All posts by Graham

Jeremiah’s Promises

Jeremiah 36.1-7 (p798)

Jeremiah 31.31- 37 (p793)

 

Promises! Promises! Promises! If there is one word that can sum up this year politically it is promises. And whether they will be fulfilled remains to be seen.

 

Yet life is full of promises which are not quite all that they seem. The small print in that insurance policy. The advert which is misleading. Or, more trivially, the food that is not as tasty as the picture on its packaging suggests. So, in a way, we are quite sceptical even cynical of promises.

 

Yet in Jeremiah we hear of two promises. One which is summarised for the Israelites in the scroll that Baruch reads out in the temple.  Since, in our first lesson, God is portrayed as promising judgement upon their ruler and themselves. In fact, that is a recurrent theme throughout the Book of Jeremiah. Nevertheless, elsewhere in Jeremiah we have found a more palatable promise; the promise – I will be their God and they will be my people. A promise indeed we hear echoed in the words of the last supper – the words we repeat communion upon communion – the words that we find made flesh in our lives through the risen Christ.

 

How then do we reconcile these two apparently opposing promises? How do we find hope as well as admonishment in Jeremiah’s prophecies? How do we understand a God who judges firmly as well as covenants to be our saviour in time of trouble?

 

I am not sure if you have seen the new Netflix series called The Crown. It is based on the early years of the reign of our Queen. Whilst I suspect that it is a bit apocryphal in parts, it is nevertheless very entertaining and glossy. That isn’t surprising, as the price tag for 10 episodes, was a cool 100 million dollars.

 

In it, we see the child Princess Elizabeth being taught the elements of the constitution. Not least that the monarch’s role is only to warn, advise and guide her government. So too we can see the role of God in human affairs. This is not surprising as we can warn a child not to go near hot stoves but in the end, we cannot always prevent him or her. We can advise on friendship but not stop a relationship. We can encourage the doing of homework but not actually do it for a youngster. And so, it is with God.

 

Here then lies the apparent judgement of God. For it is more about foresight, more about a warning, more about lifesaving advice than any imposition of a sentence.

 

However, in the end, we can and do ignore this sage wisdom and go away ahead to the inevitable outcome. We can and do turn our backs on God’s foresight and travel blithely on. And so, in the end of the day, we are not really visited by God’s action rather we must live with our own.

 

Where then does this leave God’s second promise. The one about being our God and we being his people?

 

I must admit to never having read Clive Staples Lewis’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. I have only seen the film. Nevertheless, even in that format, its Christian message cannot be mistaken. And it is all to do with that second divine promise.

 

Since At the beginning of the book four children are playing in their uncle’s wardrobe when they discover it is a doorway to Narnia. As they enter Narnia they learn it is under the spell of a wicked witch.
The children hear rumours that Aslan, the great Lion, will soon return to the forest so they devise a plan to overthrow the witch. But Edmund then turns traitor to the cause.
The witch requests an audience with Aslan and talks to him about the deep magic from the dawn of time. She says, “You know that every traitor belongs to me as my lawful prey and that I have a right to a kill.”
Aslan agrees and Edmund is to be sacrificed on the Stone Table. But then something unexpected and horrible happens. Aslan offers to be sacrificed in place of Edmund. The witch is delighted to be rid of Aslan once for all. He is bound, humiliated before the Witches entourage, and killed. It appears to the children that wickedness has won the day and that all is lost.
As the children tearfully leave the scene it is dawn. They hear a great cracking, a deafening noise. They rush back and find the great table split in two and Aslan gone. Suddenly he appears before them and as they shake in fear he explains to them “that though the witch knew the Deep Magic, there is a magic deeper still which she does not know. The magical promise beyond time that when a willing victim who had committed no treachery was killed in a traitor’s stead, the Table would crack and Death itself would start working backwards.”

 

Here then is the throne of the second and greatest promise from God. Since he doesn’t just stand aside wringing his hands as we make a complete mess of things. He doesn’t just stand waving a teared stain hankie as go our errant way. Instead, he has sent someone to help get back on track. He has sent someone to help change us towards making amends. He has sent us an ever-present saviour to sort out the debts we have accrued and take their price upon his own head. Simply, he has sent, sends and ever will send Jesus Christ.

 

As this year ends with all its promises threatening to turn to unwelcome omens, let us remember the opportunity always to go in a different direction. Let remember the promise of God’s wisdom to illuminate a brighter path. Let us indeed remember the Son’s promise of opening a fresher way by paying off the toll.

