Time

mv5bzgnkm2mwndatogewmc00zmu0lwfinmmtytllngq2yzdjztvmxkeyxkfqcgdeqxvynzc5njm0na-_v1_A few years ago I wrote about time in the context of chronos and kairos, human time and God’s time.

I recently read what is probably one of the earliest stories about time travel, H. G. Wells novella, The Time Machine, published in 1895, from which I’m adding some thoughts.

Time is a human measurement, based on natural phenomena. The time the earth takes to travel around our sun is an (almost) fixed period. But the hours in a day are a human derivation. All of which might be completely arbitrary to God, for whom time is probably meaningless.

When the Time Traveller (he is unnamed but for this epithet in the original story) arrives in the year 802,701, his first impression might be described as a kind new Eden, or at least a heavenly place. The young population seems well provided for with no need to work. Their food and clothing are provided, there is no learning and are no scholars, there seems no need for them. They spend all their time relaxing and playing. That initial impression impression of the time traveller doesn’t last long

What the time traveller finds, once he begins to look a little closer at the future society he has landed in, is a world where there are signs of decay and atrophy all around. Humanity has degenerated to become lazy and indolent. With nothing to strive for, humanity has stagnated.

Worse. In the millennia since the time traveller activated his time machine and left victorian england, the humans in this false Eden have become like farmed animals, bred for a purpose. Time has turned the humans the traveller meets into domesticated herds of food, bred to feed the Morlocks, formerly human now a sub-human species living underground. How the Morlocks evolved is not explained in the original story (though an attempt is added in the 1960 film).

What crossed my mind as the story unfolded was the contrast with elements of biblical text. Jesus is the Good shepherd, caring for his flock and in turn after his ascension the flock must learn to care for one-another.

In Well’s story the flock has divided somewhere in the intervening years. What once might have been a shepherd class, caring for their flocks, have become subverted; breeding the flocks for their own use. They have become cannibals.

The Bible also tells of “a new heaven and a new earth”.But what at first appears heavenly could be deceptive, as we see looking deeper than the time travellers initial impressions of the distant future human society imagined in Wells’ novella.

 

Intercession Prayer for Sunday 4ht June 2017

Pentecost

Updated following the events in London on the evening of Saturday 3rd June 2017

Heavenly and glorious Father, You sent Your Son to be our shepherd and saviour, to show us the way to You. Thank you for bringing us together as Your church. Hear this prayer on the day of Pentecost, that we offer in the name of Jesus Christ.

On the first Pentecost, You sent Your Holy Spirit like tongues of flame, and in the presence of the spirit all those present with different languages understood one-another. There are still many languages today as then, but only two are universal. The language of love and the language of hate. Father teach us to speak only the language of love.

We pray for our coming General Election. Let us vote with consideration of what is in the best interests of all, not just our own individual wants. Father guide the government elected to implement the policies that are necessary, not just those that are popular. We pray for our politicians to govern with honesty and integrity.

Father God, comfort those who have suffered loss or injury, especially in the bomb blast in the Afghan capital Kabul, this week. Strengthen and guide the emergency services and workers bringing aid and relief to the injured and maimed. Safeguard from anxiety those handling the bodies of the dead.

We give thanks for the fast response of our security services to the unprovoked attack on civilians in London, on London Bridge and in the surrounding area. Let us seek only justice, not revenge which leads only to more violence.

We pray for our Brothers and sisters of other faiths. Help us to see the elements of truth and justice in beliefs that might be different from our own. Inspire us to act towards those who seek You under other names, in the same way as we act towards each other.

Father whose love is wider, deeper and stronger than our imagination can comprehend, we pray to You for the sick and injured. Send Your breath of life to restore and heal those in need. Comfort and support the ill, guide and support those who care for them and hear the the unspoken words of our own hearts.

God of all blessings, thank you for the gift of life, for the air we breathe and the food that sustains us. For the love of family and friends and the mystery of creation. For the beauty and joy we find in You and for the hope You give for the future.

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

Amen.

Angels

Are they with us today?

Angel by Abbott Handerson Thayer (1849–1921)

It is funny how sometimes a few words said, or read at the right time can spark a train of thought. “whilst Sandy was struggling in a cruel east wind to keep her tent from blowing away, she was joined by Penelope, who believed that angels lived amongst us“, from Sue Townsend’s book The Woman Who Went To Bed For a Year, inspired these thoughts.

Lots of people have lots of different ideas about angels. One of the more popular, perhaps the most popular is of divine, benign beings with wings. There are references to them in the bible. They also appear in many old and new stories and classic and contemporary art. One of my favourites is John Collier’s picture, Annunciation.

I do not expect to find any actual angels (with wings?) living amongst us today, though I do not dismiss the possibility. I do think that angels, or maybe I should more accurately say angelic people are amongst us. People we think of as angels, or acting like we imagine angels might act. And, of these angels I have personal experience.

Regular readers might remember me writing in 2016 about an emergency admission to Bristol Eye Hospital. I was admitted again in May 2017, with the same trouble in my other eye. Once againMy Other Familyrallied around.

The kindness of my friends is how I imagine the kindness of angels to be.

One stayed overnight with my wife while I was an in patient, and helped in many ways after my discharge (I’m still under hospital care as I write but no longer an in-patient). I’ve had meals cooked, been taken shopping and to the hospital for follow up appointments, while I can’t drive. I’ve had the bed stripped and re-made, while I’m not supposed to do anything strenuous, and my dog walked.

So do angels live amongst us? In literal terms, of the popular conception, probably not though we can’t be sure. In allegorical terms, yes there are angels amongst us, some of the unlikeliest kind. These are mine.

Once again, my heartfelt thanks for the blessing I received, and
I am still receiving as I write, from all who came to my aid.

In The Beginning Was the Word

So be careful what you say.

WordsThe title to this post, is the first words in John’s gospel in The Bible (NIV). The first verse goes on to say “and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In biblical terms they refer to all creation coming into being at God’s word. Yet as important as these words are to Christian belief, I hope to explore them a little more in the human not the religious context.

Words are important. Without words there would be no language and without language, no, or exceedingly limited, communication. Wars start with words and we make peace with them. Words are what we live by. Our first words to someone can lead to a friendship, or a division if we say the wrong thing.

Contracts are written with words and yet it is often what we say to each other that are more important and more likely to be remembered, than the words we write down on a piece of paper, or a virtual piece of paper, such as the screen you are probably reading this on.

If we say to someone we will do something and then fail to do it if we are able, we have not kept our ‘word’; we have no integrity. What we say to each other is more important than any legal document. There is a wonderful couple of lines in a scene from the iconic 1960 western film, The Magnificent Seven, that makes the point. Chris and Vin are discussing leaving the Mexican village they have been protecting:

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.

 The words we say to someone can lift them up, or bring them down. Make someone laugh or make someone cry. Carefully chosen words can be mighty and poorly chosen can make the speaker look stupid, or ignorant, sometimes both.

Words can be true or false. Truth or lies. Some words that are false, or if we use them in storytelling we might call them fiction, can still carry a truth within the story. Jesus parables might be one example of this.

Just like God when He initiated the creation in which we live, everything today created or developed by human beings begins with words, so we need to be more careful how we use them.

“Words are, of course, the most powerful drug
used by mankind.” – Rudyard Kipling