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Pam
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Post by Pam » Fri Mar 31, 2017 1:51 am

Lent Pictures Day 30

FORGIVENESS

At a bible study group for young offenders I was helping to run, one of the members said one week he blamed God for the bad things that people do to each other.

'If he didn't go round forgiving people' he said, 'they'd know they couldn't get away with it.'

Psalm 30.3-4
3 If you, O Lord, should mark iniquities,
Lord, who could stand?
4 But there is forgiveness with you,
so that you may be revered.
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Post by Ernest » Fri Mar 31, 2017 7:11 am

It does seem to me that being forgiven allows the chains or bondage of hurt and sin to fall away and freedom and peace of heart and spirit. :votive2:

I know that my own experience of repentance and being absolved from the past gave me a huge spiritual boost - like being released from what was holding me back from moving forward in faith and hope.

How helpful the Psalms are for this process. :votive1:
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Pam » Sat Apr 01, 2017 1:01 am

Lent Pictures Day 31

WAIT

I've spent quite a lot of nights watching for the morning. I've never slept well, even as a child, and used to be scared of the dark. So if I was awake on my own, I'd look at the window, waiting for the sky to lighten in colour, and for the first bird to start singing.

Since then, I've spent many nights awake with babies and children who weren't asleep, essays that needed to be written in the quiet, with insomnia, and when in hospital, listening to the slow, beeping progress of the trolley with the monitors on it making its way towards me.

There's a sense of being completely alone in the night, even when surrounded by people, that makes it a 'thin' space for me - a time when God can seem unusually close.

PSALM 130.5-6
5 I wait for the Lord, my soul waits,
and in his word I hope;
6 my soul waits for the Lord
more than those who watch for the morning,
more than those who watch for the morning.
Screen Shot 2017-04-01 at 00.46.32.png

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Post by Ernest » Sat Apr 01, 2017 7:13 am

Many times in my life I was awake in the watches of the night.

Sometimes on Guard

Sometimes watching or on a night shift manning a Radio or other communication means.

Sometimes doing resupply of food, water and fuel to outlying or remote detachments, often on a high point relaying messages and communications to other high points.

We tend to be vulnerable at night - perhaps it's symbolism of being frightened in our childhood, or reading stories of ghosts and apparitions in the night.

When you are awake because of duty - that seems to remove the fears - you have a job to do and failure isn't an option - the consequences of failure could be damage or death to to you or to your comrades. Not a good thing to contemplate.

It can also be a time to reflect on God, and even at a time when I refused to acknowledge God, it still ran through my mind, that there had to be something 'other' than just me and the science of the universe and creation. And finally when the break through comes - how glorious is the outcome.

All fears are banished
Confidence that you're are in the right place and time, with the right people - serving others, but also serving God. Result as they say in these modern time. :minicandle:
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Joe Parrish » Sat Apr 01, 2017 2:38 pm

Hi Pam,
I just made the Lenten tour of all your pictures and reflections, beginning last year in Iceland. It is an impressive journey. Thanks for all your thoughts and photos. As I am reflecting on tomorrow's gospel about Lazarus being raised from the dead, it strikes me that this is where Lent is leading us, to view death face to face, and then find the incredible relief that One who is stronger than death is always on the way to us. Resusitation is wonderful. Resurrection is the greatest. This is the ending we all seek.
Peace and blessings,
Joe
Peace and blessings,
Joe

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Post by Pam » Sun Apr 02, 2017 1:58 am

Thank you, Joe. It's good to have people join me in my Lent journey. I'm never sure where it will take me!

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Post by Pam » Sun Apr 02, 2017 2:00 am

Lent Pictures Day 32

REDEEM

I've never used a pawnbroker, but my mum was familiar with them from growing up in a poor community. When a family's cash ran out, they could take whatever objects of value they had in the house to the pawn shop, and be loaned a sum of money in exchange. On pay day, you took your pawn ticket back to the shop and to buy back, or 'redeem', your valuables, at a higher price than you'd received for it. If you couldn't afford to redeem your property, it would eventually be sold to repay your loan.

