Category Archives: Christianity

Ruth: Chapter 2.

A modern re-telling of the Old Testament story of Ruth.

Chapter 1 here if you missed it.

Chapter 2.

After Nadzia and Ruth had found a cheap place to live on the outskirts of Wroclaw, they had to find a way to support themselves. They had a little money brought with them that would last a couple of months but after that, if they couldn’t find work they would have trouble.

Nadzia had a distant relative in the nearby town of Siechnice, Bozydar Janda a cousin of her dead husband and she sought him out hoping he might be able to give her some work. He had nothing, at least nothing she could do in his forestry and sawmills. They needed another idea. It was Ruth who came up with it.

Both the women were good cooks, so they began to prepare food that they could take to the sawmill and up into the forest, for Ruth to sell the men working for Bozydar. They had been doing this for a few weeks, not making much money but enough to cover their rent, when Bozydar took on a new manager.

When the new manager arrived to check on some of Bozydar’s lumberjacks and found Ruth selling food and snacks to the men from her basket he ordered her away, saying she was keeping the men from their work. On her way back down the wooded track, a car came bumping past Ruth on the rough ground going in the opposite direction. It was Bozydar, though she didn’t know it. He had noticed her.

Bozydar was a good businessman and employer. He treated his workers well and liked so support those trying to make their way through their own hard work and initiative. After finding out what the manager had done, he was annoyed and at a later date, for another incident the manager was eventually sacked.

Driving back down the hill Bozydar again saw Ruth on her way down, with her basket of food that today would be wasted. He stopped to offer Ruth a lift back down the hill. She was grateful and accepted appreciatively, and as they chatted while they bumped along he said she was still welcome to sell food to his men. They liked it as well as helping her.

Bozydar took Ruth home to where she lived with Nadzia, stopping on the way at his sawmill where Ruth could sell some of her snacks, lessening the days losses caused by the manager. As he dropped Ruth off, Bozydar bought some of Ruth’s food himself to take home for his evening meal. Before he resumed his drive home, he saw Nadzia at the door as Ruth went in. It was then that he knew who Ruth was.

‘Did you realise who that was?’ Nadzia asked as she and Ruth sat down to their own meal that evening, finishing some of the unsold food in Ruth’s basket. ‘It was Elek’s cousin, Bozydar.’ So Ruth told her mother-in-law about how he had helped her that day.

The next day, mid mid-morning, there was an unexpected knock at Ruth and Nadzia’s door and when Ruth opened it was surprised to find Bozydar standing there. ‘I thought you might like a lift’ he said. ‘I shall be going up to the men working in the forest again, if you’d like to bring some of your food to sell.’

After Bozydar had spoken with his men and Ruth sold them food and snacks for thier lunch, they sat down together on a freshly felled log. Bozydar seemed in no hurry to get back to the sawmill from the forest, so they shared food and chatted, until they noticed the men resuming their logging.

Bozydar took Ruth home again after their work that day, and on many more days when he had to check on the work of his men in the forest, which sometimes Ruth suspected was really just an excuse.

Chapter 3 next week.


Ruth: Chapter 1.

A modern re-telling of the Old Testament story of Ruth.

Ruth Declares her Loyalty to Naomi. Pieter Lastman c 1583 – 1633

Elek Mazur had brought his family to the United Kingdom soon after Poland had been admitted to the European Union. In 2005 he took his family from a small flat, in a rundown block in Wroclaw to live in Milton Keynes. Elek and Nadzia had been married 17 years when they arrived and had two sons, 15 year old Keilijan and Mahary, 13.

Soon after arriving in the UK, Elek started a small handyman business and in time, when the boys were old enough, they joined him transforming it into a thriving family concern. The boys had each learned different skills. Electrics for Kielijan, plumbing for Mahary while Elek continued the trade learned from his father, carpentry.

Together they they grew what Elek had started as a tiny, backyard business into a successful enterprise, which a few years after the boys joined their father in work outgrew their home and had to move into its own premises.

There was not a big Polish contingent around Milton Keynes, so as Keilijan and Mahary grew up, as well as joining Elek in the family business, they began to date local girls. In time both the boys married. First was the younger Mahary who married Ruth and a year later, Keilijan married Orlah, who had come to Milton Keynes from Ireland.

Not long after the second wedding, Elek died when the floor collapsed in an old house he had been working in, ironically to replace rotten wooden joists to make it safe.

The boys, who now had wives to support, carried on the business bringing in outside carpenters when needed on short term contracts. While the Mazur company supported the boys and their mother it no longer thrived and grew after the death of Elek.

All was not well in the remaining family. The boys had inherited a genetic disorder from their father, Elek. It was never discovered because of his premature, accidental death. So a few years later, it claimed the younger Mahary first and in one more year, Keilijan. Leaving a family of widows to fend for themselves.

At first Orlah and Ruth tried to manage the business, hiring in necessary skills. Slowly orders dried up as it seemed with the death death of the founders the good name was gone, The hired hands, with no stake in the business, were never as conscientious as Elek, Keilijan and Mahary.

