Sunday, August 29, 2021

Hearing yourself

I sometimes wonder about the strange items that creep into my blog.  When I was working full-time material was a-plenty...but in retirement consistency has gone AWOL.   Anyway, my son who teaches radio informed me during his stay that, over six years of interviewing Carol and me for an audio family history, my voice has been weakening. 'It's so much weaker than it was at the beginning Dad- I really notice it!'

Puzzled that it should be so obvious I did some research.  Our church website keeps recordings of sermons and I thought I would listen to my last sermon to check this deterioration. (I confess that listening to myself is one of my least favourite activities and I have not checked out any of these recorded sermons).  Well, you can imagine my surprise when I found this sermon on 'Blessed are the persecuted' only to hear an unrecognizable voice in an amusing cartoonish high register.  A little like Mickey Mouse.  Had the recording been mysteriously speeded up? Or maybe, it's a true record of how I truly sound in full flow?

It's all added up to a chastening experience.   The web site notes a number of downloads the sermon was supposed to have received yet there have been no whispers among church listeners that my voice sounds different.  Is this a tell tale sign about genuine listeners?

Carol tells me that my voice is definitely weaker but not higher.   So I shall have to settle for that.    

Monday, August 23, 2021

Making plans

Two years ago, when we saw our son Rob and his family in England we had plans to see them the following year in the US.  We booked flights for the following Easter in 2020.  Do you remember how the world booked, diary filled.  Done.  'Now I have a word for you, who brashly announce, "Today-at the latest, tomorrow-we're off to such and such a city..."  You don' t know the first thing about tomorrow.(Jas. 4:13 The Message). How much we have been reminded by Covid 19 that we don't know the first thing about tomorrow.

Anyway, this past week Rob flew over to us for six action-packed days.  Hurray! He took 6 Covid tests in order to obey government regulations!  Once here, with great caution, he met up with family and friends for some delightful times.  I know many separated from family overseas will understand our joy. Sadly, he was alone and the whole process was messily complicated by these tests and then Hurricane Henri as he journeyed home today.  Sadly too, his basement is flooded owing to said hurricane so it will be a sober homecoming.

Our paid fares become void next March so who knows when we shall be able to travel safely to see our US family. So no brash announcements.  As James writes: 'Instead, make it a habit to say, "If the Master wills it and we're still alive, we'll do this or that (verse 15).  Yes, if the Master wills it.  A good reminder wouldn't you say?

Monday, August 16, 2021

Loosening a good habit

Recently, a minister friend shared how he feared that Covid 19 had loosened some people's desire to be together in church.  'I worry that some people may not want to come back', he said.

Also recently I dipped into one of the many old books of sermons (often flowery and wordy) I possess in which John Hutton wrote of the Christian Community:

There is one thing about which the New Testament is decisive and incontrovertible - that Jesus founded a Church.  It was formed and stands by the operation of two great movements, brought together by the force, first, of a great love, and, second, of a great terror. The warm love to Christ and the terror of deep darkness, the awful sense of what a thing life is if Christ be not true.

It seems to me....that the whole art of life, the whole art of living, believingly and joyfully, the whole art of recovering our confidence in the Church of Christ in this world, is by knowing where to put the accent between these two great moments. There are times when it encourages us...for what a place of love, of kindness, of tenderness, the Church with all her shortcomings is! Where else in this hard world are the poignant sorrows of the human heart honoured with such understanding? What a forlorn thing this life of ours would be if the Church, and all that it stands for would be eliminated or withdrawn!

This is worth a pause.  How forlorn is it to loosen the good habits of church?  




Wednesday, August 11, 2021


Sometimes in church something grabs you spiritually.  Words stun by their appropriateness. The Holy Spirit propels them to hit the target.   On Sunday prayers were led by our new youth co-leader.  Carefully she led us through praise and intercession into a final prayer.  It's called the Prayer of Relinquishment - and how radical it is.  Perhaps you have said it before.

Today, O Lord, I yield myself to you. 

May your will be my delight today.

May your way have perfect sway in me.

May your love be the pattern of my living.

I surrender to you

my hopes,

my dreams,

my ambitions.

Do with them what you will, when you will, as you will.

I place into your loving care

my family,

my friends,

my future.

Care for them with a care that I can never give.

I release into your hands

my need to control,

my craving for status,

my fear of obscurity.

Eradicate the evil, purify the good, and establish your

kingdom on earth.

For Jesus’ sake,


Richard Foster wrote:  It is the prayer of relinquishment that moves us from the struggling to the releasing…this prayer is a bona fide letting go, but it is a release with hope… God is not destroying the will but transforming it so that…we can freely will what God wills.”  How much difference this prayer has made to my week.

Friday, August 6, 2021

Oddities 3: Winnie the Pooh - Rabbit's positives.

 Christopher Idle also highlights certain marks that demonstrate that Rabbit is a committed Baptist.

He loves organizing people.  He enjoys passing Rissolutions (signed Rabbit) and having what he calls a Busy Day.  Reviews of Resources, Five-year Plans, Mission Statements all these are clearly up Rabbit's street or down his burrow.   Imagine what the others would make of it all.  Pooh might rub his nose in a thoughtful sort of way.  Piglet wonder if they were among the Fiercest Animals while Eeyore muttered: 'Not that it will do any good any of it'.   Rabbit has already masterminded his eleven-point plan for capturing Baby Roo; his greatest Busyness is on 'Just the day for Organizing Something...or for Seeing What Everybody Else Thought About It', In other words a Denominational Consultation.

2. The Washing.  Rabbit really believes in it. When the great flood comes Rabbit is the first to be immersed. When Pooh get's wedged in Rabbit's front door it reminds us how washing remains the Way In, which for Anglicans is a sticking point.  True Kanga washes too but more in the form of obsessive repeated rituals, involving Roo.

3. Innumerable Friends and Relations who represent all the sub-division, splits, persuasions and separations within the Baptist world.  This is the most conclusive evidence.   These include some exotic titles such as Alexander Beetle, Henry Rush, Early and Late, Small and Smallest-of all.  These names speaks of an extended family. Some of the Friends are not really Relations and many of the relations are certainly not Friends.

Denominations are no longer as prominent in much 21st century church life but his reflections on Pooh gives amusing insight.  I guess that's why I kept this article.