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Archive for December, 2005

Covenant prayer

from the Methodist WatchNight Service, usually said on New Years Eve…

Wesleyan form of the Covenant Prayer.


I am no longer my own, but thine.
Put me to what thou wilt, rank me with whom thou wilt.
Put me to doing, put me to suffering.
Let me be employed for thee or laid aside for thee, exalted for thee or brought low by thee.
Let me be full, let me be empty.
Let me have all things, let me have nothing.
I freely and heartily yield all things to thy pleasure and disposal.
And now, O glorious and blessed God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit,
Thou art mine and I am thine. So be it.
And the covenant which I have made on earth,
Let it be ratified in heaven.



Christmas messages…

These excerpts from the respective Christmas messages, struck a chord with me…

For Christians this festival of Christmas is the time to remember the birth of the one we call the ‘prince of peace’ and our source of ‘light and life’ in both good times and bad. It is not always easy to accept his teaching, but I have no doubt that the new year will be all the better if we do but try.

Celebrating Christmas was important, he continued, because it marked the anniversary of the moment when human history changed. “Because of the difference Jesus makes, a world in which the sanctity of life as an alien concept has given way to one in which the landscape has changed,” he said. “You may or may not believe what Christian doctrine says about the child in the manger but you will, consciously or not, be looking at the human world in a framework that Jesus Christ made possible.”
He also warned of the need for vigilance against the loss of what Christianity brought. “If we ever do come to forget not just the Christmas story but what it made possible … the arrival of a different humanity, there is enough, sadly, in our idle and self-obsessed hearts to let the ancient world begin to creep back a little more.”

Walls ruin community spirit, says archbishop

By Jonathan Petre, Religion Correspondent and Miles Salter
(Filed: 22/12/2005)

The new Archbishop of York has compared houses and estates surrounded by walls and large gates to “prisons” that undermine the spirit of neighbourliness. Dr John Sentamu, the Church of England’s second most senior cleric, said that people who built high fences to protect their properties had cut themselves off from their communities.

“High fences never make good neighbours,” he said. He said he was determined that Bishopthorpe Palace, his imposing medieval home on the banks of the River Ouse, near York, would be “a place of welcome for all”, especially the young. The building, which is set in nine acres of grounds and dates from 1241, is reached through an elaborate gatehouse built in 1765. His comments, made to local media this week, will reinforce his reputation as an outspoken cleric who is keen for the Church to recapture its missionary vision.

Dr Sentamu, the Church’s first black archbishop, said he regretted that some of the Christian principles that had inspired him as a young man in Uganda appeared to have been eroded in this country. “I grew up with a sense of discipline and an awareness to care for your neighbour and your friend,” he said. “The people who taught me about that were missionaries from England, Scotland, Ireland and Wales. The tragedy has been that, with the passage of time, all those things have been forgotten as we have pursued consumerism. We have become rich as a nation; we have built our own houses, built our fences. Some people are living in houses where boundaries are so safe, with big gates – that is a prison. How can they be anything but barriers to community?”

The archbishop said he had grown up as part of a supportive, extended family and when he worked in London he had encouraged Church members to become surrogate uncles and aunts to children who lacked relatives. “That dramatically changed the way in which people related to one another,” he said. “So it is possible that we should be neighbourly to one another and to provide the kind of support which, had you been in the kind of culture that I come from, you would have had. We are each other’s keeper and we should be able to care. If you know people who are disabled, people who are not well, people who live alone, why not knock on their door and, when the weather is getting very cold, say, ‘Hello, how are you? How are you keeping? Can we do some shopping for you? Can we help you?’ I want to create a culture in which I am not alone. But at the moment in this country there is a great loneliness.”

Dr Sentamu also spoke of what he called BSE – not mad cow disease but Blame Someone Else. “A lot of us have a desire to clamour for human rights,” he said. “For me, as a Christian, that means that I have the duty to do that which I ought to be doing, not simply getting what I want. This is a great nation and people should not simply say that ‘things are terrible’ but should say, ‘This is our duty, our responsibility; we can make a difference.’ “

LICC – connecting with culture

fact and fantasy

This Christmas, the big fantasy treats are The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. With the rest of the Narnia books, possibly two more Harry Potters, and Philip Pullman’s works, there are plenty more Christmases catered for.

But what are the rapt readers and enthralled watchers of fantasy absorbing? Is fantasy simply an escape, an avoidance of reality and fact? Does it encourage the view that anything not plain, ordinary and factual is a fairy story?

We know, as we read and watch, that fantasy is a creation of the imagination. Do we then dismiss other ‘spiritual’ truths that are difficult to understand as mere fantasy? This is an important question since adults are reading more fantasy these days and, what is more, they are reading the same stories as the children.

