Don’t Put Off Until Tomorrow

Or it might be too late.

2015-02-18 15.50.45-1Note:  This post was written in 2015, but remained unpublished until 2018.

We all do it at some time. I am as guilty as anyone else, for putting things off to do later. I expect we all use the same excuses too; Another day won’t matter. I’m too busy just now, he/she always asks for it before it’s needed anyway. I’ve used all those at one time or another, and probably a host of others too that I cannot remember. I think that, more often than not, putting something off is really just a matter of procrastination, or plain laziness.

While only time will tell if I am cured of this laziness, at least for the foreseeable future I will not be putting of until later actions or jobs I can undertake today. And the reason? Simple. An incredibly graphic, distressing example of what can happen.

My online friend of more than 6 years, a wonderful, kind, caring and warm lady, started to suffer pains that made it hard for her to walk and move around; she could still sit in relative comfort. Later, in October, she had a series of medical investigations and in early November was informed that she had an inoperable, cancerous tumour. She was offered chemotherapy and radiotherapy but declined any aggressive treatment, opting only for pain relief. Her prognosis was to expect approximately 12 months before the condition was terminal.

I decided I would try to visit her. She lived in The Netherlands but this did not matter, I had plenty of time to make arrangements and occasionally visited Maastricht for concerts. I could call in on her way back to the ferry at Hoek-van-Holland. Even if I took a pessimistic view, I reckoned I would have  six months leeway to arrange a visit.

On the 6th January 2015, when I logged into our online meeting she was not there. Instead there was a message from her sister, saying that my friend had been taken into hospital. The next day a further message informed me that she was in a coma and not expected to survive. The following day …. well, you can work it out.

My friend had survived only two months from her diagnosis, not the year projected by the doctors, or even my pessimistic guess of six months. I did not see her before her death, all because I put off taking the appropriate action until ‘tomorrow’.

Boast not thyself of tomorrow; for thou knowest
not what a day may bring forth – Proverbs 27:1 

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Covenant

But what is a covenant?

In today’s Old Testament lectionary reading God establishes his covenant with Noah (Genesis 9:8-17), “for all generations to come” (UK NIV). But what really is a covenant?

Almost every one of us probably has a fair understanding of what a contract is. We probably enter into some kind of contract every day. Every time we buy something in a shop, we enter into a contract, in that example a consumer contract, in which every person who buys the same thing gets it on the same terms and conditions.

A contract requires an offer of some product or service, an acceptance of the offer and a consideration, some form of payment for the product or service, usually but not always financial.

Contracts can be express, where every little detail is explicitly spelled out, or implied, where under normal circumstances the buyer has a reasonable expectation that a product or service be supplied in a certain way, for example a meal in a restaurant will be properly cooked.

But what exactly is a covenant? It’s not a promise, because a promise does not require a consideration, or it would become a contract. Neither is it really a contract, with every little detail upheld by law.

I have trouble actually defining a covenant myself, though I think I know a good example, found in the original 1960 film, The Magnificent Seven.

A poor Mexican village has hired a group of seven gunfighters to protect them from outlaw raiders that steal their crops. At a stage where it looks like the hired men might have bitten off more than they can chew, we hear them having a discussion about whether to stay in the village or leave.

A short snippet of their conversation when someone suggests they leave goes:

Chris:  “You forget one thing. We took a contract.”
Vin:   “It’s not the kind courts enforce.”
Chris:  That´s just the kind you’ve gotta keep.

That, it seems to me, is the essence of covenant over contract. A matter of honesty and honour.

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 11th February 2018

The Sunday Next Before Lent.


Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

Perfect God and Father, You value each of us so much that you sent Your son, Jesus Christ, to pay for our sins and redeem us all. As You have shown our value to you, let us take that example to show how we value You by caring for our fellow human beings and sharing Your love to Your people, created in Your image.

As we approach the season of Lent, bless the initiatives taking place wherever Lent is observed.

Bless and guide Lent Groups. Lead them as they seek to serve communities by living as an example that can bring more people to You.

Eternal, loving God help us to look forward with hope, expectation and action through Lent and beyond.

Christ Jesus who gave us freedom to live, work and to worship you, we pray for the 200 migrants rescued from modern slavery on a flower picking farm in Cornwall. Help them, and all who are forced to work under unjust conditions, to integrate into our free society or the society wherever they may be.

We pray that in places beyond our direct influence, there is someone to help and support those living or working under slave conditions, or under any kind of injustice that might be inflicted upon them. We ask for all slaves to be freed and for justice upon the slave-masters and the oppressed alike.

Loving Father we bring to you those hurt in body, mind or spirit. The unwell and the injured. Heal those injured by their and our fellow humans, in places like Syria, Somalia, Yemen and wherever there are victims of violence perpetrated on human by human. Heal too the minds of those who enact that violence. Forgive them as an example to us and to their victims to forgive them.

