can he go away?  Presumably the writer of the fourth the gospel anticipated this being a question relevant for his readers - could they hold together traditional understandings of Messiah with the reality of a Jesus who died (albeit then resurrected) and a world where suffering continued.  Good question!  And still one we ought to wrestle with today.

    Secondly, the last sentence makes me chuckle - Jesus left and hid!  It is so very human.  To keep engaging with the people, answering the questions and so on would have an impact on the turn of events.  The writer needs Jesus to arrive safe and sound at his passion, the plotters and perpetrators of the jumped up trial need clear space to make their plans.  All has to come together at the right time in the right way.


    [M]any, even of the authorities, believed in him. But because of the Pharisees they did not confess it, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; for they loved human glory more than the glory that comes from God.

    John 12: 42 - 43 NRSV

    Here is another hint at the cost of discipleship - people became what we would now call crypto-Christians, people who who believed in Jesus but hid their faith away because they did not want to risk ridicule or rejection, being more concerned about human approval.  A reminder for me, anyway, of the need to think whose approval I seek - that of you, gentle reader, or that of God.  Hmm.


    What do I make of all this, Lord?

    What do I do with these verses that tease and challenge?

    As I sit in the comfort of my home, tapping on my laptop

    Enjoying the bounty of Western society.


    How do I make sense of it Lord?

    This dawning Messianic age, with a messiah who dies?

    As I hear in the news of suffering, injustice, disaster

    Throughout the world for which Christ died.


    Are you still hiding, Lord?

    Waiting for the moment to be right for you?

    To transform the battered creation

    Bringing new life, new hope, new love.


    I believe you, Lord, I believe

    Yet sometimes I hide too

    Unwilling, unable to speak out

    Afraid they'll reject me, like they did you.


    Forgive me my duplicity

    Wanting your approval and theirs

    Wanting to have it all

    Wanting it to be easy


    Then lead me from my hiding place

    And renew my courage

    To live and work

    For your praise and glory





  • Cruel to be Kind

    Holly cat has a course of antibiotics and some painkiller medicine to take following the extraction of four teeth.  So, how to get the pill into the cat!

    When I was in Manchester, the vet to whom I took the cat who then deigned to share my home gave me what seems to be the only successful method.  Crush up the pill(s) and mix with a little Primula cheese spread (other brands are available), or if liquid splash it onto the cheese spread and mix in.  If your cat likes cheese spread (my previous cat did) feed it to them on a spoon.  If your cat is not keen on cheese spread (Holly for example) smear the mixutre around her/his mouth or onto a front paw.  Either way the cat will lick up the cheese and with it the medicine.  Simples.

    Or you can try the hard way...


    PS what does the feline tooth fairy bring?!

  • Lent Reflections (35)

    Five full weeks into Lent and, to my amazement I have not (yet) tired of undertaking a daily biblcal reflection.  Today's readings seem very upbeat, rich in promises...

    Psalm 119:9-16
    Isaiah 44:1-8
    Acts 2:14-24

    The excerpt from Acts 2 is part of the Pentecost story... I find it a tad odd having post resurrection stuff during Lent, sure, chronologically we are 'this side of Calvary' but liturgically we are 'that side' of it.  I get irritated when during Lent people race too far ahead, are too eager to focus on the happy and celebratory rather than entering the struggle and darkness it requires.  However, to be fair, the Acts portion, read out of its literal context, is a reflection on ancient prophecy being fulfilled, and works as part of a package of hope-filled promises.

    It's the Isaiah that drew my attention though...

    The LORD says, "Listen now, Israel, my servant, my chosen people, the descendants of Jacob.  I am the LORD who created you; from the time you were born, I have helped you. Do not be afraid; you are my servant, my chosen people whom I love.  I will give water to the thirsty land and make streams flow on the dry ground. I will pour out my spirit on your children and my blessing on your descendants.  They will thrive like well-watered grass, like willows by streams of running water.   One by one, people will say, 'I am the LORD's.' They will come to join the people of Israel. They each will mark the name of the LORD on their arms and call themselves one of God's people."

    The LORD, who rules and protects Israel, the LORD Almighty, has this to say: "I am the first, the last, the only God; there is no other god but me. Could anyone else have done what I did? Who could have predicted all that would happen from the very beginning to the end of time?   Do not be afraid, my people! You know that from ancient times until now I have predicted all that would happen, and you are my witnesses. Is there any other god? Is there some powerful god I never heard of ?"

    Isaiah 44: 1 - 8 GNB

    A quick look at other translations suggests some fairly heavy interpretation going on in the GNB, but that's the one I happened to read so that's the one I'll go with.  Here's the bit that struck me...

    One by one, people will say, 'I am the LORD's.' They will come to join the people of Israel.

    What a lovely image.  It has a sense of gentleness about it.  Nothing rushed or forced, no sense of 'if you died tonight where would you spend eternity', no guilt-tripping.  Just a steady and certain transformation as the Spirit of God waters the hidden seed of faith.  There is, pretty much, a feeling of inevitability, that takes away any anxiety, any urgency to proselytise all and sundry.  One by one people will come to know and name themselves as God's people... that's a lovely promise, and one to which I want to add my 'amen'.


    I like that, LORD,

    The one by one

    Unrushed inevitability


    I like the idea that your Spirit

    Like water in a dry land

    Brings to life -

    For the first time, or the umpteenth time -

    The seed of faith that lies deep within


    And every



    I like the fact that the seed

    Dead and buried in dry earth

    Holds potential

    Released by your activity

    To blossom and grow

    Delighting the eye with beauty

    Thrilling the senses with fragrance

    Spreading shelter and shade for the smallest


    I like that in the midst of struggle

    In the darkest moments of despair

    That stream still flows

    If reduced to a trickle


    I like that one day

    Even the tiniest stream

    Becomes a river

    And every river

    Becomes part of the ocean...

    The great sea of your love

    In which we swim

    For eternity.