Books and films about the ‘real’ world often fall into two categories. They are either too uncomplicated, with problems too easily resolved, a kind of ‘Mills & Boon’ view of life. Or they are too dark, too ‘realistic’, giving too much substance to genuine fears, like, for example, the BBC series ‘Messiah’.

But fantasy, on the other hand, can help us handle the big issues, the nightmares and the glories, because we know we are looking into a different universe. We love Superman, not because we believe in him, because we do want there to be a rescuer, a power who can deal with evil. We love to walk with Frodo and Sam because we do want to be challenged, to do good even if it is very hard.

As Christians, we should not simply be looking for the growth and development of rational, orderly, logical minds that think they know a fact when they see one, and are suspicious of ‘story’. If we wish to encourage the maturing of wise adults, then we should look for imaginative lateral thinking that knows there are half understood other worlds; that there is a battle of good against evil, that justice is built into the universe, that there is a place, through some crack in the fabric of creation, where the glory of a redeemed and renewed world fulfils all our dreams and hopes.

Fantasy is very good for us and, although we may not realise it at the time, it can help to prepare our hearts for the enormity and riches of God’s truth.

Margaret Killingray

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Evangelistic Radio Talk…

I wonder if you heard the news recently of the couple, who in order to evade paying £120 for two speeding fines, decided another course of action. They told police it was a colleague who was driving the car at the time of the speeding incidents, and that this “other” man had returned to his native country of Bulgaria. When they realised that the police were probably not taking their story seriously, the wife then flew to Bulgaria and sent back to England a postcard, from this fictitious colleague, supporting their story. To cut the story short, the police became suspicious, the couple went to court and were found guilty, and subsequently fined £11,000. In summing up the case, a police constable said “The reality is that they could have told the truth from the outset, paid their £120 fines and had their licences endorsed with three penalty points each.” The truth won out.

Or take our esteemed Prime Minister Tony Blair, who despite his friend and colleague, David Blunkett resigning from the Cabinet after breaking ministerial rules, proclaimed Mr Blunkett left with “no stain of impropriety whatsoever”. In this case, Mr Blair is seemingly oblivious to the truth of the matter. Where is the integrity?

When we are shopping and we notice that the cashier gave us the wrong change, we advise them of their mistake. We check the receipt and what is in our hand, and the cashier gives us the correct change. So mathematically there is truth. Scientifically there is truth. Gravity prevents us from floating off into the atmosphere, regardless of our wanting to flap our arms and fly like a bird.

Think of the worst thing in the world for you – something that is totally abhorrent to you. That shows you have some sense of values and what is right and wrong. It is intrinscally wrong for events such as 9/11 in New York and 7/7 in London to occur. Is that too far away for you to be bothered by? How about when you are coming home late at night, and are mugged and your handbag or wallet are stolen. Do you not feel a sense of anger towards those who committed that crime against you? When I was mugged 12 years ago in London, those were the feelings I had. It is natural to be indignant and angry at those who perpetrate crimes against your personal values. Ergo there is such a thing as truth – both personal and universal, and both raise our hackles up when they are impeded or broken.

Now, if there is truth mathematically, scientifically, personal and universal, what more can we say? Can you imagine a world, where none of those exist? Where there is no mathematical, scientific, personal or universal truth? I can. We are starting to reap the results of “relative truth”. The schoolgirl stabbed repeatedly in the face with scissors by somebody else whilst queuing up at the school canteen bears this out. If everything is relative, then chaos is the end result of relative truth. Can you, in the words of John Lennon, “Imagine there’s no heaven, its easy if you try…” I can. Want to imagine a place without heaven? Just look to the former Soviet Union, particularly under Stalin, where millions were slain in the name of atheism. Or look to China under Mao, where at least seventy million were slain in the name of atheism. Look at the nation of North Korea if you want a more modern representation of an atheist state. Atheism and agnosticism have no answer, despite the silky lyrics of John Lennon. At least here in England, we have a heritage of Christianity to be inordinately thankful for. Without it, there wouldn’t be the freedoms we enjoy, the scientific discoveries proclaimed, nor the rich vein of history that covers this land. And yet, so many still ask “Is there any hope?”

Well I believe there is, and at Christmas time, it is a time for both joy and hope. Two thousand years ago, God visited this planet in the form of the baby Jesus. But he didnt remain in the cradle, but rather grew into a man, full of grace and humility, only to die at the hands of the religious people. If that was all, we would never have heard any more about him. Jesus defied all, and came back from the dead, a fact attested to both by individiuals and groups. This man Jesus, was born so that we might have the joy and hope of a brighter future. In my own experience, the man Jesus has given me that. Not only was he human, but he was also God at the same time. That is amazingly mind blowing when you think of it. Why not check the facts out objectively for yourself this Christmas, and find Jesus for yourself so you too can share in the joy and hope He offers. He wont let you down just as He hasnt me. He never has and never will do – that is His promise to me and also to you if you acquiesce to His will.

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