Psalm 130 speaks of God's intention to redeem us. Not only does he have the great power needed to do this - but he does it because of his steadfast love for us.

Psalm 130.7-8

7 O Israel, hope in the Lord!
For with the Lord there is steadfast love,
and with him is great power to redeem.
8 It is he who will redeem Israel
from all its iniquities.
Screen Shot 2017-04-02 at 01.46.37.png

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Post by Ernest » Sun Apr 02, 2017 6:28 am

Being redeemed is something that we all are.

And I recall my father going to a Pawnbroker quite often. He had a valuable, gold watch, which when we were short of money and the National Assistance would not (or could not help) He would pawn the watch for £10 or so, which would last us a week.

When he was paid, he'd go right back and redeem it - only to repeat the cycle before the next pay day.

The rules were you could leave it for six months and if you didn't redeem it in that time, you lost it and it was sold for whatever the pawn broker could get for it - generally for a profit.

The inevitable happened - an injury at work causedI a period of unemployment without sick pay (not always available in those days, for people who were casual workers on a building site) and he lost the watch.

In the days, before readily available benefits - the pawn broker was a sort of safety net for people in our situation - money lenders by another name - but they did not charge interest, always hoping to make a profit when the item wasn't redeemed.

Probably much better than the illegal money lenders who are the scourge of the poor in some places these days and even the legal ones like Wonga, who exploited peoples vulnerability and got away with it for years. Now out of business.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Joyce » Sun Apr 02, 2017 12:33 pm

' Redeemed' is also the word on amazon.co.uk when a gift card has been used or been credited to the recipient's amazon account. Since reading 'redeemed' as the word of the day, I've been pondering on how far that goes as a metaphor for what Jesus did for us. Claiming a gift, putting it to our own use. Tremendous.
But what about the alternative : saving it for later, making one's own contribution if it's not quite enough for what is wanted ?

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Post by Ernest » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:04 pm

A valid question.

Our response to being redeemed has to be whole hearted and with our full strength. Unfortunately, the world and selfishness often gets in our way. But we can redeem that by repenting and aspire to do better - each time.

Remembering Jesus telling the disciples that forgiveness needs to be seventy times seventy and more - if we are forgiven, than we must forgive and allow others to be redeemed.

One of my fav hymns https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lQSuTP5OHBE
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Ernest » Sun Apr 02, 2017 7:05 pm

Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Pam » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:29 am

Lent Pictures Day 33

RESURRECT

This picture was taken in my garden in Spring last year. The plant it shows is some kind of tall shrub, which dies back to being a bunch of very dead-looking, tall sticks in the winter, which suddenly sprout abundant green leaves and yellow flowers just after the daffodils have come out.

The annual miracle of Spring, like the daily miracle of sunrise, is something we take for granted. We're used to the ability of living things to rise again - to spring forth from the ground - in response to the warmth and light of the lengthening days.

The story of Lazarus tells how Jesus told his friend, who had died, to come forth out of the grave, and he did. Jesus had told Lazarus's sister, Martha, 'I am the resurrection and the life', and demonstrated it, by bringing Lazarus back.

This displeases the religious leaders. Any outburst of religious fanaticism will, the believe, put Jerusalem and the Jewish people in danger. So they plot for Jesus' death.
Lazarus has been brought back from the dead - but, like the shrub in my garden, he will die again in the natural course of things. Jesus' resurrection will destroy death.

The story of Lazarus (John 11) can be found here:
http://bible.oremus.org/?ql=358175470
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Post by Ernest » Mon Apr 03, 2017 6:59 am

The story of Lazarus in John is interesting. Our Curate preached on it yesterday.

In discussion afterwards he commented that he had done some extensive research on it.

1. The story only appears in John's Gospel. Why not in the Synoptic Gospels?

2. It is right in the middle of the Gospel, rounding up a schedule of Jesus' healing acts.

3. There is some thinking that John was inspired to write this story, with so many connections and similarities to the Resurrection story, including the face being covered by a single cloth.

