Go mbeannai Dia duit.

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Quaker by conviction, mother by default, Celticst through love, Christ follower because I once was lost but now am found...

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

God's Brag Book.

Ye search the scriptures, because ye think that in them ye have eternal life; and these are they which bear witness of me; ~ John 5:39

I love how when God develops a theme He makes sure I get His point.

Recently I've started thinking of the Bible as God's Brag Book.  No, seriously.  Exactly like those little books proud parents drag round full of random snaps of their kids.

I have excellent teachers.  It is not their fault that what my mind has fastened onto is the trivia, the incidentals, the weird.  I have the big picture, being a big picture thinker & all.  What I am enjoying is colouring it all in.  It's along the lines of wandering round, as you do, with the jig~saw pieces that won't fit anywhere in your hand & every so often you take them out, look at them, study the big picture, fiddle about for a bit then someone goes, "Oh, that belongs here!" & pops it into its spot & suddenly all the next pieces go flashing into place as well.

Anyway we have been paddling through the O.T ~ which is cool but O.T you know, & I've heard about the Red Sea parting all my life & how the Jews made a golden calf while Moses was up the mountain talking with God.  I knew about the brass serpent [& how seriously weird is that story?] & I was like, Where is the relevance for me?  Now I get the big picture, remember?  But what's with all the details?

You all being so clever & well instructed & practical  probably have this already but I did not ~ which is what I get for sticking my head in the clouds & my nose in a book.  The exodus from Egypt is a story within a story.  This is extreme metaphor.  How did I ever miss this?

The story of the exodus is a metaphor for the Christian journey.  We are released from the slavery to sin by the shed blood [the Passover Lamb], walk through the sea of baptism [cross the Red Sea], get taught the word of God [Mt Sinai] & are brought to the very outskirts of Kadesh Barnea.  It was from here the spies were sent out to survey the Promised Land, remember?  So 2 things, because just like the Israelites this is where the majority of Christians falter: We have to coss the Jordan [the 2nd baptism, the baptism of the Holy Spirit] & enter in trusting in the Promises of God.  And just like the Israelites so many of us hang back & go ~ Not possible.  The land is inhabited by Giants.

Oh, & that snake story!  Well, in order to drape a snake over anything, even a brass snake, you really need a cross piece on your pole.  And if you put a cross piece on a pole what do you have?  I know!!!  It makes me happy! A picture of sin nailed to the cross. * Dancing a little jig here.*

And some trivia just because it amuses me:  There is a a natural geological land bridge at just one place in the Red Sea, which is actually quite deep, sitting as it does in the Red Sea Rift, which is part of the Great Rift Valley.  And then there is Jabal al~Lawz with it's charred mountain top & it's verbal history amongst the locals that Moses camped here with his Israelites.  Just as the bible says. Not everyone agrees with this theory; surprise me, but there is good evidence for it & it is in this area the underwater land bridge crosses over. The link is quite long but it covers all the points in detail, including the land bridge.  Interesting stuff.

Then there is the extra I learnt metaphorically about Abraham & Isaac.  See, this works for me in a deep & profound way, in a way just the stories do not.  This stuff anchors me deep & roots my faith like the cedars of Lebanon.

One:  Genesis 22:2 is the first place in the bible the word love is mentioned ~ & it is in relation to a Son of Promise!

Two: He had wood; wood is always symbolic of the cross.

Three: He had fire [the Holy Spirit] Interestingly the fire is not used but also there is the donkey & the burden bearer also represents the Holy Spirit.

Four: & this should just blow your mind considering what Abraham is there to do!  verse 5. We will worship & then we will come back to you!  Not I; We.

Five: Guess who carries the wood? Yep, the Dearly Beloved Son.

six: Moriah is part of a mountain range of which Golgotha is part & guess how high it is. 777 feet, & 7 is the number of perfection!  Repeated here 3 times, representing the trinity! 

Gosh I love this stuff!

And the best bit:  It is here, in this particular story, you see God snap shut the door on Satan legally.  Due to the terms of covenant what is demanded of one party can be demanded of the other.  Without this Satan could legally claim God wasn't playing fair by sending His son.  Because of the covenant terms, because Abraham met the terms, God was legally required to reciprocate & so could send His son to redeem us ~ & there wasn't a thing Satan could do about it!!!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Friday, April 20, 2012

The good, the bad & the ugly.

