Category Archives: Christianity

Picking The Fruit

A modern re-telling of the parable of the vineyard workers.

The parable, by Jacob Willemszoon de Wet, circa mid-17th century

‘No one!’ exclaimed the foreman ‘there must be someone available.’ ‘No one on our books that doesn’t already have work for today.’ The agent said. ‘The old abandoned school, at the end of Castle Street, has a load of foreigners sleeping there. Maybe they’d be glad of a day’s work’.

Ten minutes later a suspicious Pole opened the door a crack to find the foreman standing outside. ‘I’m looking for men to pick fruit, strawberries. I need it done today.’ In faltering English the face through the crack in the door said ‘Wait, I get Aleksander. He speak good English.’

After a brief chat with the foreman and a longer one with his countrymen, Alexander with ten Polish men was on his way to the fruit farm. He had  negotiated a wage of £80.00 per man for the day’s work, with breakfast and lunch supplied.

At the morning break, the farmer was discussing the picking progress with his foreman, who was telling his employer ‘They’re good hard workers but I think we’ll need more to finish the strawberry harvest today.’ ‘You’d better get back into town then, see who else you can rustle up.’

‘What did you agree to pay this lot?’ The farmer asked his foreman, when he arrived back with another van full of pickers. ‘They said they’ll take whatever’s going. They just need to work.’ ‘Get ’em started then, and make sure they don’t put so much in a basket that the bottom fruit gets squashed. The foreman gave brief instructions and set the latest gang to work.

Shortly after lunch, it was clear that still not all the fruit could be picked in time for the wholesaler’s collection time. The foremen was again despatched to see if he could find more pickers.

‘These are the last.’ the foreman informed his boss on his return. ‘If we can’t get the crop in with these, the rest will be wasted.’ It’ll have to do. Get ’em started they can learn on the job. We’ll have to take a chance on the spoils.’

‘We made it guv.’ the foreman informed the farmer as the sun began to sink. ‘And there aren’t that many spoils either.’ ‘Give the a drink, then send them up to the office to collect their pay.’ the farmer replied.

Aleksander, who spoke for the first group to be taken on at the farm, was the first to emerge from the farmer’s office with a handful of cash. One by one a minute or two apart, the rest emerged each with their £80.00, all paid in cash. Then, when the early workers had all been paid and those taken on later in the day began to come out holding their wages. Those first to be paid soon noticed that the later arrivals were also being paid the same amount, £80.00 for their work even though they hadn’t worked a full day.

‘What is this?’ Alexander angrily asked the farmer. ‘We worked a full day for our money. You gave them the same for a few hours.’ ‘I gave you just what you asked for when you signed on. We had a contract.’ the farmer replied. ‘Those other men were so glad of the work they just took it on trust they’d be fairly paid.’

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When Jesus told the parable, it was to illustrate how the last shall be first. I think there is another, perhaps unintended, point illustrated too.

I have written previously about contract and covenant. In the parable the men who agreed terms, a contract, got exactly what they bargained for. Those who worked on trust, to my mind a covenant, were treated generously.

 

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Advocacy

Representing humankind.

In human terms, an advocate is usually one of two things. An advocate may be a person who promotes a cause or policy for an organisation. He or she may be a person who represents the interests of another individual. In the UK, one of the most recognised types of advocate might be a barrister, representing a client in a court of law.

There are other types of advocate, some of which might not be recognised or called as such. A public relations officer, spokesperson or communications director all fit the dictionary definition of advocate for example, representing the views of a company or perhaps political party. Their job is to put across to a wider audience, the public perhaps or company shareholders, a position or proposals for the future. It might be to justify previous actions.

When Jesus said that an advocate was coming, it is assumed he referred to the Holy Spirit. I assume the same and am not aware of anything to contradict this assumption. In terms of human understanding, might this be some of the most literal words in the Bible? It seems to me that the Holy Spirit in terms of advocacy fulfils our human definition.

There are of course  major differences in the advocacy provided by the Holy Spirit. Human advocates are, on the whole, paid for their services whether representing an individual or organisation. Human advocates perform their duties as a job, or career. They do not need to believe in who or what they are representing. They fulfil a contract.

The Holy Spirit is not paid in any monetary form. Perhaps the best description of the Spirit’s actions on our behalf and God’s is a vocation, perhaps almost its raison d’être.

The Holy Spirit presents our human case to God, representing us both individually and collectively. That same Spirit promotes, and explains, if we take the trouble to listen and understand, God’s plans and policies to us us for the future of the world and the human race. The spirit acts both for us and with us, helping us to come closer to God.