4. We will never know the truth of this or not, this side of eternity - but it's interesting speculation.
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God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
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Post by Joe Parrish » Mon Apr 03, 2017 2:44 pm

There is a pretty good consensus that the Gospel according to John was a collection of preaching texts and theological reflections and usually not a chronologically arranged retelling of the Jesus story. For example, the beheading of John is not even mentioned in John's gospel but is in Mark 6, Matthew 13, and Luke 9, in the first half or even quarter of the synoptic texts, and to those writers it seems to be the warning that Jesus will face similar death consequences. Whereas the raising of Lazarus is the last straw in John's gospel leading to the crucifixion. John's gospel which appeared around 95 AD is seventy years after the crucifixion, at least two generations later, so the community of John had probably heard and/or preached many sermons about Jesus' life; even the Last Supper is missing as such in John and appears only as a reflection on the body of Jesus being the bread of life in John 6 in the first third of that gospel. Now it is thought that the interest the other gospels aroused about Jesus' life resulted in a wealthy person, Theophilus, around 120 AD engaging a careful historian, who was later named Luke, to research all records and bring to light some other important stories that had been omitted by the other gospel writers, such as the good Samaritan, the shepherds at Christmas, the Magnificat, etc. The Lazarus story may imply Jesus is crying that his people, the Jews, are 'dead', but even they have hope.
Peace and blessings,
Joe
Peace and blessings,
Joe

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Post by Pam » Tue Apr 04, 2017 1:35 am

Lent Pictures Day 34

FOREVER

I remember, when I was little, being fascinated by the picture on a packet of Kensitas cigarettes. I think my grandpa smoked them. They showed a butler with tray, on which there was a pack of Kensitas cigarettes, showing a butler with a tray, with a pack of Kensitas cigarettes on it. The picture seemed to go on forever, though of course I couldn't see it going on forever.

I found out recently this kind of picture is known as a Droste picture, from an advert for Droste drinking chocolate which uses the same kind of image.

Like most people, my mind has a problem grasping certain concepts, and eternity is one of them. One of the reasons I stopped believing in God when I was a child was that being with God forever sounded quite boring, but the only other option seemed to be going to hell, which sounded a bit frightening. So I opted out of the whole thing for a while.
Psalm 118 opens by repeatedly assuring us that God's love lots forever. God's love is an even harder concept to grasp for this human mind. The Hebrew word that is used for love is CHECED ('kheh'-sed') translated as 'goodness, kindness, faithfulness'. We experience all these things in human relationships - but sometimes they fail. Believing in, and trusting, God's unfailing CHECED that lasts forever is an act of faith that can take a lifetime to learn.

Psalm 118.1-4
A Song of Victory
1 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;
his steadfast love endures for ever!
2 Let Israel say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’
3 Let the house of Aaron say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’
4 Let those who fear the Lord say,
‘His steadfast love endures for ever.’Psalm 118
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Post by Ernest » Tue Apr 04, 2017 6:37 am

So many coincidences.

My father smoked these cigarettes. When he died at 63, after being taken into hospital as an emergency due to pneumonia, I came back from Germany and went to the hospital to collect his belongings and to get the paperwork to register his death.

The only thing that he had taken to hospital with him, was a packet of of those cigarettes - which lives in my memory, now, more than 23 years later. His diabetes killed him, but the cigarettes contributed as they damaged his lungs, heart and circulation, which led directly to two amputations.

The Psalm here is quite appropriate. Father had lots to be forgiven for - most of which I can't bring myself to discuss, suffice it to say, and Angry Man, damaged by wartime PTSD and his childhood - who visited that anger onto his children.

Lord have Mercy :votive1:
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Pam » Wed Apr 05, 2017 1:30 am

Lent Pictures Day 35

REFUGE

A refuge is a place of safety, a place to hide in. Psalm 118 talks of God moving the psalmist to a broad place in answer to a cry of distress, and tells us that it is better to take refuge in the Lord than put our confidence in people.

The idea of taking refuge in the Lord reminds me of the image of God as a mother bird gathering her chicks under her wings, which occurs several times in the bible, (e.g. Luke 13.34, Jesus says 'How often have I desired to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you were not willing!').

