Friday, 16 November 2018

Significance of the 'small'

We greet people in a number of ways.  Verbally we might say ‘hello’ – a younger generation than me usually opts for ‘Hi guys’!! Physically we might wave, smile, shake hands or even hug.

When people wore hats more regularly than they do now, one sign of respectful greeting was to ‘doff your cap’!

There is a story from South Africa that goes like this.

One day a white Anglican priest was walking through Soweto and upon passing a young boy out walking with his mother, the priest doffed his clerical hat to the lady.

The young lad was so impressed at such a show of respect to his mum that he subsequently joined the priest’s church and eventually submitted himself for ordination.

The priest was Trevor Huddleson and the young lad was Desmond Tutu.

History was changed because of this respectful greeting.  Small gestures go deep.

In our everyday lives we can offer those small words of encouragement and we can show routine acts of kindness.  Such a way of living, bit by bit, builds an atmosphere in a family, community or church, of trust and integrity in which life can flourish. There is, and always has been, a great significance in the ‘small’.  

Thursday, 8 November 2018

Remembering Together

One of the most precious memories I have of this year is from our visit to Hauke, our former Time for God volunteer, and his family in Lower Saxony during the late summer.

One of the many excursions planned for us was to the town of Ham
elin, famous for its Pied Piper.  We followed a modern day, story-telling Piper around the city and at one point in the tour Hauke’s father pulled me back to show me some brass squares embedded in the cobbled streets outside the ancient houses.  He told me, in a quiet, dignified and non-sentimental way, that these brass squares represented the Jewish families who once occupied the adjacent houses.  Families which had been taken to a concentration camp and eventually murdered in World War Two.  He said these brass squares of remembrance were now common throughout Germany, marking the homes of Jews who lost their lives in the Holocaust.  When he finished speaking, when no more words were necessary between us, he took my arm and I patted him on the back. We both knew we had spoken of deep things.

Hauke’s grandparents and parents have now spent over sixty years between them seeking to build friendship and mutual respect between our two nations – a process that continued throughout 2017 – 18 with Hauke’s time with us here at AFC. 


In Hamelin we ‘remembered together’ – such acts of friendship are precious beyond words, and pray God, make our world a more Christ-like place.


Thursday, 1 November 2018

Happy All Saints Day

There was a moment last night at the manse when we really didn’t know if we should answer the knock at the door.  It being Halloween we had already given out copious sweets to our Trick or Treaters and now we had hardly any left.  What if we opened the door to more children than we could treat?

However, we did let our next callers in as they were members of the Life and Faith Group meeting at our house last evening – and none of them thankfully asked for sweets!

So, yesterday’s All Souls Day is followed by today’s All Saints.  Combine that with Remembrance Sunday in just over a week and this season of the year really does feel like one of reflection and contemplation.

Last evening, in one of those wonderful ‘coming together’ moments, we were looking at a chapter in Bishop John Pritchard’s book, Something More, all about the rites of passage: Hatches, Matches and Dispatches.

We talked a bit, at the bidding of our author, about how it has felt for people who have had ‘near death’ experiences – which, indeed, some in the group have had.  There seems to be a common experience that after such a close brush with death – life is cherished and valued as never before. 


On Sunday I’ll be preaching from that story of Jesus at the tomb of Lazarus.  It’s from that narrative that we come across those great words of hope from our Lord when he said:  I am the resurrection and the life…

God is the life giver and his gift of life is for both sides of the grave.  
Those who have been to the edge of their own tomb seem to universally come away ‘changed’ and consequently seem to have a deeper appreciation of the daily joy of living.  We can surely learn much from their experience and join them in celebrating the life that is already ours, even as we give thanks, on a day such as this, for those we love who now dwell upon a distant shore living in the nearer presence of a God of love and life.

Significance of the 'small'

We greet people in a number of ways.  Verbally we might say ‘hello’ – a younger generation than me usually opts for ‘Hi guys’!! Physicall...