Archive for June 2012

Jumping Jehoshaphat!   3 comments

Fruit of the Spirit: Faithfulness

 2 Chronicles 20: 1-30

Is it just me, or is society becoming increasingly self-centred? Sure, there are many acts of kindness taking place out there, and people give up time and money to raise huge sums for charity, taking part in telethon extravaganza, or just turning up to volunteer for a few hours a week. Having been a regional co-ordinator for my son’s charity for children with upper limb deficiencies, ‘Reach’, I know that not everyone is motivated by Christian concern to take part in various voluntary events, and that those who volunteer from humanistic principles are often more reliable than those who seek to draw attention to themselves within a local church setting.

However, what makes me most upset (it’s more despair than anger) about the current attempt by the UK Government to redefine marriage is not so much the false dichotomy it seeks to draw between church and state, between the civil and religious, or even the arrogant assumptions it seeks to make on behalf of Gay and bisexual Christians as part of its so-called ‘consultation process’. I am even open to persuasion that there is a genuine issue of human rights and equality which requires the Law to be changed to go beyond the contracting of civil partnerships between same-sex couples. I certainly believe there is an issue arising from the exclusion of heterosexual couples from this new right.

No, what upsets me most is the lack of focus on ‘faithfulness’ as the central concept in any human relationship, and especially in marriages which involve the creation of children and new family life. Attitudes to marriage  reveal that for many, not just Gay couples, it has already been redefined purely as a right, not as a solemn duty or a responsibility which needs constant commitment, a continual renewal of promises and a life-long ethos of friendship, companionship and co-operation.  Society seems obsessed with sexual gratification, rather than gratitude for  God‘s grace. We promise to be faithful to one another, to love, cherish and, yes, even to obey each other, without the first idea what these promises mean. For example, there is much talk about ‘equality’ in marriage, but the New Testament idea, developed in Paul’s letters is of faithfulness which requires the subjugation or sacrifice of both people to each other. It’s not a balancing act based on prenuptial financial transactions, nor is it biased to one party, that faithfulness means the other person being faithful to me, not me being faithful to the other person.

I recently took part in a campaign called ‘Faithfulness Matters’, in an attempt to expose the operation of web-sites set up to cash in on marriages in difficulty by helping spouses to commit adultery. To understand what is meant by faithfulness we need to look way beyond the human idea that it means seeking sexual gratification, even with just one life-long partner, and look at the divine picture of it.

, American religious figure.

, American religious figure. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Faithfulness as a fruit – God’s faithfulness

Great is Thy Faithfulness:

This is the title of one of the great hymns of the last century, written in the USA in early twenties, and made popular in Britain through Billy Graham crusade of 1954, which my dad was involved in. It’s now the fourth most popular hymn in the UK. Written by Thomas Chisolm, a Methodist minister from Kentucky, it first gained popularity by being frequently

Moody Bible Institute

Moody Bible Institute (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

used on the radio station of the Moody Bible Institute, set to music by William Runyan. George Beverly Shea sang the hymn on the radio and then, as lead singer at Billy Graham’s rallies, helped to popularise it across America. The opening verse is directly based on scriptural affirmations of the Almighty. Lamentations 3.22 and 33 proclaim that ’his compassions fail not. New every morning they are great: great is thy faithfulness’ and James (1:17) declares that ‘every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.’

 

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,

There is no shadow of turning with thee;

Thou changest not, thy compassions they fail not,

As thou hast been thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!

Great is thy faithfulness!

Morning by morning new blessings I see;

All I have needed thy hand hath provided –

Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

 

Summer and winter, and spring-time and harvest,

Sun, mooon and stars in their courses above,

Join with all nature in manifold witness

To thy great faithfulness, mercy and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,

Thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide;

Strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,

Blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Jumping Jehoshaphat! – Son of David, King of Judah

Who was he and why was he jumping?!

To begin with, he was faithful and obedient, like his father:

See 2 Chronicles, 17: 3-9. 

He sent out teachers to train his people in faithfulness to the one true God, tearing down the totem poles of Baal.

However, he then he entered a military alliance with Ahab, King of Israel, against God’s will – with disastrous results; God wasn’t best-pleased with him!

Naturally, he became anxious when his enemies, already having wiped out Ahab,  approached – very jumpy! All the enemies of Israel and Judah had come together in a huge show of strength. So Jehoshaphat went to the Temple and made a very public plea to God for help. God’s response is an amazing illustration of faithfulness, communicated to the people through one of the Levites, Jahaziel, who prophesies to them, and then by Jehoshaphat himself, who ordered men to sing songs of praise to God’s enduring love at the head of his army:

2 Chronicles, 20: 1-30. Try reading the account in stages:

vv 1-13:

Later the Moabites, Ammonites and some Meunites came to start a war with Jehosaphat. Messengers came and told him, “A large army is coming against you from Edom, from the other side of the Dead Sea. They are already in Hazazon Tamar!” Jehoshaphat was afraid, so he decided to ask the Lord what to do. He announced that no one in Judah should eat during this special time of prayer to God. The people of Judah came together to ask the Lord for help; they came from every town in Judah.

The people of Judah and Jerusalem met in front of the new courtyard in the Temple of the Lord.  Then Jehoshaphat stood up , and he said….

Imagine and describe the setting, the atmosphere and mood of the people. Imagine yourself as an Israelite (vv 3-4). What are you feeling?

Perhaps a bit like the men, women and children of Rohan, in J R R Tolkien‘s ‘Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers’, under siege at Helm’s Deep by the hosts of Mordor, waiting for their king, Theoden to do something dramatic…

Jehoshaphat’s Prayer (vv 6-12). On what basis does he appeal for help?

“Lord, God of our ancestors, you are the God in heaven. You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. You have power and strength, so no one can stand against you. Our God, you forced out the people who lived in this land as your people Israel moved in. And you gave this land for ever to the descendants of your friend Abraham. They lived in this land and built a Temple for you. They said, ‘if trouble comes upon us, or war, or punishment, sickness or hunger, we will stand before you and before this Temple where you have chosen to be worshipped. We will call out to you when we are in trouble. Then you will hear and save us.’

“But now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Edom. You wouldn’t let the Israelites enter their lands when they came from Egypt. So the Israelites turned away and did not destroy them. But see how they repay us for not destroying them! They have come to force us out of your land, which you gave to us as our own. Our God, punish those people. We have no power against this large army that is attacking us. We don’t know what to do, so we look to you for help.”

