Friday, 31 December 2010
to the sight of light at the window,
begin to the roar of morning traffic
all along Pembroke Road.
Every beginning is a promise
born in light and dying in dark determination
and exaltation of springtime
flowering the way to work.
Begin to the pageant of queuing girls
the arrogant loneliness of swans in the canal
bridges linking the past and the future
old friends passing through with us still.
Begin to the loneliness that cannot end
since it perhaps is what makes us begin,
begin to wonder at unknown faces
at crying birds in the sudden rain
at branches stark in the willing sunlight
at seagulls foraging for bread
at couples sharing a sunny secret
alone together while making good.
Though we live in a world that dreams of ending
that always seems about to give in
something that will not acknowledge conclusion
insists that we forever begin.
Thursday, 30 December 2010
As we enter a New Year here are some truths
that every child of God can count on...
God loves you.
God will guide you.
God will not fail you.
God will be with you.
God will provide for you.
God will bless you.
God will give you rest.
God will strengthen you.
God will answer you.
God will uphold you.
God will keep you
Friday, 24 December 2010
Yeshua, at your birth, did the angels
sing Vivaldi’s Gloria? and the shepherds,
did they play jaws harp, Jews’ harp, tonguing
Dvořák’s New World Symphony? The spheres —
were they humming, as twilight turned
from tangerine to emerald, and down
to a drear and turquoise basso — did the stars
sound out Bruckner, Brahms and Bach? --
That sheep may safely graze. . . Or was it merely
the snuffling of animals in their stalls, dawn-music
played each morning in the small farms, the opening
of stable doors, or city-sounds of preparation
for another day, like an orchestra tuning up, this
puer natus, this image of love, of God invisible.
I would like to wish all the faithful visitors to this
Blog a Blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year
Thursday, 23 December 2010
Most noble Contessina, I salute you. Believe me your most devoted servant.
Contessina, forgive an old man's babble. But I am your friend, and my love for you goes deep.
There is nothing I can give you which you have not got;
but there is much, very much, that, while I cannot give it, you can take.
No Heaven can come to us unless our hearts find rest in it today. Take Heaven!
No peace lies in the future which is not hidden in this present little instant. Take peace!
The gloom of the world is but a shadow. Behind it, yet within our reach, is joy.
There is radiance and glory in the darkness, could we but see; and to see, we have only to look.
Contessina, I beseech you to look.
Life is so generous a giver, but we, judging its gifts by their covering,
cast them away as ugly or heavy or hard.
Remove the covering, and you will find beneath it a living splendour,
woven of love, by wisdom, with power.
Welcome it, grasp it, and you touch the angel's hand that brings it to you.
Everything we call a trial, a sorrow, or a duty, believe me,
that angel's hand is there; the gift is there,
and the wonder of an overshadowing Presence.
Our joys, too: Be not content with them as joys, as they too conceal diviner gifts.
Life is so full of meaning and of purpose,
so full of beauty--beneath its covering--that you will find that earth but cloaks your heaven.
Courage, then, to claim it: That is all!
But courage you have, and the knowledge that we are pilgrims together, wending through unknown country, home.
And so, at this Christmastime, I greet you, not quite as the world sends greetings,
but with profound esteem, and with the prayer that for you, now and forever,
the day breaks and the shadows flee away.
Monday, 20 December 2010
There are many today who sigh to heaven, "Saviour, come now!" But they are not sighing for the sake of God's kingdom. They cry out like this only when they are in trouble and want God to help them. And they don't know of any help that is more effective than to have a Saviour come and put a quick end to their troubles.
When it comes to the things of God, however, we must not be concerned for what is ours, but only for what belongs to Christ. We should do this not merely for our own edification; we must become workers for God. This leads us to God's vineyard, a place where there is not a great deal of talk, but where everyone is intent on deeds.
This is what it means to prepare for Advent. Jesus says, "Be ready for action, and have your lamps lit; be like those who are waiting for their master to return from the wedding banquet...blessed is the slave whom his master will find at work when he arrives" (Luke 12:35-48). Here Jesus is speaking of his disciples and their preparation for his coming. Take note that God's kingdom is not formed by any human discovery or intention, however daring and noble, but by the coming of Christ. Our faith, our ardour, must be for this coming. Otherwise it would be better to put aside our meditations on Advent. The reign of God is a marvellous thing. To worldly wisdom God's kingdom seems like foolishness, and yet it gives shape to the whole world, the whole creation, making it God's eternal coming.