“Reality continues to ruin my life.” ~ Bill Watterson

New beginnings, different paths.   Life is galloping along at a frentic rate but I have survived.  I am very tired.  Too many late nights & early mornings.  The late nights are fine ~ my sleeping pattern being what it is ~ but the early mornings!  Well, actually, it's not the mornings so much as the mid~morning when my body suddenly decides it's had enough & it is definitely nap time.  As I am in class then that's not so good!

The house is ugly.  It has rained all week.  The washing piled up in the bathroom.  The washing piled up in the sink.  The cats piled up around their people.  When I did not come home with Dino Wednesday Marlow just about took people out in his dismay.  Then, we missed our usual boat.  There is nothing rattier making than seeing the boat lights disappear down the channel & knowing you've just missed a boat with an hour to wait till then next one.  We rarely miss boats these days but some things are beyond our control.

So this morning I began the washing.  Four loads down, one to go.  Star & I made trifle.  I was generous with the alcohol.  The kitchen is clean ~ or more precisely, I can see the bench tops!  I poisoned the rampant weeds, for which I am technically not responsible but if I don't do it they invade our property.  I trimmed the mock orange blocking the light into the kitchen window.  Now I am too tired to think straight I'm about to start my homework. Ho~hum.  I can remember doing this in high school ~ & uni.  You would think I'd've move on but apparently some things don't change.  Looks like coffee to midnight runs are still the in thing.

Am I enjoying it all?  Early days.  Honestly I'm not sure just yet.  I really love the teaching from this man  ~ he's covering the O.T history.  I know lots of it already but it falls nicely in my comfort zone & his teaching style suits me.  We are doing healing ~ waaay outside my comfort zone.  I leave that to my friend, Seeking.  And we are looking at covenants ~ I knew the meaning but tracing it through from beginning to end is proving enlightening.  The teaching style doesn't suit me so well but, so far, this is not proving to be a difficult subject. We conferenced with Mark Hankin for the beginning of the week.  Amazing speaker but I really don't think I've retained all that much.

The hardest thing for me is how noisy it all gets.  I know.  What a thing to whinge about but I dread praise & worship times.  It gives me a headache ~ on a bad day a full blown migraine.  And yes, I know all about David leaping about singing & praising God & what happened to Michal for complaining about his antics.  It still gives me a headache.  I have no idea how one worships like this.

I am going to talk about Abraham soon.  I finally understand what he & God were doing in the wilderness.  It makes me happy.

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Hear ye, hear ye....

The Vocal Manouevres'  Heavensong performance at St Stephen's, Brisbane, was taped.  The tapes are being cleaned up at present ~ cars, sirens, that sort of thing, & eventually part thereof will go up on youtube.  All the choirs have had a chance to listen to the raw sound during rehearsals this week & if I do say so myself we are awesome.  I will post a link as soon as I have one so stay tuned!

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Speak to me of your salvation.

There is no salvation in becoming adapted to a world which is crazy ~ Henry Miller.

Do you remember the day you got saved?  The year?  The month?  Perhaps the very hour?

I don't have a clue.  For me it has been a long slow process, complicated by the church I grew up in which does not strongly teach  a salvation doctrine.  Oh, it's there.  It's not that deranged, but it is wrapped up in things like baptism & confirmation without a strong emphasis on repentance & the new man, never mind the poor old Holy Spirit.

When I began delving into these things for myself  I was hugely frustrated.  I read from the scriptures that it was possible to really know God, better even than Abraham, Jacob, Issac ~ or even Moses!  The problem was I didn't know a single church where the power of God was evident.  Oh, I knew individuals ~ though rarely well~ but church!  What a dreary wasteland of doctrine that proclaimed the power of God but denied its reality.  And it wasn't for want of looking.  I took my degree at USQ where there are more churches per square yard than just about anywhere else in Australia.

What is a girl to do?

Being me I went to the bookstore.  There was only one in town at the time & it was pretty much establishment stuff but eventually I came across one or two books that suggested the gifts of the spirit were not confined to preaching, teaching [men only, please] or helps.   I read about the baptism of the Holy Spirit.  I was confused.  I thought there was only one baptism for the remission of sins.  Actually I think it's an apalling choice of words but hey, what do I know?