 How would his view of God encourage the people to trust in God?

 vv 14-19:

God’s response (via Jahaziel), filled with the Holy Spirit . How would the prophet’s words have required faith from the people?

vv 14-17:

All the men of Judah stood before the Lord with their babies, wives and children. Then the Spirit of the Lord entered Jahaziel, Zechariah’s son…a Levite and a descendent of Asaph (who) stood up in the meeting. He said, “Listen to me, King Jehosaphat and all you people living in Judah and Jerusalem.The Lord says this to you; ‘Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of this large army. The battle is not your battle, it is God’s. Tomorrow go down there and fight those people. They will come up through the pass of Ziz. You will find them at the end of the ravine that leads to the Desert of Jeruel. You won’t need to fight in this battle. Just stand strong in your places and you will see the Lord save you. . Judah and Jerusalem, don’t be afraid or discouraged because the Lord is with you. So go out against those people tomorrow.’  

What evidence is there that the people believed his message?

vv 18-20: 

Jehoshaphat bowed face down on the ground. All the people of Judah and Jerusalem bowed down before the Lord and worshipped him. Then some Levites came from the Kohathite and Korahite people stood up and praised the Lord, the God of Israel, with very loud voices.

 Jehoshaphat’s army went out into the Desert of Tekoa early in the morning . As they were starting out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, people of Judah and Jerusalem.  Have faith in the Lord your God and you will stand strong. Have faith in the prophets, and you will succeed.” 

How would you have felt if you’d come looked over the desert towards the vast army?

vv 21-23:

Jehoshaphat listened to the people’s advice. Then he chose men to be singers to the Lord, to praise him because he is holy and wonderful. As they marched in front of the army , they said, “Thank the Lord, because his love endures for ever.”

As they began to sing and praise God, the Lord set ambushes for the people of Ammon, Moab and Edom who had come to attack Judah. And they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites attacked the Edomites, destroying them completely. After they had killed the Edomites, they killed each other.

Have you ever praised God in the middle of a problem – BEFORE an answer came? Apparently, this is what Cromwell’s troops did when they went into battle against their King in the English Civil War. They didn’t just put their trust in the Lord, they didn’t just pray, they kept their powder dry and sang psalms of praise.

How were the people affected by God’s faithfulness?

vv 24-30:

When the men from Judah came to a place where they could see the desert, the looked at the enemy’s large army. But they only saw dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.  When Jehoshaphat and his army came to take their valuables, they found many supplies, much clothing and other valuable things. There was more than they could carry away; there was so much it took three days to gather it all. On the fourth day Jehoshaphat and his army met in the valley of Beracah and praised the Lord. That is why the place is called ‘Beracah’, or the ‘Valley of Praise’ to this day.

Then Jehoshaphat led all the men from Judah and Jerusalem back to Jerusalem. The Lord had made them happy because their enemies were defeated. They entered Jerusalem with harps, lyres and trumpets and went to the Temple of the Lord.

When all the kingdoms of the lands around them heard how the Lord had fought Israel’s enemies, they feared God. So Jehoshaphat’s kingdom was not at war. His God gave him peace from all the countries around him.

What can we learn about faithfulness from the example of Jehoshaphat and the people of Judah from this passage?

At the end of the story, Jehoshaphat was jumping with joy! Have you ever experienced this as a result of God’s faithfulness to you?

How does God’s faithfulness to us affect the way we treat others?

How can we grow in faithfulness to God and others?

 

English: Eric Liddell in Paris Olympic Games M...Eric Liddell

The Eric Liddell story – ’he who honours me, I will honour’:

The 1981 Oscar-winning British film, ‘Chariots of Fire’ commemorated the achievements of this runner, known as ‘the Flying Scotsman’,  before and at the 1924 Olympics. There is a scene which depicts the true story of how Liddell fell in a 400 metre international race and made up a 20-metre deficit to win.

Another scene from the film shows Eric Liddell preaching on a passage from Hebrews, to the crowds who stayed to hear him after one of his races. He compares Faith to running in a race, and asks ‘where does the power come from to see the race to its end?’ He answers, ‘from within…If you commit yourself to the love of Christ, then that is how you run the straight race.’

Later, at the Paris Olympics, he refuses to run in the 400m heats on a Sunday, and when he is handed the chance to run in the 200m instead, he is also handed a piece of paper by one of the American athletes with a quotation from 1 Samuel on it, ‘he who honours me, I will honour.’ A true story. Not just Hollywood, and he wins the race.

Hebrews 12.1: ’Let us run with patience the race which is set before us. Let us keep our eyes fixed upon Jesus, on whom our faith depends from beginning to end…’

This verse from Hebrews is well known in English as the basis for the verse of a hymn written by J S B Monsell (1811-75). Born in Ireland, he believed that Anglicans were ‘too distant and reserved’ in their praises. He wrote over 300 hymns, many of them set to joyous and bouncy tunes, still popular with young people, like this one:

Run the straight race through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes and seek his face;

Life with its way before thee lies,

Christ is the path and Christ the prize.

Our faithfulness needs to be a reflection of God’s faithfulness, the shining prize set before us, which also lights our path. Liddell certainly remained faithful. He returned to China, where he was born, as a missionary and died in a Japanese Prisoner of War camp. Being faithful requires action on our part, whether it be fasting, praising, running, jumping or praying! But then we need to submit and subject ourselves to God’s will and purpose for our lives, just as Jehoshaphat did.

Pray about the things you need to give up to God’s control in your lives… in the coming weeks and months… as you look out for heroic acts of faithfulness at the 2012 London Olympics and Paralympics!

 

Cool to be kind!   Leave a comment

Fruit of the Spirit: Kindness

2 Samuel 9: David and Mephibosheth

Oliver Cromwell, by Samuel Cooper (died 1672)....

‘Cruel to be kind’ was an expression I used to hear a lot as a child. Not so much in my own home, the manse, but certainly at school and occasionally at church. It was sometimes accompanied by the first part of the proverb, ‘spare the rod…(and spoil the child.’) It used to puzzle me then, and it puzzles me even more now. I think it was Martin Luther King who wrote that the ends never justify the means, but the means are always inherent in the ends. Oliver Cromwell’s ‘cruel necessity’, the execution of Charles Stuart, ‘that man of blood’, found guilty of tyranny and war crimes against his own people was, for others, a brutal act of regicide, making the Stuart King a martyr for his divine right to rule. There was nothing ‘necessary’ about it, but, of necessity, it led to a brutal dictatorship which only ended with the restoration of the Stuart monarchy and the reaffirmation of its ‘divine right’ to rule.

