Tag Archives: life

A perfect Day

Luke 6.1-11

Psalm 23

 

Now I know I have told you this before. But my uncle and aunt in Lairg, Sutherland, were members of the Free Church. And so, Sundays were days when the TV and radio were kept off, books were not read and the minimum of cooking was done.  The Bible and books of sermons were the only source of reading materials. In fact, it was only the going to church twice that broke the day’s silence. The Sabbath then was a day of rest. Indeed, for a small boy like myself it was a day of enforced rest. So much so that my grandfather was once asked by mother what he did on his Sundays during his 2-month summer visit to my aunt’s family in the North. He said that he waited until the family had their afternoon rest and then he unearthed his Sunday Post which he had got in the week and secretly read it.

 

Well, looking back it is easy to take pot shots at such a restricted day. Yet as they were crofters possibly this rest day gave a recharging time from subsistence farming. As committed Christians this rest day definitely restored their souls. Or as the psalmist has it:

He makes me lie down in green pastures

He leads me beside quiet waters

He restores my soul.

 

Well, of course, things here in Broughty Ferry today are quite different. For some of us must work on Sundays. But for many others, it more about doing things left undone from the week behind and doing things for the week ahead. It is more about doing things for and with the family. More about doing things for pure enjoyment Now these are very worthy yet they aren’t in the end – a rest. Put more bluntly, we are still obeying the rules of duty, obligation, loyalty and pleasure. We are still being bound by the compulsions of the moment. Or as one member once said to me – she couldn’t possibly come to church on a Sunday as she had to make the lunch for his visiting grown-up family. And the result is we are still enslaved to doing instead of being; being a child of God rather than an employee, father, grand-mother or neighbour. Being a child of God indeed for just a few hours free of the rules.

 

Yet we say, my work is important, my family is paramount or my neighbour needs me. Doubtless all true. Yet..yet we still need that restoration of soul, that moment for quiet water refreshment and a period of green pasture nourishment. We need time for ourselves with God and only God. For without that, life becomes a conveyor belt, a drudge even one that is flatly two dimensional without spiritual heights or depths. Moreover, as the psalm reminds we need time to ourselves to be guided into righteousness and faith to fear no evil. In simple terms, we need this day to heal our souls for the shadows and the valleys ahead.

 

However, the idea of a resting day still seems as unexciting and restraining as it was to me as a child in the highlands. In truth, it seems that it could make our Sundays rather cheerless, dull and even soulless.

 

When I was in university, the divinity faculty had a weekly lunchtime service in the Chapel. Often led by students there was always a mixture of worship styles on offer. Yet only one sticks in my mind. We entered, sat in the pews and nothing was said or done – only restful music was played. At first we were restless – wanting something, anything, to happen. Then we fiddled with the bibles in front of us – looking for some stimulation. Then slowly, we slowed down. We became restful. Indeed, we started quietly to be still with God and God was still with us. At the end of quarter of an hour, our time was up – yet we did not want leave – we didn’t want to stir – we didn’t want to break the bridge between heaven and earth. Nevertheless, we did and returned to the world refreshed, ready to do what was important; ready not to exist but live again.

 

This illustrates that to give this day to God is not to be selfish, slothful or constrained. It is to be still by casting aside our life’s lesser rules and demands. It is to sense that a deep love and goodness is following us through our sometimes-taxing journey. It is to luxuriate in a repast of peace where there is healing to life and life in all its true fullness. It is, indeed, to take time out in the house of the Lord and know it to be our perfect dwelling there forever.

 

So, this Sunday let us turn it into a perfect day.

For as Lou Reed sang in his famous song,

Oh what a perfect day’:

Just a perfect day
Problems all left alone
Weekenders on our own
It’s such fun

Just a perfect day
You made me forget myself
I thought I was
Someone else, someone good

 

Oh, it’s such a perfect day
I’m glad I spent it with you
Oh, such a perfect day
You just keep me hanging on
You just keep me hanging on

 

 

 

 

 

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.

The Bookshop

I climbed the stairs slowly to the secondhand book store. There sitting in piles of stock sat it’s owner reading behind a tatty desk. Above him was pinned a notice proclaiming – there is a book here for you! Somehow I doubted it. Yet I searched reasonably diligently in the novels, hobbies and history sections. Even the personal development and spirituality shelves held nothing to whet my appetite of imagination. So I couldn’t resist the temptation to return to the desk and remark – ‘ I can’t find my book.’ The old man smiled and said, ‘it’s there behind you!’ I turned and saw a volume bearing my name. On opening it, I read my early life, my youth and my recent stagnating years. I saw days of  success and failure, happiness and sadness, peace and struggle. Finally, I found a paragraph starting –  ‘I climbed the stairs slowly…..’ . The remaining pages were blank. In my surprise I turned to the shop owner . He was offering a pen and gesturing that I now write something afresh.

Lord, thanks for the blank pages
Of life yet to come
Many we write on them
Words that are worthy of ourselves
And you

Amen

A Tribute to the Tunisia Victims

Sometime ago I visited Our local Sikh Temple . The gentleman who showed me round made a very wise remark that  I will always remember . And it was, ‘all of the world religions are about treating other as yourself’.

 

Today as a result of recent atrocities across the globe, many media types and people in the street  are saying ‘religion’ is a bad thing. Yet that forgets the many billions  of our fellow human beings who live out their own faith in inner peace and harmony with their neighbour.

 

So as we stand here in the UK at midday in silent tribute to those who were so brutally  murdered in Tunisia, let us remember Christ commanded us to love God and our neighbour just as much as ourselves.  In fact, we need to remember these conscious acts are indivisible.