Author Archives: JandWs

About JandWs

Christian on faith's journey. Finding my way slowly, with many wrong turns and blind alleys. Not always on the right road but hopefully in the right direction.

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 23rd July 2017

The 6th Sunday of Trinity.


Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

Heavenly Father, whose love is wider than our imagination, send Your Holy Spirit as we pray to You in the name of Your Son, our redeemer Jesus Christ.

Thank You that we can worship you in our homeland, that we can do so without fear. We remember places where to worship in Your Holy name might bring persecution We pray that soon everyone of faith may have freedom to worship you.

When Jesus told the parable of the weeds (Matthew 13: 24-30), he showed the need for patience, to separate the wheat from the chaff. Give us patience not to get caught up by the ‘have it now’ inclination, but to have self restraint for the richer rewards to come. Let this patience not be lazy, just waiting. Help us to flower amongst the weeds.

As school holidays begin, we pray for the children and young people, their teachers and carers. May the holidays refresh them for the next school year.

We pray for those leaving school to begin work or higher education. For those nervous about joining a new school, college, university or working for the first time. Prepare and support them for the next steps of their journey, whatever those steps might be. Guide them always along Your path.

We pray for the people of Lincolnshire and of Coverack in Cornwall, affected by flash floods after the storms. Let the resources be available to clear the devastation and return homes to liveable condition, and livelihoods back to business. Lord, help the relief workers making buildings safe and habitable again and help residents rebuild their communities after the reconstruction and refurbishment is complete. We pray for generosity and compassion in finding them temporary accommodation until they can return to their homes.

We give thanks for our homes whilst we remember the homeless and the refugees, wherever they are and whatever the cause. As the world refugee crisis shows no sign of slowing, we think today of South Sudan where towns near the country’s border have lost over 90% of their population.

We pray for the negotiations taking place to agree the conditions of the UK departure from the European Union. We pray for the negotiators of both UK and EU that their discussions be constructive, not confrontational. Help them to quickly reach agreement on citizens rights that are fair to all and ends uncertainty of anyone making a home, living and working in a country other than their homeland.

Father we bring to You those we know who are unwell or injured in body, mind or spirit. Offer them Your healing, to each in the way best fitted to their own need and we each offer to You, Father, the unspoken words of our own hearts.

Living God who loves all that You have made, give to us your compassion that others may see it through us in how we treat our brothers and sisters, friends and neighbours. Let our ears hear Your words of grace, given to us by Your Son, Lord Jesus Christ.

Merciful Father, accept these prayers for the sake of Your Son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

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Unveiling a Parallel

By Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant, published 1893.

Once again I find myself adding a book review to my Christian themed blog, before I add it to my book review blog. I add it here because of the comparisons Unveiling A Parallel draws with Christianity.

Unveiling A Parallel is billed as a romance. Some might say it is science fiction, as it is set on the planet Mars. Some would call it feminist literature, if the term “feminist” existed in 1893. I describe Unveiling A Parallel as social-science fiction, that just happens to be set on another planet.

Remember as you continue that Unveiling a Parallel was published more than a century ago. The society in which the protagonist finds himself is still a stratified society, in which there are rich and poor, servants and masters, characteristic of the era in which the story was written.

The reader is not told at any point the protagonist’s name, or how he comes to be on Mars. The story begins at his arrival on the red planet.  It goes on to recount his experiences with the “Marsians” whilst amongst the people.

The Marsian people are humans, who have evolved entirely independently of the humans of our planet Earth. The differences between the peoples are in intellects and social orders, not in any physical aspect that defines a human being.

The traveller’s male pre-conceptions, of how a society should function, based on his patriarchal Earth background in a male dominated society, are challenged from soon after his arrival on Mars.  As he begins to get to know Mars’ people, he finds an egalitarian, equal society where the female of the species is the equal of the male socially and morally, without needing legislation to achieve it.

It is also interesting to see the protagonist’s observations on religion, specifically Christianity, as he begins to come to terms with the “Marsian” society in which he finds himself.

Unveiling A Parallel is not SciFi in the form that readers of such as Asimov, E E Doc Smith or Larry Niven would probably appreciate. It is, to a greater extent, commentary on the differences between societies, that have evolved in different places, under different conditions and traditions.