Rowan Atkinson as Lord Edmund Blackadder

In British society, the idea that stoicism can only be taught through suffering has, thankfully been replaced, but the idea which has replaced it also seems to have its limitations. Whereas generosity characterised much of British behaviour in the war-time generation, more recently it has seemed that the prevailing wisdom is that it isn’t  ‘cool to be kind.’ The most popular situation comedies of recent years have used ‘dark humour’ if not ‘black comedy’ to portray the long-suffering character of the British in sit-coms.  To be successful over five series, the character of Edmund Blackadder needed a ‘butt’ to kick sideways in the mis-shapen turnip-nosed  Baldrick, who was never given a Christian name except for ‘Sodoff’, because that was what the other children in the playground told him to do! Tony Robinson’s character became the perfect ‘foil’ for the hapless Blackadder, with Baldrick taking on all the blame for Rowan Atkinson‘s woes. The only time that Blackadder speaks to Baldrick without a barbed remark is at the end of the last series when they all face the ultimate cruelty of going ‘over the top’ into the barbed wire together. ‘Cool to be cruel’ often seems to be the basis of a lot of British humour, both on screen and of, so that we are encouraged to laugh at latter-day clown figures, rather than with them, or through their suffering.

Even Christians in Britain, though generous in deed towards the poor and the sick, often seem to find it difficult to affirm each other in Church. Non-Christians have sometimes misinterpreted  what may be traditional ‘reserve’ for coldness, even cruelty. Occasionally, preachers seem to regard it more important to make fun of themselves, or to gently mock others, rather than to express a kind word to their congregations. Perhaps they worry that they might be seen as courting popularity rather than confronting truths. But it concerns me greatly when I read in the social media that Christians are seen as going  to Church because we think we’re better than others and that we then carry on behaving badly towards others at work or more broadly in our six-day lives.

One such social media site is called ’Random Acts of Kindness’, giving suggestions and examples as to how we might improve the atmosphere around us by helping others. The site asks, ‘what acts have you encountered recently?’ When I read this, often nothing springs very readily to mind. Even more difficult to bring to mind are specific acts of kindness I might have performed for others, whether pre-medidated or spontaneous. The latter are generally more prevalent, which is perhaps as things should be, but I wonder if, sometmes, I don’t actually block the flow of God’s kindness into my life by not being more pro-active in identifying need in others.

The anger of Saul with David.

The anger of Saul with David. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The early chapters of 2 Samuel give us an interesting comparison and contrast in their pen-portraits of Saul and David as early Kings of Israel and Judah. Saul allows jealousy, envy and bitterness to block the flow of kindness, twice tries to kill David. Jonathan, Saul’s eldest by his only wife (1 Sam 14:49-50), comes to David’s rescue, out of friendship and loyalty…and also perhaps because he realises that his father is mentally ill and will destroy himself by destroying David.

2 Samuel is a ’history’ book about David; 1 Sam is about the transition to monarchy under Saul, picking up from ’Judges’ in which the continual attacks on the Hebrews from surrounding tribes make the people ask for king (as a necessity, NOT as an ideal form of government, you’ll notice). David is a shepherd boy, youngest of eight sons of Jesse, a skilled musician and composer. The second book begins in civil war after Saul’s death in battle and ends with the rivalry of David’s sons over the succession. David establishes Jerusalem as capital, Solomon succeeds him (1 Kings) and builds the Temple; the kingdom is then split in two under Rehoboam, King of Israel (the ten tribes in North) and Judah (the two in south). This is ‘His’ story told from special point of view – God’s plan at work in the Jewish nation. It is therefore highly selective and deliberately biased, as much history is. However, this is NOT legend or mythology, nor is it  propaganda – its reliabity is testified to contemporary documents and archaeology, in addition to older wrtings, records, and genealogies. Looking forward, Jesus is seen as David’s descendant, the ‘Messiah’ (Hebrew), ‘Christ’ (Greek), or ’anointed one.’ Just as a king or queen is anointed. It’s no ‘fluke’ that the oldest crown jewel in Britain, is also one of the smallest – the anointing spoon, with which the Archbishop of Canterbury anoints the monarch as s/he turns to the High Altar. The Coronation anthem, Handel’s ‘ Zadok the Priest’ reminds us of  2 Samuel 8:17, in which the High Priest appointed by Solomon helps to bring the Ark of the Covenant back to Jerusalem (1 Ki 2:26-35).

"Death of King Saul", 1848 by Elie M...

“Death of King Saul”, 1848 by Elie Marcuse (Germany and France, 1817-1902) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

At the beginning of 2 Samuel, David returns to Ziklag following his victory over the Amalekites, a nomadic tribe who lived in the desert south of Judah. They had been at continual war with the Israelites from the time of the exodus. A survivor of Saul’s defeat at the Battle at Mount Gilboa by the Philistines arrives with the news of the death of the king and his three sons, including Jonathan. He is an Amalekite, and therefore tells lies in saying that he agreed to Saul’s request to kill him before the Philistines captured him (in fact, Saul fell on his own sword),  thinking David would be pleased. However,  since  he has killed ’the Lord’s anointed’, David has him killed. He then writes an elegy for Saul and Jonathan which includes the following verse:

’How the mighty have fallen in battle! Jonathan lies slain on your heights. I grieve for you, Jonathan my brother; you were very dear to me. Your love for me was wonderful, more wonderful than that of women.’ 

When Saul’s remaining son is murdered, David has his murderers killed. He is then made king, first by the tribes of Judah and then by the whole of Israel. He makes a ’contract’ or ’covenant’ with them, and is anointed king at the age of thirty, reigning for forty years in all. He begins with a series of victories over the Philistines. Then the Ark of the Covenant is brought to Jerusalem.

What kind of king is Jesus compared with his ancestor? His entry to Jerusalem is not on warhorse, with soldiers, but on a donkey, with children and pilgrims. Power struggles among the leaders of Israel had allowed Rome to take control in 63 B.C., and rulers like Herod ‘the Great’ were anything but that, for they were approved and appointed by Rome. They were not seen as ’anointed’ by God and weren’t popular with the people. They therefore used methods of terror to keep control, and savagely put down any support for alternative authorities, such as prophets and ’messiahs’. 

By contrast, in his relationship with Jonathan, David shows great faithfulness, giving his commitment to Jonathan’s descendants, something unusual for a king to do, upholding another king’s dynasty, which was normally seen as a threat and banished (at the very least).

