Tag Archives: Christianity

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.

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Weaving

Woven Into The Fabric Of Life.

I heard a remark on the radio, the station and programme is immaterial, about how in some places around the world the religion is “woven into the fabric of daily life”. It was one of those little moments that unexpectedly gave me pause for thought with a big question about my Christianity; how is it woven into the fabric of my daily life.

The answer I got was that it isn’t, at least most of the time it’s not anyway; not to the degree it should be. Sure I observe Sunday’s and worship in Church, and on the weeks I write and read the intercession prayer, I am reminded more of Jesus’ example and teachings as a way to try and live. There are moments throughout every day when I’m reminded of my Christianity, but there are time too when I forget it.

What does, or should, it mean for Christianity to be woven into the fabric of life? I suppose the answer might be different for everyone, and I’d love to know others views.

Perhaps just having asked the question is a small step in the right direction.

For now, I guess I’ll just have to muddle along and pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit.

Prayer

Edited prayer, missed from Sunday 5th June 2016.

Prayer1-1-small.jpgEternal Father, creator of us all, who sent your son amongst us to be the Servant King who showed the way to freedom, help us to become His servants and find the true freedom He offers to all who have faith. Father Hear this prayer that we offer in Jesus name.

We pray for all who are not free, whether their captivity is physical, mental or of the spirit. May national and international leaders work for justice, peace and freedom where there is oppression, intolerance and dictatorship.

We pray Queen Elizabeth II, and remember her quoting her earthly father:

I said to a man who stood at the gate of the year, “Give me light that I may tread safely in to the unknown” and he replied, “Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light , and safer than a known way.”

Let us follow our Queen Elizabeth II’s example, and each of us place our hand into God’s hand.

God of water, Lord of life, we pray for all being baptised today. We welcome them into Your holy family. Bless them and guide them now and throughout their lives that they may thrive.

May we who are Baptised be renewed in our baptismal promises in a spirit of love and trust.

Gracious God, we pray to You to lay your healing touch upon the unwell, the hurt and the injured, whether in mind, body or spirit. Let your healing power flow into them and fill them with renewed life and strength.

May the light of God surround them,
may Your presence enfold them,
and may Your power heal them.

Glorious and gracious Father, as we leave this place, let my ears hear you, let my eyes see You and my heart perceive you and as we feel your presence,
may we dream Your dreams, reflect Your love, do your work and may we taste your peace.

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

Amen

Be Careful What You … Revisited.

PrayerAn update to an earlier post.

By chance I came across the saying ‘Be careful what you wish for’. It is not a new saying and has been around for a long time. I had heard it before but on this occasion it made me pause and think about it a little bit differently. As a Christian it made me wonder if we perhaps need to:

  • Be careful what you pray for.

In the original post, at this point I had said “I think we do, because I think that God always answers prayers.” I am no longer so sure that is correct. That does not imply that I think he ignores any prayer. I think he listens to every one but chooses not to answer some, which is not the same as ignoring them.

Most of the time, I think he answers in ways we do not expect, or see but is that His fault that we don’t get his answers? Almost certainly not. Probably many times when we don’t see or perceive his answer to a prayer, it is because we do not want to or we are scared it might mean us doing something outside of our comfort zone. It is not that we do not want Him to answer, or that we think he has not but it is because we might not like the answer he gives to us.

When we pray for something that God does not do for us or give to us, he may do something else instead. He gives us the opportunity and the ability to do it for ourselves. Maybe we already have the ability, in this case if we are just too lazy, as sometimes happens, to use it, why should He reply? Or if we pray for something selfish or frivolous, again why should He reply?

He may show us how to achieve something we have prayed for, but that does not mean he will do it for us. It is like a teacher in school showing a child, let’s say, maths. The teacher will show the child how to find the answer to the sum or equation, so he can do another one on his own. He will not just give the answer, which teaches the child nothing. God will almost certainly give us the answer to our prayer but does it in a way that teaches us something and serves His great purpose not ours.