But look out! When someone holds a light in his hand and shines it here and there, he is immediately asked, "What business have you here?" Thus so many people let their light go out again. It is too awkward, too inconvenient to keep holding up a light and showing people the dirt and saying, "There, clean that up; the way you are doing things now isn't right in God's eyes. Cut off your hand! Tear out your eye! Cut off your foot!" - as Jesus says, figuratively, when there is something about the hand or eye or foot that stands in God's way.
This is what it means to watch. If you look for the truth in small matters you will not go astray in big ones. You will be able to recognize truth there and carry out the command that comes. Let us keep staunch in our eagerness to do whatever comes to us of the truth. Then there will be knocks on our door, over and over, and God's coming will not be hidden. For devoted hearts the light will keep dawning from him who is merciful and compassionate.
Christoph Friedrich Blumhardt
Sunday, 19 December 2010
A young girl who was writing an essay for school came to her father and asked, "Dad, what is the difference between anger and exasperation?" The father replied, "It is mostly a matter of degree. Let me show you what I mean." With that the father went to the telephone and dialled a number at random. To the man who answered the phone, he said, "Hello, is Brian there?" The man answered, "There is no one living here named Brian. Why don't you learn to look up numbers before you dial". "See," said the father to his daughter. "That man was not a bit happy with our call. He was probably very busy with something and we annoyed him. Now watch...." The father dialled the number again. "Hello, is Brian there?" asked the father. "Now look here!" came the heated reply. "You just called this number and I told you that there is no Brian here! You've got some nerve calling again!" The receiver slammed down hard. The father turned to his daughter and said, "You see, that was anger. Now I'll show you what exasperation means." He dialled the same number, and when a violent voice roared, "Hello!" The father calmly said, "Hello, this is Brian. Have there been any calls for me?"
Saturday, 18 December 2010
There is a better thing than the observance of Christmas Day,
and that is keeping Christmas.
Are you willing to forget what you have done for other people
and to remember what other people have done for you?
To ignore what the world owes you,
and to think what you owe the world?
To admit that the only good reason for your existence is
not what you are going to get out of life,
but what you are going to give to life?
Are you willing to stoop down and consider the needs
and desires of little children?
To remember the weakness and loneliness
of people who are growing old?
To stop asking how much your friends like you,
and ask yourself whether you love them enough?
To try to understand what those who live
in the same house with you really want,
without waiting for them to tell you?
To make a grave for your ugly thoughts
and a garden for your kindly feelings, with the gate open?
Are you willing to do these things even for a day?
Then you can keep Christmas.
Are you willing to believe that love
is the strongest thing in the world--
stronger than hate, stronger than death--
and that the blessed Life which began in
Bethlehem many years ago is the image
and brightness of eternal love?
Then you can keep Christmas.
Thursday, 9 December 2010
Our political parties seem incapable of taking their fiscal scalpel to the very rich in our society while the poor are a soft target upon which a surgical strike can easily be made. The gross unfairness of this recurring injustice is already causing some to look politically in directions that they would never have considered before, especially to the parties of the ultra left like Sinn Fein. I think if I was in one of the targeted ‘poor’ groups and everything else being equal I would at least be listening with a keener ear to the ‘sharing the wealth of the nation’ rhetoric of these left wing Republicans. The widespread cynicism towards politicians of all hues plays well for the S.F.’ers and it is likely that this party will experience an upsurge of support in the upcoming election. As matters economic have upstaged every other issue for the last two years it will hardly matter where the Left stand on issues such as abortion and gay marriage, if they manage to persuade those marginalised by the cuts that a fairer society is around the corner. And if that happens we have only the cavalier behaviour of our politicians and bankers to blame, for consistently ignoring the mass of citizens of this state as they ploughed merrily on rampaging and devastating the wealth of the nation.
If nothing else the events of the last two years have clearly shown that the Money men call the shots in 21st century Europe. The mysterious Bondholders who gamble staggering amounts of money on international markets are the behind-the-scene figures upon which the future of whole states depend. Perhaps we should have paid closer attention to the unmasking of the real controller of this world in the pages of the New Testament. Jesus blew the whistle on the old enemy when He announced, “ Now is the time for judgment on this world; now the prince of this world will be driven out.” (John 12:31)) Early in His public mission Jesus had encountered the Ruler of this world (Matthew 4:1-11) and wrestled with him in the wilderness, in fact one of Satan’s temptations was to offer the Lord ‘all the kingdoms of this world’, ( implying that they were his to give.)