But David determined to end the feuding as well as keep his promise never to ’cut off his kindness’ from Jonathan’s family. (1 Sam 20, vv 15, 42). He also makes the same promise to Saul, on oath, even after Saul tries to kill him (1 Sam 24: 20-22). Even after Saul loses God’s favour, David treats him with respect and even spares his life (’from evildoers come evil deeds’). David only takes lives ’in cold blood’ where justice is served, despite brutality of the times.

Did David keep his promise?

Read 2 Samuel 9:

David asked, ’Is there anyone still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show kindness for Jonathan’s sake?’

Now there was a servant of Saul’s household named Ziba. They called him to appear before David, and the king said to him, ’Are you Ziba?’

’Your servant,’ he replied.

The king asked, ’Is there no-one still left of the house of Saul to whom I can show God’s kindness?’

Ziba answered the king, ’There is still a son of Jonathan; he is crippled in both feet.’

’Where is he?’, the king asked.

Ziba answered, ’He is at the house of Makir son of Ammiel, in Lo Debar.’

So King David had him brought from Lo Debar, from the house of Makir son of Ammiel.

When Mephibosheth, son of Jonathan, the son of Saul, came to David, he bowed down to pay him honour.

David said, ’Mephibosheth!’

’Your servant,’ he replied.

’Don’t be afraid,’ David said to him, ’for I will surely show you kindness for the sake of your father Jonathan. I will restore to you all the land that belonged to your grandfather Saul, and you will always eat at my table.’

Mephishobeth bowed down and said, ’What is your servant, that you should notice a dead dog like me?’

Then the King summoned Ziba, Saul’s servant, and said to him, ’I have given your master’s grandson everything that belonged to Saul and his family. You and your sons and your servants are to farm the land for him and bring in the crops, so that your master’s grandson may be provided for. And Mephishobeth, grandson of your master, will always eat at my table.’ (Now Ziba had fifteen sons and twenty servants.)

Then Ziba said to the king, ’Your servant will do whatever my lord the king commands his servant to do.’ So Mephishobeth ate at David’s table like one of the king’s sons.

Mephishobeth had a young son named Mica, and all the members of Ziba’s household were servants of Mephishobeth. And Mephishobeth lived in Jerusalem, because he always ate at the king’s table, and he was crippled in both feet.

(New International Version)

 1. What characteristics of David stand out?

He shows respect for Saul and Jonathan, behaving honourably, wanting to show God’s ’exceptional kindness’, or ’grace’, towards them. It includes forgiveness.

 2. What steps did David have to take to find Mephibosheth?

Ziba, Saul’s servant  was sent to find Mephishobeth in Lo Debar. Wherever this was, it was a considerable distance from Judah.

3. What reasons might David have had for not being kind to Mephibosheth?

His disability – because he was dropped by his nurse, (2 Sam 4). Also because his  his uncle, Ish-Bosheth, had been made king over large part of Israel, while David was king of Judah only for first 7 years, so there had been a bitter civil war between the House of Saul and the House of David. It wasn’t just that Saul had tried to kill him, but that many ’brothers’ had died in the War.  David’s actions remind me of how Henry Tudor united the Houses of York and Lancaster through marriage and the symbol of the Tudor Rose, combining the red rose of Lancashire with the white rose of Yorkshire, whilst at the same time dealing harshly with ‘pretenders’ to the throne.

 4. What was David’s kindness based on?

On his love for Jonathan, on his promise made to him;  on his forgiveness for House of Saul and on his promise to Saul.

 5. In what specific, practical ways did David show kindness to Mephibosheth?

The way he greeted him, as Jonathan’s son, with enthusiasm, though they had never met; the granting of Saul’s land, the settling of Ziba’s family to farm the land; the protection of him at the Royal Court in Jerusalem (as a disabled person he was unable to defend himself and his lands directly, but his position at court enables him to have a son and therefore continue the House of Saul.)

6. What thoughts or feelings do you think Mephibosheth had when called before David?

As last surviving member, he probably feared for his life, especially after having fled before uncle’s murder by men at his own court, even though David had executed the men responsible, which he may not have known.

7. What would he have felt as he heard the words contained in verse 7?

Mightily relieved? Reconciled, recognised, restored and reaffirmed.  No longer a refugee. Justified by the Restitution of his family.

 

A Hymn/ Psalm:

 Praise my Soul

The King of Heaven

To his feet

My tribute bring

Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven,

Who like me his praise would sing.

The Challenge:

Think of those who have been especially kind to you.  How have you been blessed by their kindness?

How can you repay their kindnesses? How can you affirm and encourage them?

What is an affirmation? How can we make one?

It’s not simply a general, positive statement, but a promise to do something specific for someone.

Christians have been showered with blessings from the King. Can you count your blessings while you may? There are two great songs, one British and the other a Salvation Army chorus, popular in the USA, which charge us with doing just this:

Count Your Blessings (#1; British):

 

Count your blessings one by one,

When dawn appears and day has just begun.

They will light your heart with happiness,

Make each hour bright

And bring you gladness.

 

 Count your blessings one by one,

When twilight falls and toil of day is done,

And in sweet dreams they’ll come again to you,

If you will count your blessings

Each day through.

 

Count your blessings while you may,

For we are here but little time to stay.

All around are hearts sincere and true,

Lovely things abound just waiting for you.

 

Count your blessings while you may,

For big or small, whichever come your way.

For then you’ll find this world a place of love,

If you will count your blessings from above.

 

Count Your Blessings #2 (American):

Chorus:

Count your many blessings, name them one by one.

Count your many blessings, see what God  has done.

Count your blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you, what the Lord has done.

 

When upon life’s billows you are tempest-tossed,

When you are discouraged, thinking all is lost,

Count your many blessings, name them one by one,

And it will surprise you, what the Lord has done.

 

Are you ever burdened with a load of care?

Does the cross seem heavy you are called to bear?

Count your every blessing and each doubt will fly,

And you will be singing as the days go by.

 

When you look at others, with their lands and gold,

Think that Christ has promised you his wealth untold.

Count  your many blessings; wealth can never buy

Your reward in heaven, nor your home on high.

 

So, amid the conflict, whether great or small,

Do not be disheartened, God is over all.

Count your many blessings, angels will attend,

Help and comfort give you till your journey’s end.

 

So, Remember….

Don’t lose sleep,

Counting sheep;

When you’re stressing out,

Count your blessings out!

And don’t forget to bless others….


