Thursday, August 31, 2006

Where are we?

There is a verse which has always (since I first heard it (or, rather, sang it) in Ralph Vaughan Williams' Dona Nobis Pacem) had a certain resonance for me:
Jeremiah 8:20: The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.
(I have linked to The Message, and quoted from The Authorised Version.)

Here in the UK, we are definitely sensing that the summer is over. There is a chill in the air, leaves are changing colour. Soon, we'll be getting up in darkness, eventually getting home from work in darkness. The verse doesn't bite the way it used to. Then I was lamenting my singleness; now I have a family - that makes a huge difference. Life is difficult, but I don't feel, as I did then, that it lacks purpose.

There, I started with a doleful verse, and I seem to have cheered myself up!

Monday, August 28, 2006


I have a son, who is 6 years old; he has plenty of energy, which he doesn't always expend in the most constructive of ways. But, of course, he is my son, and I love him.

I thought that I'd have a look in the Bible for places where God's relationship with us is likened to that of a parent's with his (or her) child. And since I've been reading recently through the book of Malachi, that's where I started. And I came across Malachi 3:17. God says, "I treat them with the same consideration and kindness that parents give the child who honors them." Not quite the unconditional love that some speak of. We should expect respect from our children (seeking, of course, at all times to deserve it).

Monday, August 21, 2006


For various reasons, I've been thinking about conflict - and how to resolve conflicts. I'm not considering deep-seated enmity, rather how people who love each other, but differ on how to tackle a certain problem area, can find common ground, and move forward. But as a commentary on how even long standing disputes can sometimes be ended by the application of kindness, here is the happy ending to a story from the Old Testament (preached on by our minister just yesterday), (quoting 2 Kings 6:23 (Msg), but the link takes you to the whole story):

So he prepared a huge feast for them. After they ate and drank their fill he dismissed them. Then they returned home to their master. The raiding bands of Aram didn't bother Israel anymore.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Law and Grace

Just been reading a poem by Iain Crichton Smith, entitled The Law and the Grace. It makes me think of how the Scots do religion - the minister in his black gown - a sense that God is frowning.

Does God sometimes smile? But is it always through the gloom and the rain?

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

First love

When John warns the Ephesians that - you walked away from your first love - I have had a picture of someone whose initial enthusiasm for the faith has worn off - the honeymoon period is over. But I learnt this morning that most scholars believe that the love referred to is for one another - that the members of this church no longer love each other as they used to.

Love for God, love for Jesus, love for my brothers and sisters in the faith - all, of course, are interlinked. And feelings do rise and fall. Also, initial impressions don't always last. I find myself coming back to the need to think of love, not as an emotion, but as determination - to go on loving - to go on desiring the best for the beloved.

But what about realism? What about discovering that the effusive welcome one received when one joined a particular church doesn't go deep? What about common sense?