To make matters worse, there had been a referendum in the United Kingdom and Nadzia’s adopted home had voted to leave the European Union. She had been in the UK many years and had even applied for and acquired a British citizenship, but after the vote to leave, Brexit as it was being called, Nadzia began to detect an undercurrent of if not hostility, certainly some unfriendliness, where there had been none before.

Nadzia resolved to return to Poland, though it grieved her to leave her daughters-in-law, the only remaining connection to her dead family. With Ruth and Orlah she set about winding up the business and distributing its assets between herself and the two girls. There wasn’t much to share out after settling some outstanding business loans. Terminating the mortgages on their homes, brought in a little extra, from the accumulated equity.

There wasn’t much money but Nadzia thought she had enough to return to Wroclaw, where she hoped she could find work before the money she had set aside to rent a small home ran out. The only thing left to do now before she packed up and left for Poland, was to tell Ruth and Orlah.

When Nadzia explained to Orlah and Ruth her intentions, Orlah decided almost immediately that she would go back to live with her family in Ireland. Ruth seemed unsure what to do for the best and withdrew into herself, while she considered her situation.

Very early the next day, Ruth quietly let herself into Nadzia’s home, she and Orlah both had a key each, and started to prepare breakfast for herself and her mother-in-law. It was almost ready when Nadzia came through the kitchen door. They sat down together for their meal, making desultory conversation, until Nadzia could no longer put off the question unanswered since the day before.

‘What will you do when I return to Poland’ Nadzia asked her daughter-in-law. Ruth slowly raised her eyes from her breakfast plate to meet those of her mother-in-law, holding them in silence for a few seconds before replying ‘I’m coming with you.’

Nadzia looked relieved but still asked why Ruth wouldn’t return to he own family, or stay in England, where she was from. ‘I loved your son and you are the closest I can be to him now he’s gone. Don’t make me stay.’ What about your parents, your mother.’ Nadzia asked. ‘I love them of course I do, but I’ve never been so close to mother as I have become with you. Please, don’t go without me.’

Chapter 2.

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 3rd September 2017

The 12th Sunday of Trinity.

Audio expires after approximately 90 days.

God of grace and Father of life, You sent Your Son to live among us that we might find true and everlasting life in Him. Hear this prayer offered in Jesus name for Your church, Your world and for ourselves.

We give thanks for our clergy, and ministers of the church nationally, internationally and each in our own home towns. We pray for retiring clergy that retirement will bring new opportunities for them as we give thanks for their service.

When Jesus predicted his own death, Matthew tells us that Peter jumps in with both feet saying that isn’t what God would want. Peter presumes to know God’s mind. Father we pray that words we say and actions we do are as You guide us, not what we think or simply say is in Your name.

God of water, Lord of life. You gave us the water which sustains us and in which we are baptised. As Jesus was baptised in the Jordan, so we give thanks for everyone welcomed into Your family today by baptism in a spirit of love and trust.

We pray for our brothers and sisters in Texas, driven from their homes by floods. We pray also for India, Bangladesh, Nepal and Niger, less in the headlines, all suffering flooding of their own, without the massive, modern resources of America to deal with it and the reported over 1200 deaths.

Father God, comfort all who lost someone in floods. We give thanks for those who give aid and shelter until people can return to their homes. Support and strengthen those helping the clean up, that will take months, maybe years.

May the healing power of Jesus fill those hurting in body, mind or spirit. May he take away all that hurts or harms and give peace to those who need it.

Everlasting Father, you call us to live together in unity. Protect and guide all your children, bless our families and renew our communities.

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


Download this prayer.

Eli’s Diary

An alternative telling of God’s call to Samuel.

An extract from the priest Eli’s diary.

Hannah presents her son Samuel to the priest Eli. Gerbrand van den Eeckhout, c.1665

It was a strange night. The boy Samuel kept coming and waking me, saying I’d called him; I hadn’t not once I just wanted to sleep. Three times he woke me. I was getting irritable by the third time. I’d already ticked him off for waking me twice.

The third time the lad Samuel woke me, I’d eventually realised what was going on. The boy had indeed heard a voice but because he couldn’t see anyone, he’d assumed it was my voice. It wasn’t of course. It was the Lord God’s.

When I realised it was God speaking, I was more gentle about sending Samuel away to lie down again. I told him that if he heard the voice again he should say ‘I am listening’ and then to listen carefully to what might be said. After that, to my relief, I was finally able to get a few hours sleep.

In the morning when I called Samuel to me, he came but his manner was not as usual, he was hesitant. He told me that the Lord had spoken to him, but seemed reluctant to say more. I asked him what the Lord had said. I may have been a bit abrupt with the lad. He told me everything after that and no wonder he was reluctant.

The message given to Samuel was about me and my boys. No wonder Samuel was uneasy this morning. My sons would have been the next priests to follow me but they desecrated the temple. There will be retribution on my sons.