And being me I did not go looking for someone who might know something about this.  I didn't even go looking for a church where the gifts were in evidence.  I probably wouldn't have recognized it if I'd fallen headfirst into one.  Nope.  I read & I read & I read.  When I thought I understood what they were talking about I began experimenting ~ & we do all remember I'm much better at the theory than the practicalities, don't we?

Somewhere along the way, more by the grace of God than good management on my part, I recieved the gift of tongues.  I flipped because there was no interpretation & I was worried that Satan was counterfeiting.  Honestly, I shouldn't be let loose on my own.  So I had a gift I almost never used.  To say nothing of the fact Dearest wasn't on board at all & we were both, by then, accutely aware, of the misuse of the charismatic gifts in multiple churches.

Much, much later, having found what I needed in the silence of Quaker worship & learnt much better how to hear from God a dear friend prayed for me & I was able to accept God's gift with graciousness for what it is ~ & if I start getting insecure the interpretation is there.

Just the same I have never been drawn to charismatic churches.  I am a quiet person.  I like snuggling in quietly with God, just Him & me, alone in the silence.   I can get along very nicely without all the bibbing & bobbing & shouted Halleluias, thank you very much.  I get lost & overwhelmed in large charismatic churches.

For me the issues of repentance, the new birth, the evidence of tongues were personel experiences that took place out of the limelight over a long period of time.    They are part of my journey towards knowing God ~ & truth be told, I am still more than a little leery of the exuberiant public spectacle evident in so many charismatic churches. 

 I can't put my finger on an exact date, or hour, when I was born again.  I know I have, at different times, gone through all the steps, though not necessarily in the right order [is there a right order?]  I know God's Spirit dwells within me.  I know I am walking towards that which I have always earnestly desired, intimacy with God; it is the journey, not the destination.  Thus there has never been any conflict between the charismatic & my Quaker expression of my faith.

And then, then!  Rhema wanted to know the when.  As if without an exact date it never happened.  Ummmm, I don't do numbers, people.  I tend to be more than a little vague about exact details.  So, because, like my cats, I am insatiably curious, who knows exactly when they were born again?  Saved, if you prefer that term.  My ear is open like a greedy shark...[Gosh that's an awful quote!  So awful it's unforgettable!]

Friday, April 13, 2012

Although my royal rank causes me to doubt whether my

kingdom is not more sought after than myself, yet I

understand that you have found other graces in me.  ~ Elizabeth I

You ever read a book that makes you hopping mad with steam coming out your ears?  I got me one of those.

I am reading Gregory's The Virgin's Lover ~ awful title.  It sounds completely disreputable  ~ which is not so far off the mark.  Ok, so the daughter of Henry Tudor & Anne Bolyn was hardly likely to be chaste & I certainly knew the rumours about Robert Dudley & Elizabeth before I began ~ & certainly Elizabeth's vanity was obsessive, to say the least, but despite the fact Elizabeth was a Tudor with all the Tudor faults [the temper, the libido, the arrogance, the vanity] I always had rather a soft spot for her as a clever young woman who survived the court intrigue ~ including the whole country's mad desire to marry her off to anyone who would have her! 

 I do not like Gregory's Elizabeth.  She is snivelling.  Vapid.  Wishy~washy.  Even given how young she was, how tenuous her position, how insecure & that historical documents do portray Elizabeth in this less than flattering light during the early years of her reign, she was possibly the best educated woman in all of Europe & it beggars belief  that she was as gullible as Gregory portrays her.  On the other hand I could well believe she played her court like a court musician!

Then there is Dudley & a smarmier, more ambitious man it would be hard to find.  No woman in their right mind would trust him with their heart for a moment.

To say nothing of Dudley's wife, Amy, who is portrayed as quite the wrong wife for him: small minded, tedious & bourgeoisie.

There isn't a likable character amongst the lot of them.

But what really gets me wild is the backdrop because this is the England left divided by Catholic Mary & the nominally Protestant Elizabeth, with Edward briefly thrown in for good measure; a land where you could lose your head for believing the wrong thing; a land where one's religion could make you lethal enemies,  lose fortunes, cost whole inheritances.  You would think people would have a greater care for their immortal souls.  Their shennanigans make the 21st century look like a toddler's day out.  Yes, I know they didn't have access to a bible but they did have access to the Holy Spirit.  What were they thinking?!