‘Just give me five minutes’ peace!’ – The Anxiety Scale.   Leave a comment

HOLY SPIRIT - FOIX

Fruit of the Spirit:  Peace:  Isaiah 43 vv 1-7: An Interactive Study

’Just give me five minutes peace and quiet!’ This is probably the most frequent, everyday use of the word peace that you’ll hear in English-speaking homes and schools! Even in the religious context, the word is usually used in a collocation, a group of words, like  ’grace, mercy and peace..’, in a way in which faith, hope and love are not. On the international ’stage’, peace is seen as the absence of war or, to be more cynical, ’the period of cheating between battles’, rarely as ’the presence of justice’. Similarly,  in our day-to-day lives, a period of ’peace’ is the antidote to stress and anxiety, which is nearly always seen as a temporary respite from ongoing conflicts at home, school, work or in the local church and community. It’s a state we are given by someone else, either by our family or, if we are religious, by God. It’s a passive state, not an active one, not one which we create for ourselves.

So, where are you on the Anxiety Scale? Where would you put your life? In general? At present?

0-2 Very peaceful

English: An anxious person

English: An anxious person (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

3-4 Quite peaceful

5-6 Relatively peaceful; a little worried

6-7 Anxious

8-9 Very Anxious

10 Tearing your hair out!

What are your deepest  fears? Can you put a name to them for yourself and in a private conversation with God?

In the Book of Isaiah, chapters 40-55 are concerned with the Jewish exiles in Babylon. The message is a comforting one: God is about to do something new and the punishment of the past is over. They are about to experience a period of peace, or ’reconciliation’.

 

English: A scroll of the Book of Isaiah

English: A scroll of the Book of Isaiah (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Reading: Isaiah 43 vv 1-7:

But now, this is what the LORD says –

He who created you, O Jacob,

He who formed you, O Israel:

Fear not, for I have redeemed you;

I have summoned you by name; you are mine.

When you pass through the waters,

I will be with you;

And when you pass through the rivers,

They will not sweep over you.

When you walk through the fire,

You will not be burned;

The flames will not set you ablaze.

For I am the LORD, your God,

The Holy One of Israel, your Saviour;

I give Egypt for your ransom,

Cush and Seba in your stead.

Since you are precious and honoured in my sight,

And because I love you,

I will give men in exchange for you,

And people in exchange for your life.

Do not be afraid, for I am with you;

I will bring your children from the east

And gather you from the west.

I will say to the north, ‘Give them up!’

And to the south, ‘Do not hold them back.’

Bring my sons from afar

And my daughters from the ends of the earth –

Everyone who is called by my name,

Whom I created for my glory,

Whom I formed and made.”

Reflections:

Franklin D. Roosevelt after giving one of his ...

Franklin D. Roosevelt after giving one of his fireside chats. The predecessor to the Weekly Address. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

When President Roosevelt came into office during the Great Depression of the 1930s, he told the American people ’we have nothing to fear but fear itself’. He went on to speak about how fear can paralyse and debilitate us, but that it could also energise us into action. In his first hundred days in office, he energised the American people through a series of reforms known collectively as ’the New Deal’. In the passage above, this is what God is offering the people of Israel and, by extension, ourselves: A New Deal, both in our private lives and our public relationships.

How do you deal with fear and anxiety? Flight or fight?

What does God promise us? If not freedom from adversity and persecution, then what?

So, what is Peace? The Hebrew ’Shalom’ in the Old Testament implies health and well-being, welfare and ’wholeness’ .  It is externally given, which is why the word was used as a traditional greeting – ’peace be with you’, or, to paraphrase, ’may the Lord grant you safety and security’. Of course, an obsession with this ’state’ is what can give rise to an extreme ’Zionism’, the belief that God has given a timeless guarantee of the right of the Jewish people to security above all other Peoples.

However, Isaiah is also looking forward to a more inclusive, universal  definition, reconciling all who are called by his name from every part of the known world. In the New Testament, the word becomes transformed and redefined as ’peace of mind, spirit and heart’, an internal condition, or ’inner peace’. This is Paul’s meaning in Galatians 5:22, where he lists it as one of the fruits of the spirit, a ’divine’ quality which becomes intrinsic in the believer through the action of the Holy Spirit.In all,  there are eight references to ’peace’ in Isaiah, all referring to the ’external’ idea;  the passage above refers to testing by fire and water and to God being with us in this testing, protecting and providing us with security. Written after Babylonian exile, it is a promise of reconciliation.

However, in  vv 3-4, there is a ’foreshadowing’ of what Jesus would do; we are as precious as Seba or Cush, the fertile areas of the Upper Nile, but Christ’s ransom will be paid once and for all. The Red Cross says they don’t pay ransoms on the basis that ’once you give in to kidnappers, they always come back for more’. ’Appeasement’ is the same. We might gently give in to our children when they ask for sweets or toys, though we know the eventual cost may be far higher. However, we rely on their ’gacefulness’ to respond by not continually demanding more. Dictators are not graceful, however, and view ’generosity’ as a sign of weakness, which is why people are rightly suspicious of supporters of ’peace

at any price’. They are never satisfied.  The Price paid by God on Calvary was so high that no more could be asked. However, Christians continued to die by all manner of fearful methods, so God doesn’t promise safety, security, freedom from persecution or suffering. In fact, tells disciples that they must be prepared to ’take up their cross’. But he does promise that his peace will be with us, through the Spirit.

So, how can we accept God’s Peace in our lives?

  • we can’t understand it, we just have to accept it – it passes all our understanding in this life;
  • we can’t equate it with any kind of worldly peace, though it is offered and will be given in/ to this world – but ’not as the world gives…’;
  • Isaiah chapters 52-56 make it clear that Justice and Peace are two sides of the same coin. Peace not the absence of conflict, but presence of justice. If we treat others justly, we are ourselves put right with God; but we cannot be ’at peace’ with God if we ’at war’ with others;
  • God will ’gather in’ all areas of Earth, none of which are excluded from God’s grace, which is universal and available to all, regardless of nationality, ethnicity, gender or sexuality (56 vv 3-8);
  • The ’whole created order,’ the entire universe, is reconciled by the cross; the Greek word here is ’oikoumene’ which gives us our words for ’economy’ and ’ecology’. The gospel is also about ecological balance, about ’Green Peace’. We are called to respect God’s purpose for his creation, since we are only tenants.

How can your relationship with God produce a spirit of peace within you?

This state is not the same as ’being cool’, or ’keeping calm’ and ’carrying on’ regardless. It’s certainly not behaving passively or with total tranquility, as if we’re on valerian.  In ’turning the other cheek’ we are called to witness non-violently to the truth. Even in the eye of the storm, we need to hold firm to our anchor and God will calm the wind and the waves.  Peace begins when we stand still and face our fears, bringing our anxieties to God in prayer and it continuing as we seek God’s transformation of our conflicts through his reconciling love.