Wet Feet

And that sinking feeling.

When Jesus walks out on the water to meet his disciples, as he approaches the boat in which his disciples are already, Peter steps out of the boat to go to meet Jesus. Within a few steps of leaving the boat, Peter begins to sink in the water and calls out “Lord, save me!”

Jesus reached a hand to Peter saying “You of little faith, why did you doubt.” Did peter really deserve what seems to be a rebuke? Was it lack of faith or simple fear that caused Peter to start to sink? Should fear be associated with lack of faith? There is a suggestion, though nothing explicit, that even Jesus was afraid on the night before his crucifixion, when he said “take this cup from me.”

If anyone were to be the one to leave the boat to go to Jesus, it was almost bound to be Peter. He was impetuous, often acting or speaking without thinking first. That doesn’t make him lacking in faith.

In the first place, Peter was brave enough with sufficient faith to get out of the boat, apparently the only disciple to do so. It is evident that Peter did not start to sink immediately, he had taken some steps toward Jesus. Clearly Jesus was more than just an arm’s reach from the boat. It was when Peter noticed the growing ferocity of the storm that he started to sink, I think through fear not lack of faith.

It was Peter’s faith that impelled him to leave the boat to go to Jesus. It was fear that was the cause of starting to sink, then comes a second act of faith which seems to be generally unremarked upon.

As Peter began to sink he called out “Lord, save me.” He could have called out to the other disciples in the boat to throw him a rope, which I suspect is what many people would have done. Peter may have been afraid but he had enough faith in Jesus for him to be who he called on to save him.


Watch out for the crops.

In Matthew 13: 24-30 Jesus tells The Parable of the Weeds, which he then explains in verses 36-43.

The owner of a field has sown a field of wheat and and “enemy” has sown seeds of weed in the field of the wheat crop. “Enemy” is I think perhaps too strong a term. I suggest that business rival, or competitor might be nearer to a correct description.

What is not explicitly stated in the passage in the NIV UK Bible, is that the particular weed sown amongst the good wheat was Darnel, which may also be called Tare. This particular weed looks similar to wheat until it is fully grown. So similar that in some places it is called false wheat.

Darnel is mildly poisonous. It is highly unlikely to kill you if you consume it, but you will feel ill for quite a while.

From the rival farmer’s perspective, that sowed the bad seed, the benefit continues after the season in which the good farmer’s crop is blighted. If the good farmer’s crop mildly poisons someone because of the Darnel, people will be more wary of purchasing from that farmer for a number of years.

When the farmer’s workers discover that the weed Darnel has been sewn with the crop, they ask if they should pull it out. The farmer says no, it is too young to be able to separate it from the good plants. They must wait until it is fully grown to separate the good from the bad.

Jesus explains to his disciples that at the end of the age, when the weeds and crop have grown together, it is possible to separate the good from the bad, the good people from the bad. The bad crop or weeds to be burned.

While not explicitly stated, it seems to me that there is a secondary lesson in that parable. It is found in the action of the farmer letting the crop and weed grow together. By acting too soon the farmer would lose much more of the crop than by waiting, letting the weeds grow amongst it. Patience was needed to know which to keep and which to discard.

God has infinate patience, unlike humankind, who want everything now.

As a minor point of interest to end, I do not think that parable could be applied today, because of the mechanised farming methods. Farm machinery could not, as far as I know, separate the wheat from the darnel.

The Descent From The Cross

Thoughts on the painting by Peter Paul Rubens.

Descent From The Cross by Rubens 1612-1614

Reubens created The Descent From The Cross between 1612 to 1614, as the central panel of a triptych, where it can still be seen in it’s original location the Cathedral of Our Lady, Antwerp, Belgium.

One of the first things that struck me is that all of the figures in Rubens’ picture are fair skinned. It is highly unlikely that this would have been the case, though the two men, I take to be Joseph of Arimathea’s servants, leaning over the cross bar to Lower Christ’s body, do have that swarthy outdoor look about them.

The next thing that caught my attention is the colour of John’s clothing; red the colour of blood. The robe is very close in colour the the blood on Christ’s body, but this in itself I think is the wrong colour. Blood turns darker, almost brown as it dries.

All the characters in Rubens’ picture appear in one of the gospels, though not all in the same gospel. Nicodemus presence in this scene is only recorded in the gospel of John.

Another aspect of the picture that caught my attention is the title, The Descent From The Cross. Particularly the use of “Descent”.

Descent usually means to move down, fall or drop. What we see in Rubens’ picture is not just descent by moving down, but being taken down, or lowered. A physical act by a group of Jesus’ friends, family and followers, not of his own action.

If we think again of descent in a spiritual, instead of physical sense, it might have a different, allegorical meaning. The Apostles Creed tells us that:

He descended to the dead. (In some versions hell, instead of dead)
On the third day He rose again.

So it is possible that the title was a deliberate choice of words, to indicate that the picture is not solely depicting the physical act of taking Jesus down from he cross, so that he could be entombed.