Meanwhile, over in Spain, they're fanning the flames of the Inquisition...

All this in the name of God.  Give me a good Pagan any day!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Struck by the Spirit.

I'm always trolling for trivia. ~ Lynne Abbey

I'm sure something important got taught this week.  Something deep ~ profound even.  I think I missed it.  What my brain has retained is the trivia of small things.

From Genesis 1 ~ 11 covers 2000 years. Adam could have talked to Noah's father.  See, I don't do numbers & all those big improbable ones made no sense until it was pointed out these lives actually overlapped. This is important as things about God got passed directly, straight from the horse's mouth, so to speak.  The Chinese character for boat is vessel  with 8 people = ark.  There are 2 Greek words for *Time* [don't you hate English sometimes?; it really muddies the waters]: kyross [like moed & meaning appointed time] & kronoss [sequential time.]  I think my spelling may be a little odd on these.  Man's length of days shall be 120 years not 3 score & 10.  Yes, it's there in Genesis 6:3.  The other is referencing the Israelites wanderings in the desert from the Psalm of Moses.    During the time of Peleg God divided the continents.

I am pretty predictable. My head may already be crammed full of absolute trivia but I can always make room for more.  I am really enjoying the teaching from this man ~ on O.T history.  We are also considering covenants ~ which I know a bit about so feel secure enough there but healing is another matter.  I've come in very late & not being from a charismatic background am foundering a little with the theology of it but it will sort itself out.  It doesn't help I don't have much interest in healing.  It is always the practical things that are my undoing.  So long as we stick to the theory I'm just fine! Or trivia.  I'm real good with trivia!

What has been really wonderful, remembering I've had a lot of experience with the other sort of Christians, is that when I got asked why I was starting early & I had to 'fess up it was because I got directed to, I was absolutely, totally 100% believed & they believe, as I do, that God will provide the money.  Just as well as it is all still tied up!!!

Which is all very well & good but I have no real idea why God wants me there.  Do I even want to know?  Possibly not.  I probably wouldn't like the answer.  I'm such a good little ostrich.  My head is firmly in the sand!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The silence from here is deafening, isn't it.  There is a reason for that.  Not only do I have a head cold, God put on the accelerant & I started college on Tuesday.  That gives me a week to sort of get a grip on things before Star starts schooling again.  You have no idea how insane I feel. You have no idea how insane the cats are being.  Star feels deserted.  The business, which we need to support all the insanity, exploded.  Lurching.  I do hope God knows what He's doing!  I mean, He's dealing with me, right.

And today's great quote:  You can lead an atheist to evidence but you can't make them think!

Monday, April 9, 2012

It doesn't matter which side of my family you look at , it is only good for 2 things: farming ~ or seafaring.  My father managed to do both over the course of a long life.   He grew up in the heartland of market gardening & as his sister was later to remember, if an unusual plant was to be found in the district it would be found in their father's garden.  Of another relative it was said she gardened all morning ~ & read all afternoon.  [I'd take that any day!]

My father was the youngest of 4 boys & an older sister.  The boys were considered rather wild though it was Shirl who took out Dad's teeth with an axe!  Eventually  Dad & his brother, Merv, bought a cattle property together.  Bega is still in the family ~ not our bit of it, sadly.  The house is a lovely old queenslander nestled amongst the hills west of Brisbane with bits of the family scattered here & there about the district.

We headed out to Bega on Saturday to celebrate a cousin's wedding anniversary.  Star, of course, has been several times, but Dino was away while Lib was working out that way so this was his first visit to a place everyone who knows it is very fond of.

The other thing my family does well ~ at least those who have the gift ~ is music.  My cousin, Peter, has a fine tenor voice & has sung at family dos for decades.  Saturday was no exception.  He's very casual & serenaded everyone perched on Bega's verandah rail while the little kids scooted down the ramp on the trike.
 Girl cousins are a little thin on the ground in Star's generation but she did catch up with my brother's girl.  We had to prise them apart in the end.

It was a beautiful day & we had a lovely time ~ as one does at these things.

Friday, April 6, 2012

Where was I?