So, what is Reconciliation?

To reconcile: to cause a relationship to be harmonious, peaceful and righteous.

  1. Used of what the disciples must do for one another (Mt 5:24; Lk 12:58);
  2. Used of what God has achieved through the sacrificial death and resurrection of Jesus (Ro 5: 1-10; 2 Cor 5:18)
  3. Used of the duty of a sinner towards God – to accept forgiveness and be in a right relationship (2 Cor 5:20).

So how does this change our definition of peace?

Peace is the sound of children playing, and a father’s voice singing…(author unknown).

Psalms 27, 46, 49, 56 and 91 speak peace to our fears.

Prayers:

For Inner Peace:

Lord, I know that you have heard the prayers of my heart. I have described for you my deepest fears and concerns, and it is my desire to relinquish them to you. You have created my mind, Lord, with the amazing capacity to dream with you. In my silence I sense your powerful presence.

I picture your arms around me, assuring me that all is well. In my heart I hear you whisper. ’You are my precious child and I love you. When you pass through the waters I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your saviour.’

Lord, thank you for taking my fears and concerns. You are in control – your will be done.

 (Hazel Offner)

 

For Peace in the World:

O God of power and love, look in mercy upon our war-torn world, which is still your world;

You have made it; in it you delight to work; you have redeemed its people.

Grant reconciliation, we ask, between man and man, nation and nation, through the power of that great peace made by Jesus your Son;

May your servants not be troubled by wars and rumours of wars, but rather look up because their redemption draws near; and when our king returns, may he find many waiting for him, and fighting with his weapons alone;

We ask it in the King’s name, Jesus Christ your son our Lord. AMEN.

(Christopher Idle)

Song: Tom Paxton, Peace Will Come:

My own life is all I can hope to control,

Let my life be lived for the good of my soul,

And may it bring peace,

Sweet peace,

Peace will come,

Let it begin with me.

 

St Columba’s Prayer of Benediction:

Deep peace of the running wave to you,

Deep peace of the quiet earth to you,

Deep peace of the shining stars to you,

Deep peace of the son of peace to you.

 

AJC, 3/5/12, updated for reading, 10/6/12

 

 

Desert Island Songs of Praise!   Leave a comment

 

Desert Island Songs of Praise!: My Testimony

There’s a long-running BBC Radio Programme called Desert Island Discs, in which the presenter interviews a different guest each week. The guest has to choose eight ’single’ recordings to take with them to an imaginary desert island, on which they will be ’marooned’ for some months with their collection of discs, a ’luxury’ item, the Bible, the Complete Works of Shakespeare and another book of their choice.  I thought I’d use this format to give you my testimony.

1.)  From Sherwood to Bearwood:

Both my parents were Baptists. They met and married 60 yrs ago in mum’s home City of Coventry – Dad was a steelworker from Wolverhampton, who became a pastor during the war. The motto of the town is, ‘out of darkness comes light’, as the MTK team were told when they visited Woverhampton Wanderers to play a football match to raise money for the Hungarian refugees in 1956.

Mum was the daughter of a coalminer and a ribbon weaver. I was born at home, near Nottingham. We moved to Birmingham when I was  eight and I joined the Boys’ Brigade and took part in Festivals of Arts, Sporting Competitions, Drama and Choirs. We often sang the Boys’ Brigade Anthem, ’Will Your Anchor Hold in the Storms of Life?’ based on….

Hebrews 6:19; ’So we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us are greatly encouraged. We have this hope as anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast.’

 

„…erős bátorításunk van nekünk, akik odamenekültünk, hogy belekapaszkodjunk az előttünk levő reménységbe. Ez a reménység lelkünknek biztos és erős horgonya, amely behatol a kárpit mögé.”

 

 

 

 
  
Will your anchor hold in the storms of life,

When the clouds unfurl their wings of strife,

When the strong tides lift, and the cables strain,
 
Will your anchor drift, or firm remain?
 
 
 
We have an anchor which keeps the soul,
Steadfast and Sure while the billows roll,
Fastened to the Rock which cannot move,
Grounded firm and deep in the saviour’s love!
 
 
 

2.)   When I became a teenager, a Caribbean Gospel group came to our church and performed a number of Negro Spirituals and Gospel Songs. At the end of the concert, I gave my life to the Lord andwas baptised on Whit Sunday, just before my fifteenth birthday, almost exactly forty years ago. I became very involved in youth work, forming a rock group, writing musicals and attending Chritian Rock festivals. We were at a ’Youthquake’ event for the city’s young Christians, at the Cathedral, one Saturday night when a huge terrorist bomb exploded in a pub nearby, killing and seriously injuring many young people.  Two of us, both pastors’ sons, began preaching and performing peace songs in B’ham churches. We went on a pilgrimage together to raise money for charity following the hills from the Midlands to the Lake District in northern England, for a distance of 250km along ‘the Pennine Way‘, a long-distance footpath. Every night we read our bibles together, prayed, and washed each other’s feet – Philip had a club foot from birth. We both felt a calling to the ministry, but I decided to qualify as teacher first, in Wales.

Yes! Jesus Loves Me

Yes! Jesus Loves Me (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

 

One of the songs we used in our rock musical was ’Yes, Jesus Loves Me’, which I sang as Phil acted the part of ’Desperate Des’ coming to Christ. The words are based on….

Luke 18:17; Remember this! Whoever does not receive the Kingdom of God like a child will never enter it!

„Bizony, mondom nektek: aki nem úgy fogadja az Isten országot, mint egy kisgyermek, semmiképpen nem megy be abba.”

Jesus loves me! He who died

 Heaven’s gate to open wide;

He will wash away my sin,

Let his little child come in.

Yes, Jesus loves me! (x3)

The Bible tells me so.

 

3.)   The next stage of my journey took me from to Snowdonia and from those Mountains in North Wales to Iona, a small island off the west coast of Scotland where Celtic Christianity was brought to the Saxons from the sixth century.  At the stone altar, made of a huge rock quarried from the island, I rededicated myself to a ministry of reconciliation.

 
Returning to my university, where there was a lot of conflict about the Welsh Ianguage, I learnt Welsh and became a student leader, making many friends among the Welsh Baptists and Congregationalists I lived and studied with.  However, I became critical of the churches and lost my spiritual direction while a research student in south Wales. It was in my final year in Wales, at a Church College in the west, that both my spiritual and physical health returned, as I began running long distances over the hills and along the river valleys.
 