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 6th May 2018

The 6th Sunday of Easter.


Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

 Holy eternal Father, we bring to you our hopes and fears, thoughts and ideas in thanks and worship. Open our eyes and ears to the presence of Your Holy Spirit as we offer You this prayer in the name of Your Son, Jesus Christ.

Jesus called his disciples friends because he taught them what he learned from his Father. Open our minds Father to learn those lessons and to bear fruit for You, like the disciples as friends of Your son, serving but not servants.

Father as you welcome all who turn to you, we join with You to welcome those being baptised this week into Your family as Your own son was baptised. Send Your spirit over the waters of their baptism. Watch over them as they grow and guide those who care for them to thrive in Your family.

Remind those of us who have been baptised of the promises made by us, or on our behalf. May we renew those promises in love and trust.

We pray for new ministers and for those moving on to new pastures and appointments. May each in their own way, under your guidance spread Your word.

Healing Lord we bring to You those hurting in body, mind or spirit. The lonely and the afraid. Be with them Father, give them comfort and strength and make them whole.

The closing of today’s prayer is a prayer poem by Beryl Strange of the Mothers’ Union (MU). It can be found in the Dear Lord prayer book, available from MU here .

Be with us Lord throughout this day,
When sunshine streams or skies are grey,
Be with us Lord in joy or ill,
Choose thou our paths, be with us still,
Be with us Lord, when all else fails,
Thy precious blood for us avails,
Be with us Lord when life slows down,
Thy steadfast love shall be our crown.

Amen.

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Time Travel

Maybe it’s not so impossible.

When you see or hear the words ‘time travel’, what’ the first thing that you think of? The first thing that usually comes to my mind is science fiction. Doctor Who perhaps, maybe H.G. Wells classic story The Time Machine.

For you and me time travel is impossible, certainly in any physical sense in which our corporeal form is transported to a different period. We are simply carried along with time. As H.G.Wells unnamed time travellere observed, whilst time is the fourth dimension, unlike the other three “we have no freedom of movement within it”

So is time travel possible? Maybe in a way it is but perhaps only in one direction, though it remains possible to look in the other direction. Suppose for a moment you could travel in time. How might it affect some of the beliefs you hold or tenets that you live by? While their basis might not change, it is quite possible that how you interpret or implement them for the era you are in might.

History in itself is not time travel but a means to see into the past, an imperfect means that does not always tell the whole story. Now what about forward time travel? I’ve already said that we cannot do it physically, in either direction but could something intangible move forward in time? Something like an idea. There are many thoughts and ideas from the past that have shaped the world as we know it today, ideas that have come forward from the point of conception to now. Couldn’t that be a kind of time travel?

Some of the most compelling and durable thoughts, concepts and ideas that are with us today concern religion and faith. They have travelled forward in time from hundreds, even thousands of years ago. Some remain essentially unchanged and some become updated to remain relevant and, more importantly, understood in the current age having been written to be understood by particular cultures in specific eras. The Bible is almost 2000 years old. It’s thoughts and ideas have survived, albeit in words suited to the different eras through which it has passed.

And maybe, just maybe one person has managed to travel through time. I’ve heard it said that for as long as someone is remembered they are not really dead. We know that Jesus died and we believe that he lived again, before his ascension. Had he been forgotten after his departure from the physicsl world then in a sense he would have died again, at least until his second coming. But, if he had been forgotten, would anyone believe who he was on his return?

Jesus was thought to be in his 30s when he departed his physical existence. It is probably as a human of around this age that many people around the world picture him. Millions of people believe in, know, honour and worship this ageless man always in his 30s. Couldn’t this be a kind of time travel?

More About My Other Family

Not so much family values as, ‘The value of family’.

I make no apology for returning to a subject I’ve written about before, under similar circumstances. The difference this time, the medical treatment was planned, not an emergency admission. It was, though, at short notice; I was offered a cancellation slot for cataract surgery to my left eye.

If you read Entertaining Angels blog regularly, you might already know what I mean by “My other family“, if not then I’d better explain.

My blood relations family is small. There’s my wife and I, and my brother whom I rarely see. None of us have children. My wife has a brother too. Both our brothers live over 80 miles away and both work. We each have cousins, who we rarely see. But, these are not the family this post is about. This is about my and W’s other family, our Church and Mothers’ Union family.

This time around, I was able to make a few basic preparations prior to my eye surgery. Even a cancellation slot gives a couple of days notice, unlike my previous emergency admissions.