 

No wonder then the Witch in C S Lewis’ book banned Christmas – for then there would be but a wintery foreboding in our hearts. Mercifully, the Lion’s return is always promising.

 

Amen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A GLOWING COLOUR

Between 1508 and 1512 Michelangelo painted the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel… a masterpiece without precedent that was to change the course of Western art.  The fame of Michelangelo’s paintings has drawn multitudes of visitors to the chapel, ever since they were revealed five hundred years ago -Wikipedia.

Late in 1943, two Nissen huts were given to Italian POWs on Orkney.  Using concrete, second hand materials and scrap they worked together to make an altar; a chancel covered by plasterboard and paintwork; windows of painted glass; candelabra in brass and iron and a rood screen in wrought iron. The entire interior was painted to imitate carved stone and brick and above the altar was a fresco of a Madonna and Child.  It has been restored and is now a much loved visitor attraction.- Wikipedia.

Lord, you have given us each gifts which you want us to use in your service.  For some those gifts are used quietly and almost unseen or un-noticed except by those they help.  For others the gifts are for sharing with the world.  From the bronze worker employed by Solomon to Michelangelo to the Orkney POWs, people have used their gifts of creative art to enhance places of worship and so to glorify you, Lord.  Many non-believers come to look at wonderful artwork in a church or in a gallery and many feel a sense of awe; spirits may be lifted; some may be puzzled, some may be confused.  But almost always there will be something that makes us stop and look again.  Thank you Lord for the skills of the artist.

Not far from here, each summer a village opens its doors to visitors who move through the community, from house to barn to shed to garage to gallery to pier to harbour buildings, talking, laughing, sharing, admiring as the Art Festival comes to town.  It is a glorious celebration of paintings and sculpture, jewellery and pottery.  Thank you Lord for the willingness to be open to others and to share the gifts you have given.

Whether it is through art or music or craftwork or drama our lives are made richer when the gifts are shared.  A glowing colour, a pure note, exquisite lacework or a soaring melody, all these can touch our lives without the need for words.  All these can connect us to friends and strangers alike in a shared enjoyment.  Thank you Lord for this shared enjoyment.

May we see and hear in human arts a reflection of the glories of your creation and so be moved to offer you our praise and thanksgiving.

Prayer for those in fear

Looming on horizon
Tsunami of my fears
Feeling of the hopeless
Turning now to prayers

Voice of desperation
Falls into the night
Arising as a whisper
The Presence of Your light

Fear not my beloved
I’m with you on the way
I will not forsake
With you I will stay

Still my faith be shaky
As challenge now arrives
Weathering the storm
Cling to Lord I strive

But to my amazement
I view an ocean clear
Body of pure grace
Relief in joy appears

Faith though storm is strengthened
As word of Lord stands true
Grateful be this soul
Forever cling to You

Add a comment to this post: https://darylmadden.wordpress.com/2016/08/02/tsunami-of-fears/#respondman contemplating view

Community

Gathered together
In one place we be
Sharing souls form
A community

Some of the surface
And others grow deep
Something of greater
A bonding here seeps

Together of journey
That we walk along
Need of the quenching
That we here belong

One of the greater
Let focus now see
That God of creation
His purpose it be

Cafe Church

Do you want to make an early start to your Sunday?

Do you enjoy relaxed family worship?

Do look forward to a time of companionship?

Then come to our Cafe Church service at 9.30 a.m. on Sunday 29 May.

In our Halls, you can expect uplifting and modern worship with a great welcome.

 

 

Listen to the light

Listen to the light of calling
Through darkness shines, hope installing

Open view to eye of soul
Surrendering of my control

Seeking of the voice of God
Acknowledging this human flawed

Settle now in loves embrace
Receiving here His precious grace

The broken formed into the One
Foundation lay through love of Son

Knowing of this truth instilled
The battle won, promise fulfilled

The only word we need to know
The love He shares, receive its flow

Add a comment to this post: https://darylmadden.wordpress.com/2016/05/11/light-of-calling/#respond

Afternoon Teas start

A sign that Spring is growing on is the start of our Thursday Afternoon Teas.

The first will be on Thursday 12 May and will continue weekly into the Summer.

These will also include out monthly Cafe of Memories – we look forward to seeing you soon.