God is the place of safety, as well as the protector.

Psalm 118.5-9
5 Out of my distress I called on the Lord;
the Lord answered me and set me in a broad place.
6 With the Lord on my side I do not fear.
What can mortals do to me?
7 The Lord is on my side to help me;
I shall look in triumph on those who hate me.
8 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in mortals.
9 It is better to take refuge in the Lord
than to put confidence in princes.
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Post by Ernest » Wed Apr 05, 2017 6:44 am

My image is of Jesus as a big brother, who takes on my distress, calms and cuddles me and lifts me onto his shoulders to carry me or guides me safely home.

There is a hymn which says something like that:

https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/996


https://www.hymnal.net/en/hymn/h/701
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Pam » Thu Apr 06, 2017 12:12 am

Lent Pictures Day 36

HELP

The cat was sitting in the hall today looking very attentively at something. It turned out to be a large bee buzzing around in circles on the floor.

I got the bee onto a spoon and put it outside, not wanting self or cat to be stung by it.

I realised with hindsight that I hadn't helped as much as I could have. Apparently you're meant to give bees in this condition some sugar water to drink as they're exhausted and need energy so they can fly off. My urge to help was overridden by my urge to protect myself by getting the bee out of the house.

Psalm 118 talk about God helping in a battle which sounds very one sided, one person against many. God helps to turn the battle at the point where the psalmist's strength is failing.

Psalm 118.10-14

10 All nations surrounded me; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
11 They surrounded me, surrounded me on every side; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
12 They surrounded me like bees; they blazed like a fire of thorns; in the name of the Lord I cut them off!
13 I was pushed hard, so that I was falling, but the Lord helped me.
14 The Lord is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation.
Screen Shot 2017-04-06 at 00.03.46.png
Picture by Hamody al-iraqi (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

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Post by Ernest » Thu Apr 06, 2017 6:59 am

Sometimes the Psalmist's overwhelm us with their word pictures.

I can recall in Army situations, where we were in danger of being overtaken by events - how we struggled too overcome the situation - in these situations, training takes over and you do a 'situational awareness' survey and ask the 'so what' question on each option you choose to recover and to fight back.

Sometimes retreat is the only option (called a strategic withdrawal) but in God's terms, there is no retreat from the spiritual fight against evil. Surrounded on all sides and in danger of being overwhelmed, we have to trust in his strength to overcome.

How often though, do we retreat from the fight and allow evil to win? The saying that all it needs for evil to win is for a good man to look the other way. :angryfire:
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Pam » Fri Apr 07, 2017 1:03 am

Lent Pictures Day 37

VICTORY

Winning can be exhilarating. I remember going to greet Coventry City football team in 1987 on their return from Wembley with the FA cup. It's hard to say why I was exhilarated - I'm not a football fan - but seeing people succeeding is uplifting.

One of the most striking symbols of victory I can think of is the famous V for Victory sign used by Winston Churchill in World War 2 to keep people's spirits up. Churchill suffered from depression, so he could be seen as an unexpected morale-booster, but by his words and actions he focussed people's efforts on the positive goal of victory rather than the more nebulous one of keeping going.

Psalm 118.15-18

15 There are glad songs of victory in the tents of the righteous:
‘The right hand of the Lord does valiantly;
16 the right hand of the Lord is exalted;
the right hand of the Lord does valiantly.’
17 I shall not die, but I shall live,
and recount the deeds of the Lord.
18 The Lord has punished me severely,
but he did not give me over to death.
Screen Shot 2017-04-07 at 00.45.38.png

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Post by Ernest » Fri Apr 07, 2017 8:03 am

I suspect Victory is in the eyes of the Victorious, with little attention to the defeated.

In business and life generally, being successful is regarded as a victory, no matter how many people you have squashed, harmed or put down on the way up. Is this type of Victory moral or Godly? I doubt it.

When the mark of success is linked to mammon and personal status, is that a victory for the Devil, it certainly doesn't sound like it to me.