The heart of the economic realities that affect all our lives is hard and relentless and often energised by a spirit that is anti-God and excludes those who are weakest among us. Jesus put it starkly when He said that a follower of His could not serve God and Mammon (the world’s monetary spirit). We ignore the poor among us at our peril not just because of the potential of social unrest but because their interests are close to God’s heart and we are obligated to love them in real practical ways. How sad that Sinn Fein should be one of the few voices raised in their defence, where is the public Christian outcry at these viscous cuts that will effect those least able to afford them. We stay silent wrapped up in our own comfort zone at a terrible price, while a whole generation are seduced by loud and bold declarations that in the end can never deliver the sought for equality and justice. The ‘god’ of this world can only be overcome in the power of the ‘Prince of Peace’ who alone can take away our hearts of stone and transform us from within. The real revolution turns one life at a time, day by day into a force for change that even the Gates of Hell cannot withstand.
Sunday, 5 December 2010
There are gifts to buy, meals to make, trips to take, decorations to be hung, songs to be sung, places to go, people to see…
It's December 5th and I'm already tired. Anyone else?
I read the words... Be still and know that I am God. Psalm 46:10
But how can I be still when there's so much going on?
Of course, the first answer is to simplify my life.
Yet the kind of stillness God is talking about isn't just about my circumstances. It's about being still on the inside.
I have stilled and quieted my soul; like a weaned child with its mother. Psalm 131:2 What is a weaned child like? One that has learned to stop asking for more, more, more and instead simply rests in the arms of love, love, love.
My hurry and stress come from that want of more. I want to do more, be more, pack more in to these few short days. Then it seems God whispers to my heart, "Enough. You are enough. You have enough. In the middle of the busy, make a quiet place inside and stay with me. My love is what you really need."
I settle, quiet down, breathe a sigh of relief. The miracle of Christmas?
God came for us so we could come to Him. Even (especially) in the busy, broken, chaos of our lives.
'Tis the season to be still.
We have tested and tasted too much, lover-
Through a chink too wide there comes in no wonder.
But here in the Advent-darkened room
Where the dry black bread and the sugarless tea
Of penance will charm back the luxury
Of a child's soul, we'll return to Doom
The knowledge we stole but could not use.
And the newness that was in every stale thing
When we looked at it as children: the spirit-shocking
Wonder in a black slanting Ulster hill
Or the prophetic astonishment in the tedious talking
Of an old fool will awake for us and bring
You and me to the yard gate to watch the whins
And the bog-holes, cart-tracks, old stables where Time begins
O after Christmas we'll have no need to go searching
For the difference that sets an old phrase burning-
We'll hear it in the whispered argument of a churning
Or in the streets where the village boys are lurching.
And we'll hear it among decent men too
Who barrow dung in gardens under trees,
Wherever life pours ordinary plenty.
Won't we be rich, my love and I, and
God we shall not ask for reason's payment,
The why of heart-breaking strangeness in dreeping hedges
Nor analyse God's breath in common statement.
We have thrown into the dust-bin the clay-minted wages
Of pleasure, knowledge and the conscious hour-
And Christ comes with a January flower.
Saturday, 27 November 2010
Saturday, 20 November 2010
WE HAVE A PRAYER !
O God, I beg two favours from you;
let me have them before I die.
First, help me never to tell a lie.
Second, give me neither poverty nor riches!
Give me just enough to satisfy my needs.
For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?”
And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.
Proverbs 30: 7-9
As the International Monetary Fund negotiate with our government as to the extent of our economic rescue package and the atmosphere of fear amongst the general population grows, truly these are uncertain times. During our Celtic Tiger feeding frenzy, Consumerism became the new Irish state religion, and by now the shopping trips to New York would have been booked as hordes of Gaels descended upon the U.S. metropolis in search of seasonal gifts. I heard that at the peak of the Boom we joined the global league for ownership of most helicopters per head of population (handy for popping off to race meetings, don’t you know). Things are different now though, as our European paymasters take control of our economic affairs ( and by extension, our sovereignty), and we wait with deep foreboding for Budget Day on December 7th. The air of gloom is real and palpable and it seems as if many will face even deeper cuts into their income or welfare allowances. There might be an upside to all of this if the coming era of austerity causes us as a nation to rediscover that life does not consist just of consumerable things but that there are qualities like truth and love which are essential to the functioning of a vibrant and healthy society. These lost gems reflect our spiritual aspect which can be smothered by the glitter and glam of the world. I would argue that as a nation we have sold our birthright for a bowl of EU subsidy pottage, and now we are beginning to reap that whirlwind.