"Passover has a message for the conscience and the heart of all mankind. For what does it commemorate? It commemorates the deliverance of a people from degrading slavery, from most foul and cruel tyranny. And so, it is Israel's - nay, God's protest against unrighteousness, whether individual or national." Morris Joseph

Last year we celebrated with Liddy.  I thought I had done a pretty good job of teaching my kids but doing a Passover Seder raised so many questions, explained so many things that really only make sense in light of O.T understanding, & drove home the point that you can teach something ad infinitum but that doesn't mean it has sunk in.

Last year was something of an experiment ~ & as is always the case it felt awkward & unweildy & raw & too new to fit well.  The Seder was completely unfamiliar to all of us.  It went too long & I didn't know enough to know what I could cut out, shorten, abandon altogether.  It requires work.  I'm great at the theory.  I do far less well at the doing.  However I learnt 2 things: Keep it short; Keep it simple.

The short is important because what has happened every time we've done this is that it's like opening a Pandora's box of bunny trails.  This year was no different.   Being a little more familiar with the Seder & thus a little more comfortable I felt free to cut & paste as necessary while fielding Dino's questions & comments.

But where was I last year? he wailed.  I have no idea where he was.  The girls were at Easterfest so I know we did our Seder late.  Star, who can be squiffy about being dragged into these things blew me away by how much she remembered from last year.  Dino, like me, was just blown away by how the symbolism flows consistenly right through scripture.  I have no idea how but we had a rundown on the history of the temple & the properties of gold, The Babylonian Empire [a little more understandable that one] & what it would have been like to have Jesus lead the Seder.

There is something really weird involved in all this too.   Planning a Seder is a lot more work than hiding easter eggs round the garden or through the house.  I've been hoarding the last good sized lamb shank bone in the freezer & had a list of things I knew I needed to have on hand.  It is the sort of thing to get me in a real tizz.  I am still waiting for my tizz.  There is a blessing, it seems, in keeping God's festivals ~ & one of them is the peace that passeth all understanding.  

 It is very grounding.  The elements were the elements Jesus handled on the night He was betrayed.  This makes the story vividly alive.  Real.  Here is the bread & the wine: the cup of santification; the cup of redemption; the cup of salvation ~ & the cup Jesus is saving to share with us ~ the cup of the Kingdom.  It is designed to fulfil the commandment to Teach these these unto your children.  And it does ~ in extremely novel ways.  Honestly, the looks on the kids faces as they bite into the Bitter Herbs!!  Priceless!  Or the haroset. After the herbs Dino took one look & reniged but Star was cluier & assured him it was actually rather yummy!  Which it is.

The thing is we will go into church on Sunday with the Seder, rich with meaning behind us, vividly fresh in our memory.  The afikomen has been broken, wrapped in linen & hidden. It represents Jesus broken body with the stripes by which we are healed.   Can you imagine Jesus breaking the afikomen & saying, as He did: This is my body, broken for you.

Wow.  I'm going to go & think on that some more now....

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Today's Trivia ~ because I can

Russia has one commander who never lost to an invasion ~ General Winter.

Last term the Star & I looked at the Russian Revolution ~ which is all about politics & actually very dull but necessary to a good understanding of the modern world.  It was, in fact, so very dull, I did not require her to write anything on it ~ not yet, anyway.  Instead I sent her scrounging after all the interesting or peculiar facts she could discover about Russia..  These are just some of them!

. Russia is the largest country in the world: 17, 075 square kilometres.

.It is a trans~continental country that covers ½ of the northern hemisphere & ½ the earth’s land mass.

. It is the 9th most populated country

. It spans 9 time zones

. It covers 40% of the European continent

. It is neighbours with more countries than anywhere else on earth

. It touches 22 bodies of water

.Russia’s lakes hold ¼ of the world’s fresh water.

. It has the world’s largest reserve of mineral & energy resources

. During the 18th century it was the 3rd largest empire in world history.

. Moscow has 11 million people & is Europe’s largest city

. The world’s largest forest reserves are in Russia.

. The forests are 2nd only to the Amazon rainforest in the amount of co2 they produce

. The forests are known as “The Lungs of Europe”

. The Russian Taiga is the world’s largest terrestrial biome [boreal forest]

. Russia has the world’s largest active volcano: Khjuchevskaya Sopka [4750m]

. Ladoga Lake is the largest lake in Europe: 18 400sq km. with an average depth of 51m

. Baikal Lake is the deepest lake in Russia. At 31.5 sq km it could cover Mt Everest.