 
 
 
I became a Religious Education teacher, and began my thirty years in my chosen ’vocation’ at a Church School to the north of  Manchester. There I continued running and walking over the Pennine Hills. The words of Paul to the Hebrews often came to my mind, together with the verse from the hymn based on it:

Hebrews 12.1; ’Let us run with patience the race that is set before us’

„..állhatatossággal fussuk meg az előttünk levő pályát.”

Run the Straight Race,

through God’s good grace,

Lift up thine eyes and seek his face;

Life with its way before thee lies,

Christ is the path, and Christ the prize.

During my three years there, it was my Christian colleagues who helped to keep me ’on the straight and narrow path’, though we had lots of fun together too, on various school trips. I attended the local Anglican Church, but felt uncomfortable with its hierarchical organisation and very traditional forms of worship.  So I found the local Quaker meeting and began attending as an ’enquirer’ (Quakers have no formal ministers or services).

4.) From the West Pennine Moors to the Hungarian Puszta

……is a long way in the mind and spirit as well as in body. After visiting me in Lancashire and telling me that he thought I was following his ministry in my own vocation, my father’s death took me home to Coventry, where I continued to teach History and RE.  I went to the Baptist Chapel (with mum), but attended Quaker meetings and then worked for them in Birmingham for three years, while finishing my doctorate. As Quaker teachers, we visited Kecskemét in October 1988, and set up an exchange with the local teachers the next year. One of our visits was to the Reformed Church camp at Emmaus, near Lakitelek. As we walked over the sandy puszta, talking about all our experiences in Hungary, we felt the same sense of enthusiasm for the gospel that Cleopas and his fellow disciple must have felt:


’„Maradj velünk, mert esteledik, a nap is lehanyatlott már!” Bement hát, hogy velük maradjon. És amikor asztalhoz telepedett velük, vette a kenyeret, megáldotta, megtörte és felismerték, ő azonban eltűnt előlük. Ekkor így szóltak egymásnak: „Nem hevült-e a szívünk, amikor beszélt hozzánk az úton, amikor feltárta előttünk az írásokat?” ’

Luke 24:29; ’Abide with us, for it is toward evening, and the day is far spent.’ So he went in to stay with them, took the bread, and said the blessing; then he broke the bread and began to give it to them. Then their eyes were opened and they recognised him, and he disappeared from their sight. They asked each other, ’Wasn’t it like a burning fire within us when he talked to us on the road and opened the scriptures to us? ’

Personally, I was walking in darkness at the time, and meeting and falling in love with Stefi was a clear sign that God’s grace and redemption from sin. The following hymn, based on this passage, promises this:

I need thy presence every passing hour:

What but thy grace can foil the tempter’s power?

Who like thyself my guide and stay can be?

Through cloud and sunshine, O abide with me!

The hymn, Abide with me, written by the Devon pastor, Henry Lyte, is well-known in Britain, as it has been sung before every Football Association Cup Final since 1927. Another good reason to treasure it!

5.) Love Divine: Marriage in Bournville and Kecskemét:

At the Quaker Meeting held to celebrate and bless our ’forthcoming’ marriage in Birmingham the following January, we were given the advice by a  Hungarian 1956 exile,  to ’live adventurously.’  Since then, we’ve never done anything other than to follow this advice! We also sang ’Love Divine, All Loves Excelling’, Charles Wesley’s great hymn about ’the Greatest Love’ which Paul writes of in…..

1 Corinthians 13:13: ’Meanwhile, these three remain: faith, hope, and love; and the greatest of these is love.’

„Most azért megmarad a hit, a remény, a szeretet, e három; ezek közül pedig a legynagyobb a szeretet.”

Love divine, all loves excelling,

Joy of heav’n to earth come down,

Fix in us thy humble dwelling,

All thy faithful mercies crown,

Jesu, thou art all compassion,

Pure unbounded love thou art,

Visit us with thy salvation,

Enter every trembling heart.

 

 

6.) Freedom in Christ; ‘Out of darkness comes the Light’:

The year after our wedding in Kecskemét, Steffan was born here in Kecskemét. We were ’euphoric’, but only spent a short time in Stefi’s home town before I took up a teaching and pastoral role in Pécs.  Here, the British and American teachers met for English-language ’Sunday School’ in our own homes. My mother’s sudden and unexplained accidental death triggered severe depression, a condition inherited from her, which affected my life for much of the next fifteen years. I attended a ’Freedom in Christ’ course held by our church in Canterbury, which, together with counselling and therapy provided by the Health service, helped me come to terms with this ’dark illness’ which I now know has burdened me since childhood.

Although I still lack self-control at times, regaining self-awareness was like being released from a long prison sentence.  This sense of release was like that written about by Paul in Galatians, on which Wesley based his intensely personal hymn about ’Free Grace’:

Galatians 2:20;  ’So it no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me. I refuse to reject the Grace of God.’

„Krisztussal együtt keresztre vagyok feszítve: többé tehát nem én élek, hanem Krisztus él bennem; azt az életet pedig, amit most testben élek, az Isten Fiában való hitben élem, aki szeretett engem, és önmagát adta értem.

En nem vetem el az Isten kegyelmet.”

 

 

And can it be, that I should gain?

 Long my imprisoned spirit lay

Fast bound in sin and nature’s night;

Thine eye diffused a quickening ray, –

I woke, the dungeon filled with light;

My chains fell off, my heart was free,

I rose, went forth, and followed thee.

7.) The Wondrous Story: Chosen to Care.

When Stefi became pregnant with our second son we also ’houseparents’ to fifty international students at a Quaker School in the west of England. On weekends off, we worshipped at the local Baptist Church, where I became a member. At twenty weeks, Stefi’s scan revealed that Oliver’s right hand had not developed, and we were also told that he may have other unseen problems, which could only be diagnosed at birth. Devastated by this news, we were visited by our pastor, Stephen. He listened to all our thinking and emotions, without giving opinions or making judgements. When we asked the common question of him, ’why us?’ he paused for thought, and said that God may well have chosen us to be parents to a disabled child because He felt we could cope with difference and disability.

 
 
 
Suddenly, through our tears, we were given a sense of purpose. When Oliver was born, only the fingers on his right hand were missing. As he’s grown, we’ve also realised how much use he has in the remaining part of the hand.

The name of the Welsh tune, Hyfydol, also means ’wonderful’.When Oliver’s dedication was held, we also rededicated ourself as a whole family, reading the following passage from scripture, on which a verse from the hymn, ’Wondrous Story’ is based.