I recall in the Army, when an individual seemed to receive promotion slowly, they were often described as 'having reached their ceiling' which was a cruel way of saying that they had no further potential to progress to a higher grade or different sort of work. I always found this distasteful and did my best to encourage such people to prove the system wrong.

I remember after the Falklands War, the hoo hah about Victory, ignoring the human cost of such a victory. Two friends of mine died in the conflict, and were killed by a so called :paranoid: :paranoid: :paranoid: #blueonblue incident or even called 'friendly fire', both terms used to soften the news of a tragic mistake, and to avoid being held accountable. The fog of war is another description that seeks to excuse the indiscriminate bombing of targets which kills civilians and innocents.

I am now a pacifist - and find the whole glorification of victory distasteful and even sinful. Perhaps I have turned the cheek, where before I might have been tempted to fight.
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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Post by Pam » Fri Apr 07, 2017 11:58 pm

Lent Pictures Day 38

GRATITUDE

This year, i-church members have been reading Archbishop Justin Welby's DETHRONING MAMMON as our Lent book.

Welby draws a strong contrast between the culture of Mammon - allowing property and money to determine our actions - and God's economy of grace, abundance and generosity.

In this week's chapter WHAT WE GIVE WE GAIN, Welby refers to zero-sum approach to money - where it is assumed there is a limited amount of money and property, and what one person has, another person loses. This, he says, is the point of view that Mammon creates in us.

Welby contrasts the zero-sum approach with the divine economy of abundance. He describes how Scrooge, in A Christmas Carol, gains from becoming generous, with mended relationships with his employee Bob Cratchit and his nephew. "His life as a miser has been one of broken relationships, lost loves, oppressed employees, loneliness and poverty in almost every way. His life as a generous man makes him infinitely richer."

In the 1970 musical, Scrooge, the song Thank You Very Much is first heard in Scrooge's vision of his own death, when his neighbours are literally dancing on his coffin because his death has freed them from their debts to him. The musical ends with a reprise of Thank You Very Much, in which Scrooge's new-found joy in being alive spills over into acts of generosity to his neighbours, to which they respond with gratitude towards the previously hated money-lender.

It's not very seasonal, but when I saw a production recently, I was reminded that the word Eucharist, means thank you. When we feel glad to be alive. we should be as full of gratitude as Scrooge is, and respond with equal generosity.

Psalm 118:19-24
19 Open to me the gates of righteousness,
that I may enter through them
and give thanks to the Lord.
20 This is the gate of the Lord;
the righteous shall enter through it.
21 I thank you that you have answered me
and have become my salvation.
22 The stone that the builders rejected
has become the chief cornerstone.
23 This is the Lord’s doing;
it is marvellous in our eyes.
24 This is the day that the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it


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Post by Pam » Sun Apr 09, 2017 1:23 am

Lent Pictures Day 39

PROCLAIM

Angels are messengers from God. When they visit humans, they bring news of God.

To proclaim is to shout loudly about something to draw attention to it. The end of Psalm 118 proclaims that God's goodness and kindness towards us is unfailing.

How can we proclaim this news, in a world which finds it hard to believe it?

Psalm 118.25-29

25 Save us, we beseech you, O Lord!
O Lord, we beseech you, give us success!
26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord.
We bless you from the house of the Lord.
27 The Lord is God,
and he has given us light.
Bind the festal procession with branches,
up to the horns of the altar.
28 You are my God, and I will give thanks to you;
you are my God, I will extol you.
29 O give thanks to the Lord, for he is good,
for his steadfast love endures for ever.
Screen Shot 2017-04-09 at 01.17.45.png
Giotto, The Angel Gabriel Sent by God, via Wikimedia Commons

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Post by Ernest » Sun Apr 09, 2017 6:35 am

I have drafted a sermon for Maundy Thursday, concentrating on John's Gospel for that day. It's about the Great love that Jesus showed for his disciples, and how he gave them the great commandment to love each other as he had loved them.

Lots to ponder on, but some great inspiration through your lent posts. :thumbs:
Where there is hope and love there is life!
God is Life!
God is Hope!
God is Love!
God Is!!

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