. The Khubins are the highest mountains behind Russia’s polar circle

. Kamchatka Volcanoes are turned into ski slopes

. Russia has 12 seas.

. The Russian tundra is melting for the first time since The Ice Age

. Oymyakon is the coldest city on earth with a lowest recorded temperature of -96F.

. Altai has more than 820 glaciers covering 600sq km

. The Caspian Sea is the world’s largest inland body of water.

. The Aral Sea [the 4th largest inland sea]

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Does it even matter?

“And he said unto them, With desire I have desired to eat this Passover with you before I suffer: / For I say unto you, I will not any more eat thereof, until it be fulfilled in the kingdom of God.”

Round about this time of year, like Christmas, the thorny question raises it's head like the perennial weed it is: Should we, as Christians, even be celebrating this?  Christians of both persuasions arm themselves with ammunition & lob their missiles at each other.  What does it matter, so long as Christ is preached?

I have been thinking about that question because I know certain things matter very much indeed to our Lord & saviour.  I am merely thinking aloud here.  You are not required to agree, or even to read along unless you like. 

There are a couple of things that immediately come to my mind.  Granted it is a peculiar mind.  The first is the Leviticus principle that was is unholy cannot be made holy.  Someone said to me recently that God can make anything holy.  That is true ~ but he has already declared certain things holy; it is what we do with them that defiles them.  Just because we can justify something in our own minds does not make it okay with God.

So the question then becomes:  What has God already declared holy?  I will come back to that question.

The next thing that sort of slammed into me is that God hates a liar & when it comes to Easter the whole thing is built upon a massive lie ~ & it is a scary lie because if you follow the bunny trail through the old testament of Israel's apostacy it returns again & again, like a boomerang, to Ishtar, Ashtoreth, Eostre.  The name changes but the principle remains the same.  Apostacy & infidility are inextricably linked together & every time God swept through Israel & cleansed the nation what did He do?  He threw down the high altars.  He got rid of the little cakes made for the queen of heaven.  He reiterated, one man, one woman, get rid of the temple prostitutes!

Oh, but no~one is worshipping Eostre anymore; it's just harmless fun.  If it doesn't mean anything then there is no need to do it.  I suspect that's not the case anyway.  I suspect it means what it has always meant because the early church did not celebrate Easter.  It celebrated the Passover, as Christ did.  This is a sticking point for me.  Those who worship God must worship Him in Spirit & in Truth.  The truth is that Easter has nothing to do with God & an awful lot to do with a Babylonian fertility goddess. All the symbols we associate with Easter belong to a pagan deity.  Do you really think God's impressed with that?

Now, on pain of making myself even more unpopular, consider what God put in place & how it lines up scriptually. The Hebrew word moed means Festivals, or appointed times.  These were the special times God put in place for His people to meet specially with Him.  Here we go.  I can hear you, you know!  She's off on that Jewish thing again!  Bear with me because there is an Old Testament application & there is a New Testament application. God put these festivals in place. Now see how the O.T transfers into the N.T!

In Exodus we see the Passover established & the edict goes forth that it is to be remembered & celebrated every year.  Why?  Because it foretells the coming, suffering, death & resurrection of the Messiah!  And guess when Jesus suffered & died.  At Passover.  When you study it certain things come down even to the hour.  The Paschal lamb was slain at 3 in the afternoon.  When did Jesus die?

When did Jesus rise from the dead?  During the Festival of the First Fruits, 3 days later! From this point on the Jews count 50 days to the festival of Shavout.  It was during Shavout the Holy Spirit descended upon the disciples as they waited in Jerusalem. Scripture isn't random.  Events don't occur willy~nilly.  They are structured in such a way as to help us remember & celebrate them the way God desires.

Christianity is being grafted by God into the root & branch of Israel.    Israel is not being grafted into us!  So does it matter that the church remembers the death & resurrection of Christ with bunnies & eggs &  hot cross buns?  After all, Christ is being preached.  Whose Christ?  Exactly what message are we sending to the world? At the best it is a compromise.  At worst it is a downright lie.  God has not blessed these things.  He has not ordained them.  The church has.  Oh, yes the church has, amongst controversy & charges of blasphemy & heresy.  Why are we so eager to accept the ordinances of man & so reluctant to walk in the way God Himself ordained?