In our own localities, we offer this prayer for those we know in need of your healing, comfort or wisdom. We pray for those needing care, those who care for them and medical staff who treat them.

Eternal God, thank you for hearing our prayers. May we listen with open hearts and minds for your response whenever, wherever and however you choose to respond.

Merciful Father, accept this prayer for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Download this prayer.

Mr Golightly’s Holiday

By Sally Vickers

Whilst my primary book review blog was moved some time ago to Entertaining Angels Bookshelf, I have a particular reason for reviewing  Mr Golightly’s holiday here first. I do not intend giving the reason. It will become apparent to a reader of the book.

I have previously reviewed by the same author Miss Garnet’s Angel, which I enjoyed immensely so I had high hopes for Mr Golightly’s Holiday.

The curious, I might even say slightly mysterious, character of Mr Golightly arrives in the quiet village of Great Calne, driving a battered and unreliable Morris Traveller, looking for time, inspiration and peace to revise his book. It had been published many years ago and was a bestseller but sales had been dropping. Mr Golightly is intent on re-writing his classic volume, in a contemporary style.

Soon after his arrival in Great Calne, with his laptop computer with which he has uneasy alliance, Mr Golightly becomes considerably more involved in the affairs of the village than he had intended. His involvement in the village’s life, of course, hampers his writing no end, scarcely finding time to write, even having taken on young Johny Spence, a clever but mischievous lad frequently truanting from school, as a kind of research assistant.

Although Mr Golightly has an office and staff when he’s not on holiday, he seemes to have lived a fairly reclusive existence away from much human contact. Great Calne with its quirky and eccentric population overturns many of Mr Golightly’s pre-conceived notions about people in unexpected ways.

Although we are never told who Mr Golightly is beyond his name, clues are scattered throughout the story. Most readers will have deduced his identity by the last few chapters, probably much sooner.

Sally Vickers has a gentle, easy going way of storytelling. She seems to have an acute ability to observe people and from that observation, construct interesting and surprising characters.

I enjoyed Mr Golightly’s Holiday immensly, though if I had to choose between it and Miss Garnet’s Angel, I would choose the latter.

Mr Golightly “understood, perhaps better than most,
that all important questions are unanswerable.”

Data Protection

Who is keeping your secrets.

With the new European General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) coming in to force in May this year, there is a lot of activity in all sorts of institutions trying to ensure compliance. Even churches, the one I attend included, are busy preparing. So how safe is your data?

Well to begin with, I’m not actually referring to the data that businesses, institutions, internet and social media companies collect. Things like address, age, gender. What we buy and spend our money on. Where we go, who we communicate with. All the information or data that our mobile phone and computer appa send back to the companies.

I’m not even talking about the information we give willingly or by law, such as for the electoral register. I’m thinking about the data that can’t be collected, at least not by any human constructed database.

The data that humankind can collect is finite. No matter how much is harvested, there is always more to glean. God above on the other hand has infinite capacity. He knows what the data companies know and he knows everything they do not know about us too. He knows what’s in our hearts and in our minds. He knows when we are good or bad, doing right or doing wrong. He knows when were sorry for what we’ve done or are smug. He knows when we love or hate. He knows what we feel about ourselves and others, collectively and individually.

In short, God knows all about us and he is the safest repository of our data. He might remind us individually if we forget something but he will never breach a confidence and his ‘server’ can not be ‘hacked’. He will not send us advert’s because of something we’ve uploaded. We can tell him anything and he will never divulge it. He is the ultimate data protector.

 

Recycling Dilemma

The trouble with multi material packaging.

Where I live the council supplies six refuse containers to each household. There are two bins, two boxes and two bags, each for a different purpose and five of the six are for recyclable waste. Each household has to sort their waste into the appropriate container. So far fine.

Paper, glass and metal in one box, food waste in another. Cardboard in one bag, recyclable plastic in the other. Garden waste in the green bin and everything else in the grey. But what about the rubbish that is not a single material? Most commonly, but not exclusively, is food packaging with plastic windows and window envelopes; paper with see a through panel for the address.

We are supposed to separate the materials, i.e. remove the plastic windows from the cardboard boxes and envelopes. It’s not always easy to separate. If it is particularly hard separating materials in some packaging, I resort to discarding the item into the grey bin, as non recyclable rubbish.

Why is the onus entirely on the public to separate the materials? Why can’t the manufacturers standardise their packaging so that one package/packet has only one material?

Modern printers can print envelopes without windows so why do envelopes need plastic panels?

Boxes can be printed with pictures of their contents, doing away the need for a plastic window.

Printing on plastic is possible now, doing away with the need for a paper label.

Isn’t it time manufacturers/producers helped the consumer streamline recycling?

All these can reduce the waste going to landfill but there is a better way. There are many products that do not need packaging at all, it is there as a marketing aid with no other practical reason. Where possible, do away with packaging completely.