We might look at it like a parent teaching a child to ride a bicycle. At first he just watches, while the child wobbles a bit but can’t fall off because the bike has stabiliser wheels; I had them as a child. Later the stabilisers are removed, and the parent holds the back of the saddle running beside the cycling child, With time the parent’s grip is loosened and eventually let go. Sooner or later will come the inevitable fall off the bike, causing bumps bruises and grazes. Painful and sore but not serious.

Sometimes God will let go of us. It’s not that he doesn’t care, or that he is ignoring us. Like the parent trusting their child and letting go sometimes what seems to be unanswered prayer might be God letting go, trusting us knowing there will be a fall but that is a lesson we, like the child, must learn too.

Sometimes we just do not see His answer because we are looking for it in the wrong place, or because we are not really looking at all or it might be that we do not really care that much about what we prayed about: there are a few lines in the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty that makes this point well:

God (Morgan Freeman) has just given Bruce (Jim Carrey) a rosary of prayer beads:

Bruce:-         What do you want me to do?
 God:-           I want you to pray, son. Go ahead. Use them.
 Bruce:-        Lord, feed the hungry. And … bring peace to all of mankind. How’s that?
 God:-          Great. If you want to be Miss America. Now, come on. What do you really care about?
 Bruce:-        Grace.
 God:-           You want her back?
 Bruce:-        No. I want her to be happy. No matter what that means. I want her to find someone to treat her with all the love that she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who’ll see her always as I do now through your eyes.

 God:-             Now that’s a prayer.

Bruce finally understood that the answer to his prayer was within his own ability to achieve, but it meant taking a completely unselfish action himself.

Of course some people do not pray at all.

Maybe because they think their prayers will never be answered.
Maybe because they know the answer will require them to do something themselves.
Maybe they do not pray because they think that there is no God.

Or

Maybe they do not pray because …

they are afraid that there is.

Wash Your Hands

and fold the towel when you’re done.

WashHandsIn Jesus’ time, when a carpenter completed a piece of work, it was fairly common practice for him to wash his hands and then dry them on a linen cloth, which he would leave neatly folded on top of the finished item. It was a way of letting anyone who inspected the object know that it was complete. Jesus was a carpenter, so would almost certainly have been shown this little ritual by his (earthly) father, Joseph.

On the day of resurrection, after Mary had called Peter and John to Jesus’ open tomb, they saw in it that although most of the grave clothes were left where they dropped, the cloth that had covered Jesus’ head in death had been left in its place where his head would have rested.

I wonder if this might have been a sign that Jesus himself was now complete, the finished article? Now he was ready to go to his Father? Maybe his crucifixion wasn’t only to take away the world’s sins, perhaps it was also the last aspect of humanity that Jesus had to experience for God to comprehend the full complexity of his creations and what death means to mankind.

If the folded head cloth was meant as a message, would any of the remaining 11 disciples discern it’s meaning. Five of the disciples’ occupations, before becoming followers, were unknown so one might have been a carpenter. Peter, who saw the folded head covering, had been a fisherman so probably wouldn’t have guessed its significance.

There were also up to five women who visited the tomb, including Mary Magdalene and Mary the mother of James. Even if one of these women had guessed the significance, if any, of the head cloth remaining in its place, would the men give credence to such insight, given women’s place in that society?

I think the act of leaving the head cloth in place, neatly folded might be a metaphor with Jesus’ former carpentry profession; a sign of His completeness and readiness to go home to His, and our, Father.

Intercession Prayer For Sunday 21st June 2015

The 3rd Sunday after Trinity.

Audio prayer: [audio http://jandws.buzzsprout.com/44698/282821-intercession-prayer-for-sunday-21st-june-2015.mp3]

Prayer1-1-small.jpg

Gracious God, Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, we offer you our prayers and praise in word and song in His name. Hear us as we pray in fellowship for Your world, Your church and for ourselves.

You made and gave into our care Your world. You washed it clean with water and made land. You covered it in blue sky and set it in balance and then you made us, and all living things. Father God, forgive us our shortsightedness and folly, neglect and greed as we exploit its resources. Forgive our consumption that is lacking in the compassion that Your Son showed to us.