Matthew 18:10-13; ’See that you don’t despise any of these little ones. Their angels in heaven, I tell you, are always in the presence of my Father… What do you think a man does who has one hundred sheep and one of them gets lost? He will leave the other ninety-nine grazing on the hillside and go and look for the lost sheep…In just the same way your Father in heaven does not want any of these little ones to be lost.’

 

„Vigyázzatok, hogy egyet se vessetek meg e kicsinek közül, mert mondom nektek, hogy angyalaik mindenkor látják a mennyben az én mennyei Atyám arcát… Mit gondoltok? Ha egy embernek száz juha van, és eltéved közülük egy, nem hagyja-e ott a kilencvenkilencet a hegyekben, és nem megy-e el megkeresni az eltévedtet?…Ugyanigy a ti mennyei Atyátok sem akarja, hogy elvesszen egy is e kicsinyek közül.”

I was lost but Jesus found me,

Found the sheep that went astray,

Raised me up and gently led me,

Back into the narrow way.

Yes, I’ll sing the wondrous story,

Of the Christ who died for me,

Sing it with the saints in glory,

Gathered round the crystal sea.

 

8.) The ‘Enchanted Ground’; Bunjan Zarándokútja:

I said at the beginning that, besides the Bible and The Complete Works of Shakespeare, I am allowed to take one other book to the desert island. This would be ’Pilgrim’s Progress’ by the seventeenth-century Bedford Baptist preacher, John Bunyan. Although I listened to and watched the story as a teenager, and have taught it in Literature classes, I’ve never read it cover to cover. Also, apart from its simple, beautiful English, it was the one book which, beside the Bible, could be found on the shelf of almost every English cottage, including my great-grandparents’.

A Zarándok Útja a Biblia mellett a világ legolvasottabb könyve. Ez azértkülönös, mert ennek a klasszikus műnek az iírója egy üstfoltozó volt, aki alig tudott írni és olvasni.

The hymn, ’To be a Pilgrim’, is based on a poem which appears in the narrative near the end of the long pilgrimage, when the pilgrims have reached ’the enchanted ground’. Mr Valiant-for-truth introduces it with the words: ’I believed, and therefore came out, got into the way, fought all that set themselves against me, and, by believing, am come to this place.’

„Hittem így elindultam a zarándokuton, leküzdöttem minden nehézséget, ami utamba került, és hitem által eljutottam e helyre.”

He who would valiant be

’Gainst all disaster,

Let him in constancy

Follow the master;

There’s no discouragement,

Shall make him once relent

His first avowed intent

To be a pilgrim.

 

 

So, by believing, I have come to this place, this ’enchanted ground’, because I believe this is where God needs me to be. The title of Bunyan’s other book, ’Grace abounding to the chief of sinners’, sums up what I feel about my own pilgrimage. I am here, in this enchanted place, despite my own failings and because of his grace, and I have been made to feel most welcome….

Andrew J Chandler

Kecskemét, Hungary, June 2012

Blowing Your Own Trumpet: The True Meaning of ‘Jubilee’   Leave a comment

I’m not good at ‘blowing my own trumpet’, so they tell me. I’m too shy. The British aren’t generally good at it. We have a reputation for ‘reserve’, which we perhaps deserve! Though I can think of some Kings and Prime Ministers who haven’t done too badly at it blowing their own trumpets, our current Queen doesn’t like being the centre of attention, so a four-day event to mark her sixty years as monarch is not, as she sees it, for herself, but for her people.

 

In its origins, the word ‘Jubilee‘ has nothing to do with monarchy. The word was ‘coined’ when Moses received ‘the Law’, long before God reluctantly agreed to let the Hebrews anoint an earthly king to rule over them. Every fiftieth year in Israel was to be a year when the trumpet was, quite literally, blown, to proclaim Liberty to all Israelites who were slaves and the restoration of ancestral property. The land was to remain fallow (Leviticus 25). There is doubt as to whether these laws were ever seriously kept, but the spirit of them was honoured, especially in the way David treated the family of Saul and Jonathan (2 Samuel), as well as in the story of Naomi and Ruth. Kinship ties were very closely related to property-holding for rich and poor alike, and there were strict rules about the buying and selling of land:

 

“The land must not be sold permanently, because the land is mine and you are but aliens and my tenants. Throughout the country that you hold as a possession, you must provide for the redemption of the land.” (Lev 25:23).

 

“If one of your countrymen becomes poor and is unable to support himself among you, help him as you would an alien or a temporary resident, so that he can continue to live among you. Do not take interest of any kind from him, but fear your God, so that your countryman may continue to live among you. You must not lend him money interest or sell him food at a profit. I am the Lord your God, that brought you out of the land of Egypt to give you the land of Canaan and to be your God.

 

“If one of your countrymen becomes poor among you and sells himself to you, do not make him work as a slave. He is to be treated as a hired worker or a temporary resident among you: he is to work for you until the year of the Jubilee. Then he and his children are to be released, and he will go back to his own kin and to the property of his forefathers. Because the Israelites are my servants, whom I brought out of Egypt, they must not be sold as slaves. Do not rule over them ruthlessly, but fear your God.”  (Lev 25: 35-42)

 

The true meaning of Jubilee is that we each have a ‘stake’ in our land, not as permanent owners, because the earth is the Lord’s and we are merely tenants. Even the Queen. Even though we may sell our labour, we are not slaves, and can never be made so by our fellow countrymen. We are all subjects of the Queen, and she is subject to God, as we are. She is the ‘chief’ stake-holder in the land, whose role is to maintain the Liberty of her subjects. Just by being there, she does that. We know that she would not give her assent to any Law which threatened this Liberty, though it has always been enough for her to exercise this power without having to invoke her authority. So, even if some of her subjects would still like to replace her as Head of State and Governor of the Church, we can all still celebrate the past sixty years of Liberty, especially when we look back to the threats posed to it in the troubled sixteen years of her father’s reign. Britons will never surrender to slavery! Amen.

 

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Posted June 3, 2012 by TeamBritanniaHu in Uncategorized

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King and Queen of the Polls: William and Kate   Leave a comment

’King and Queen of the Polls: William and Kate’ (2011)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 Find the following words and phrases in the article and, using the context, give an accurate translation of their meaning into your language:

 

 

 

 

 

massive vote of confidence

to inject new life –

distinctly unaristocratic –

easy charm –

overwhelming majority –

Tellingly –

to poll –

boost –

to survey –

eventually –

respondents –

resounding –

vying with –

to totally approve –

well-wishers –

commoner –

 

 

Talking Points:

Why do you think that a quarter of those asked were negative/ not sure about Kate fitting into the Royal Family?

Why do you think William is the second most popular member of the Royal Family?

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