I am not saying God can't use & bless these things if that's all He's got to work with but would the blessing be greater if the church actually walked in obedience?  Why should the world listen to us when we are just like the world?  Why has the world managed so successfully to commercialize both Christmas & Easter?  Could it possibly be that at the heart the world knows these things really have nothing at all to do with God?

We haven't been in church for quite a few Easters now.  The first one I was distressed to not be worshipping with a body of believers but then God took us on this wild journey that we are still trying to ride out but this year is different.  This year we are part of a church & I am not happy.  They celebrate with a large picnic ~ with eggs ~ for the wider community.  We did not contribute any eggs.  We will not attend the picnic.  We will do a seder at home & go to church as usual on Sunday.  Where conscience will allow we wioll aligne ourselves with the wider body of believers but there are some things that just stick in my craw these days.  Like eggs.  And I love my chocolate; just not more than I love Christ.

Walking towards the cross.

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. ~John13:1

There's a reason I'm a Lit major & not a theologian.  I think in pictures.  When I read of our Lord's death & resurrection I don't picture bunnies, easter eggs & hot cross buns.  Instead I see the narrow dirt roads with billows of dust rising into the air as the crowd converges on Jerusalem to celebrate Pesach.  I can feel the heat, just beginning because this is a spring festival, & the sun's glare slicing off the stark white stone. 

 Somewhere in the crowd are 13 men making their way towards an upper room & a destination that will change the world.  I can sense their excitement.  They have come for the first festival in the Jewish sacred year.  It is the foundational festival around which all the others flow ~ & festival is right.  It was a time of celebration & rejoicing, good food, good wine, great company.  Every one of those 13 men would have celebrated Pesach every year of their life, anticipated it, welcomed it.

  Like most Jewish festivals it revolved around family but this year Jesus chose to clebrate the most important religious festival of the year with his 12 disciples ~  & he did this because this Passover was different.  He wanted to show them how Pesach was about to be fulfilled in their lifetime.

As Christians we rather glibly talk about Jesus as our Passover Lamb, the lamb of God, but it is a pretty meaningless phrase because we have lost the meaning of the Passover lamb.  We know the story but we don't fit all the jig~saw pieces together.  Exodus.  God's rained down the plagues on Egypt & still Pharoh won't let the Israelites go ~ but God has one last card to play.  Let them go, He says, or every first born male in your land, both man & beast, will die.   Egypt, all too often in scripture, symbolises mankind's bondage to sin & God pronounces judgement on the world & on sin.  At the same time he provides a kiporah [covering]; every house marked with the blood of an unblemished lamb will be spared.  We know this but just how closely scripture links these truths together is amazing.

One of the traditions of Pesach is the cleansing of the home of yeast.  Yeast symbolises our sin.  I'm slack about this ~ mostly because I'm not much of a bread eater & forget it's in the house.  Every time I forget I leave out something important because what did Jesus do just before the Passover? He went up to the temple & had a thorough cleansing of the filth that had contaminated it!  The symbol & the reality, the lived out experience, go hand in hand throughout the Pesach epistle.

I wrote more about Passover here but I will be thinking more on the symbols as we move into the Paschel season: of the 4 cups of the seder [the cup of santification; the cup of salvation; the cup of redemption; the cup of the kingdom.]  I will be amazed again at the matzah symbolism, that thousands of years before Jesus was born on earth God put in place the symbol of the cross, the death & resurrection, & it has been played out every year since in the Passover Seder! Wow.  I will remember, because it is implicit in the seder, that Jesus came, died, rose again ~ & will come again!  I will remember that the last cup is the cup of the kingdom ~ & this is the cup Jesus will celebrate with His people in the kingdom to come!

I haven't got all the answers.  I 'm not sequential & logical but as my understanding of Pesach grows I am wondered that Christians exchanged its richness & depth for Easter eggs, bunnies & hot cross buns.  The whole of the Resurrection story is contained within Pesach & it is a wonder & a glory to me & satiates my soul, deeply,  profoundly, intimately.

Now I wonder if I can talk Dearest into ditching the bread this year?

Monday, April 2, 2012

What the cat said.

The purity of a person’s heart can be quickly measured by how they regard animals ~ anon

I enjoy communicating.  I enjoy words.  They're rather addictive.  I appreciate people who use words well. I used to joke I chose my friends for their ability to tell a good story.  Communication is vital to my well being.  Nothing distresses me faster than feeling I am not making myself understood.  In our house even the cats find it necessary to communicate well.