“You worship the man – the God, if you will, –
instead of that for which he stood.”: – Severnius.

Individuality

The myth that brands need you to believe and something they might prefer you to forget.

2015-08-20 20.41.09-2A marketing ploys used by major brands is to suggest that by purchasing their product(s), you are showing your individuality. They want you to believe that by buying their brand, you are not just one of the crowd; not just a sheep blindly following everyone else but that is exactly what you are doing.

If you believe what brand advertisements want you to, your not just ‘one of their crowd’ you are gullible too, because you do not see that you are just part of a crowd, albeit a distinct crowd. Even being in distinct crowd does not demonstrate individualism, perhaps it might be described as tribalism.

Even manufacturer customisation of a product does not make the buyer more individualistic. He has simply bought an option offered by the designer/maker, an option that anyone else can buy too, so it is not individual.

It is possible to be an individual and still buy a branded product, if you evaluate it in relation to other products that fulfil the same function or need. If you just buy it because of the brand, the advertising or the crowd that like it, you’re just another ‘sheep’.

It is worth remembering that a brand was originally an identifying mark, burned onto an animal, by its owner to identify it as his as distinct from anyone else’s, it was not to make it different from any other member of his heard. The owner of the brand was individual, its wearer was just another anonymous animal in the heard or flock of livestock.

In relation to today’s ‘brands’ that is not too far from the truth. The ‘brands’ owners want you as part of their heard, controlled and corralled. Of course they employ different means of shepherding you in the right direction, with their clever advertising but essentially, they try to steer you in the ‘right’ direction just like a flock of sheep.

Do you still think you’re showing your individuality by buying branded products? In the case of fashion clothing, buying a brand, such as Nike, Ralph Lauren, Levi’s, Conran, Gucci or any one of tens, hundreds of others, could almost be equated to wearing a uniform. Whose uniform are you wearing today?

Faith Without Thinking

But not unthinking faith.

Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant. 1893

I’ve been nominally a Christian since I was baptised as a baby. It’s in recent years that I’ve taken it seriously, trying to live by Christian principals. I’ve not done anything criminal or deliberately hurt anyone, nevertheless I’m probably not what you might call a good Christian.

I go to church each Sunday. I meet with Christian friends and discuss what being a Christian means. I read the Bible, sometimes. That might be part of what makes me Christian but not necessarily a good one.

Often on weekdays and when I’m not with my Christian friends, I am not thinking about behaving as a Christian. Of course it shouldn’t be necessary to be thinking about it all the time. Which is the point I probably need to explain a little more.

This post was inspired by a paragraph from a book, Unveiling A Parallel (To be reviewed later on Entertaining Angels Bookshelf). The passage is:

“Do you often hear an upright man professing his honesty? It is part of himself. He is so free of the law which enjoins honesty that he never gives it a thought. So with the man who is truly religious and no longer needs to guide himself bit by bit and rein, or measure his conduct by the written code.”
– From Unveiling a Parallel by Alice Ilgenfritz Jones and Ella Merchant 1893.

The book is fiction. We can still learn something from it, just as we learn from Jesus’ parables which were fiction but contained a truth.

The person referred to in the quoted passage never thinks about his religion which, in the book, we are not told what it is. The point is that he doesn’t need to think about it. Its principals are so deeply ingrained within him, that he doesn’t need to think about them to live by them. It is, or has become, his natural way of living, of conducting himself.

As Christians, shouldn’t we be aiming to live by Jesus’ teaching, to the extent we do not need to constantly think about it?  I’m not suggesting we should not think about or discuss The Bible and God and Jesus, just that living by its principals ought to become second nature to us, or that we should aim that it does.

Brexit

One Christian’s Point Of View.

The United Kingdom, for it still is at least nominally united, is a country in which the majority of citizens are no longer practicing Christians. That same majority does share a Christian heritage, and almost all of our law is based upon Christian principals.

One year after the Brexit referendum, I am struggling to see how those principals are being applied both to our European neighbours, it is probably no longer correct to call them our partners, and, perhaps to a lesser extent, to our own descendants.