As Jesus calmed the waters, and so calmed the fears of his disciples in the boat. We ask that you Father, working through our leaders, weather political or of faith, will calm the troubled places of this planet. Send Your Holy Spirit to guide and protect those who would be peacemakers in places like Syria, Iraq and and all the places we have left unspoken or do not know of.

Where aid workers cannot go, or cannot reach, we ask You to give a refuge to the dispossessed, displaced and oppressed and for people fleeing to safety. As they seek a haven for their families and themselves, guide them as they trust in You.

We pray for those not fleeing their homeland but taken or deceived, to be trafficked into slavery, or forced into prostitution. Give them strength to cope and courage to inform the authorities, so that perpetrators will be brought to justice.

We pray for Your church and it’s leaders. Thank you Father for the clergy, lay ministers and all the officers of churches. We pray that your guidance and their support will enable us to expand our mission beyond the walls of our church buildings, extending Your fellowship deeper into local communities.

As the season of exams comes to a close, we pray for the children and young men and women waiting to take exams or having taken them are already awaiting their results, on which their future path in life may depend. Give them patience and peace of mind in the weeks leading up to publication of their grades.

In a week when the National Society for Prevention of Cruelty To Children says there are a lack of resources, we pray for all abused or neglected children. We pray for their safety and well being that they might thrive.

We think of the nine missing children, feared to have been taken by their mothers’ to join the Islamic State, after visiting Saudi Arabia. We pray that they are found quickly and returned to safety.

Loving Father, thank You for saying to us Your words of life, to challenge and inspire us each day in Your holy name. Give us the grace to hear You and to follow where you lead.

Merciful Father, accept this prayer for the sake of your son, our saviour Jesus Christ.

Amen.

Download and print this prayer here.

Be Careful What You …

PrayerBy chance I came across the saying ‘Be careful what you wish for’. It is not a new saying and has been around for a long time. I had heard it before but on this occasion it made me pause and think about it a little bit differently. As a Christian it made me wonder if we perhaps need to:

  • Be careful what we pray for.

I think we do, because I think that God always answers prayers.

Most of the time, I think he answers in ways we do not expect, or see but is that His fault that we don’t get his answers? Almost certainly not. Probably many times when we don’t see or perceive his answer to a prayer, it is because we do not want to or we are scared it might mean us doing something outside of our comfort zone. It is not that we do not want Him to answer, or that we think he has not but it is because we might not like the answer he gives to us.

When we pray for something that God does not do for us or give to us, he does something else instead. He provides us the opportunity and the ability to do it for ourselves. He may show us how to achieve something we have prayed for, but that does not mean he will do it for us. It is like a teacher in school showing a child, let’s say, maths. The teacher will show the child how to find the answer to the sum or equation, so he can do another one on his own. He will not just give the answer, which teaches the child nothing. God will almost certainly give us the answer to our prayer but does it in a way that teaches us something and serves His great purpose not ours.

Sometimes we just do not see His answer because we are looking for it in the wrong place, or because we are not really looking at all or it might be that we do not really care that much about what we prayed about: there are a few lines in the 2003 movie Bruce Almighty that makes this point well:

God (Morgan Freeman) has just given Bruce (Jim Carrey) a rosary of prayer beads:

Bruce:-         What do you want me to do?
 God:-           I want you to pray, son. Go ahead. Use them.
 Bruce:-        Lord, feed the hungry. And… bring peace to all of mankind. How’s that?
 God:-          Great. If you want to be Miss America. Now, come on. What do you really care about?
 Bruce:-        Grace.
 God:-           You want her back?
 Bruce:-        No. I want her to be happy. No matter what that means. I want her to find someone to treat her with all the love that she deserved from me. I want her to meet someone who’ll see her always as I do now through your eyes.

 God:-             Now that’s a prayer.

Bruce knew that the answer to the prayer was within his ability to achieve, but to do so meant taking a completely unselfish action himself.

Of course some people do not pray at all.

Maybe because they think their prayers will never be answered.
Maybe because they know the answer will require them to do something themselves.
Maybe they do not pray because they think that there is no God, or maybe they do not pray because …

they are afraid that there is.