Of our 2 cats Kirby is the less needy but he is intelligent & high strung.  I was not impressed, though hardly surprised, to find Kirby outside at midnight Friday night, having refused to come for all callers because he was waiting for us.    Before we were even out of the car he was crying because cats only call when they lose visual contact with other members of their pack & Kirby knows perfectly well I can't see him in the dark.

It is Kirby who is my escape artist.  Marlow would never dream of doing the wicked things Kirby does.  It is not unusual at bedtime to find Kirby has found some crack or cranny to escape through & needing to be hunted up outside.  This poses some difficulties because, as my son  succintly pointed out, our neighbours do not need to be woken at midnight by me bellowing, Kiiiiiir~beeeeeeee at the top of my lungs.  Consequentially my cats come to a long fluting whistle ~ which confuses the neighbourhood dogs no end; they aren't a terribly bright batch.

The thing is Kirby is rarely all that close to home & he answers my whistle with a loud, joyful yowling that plainly says: Here I am.  I'm coming!  Wait for me!  I'm coming!  Where are you?
I whistle as softly as possible but  if I pause too long there is a frantic yodelling yowling of Where have you gone?  I can't hear you!

And last night as I stood patiently in the middle of the road waiting for my demented cat to find me as he padded towards me with little chirriping calls & delighted exclamations telling me plainly how pleased he was that I'd remembered he came to bed with me, that I had come looking for him, that he had found me again & we were together [yes, he really says all that ~ & more.  He's a very intelligent cat] I thought how like prayer it all was.  We call out to God & he answers us patiently, directing us all the way home.

I love lessons from my cats!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

What I Found.

"Some people will believe anything if you whisper it to them "~ Miguel Unamuno

I am a fantasy reader.  I always have been.  Why have the real when you can have the speculative, right?  So one of the big beefs of my life is the dearth of really excellent fantasy writers.  Even that icon of fantasy writing, Tolkien, annoys the living daylights out of me.  The man needed an editor who wasn't afraid to tell him when he was being downright boring!  Indeed the fantasy market is so flooded with Tolkien wannabes I was limiting my craving for speculative fiction to archaeology texts.  Too sad making I know.

Then last week, Star started pulling books of the library shelves for me telling me I might like this that or the other.  She did really well by me.  I have an unread Philipa Gregory that I'm just starting but the surprise package was The Two Pearls of Wisdom by Alison Goodman.

I wasn't real keen.  I'm not big on Japanese or Chinese mythology.  I'm not big on Japanese or Chinese history.  As races I find them incredibly cuel ~  worse for being intelligently cruel!  And people wonder why The Hunger Games doesn't disturb me!  Hasn't got a patch on reality. I digress.

I borrowed it anyway because it was a pretty desparate week & we were travelling even more than usual & I'm so pleased I did because this is one absolutely brilliant book.  If you are at all squeamish, forget it!  Don't even try.  If you are a little hardier this is a book with a great deal to offer.

Loosely based on Japanese & Chinese mythology [a little more loaded towards the Chinese I think] this is wonderfully original & beautifully concieved fantasy.  It is complex & rich  with a solid base in reality.  Eona, a crippled girl, poses as a boy to attempt to bond with one of the 12 celestial dragons & obtain both riches & power for herself & her master.  Discovery is certain slow & cruel death.  The plot is driven by court intrigues & power struggles & I did something I almost never do with any book; I read it straight through from cover to cover.  It is an absolute page turner!

I can't wait to read The Necklace of the Gods ~ the second part of the duology.
If you weren't there you missed a most fantastic concert.  Exaudi's Lux Aramque was exquisite.  The kids were brilliant.  Those of you with access to my FB page will have seen the fantastic B&W shot of AVAE with our Star & both countertenors.  

We had a really packed house ~ which was great.  Even better we had an intelligent & attentive audience who listened in absolute silence & appreciated the programme.

Honestly, if you are in Brizzie the next concert make an effort to attend one of Alison's concerts.  It doesn't get any better than this.  Her choirs are brilliant & she gets the most exquisite sound from her performers.

We're all pretty tired tonight though but Alison is happy & that's the main thing!