I’ve been home, at the time I write, two days since the cataract surgery to my left eye. Already I’m blessed with help I’ve received and further offers of help if we need it. The offers of help that I have not, yet, taken up, are not perfunctory expressions, as may sometimes be the case. I know I can count on them all.

J&T collected me from the hospital and took me home, guiding me while I had the dressing on my left eye; I couldn’t wear my glasses to see from my right while the dressing was on my left. My short sightedness is severe. Without my glasses, I guess I might be classed visually impaired.

M and L have each already taken Cookie, my dog, for walks and J and Ja have each done bits of shopping for me. That just the help I’ve had in the few days since my treatment. Ju will take me shopping next week for a big shop and I’ve had numerous other offers that I can call on when needed.

Whilst I think I might manage ok during recovery from my surgery, my ‘family’ make it possible to do more than just manage. Their support is a blessing and kindness to W and to myself, and are there for us and for each other. Thank you to all my family who care for us.

Reading Aloud

Bringing the Bible to life.

Albert Joseph Moore (1841–1893)

When was the last time you read something out loud? To some extent it might depend on who you are. A parent or teacher reading to a child is probably the most likely to do it. What about the rest of us?

I think that for the great majority of us, reading something out loud is done only few-and-far-between times. When it is, it is probably only to ourselves, perhaps when checking something we have written to see if it sounds right when said. I often check my own writing like this but that is usually the only time I read aloud.

While reading an essay about Islam, I discovered that the title of the Islamic holy book, the Qur’an, means ‘recitation. It is intended to be read out loud. This reminded me that the Bible too was also intended to be read this way, aloud. Originally for the entirely practical reason that many listeners, when it was first written would be illiterate, and could not read.

The most likely time The Bible will be heard read aloud, is in church probably during a service. Occasionally the reader will bring some ‘life’ to the reading. More often than not, this is not so, the reading is flat, unemotional not evoking a reaction.

Reading aloud can be done in a number of ways. Flat, prosaic and boring, calculated to turn pretty much anyone off the subject or send them to sleep. It can also be with a touch of performance. By the reader varying intonation and phrasing, it is much more likely the listener’s attention will be kept. It is also possible that what the listener perceives in the reading can be subtly altered, by the emphasis or understatement of particular words and phrases.

Reading aloud can work equally well solo, as when reading to someone. Give it a try.

 

Roll Away The Stone

A slightly off-beat look at a familiar event.

‘Ouch’, he exclaimed sitting up in the pitch darkness, banging his head on the low ceiling. when his head stopped throbbing, he sat up again, more cautiously with his hand above himself to ward off any further knocks. Putting his hand gingerly to his head, he could already feel a swelling and tenderness. He ignored it. It was insignificant, compared to his other injuries.

Once his eyes adjusted to the darkness, he was able to make out chinks of light, a faint outline, that he supposed to be the doorway. He made his way slowly, still with his hand outstretched, carefully toward it until his hand touched a cold, hard, smooth rock surface roughly in the middle of the faint outline. All the time he was wincing slightly because of the rough, uneven surface under his bare feet.

After feeling around the cold surface his hand had come into contact with, he gave it a tentative push. It didn’t move. He tried again, pushing harder with both hands. Still no movement, not even the slightest shift. He turned around facing back into the darkness and flattened his back against the unyielding surface and heaved with his legs with all his might. A moment later, he slid down to the floor, with his back still resting against it still not having moved as much as a finger’s width.

He wouldn’t be able to shift what he now guessed to be a huge boulder himself. He needed help. Closing his eyes, even though it was a bit pointless in the pitch dark, he called out softly ‘Dad, Dad, can you hear me?’ He was silent a moment and then ‘I’m stuck. I need you to send a couple of the boys to help.’ then as an afterthought added, ‘quick as you can please Dad.’

What seemed to him to take ages, but in reality was only probably only a matter of seconds, he felt the boulder rock and then start to move slowly sideways away from the portal. He rose quickly, still taking care not to bang his head, and watched the light grow and seep into what he now saw was a cave, a tomb, until the gap was wide enough for him to step out into low sunshine of the dawn light.

Emerging from the tomb he gave a friendly nod to the two slightly glowing figures, that had freed him. ‘Thanks Michael, Gabriel, I could have been in there ages.’ ‘Try to keep yourself out of trouble for a while, Jesus.’, Michael said, just before both he and Gabriel both disappeared, a second too soon for Jesus to ask one more question. ‘What day is it?’