Children do some funny things and some annoying things. One abiding memory of our youngest son comes from the time he was four years old. I really can’t remember what I had done to provoke the outburst but I still remember the result. Our son stood there, pulled up to his full height, small though he was, hands on hips and looked me in the eye and asked in his most challenging tone: “What right do you have to tell me what to do?” I have no idea where he came across such a phrase, even his 14 year old brother had not used that to my knowledge. I didn’t have time to worry about where the question came from. I needed to explain that I actually did have the right to tell our son what to do by virtue of the fact that I was his mother. I’m not sure how happy he was with the answer, but a son who would not accept that I had any authority in his life was going to be a big problem. Our youngest son continued to be the most challenging of all our children. I suppose one answer was not going to address the whole issue. Continue reading
It’s not fair! That must be a cry that has been uttered by children for a very long time. There seems to be an innate sense that things should be fair, and if they are not it’s only right and proper to protest about it.
I forget where I read about a way of avoiding two children arguing over a chocolate bar they were to share. The mum asked one to break the bar and the other to choose the first piece. It struck me as a solution worthy of Solomon. Being seen to be fair is not easy task.
The leaders of North Korea and the USA have been accused of being like kindergarten children as they trade insults. I suppose we all wish they only had the power of kindergarten children also! It strikes me that at the heart of the problem lies the protest ‘It’s not fair!’ so maybe they are indeed responding like small children. From North Korea’s point of view, it’s not fair that the USA can have nuclear weapons but North Korea can’t. I suppose from the USA’s point of view it’s not fair that a leader of a small country can aspire to match the fire power of a superpower. Continue reading
The Church of England has been grappling with the issue of forgiveness in a recent document called ‘Forgiveness and Reconciliation in the Aftermath of Abuse’. The issue of abuse by priests and church organisations is a live one in many denominations. Reports into events from the distant, and not so distant, past have revealed shocking behaviour which seems to bear no relationship to the faith which Christians hold.
This report is trying to address the issue of forgiveness when considering churches which have shared in abuse in some way, those who have abused and those who have been abused. These are very tricky questions to answer. As the chair of the Faith and Order Commission, Rt Rev Christopher Cocksworth, states even though forgiveness is “at the heart of the good news of Jesus Christ” it shouldn’t be used to collude and cover up abuse in the Church and “forgiveness needs to be seen in relation to justice, healing, and repentance”. As you can imagine, in considering the theology which relates to this issue, our Gospel passage for the day is considered.
Forgiveness is a very difficult practice of the Christian life. Our first response, on a human level, is to retaliate if we are hurt by someone else. We might think of it as sticking up for ourselves, not being a doormat that everyone can just walk all over. Forgiving can often seem to be too soft a response to those who have wronged us. Continue reading
For the past few months, nearly every time of prayer on Epiphany has included prayers for peace in the many areas of conflict around the world. Some conflicts seem to have gone on for a very long time. Before they are resolved, new areas are added. So now we have North Korea and Myanmar to add to Syria, Iraq, Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria, etc etc. Things may seem worse than usual currently but I think everyone is aware that conflict and war are a common part of human experience.
In an article in July 2003, Chris Hedges stated that: “Of the past 3,400 years, humans have been entirely at peace for 268 of them, or just 8 percent of recorded history.” He gave the total number of people killed in war as between 150 million and 1 billion and stated that at the beginning of 2003 there were 30 wars going on in the world including: Afghanistan, Algeria, Burundi, China, Colombia, the Congo, India, Indonesia, Israel, Iraq, Liberia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, the Philippines, Russia, Somalia, Sudan, and Uganda.
The Peace Pledge Union goes further with its figures, stating: “It has been calculated that between 3600 BC and today there have been only 292 years of peace; that there have been over 14,500 major wars in which close to 4 billion people have perished.” Continue reading
As a child, I was an avid reader. I remember with great affection the class library at school when I was 10. There was a series of books there from the Oxford Children’s Library which I think I worked through completely in the year I was in that class. I don’t remember most of what I read but I can remember some books written by William Mayne. One was called ‘The World Upside-down’. There was a treasure hunt in that book and it featured a pin-hole camera, or camera obscura. If you don’t remember much about such items from early science lessons, it was a simple device which allows an image to be created on a screen or wall by light coming through a small hole. The image which is seen is upside down. By viewing the world upside-down with this device, the treasure was found. This was my first encounter with a pin-hole camera so perhaps that’s why it made such an impression on me.
I think when we read the New Testament, we come across a way of viewing life that is very much in line with the image from a pin-hole camera. What we see is the world upside-down. If we want to look at the world the right way up, we will not actual find the hidden treasure that Jesus offers us. Only by viewing the world in an inverted way can we succeed. Continue reading
God can seem elusive, so elusive that some of the greatest saints have found themselves feeling completely bereft of his presence, often for long periods of time. On the other hand, God can choose to be present, perhaps too present for comfort at times!
The two Bible passages today concern God choosing to show himself to his followers in the midst of demonstrations of the power of the created world. Continue reading
A few years ago, my husband and I used to host a monthly social event. Around a dozen couples used to attend. We studied the bible together and then enjoyed supper and chat until around midnight. As you can imagine, it would have been quite a challenge to provide food for such a big group of people. To make the catering easier, we provided French bread, butter, cheese and some salad and fruit. Our guests brought food to share.
Everyone really looked forward to those Saturday evenings. The company was excellent. The amount and variety of food was amazing. When supper time came we were spoilt for choice. If you’ve ever been to an event where everyone brings some food I think you will have noticed that there always seems to be far more food than is needed, even if each person only brings a little. There is usually a lot left over. Our children were always eager to see what was in the fridge the next morning as our guests usually generously left any extra for us. Continue reading