At a personal and individual level, the majority of UK citizens still tend to behave in a fairly Christian manner. Corporately as a nation, we seem to have become self obsessed and selfish. We want what we want and do not care what anyone else wants. At least not the 27 other, soon to be, remaining members of the European Union.

Might the UK have inadvertently done a little harm, primarily to itself, that resulted in a greater good? As a country, we have single handedly succeeded in uniting 27 other member states into a closer union against a former friend.

I find it disingenuous that our politicians and leaders continue to refer to Europeans as “our friends” when nationally we have behaved and are continuing to behave toward them in such an unfriendly manner. It is to their credit that they remain friendly to us, if no longer actually friends.

It appears that one of the reasons, perhaps the main reason, for the vote to exit the EU is the issue of immigration. What has happened to our Christian principals of welcoming the stranger? We need immigration. We need it for our NHS, which without immigrants would not function.

We need immigrant workers for farms and care services, because too many of our citizens seem to think themselves too good for what they see as such menial tasks, yet they still moan that immigrants are taking British jobs.

I think that in some peoples minds refugees are little different to immigrants. We conveniently forget, unless somehow directly and personally confronted by refugees, the vast difference between simply trying to improve ones situation and fleeing war, famine, oppression, torture, injustice leaving everything behind apart from the clothes they stand up in.

The current Brexit related debate is regarding the rights of EU citizens to stay in Britain, those that wish to, after Brexit is final. The Christian, human, reasonable and caring action to take would be to unilaterally guarantee the existing rights of all who opt to stay. It would also be an excellent gesture of goodwill for the forthcoming negotiations.

UK is, at the time of writing, the fifth biggest economy in the world; sixth if the EU is treated as a single economy. A large part of our prosperity is due to our membership of the European Union, even though we are a net contributor to its budget. Immigrants helped build our economy so we owe them a quid pro quo for that. Will UK still be so prosperous one year after Brexit? Our economy is less than one fifth the size of that of the EU and one seventh of USA USA. We need EU, to secure good trade deals with bigger economies, more than they need us.

British politicians talk about Brexit as the will of the people. I can’t and wont deny the democracy of leaving the EU, it was a vote in favour of leaving. It was hardly an overwhelming margin voting to leave at 52% to 48%. Leavers consider it a victory. I cannot. I can question if there should have been a referendum at all.

In a democracy politicians are elected not just to carry out the will of the people but to do what is best for the nation they are supposed to serve. Unfortunately what is best, or necessary is frequently not popular That includes taking difficult decisions. Those decisions are frequently taken on the basis of information to which the population is not privy.

In the case of Brexit, I think politicians abrogated their responsibility to the referendum, instead of taking decisions they were elected to take. The British public gave the politicians a perfect scaprgoat; the British public.

Brexit does not affect only Britain. Brexit affects 27 other countries detrimentally. Even if I were not looking at this from a Christian perspective, I cannot see any basic decency, respect and fairness with which we have should have treated our neighbours?

In a few years Britain could become to Europe like the Isle Of Wight it to Britain; a quaint little place to visit but mostly ignored.

The Trinity

Mind you don’t get burned.

If you say trinity to a Christian there is a good chance that he or she would think of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. The three-in-one and one-in-three. Trinity in unity. But, what might a non christian think of?

There are many, many things that come in threes, some real, some fictional.

  • Three bones in an ear
  • Three wheels on a tricycle
  • Three legs on a tripod

If you remove one item from each of the groups of three, it becomes useless.

  • Take one bone from an ear, you cannot hear
  • Take one wheel from a tricycle, it cannot be ridden
  • Take one leg from a tripod, it falls over

In each case removing one of the three renders the remainder useless.

When I was at school, in the science lesson I remember being taught that fire requires three things to burn; fuel, heat and air (oxygen). Remove any one of these elements and the fire is extinguished.

Might fire be an, albeit very simplistic, analogy for the complexity of the triune God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. God the father being, perhaps, the oxygen (breath of God). God the Son providing the fuel (His word in the gospels). God the Holy Spirit being the heat (felt but unseen).

So if by taking away one element of fire it ceases to exist, what happens to God if one element of the trinity were missing?

As usual I have no answer but think it an interesting question to ponder.