Wednesday, 17 November 2010
In they patient care;
By thy love before, behind us,
Round us everywhere;
Lest the god of this world blind us,
Lest he speak us fair,
Lest he forge a chain to bind us,
Lest he bait a snare.
Turn not from us, call to mind us,
Find embrace us, bear;
Be thy love before, behind us,
Round us, everywhere.
Friday, 12 November 2010
Sunday, 7 November 2010
I saw a great idea for a gift the other day, a Thank You journal. Now before you say anything the venture is in aid of the Hospice movement who do such outstanding work in the care of the terminally ill and each year they come up with a creative fund raising venture to tie in with the Christmas spending spree. The Journal has a few ‘celebrity’ entries to get the ball rolling and the idea is a simple one, to record the everyday things for which we may be grateful. I think it’s a great idea even if the thought of saying ‘thanks’ seems a bit hollow when not addressed to anyone in particular, so I’d suggest for believers the ‘thank you’ would be addressed to God, the giver of every good gift. Sometimes saying ‘thanks’ is the hardest thing as when Jesus healed the ten lepers and only one returned to thank Him. The Bible is full of examples of being thankful in both the New and Old Testaments , “ Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift” ( 2 Corinthians 9: 15) and "Let them give thanks to the Lord for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for men."(Psalm 107:8 ). In fact the practise of ‘thanksgiving’ is mentioned as the antidote to worry and stress by Paul the Apostle when he advised, "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God."(Philippians 4:6 ). There is what I’ll call the ‘sublime’ thanksgiving for the marvellous aspects of God’s dealings with us and then there is the more ‘prosaic’ thanks we should remember for those little blessings which sometimes creep right by us without our notice. It’s the little blessings I’d like to concentrate on in my efforts here to create my very own ‘Thank You’ journal…so here goes…
Thank you Lord for…
A friend calling my name to join them in walking to town.
The healing effect of a live music gig.
The soothing effect of Manuka honey on a sore throat.
For meeting an old friend after many years.
Walking through the brilliantly coloured autumnal leaves.
Getting through a long day at work.
Being inside in front of the fire waiting for the storm.
The thrill of flicking through ‘Soundings’ (my Poetry book from school) after 35 years.
Seeing the Shannon at high tide.
Author Sheila Flanagan launches the Hospice fundraiser.
You can find out more about the Irish Hospice Foundation’s ‘The Thank You Book’ here,
Saturday, 30 October 2010
Depression is an affliction that seems to be on the increase, with many bent low under its oppressive weight. There does not appear to be any one quick cure for this ailment and the believing child of God is as susceptible to its grip as anyone else. Counselling can be useful and sometimes medication will help to see a person through their darkest days, but we also look beyond ourselves in time of distress to our loving Heavenly Father for help and healing. Ironically it’s at times when we most need to lift our hearts in prayer that we find it difficult to put into words what we are feeling and what we desire of God. This little prayer can be said by someone going through the valley of depression or can be said on their behalf by a concerned brother or sister. Mental anguish can disable the sufferer from the ability to act for himself and it is incumbent on the body of Christians to lift and support each other during times of trial. Often all we can do is to listen and pray and trust the Lord to provide a way of release for our afflicted brother or sister. May God in His mercy give each one of us the necessary grace and wisdom to be a comfort and a support for all who are so afflicted. ~GOSh.~
Oh Lord, as I sit here in the middle of all my mess, I don't
have much strength or energy to pray. But I'm lifting up my head and my eyes to You because I know deep in my heart that You have the power to do all things. I believe that You want me to be happy and healthy more than I do. And I know you have a good plan for my life.
God, as I bring you my pain, please turn it into something good. Please heal me. Your Word says that ALL things work together for good to those who love You and are called according to Your purpose. Let my healing be a testimony to all the GREAT things you do every day.
I just raise my head to thank you Lord. Thank you for hearing me. Thank you for loving me enough to take care of me. And thank you for showing me what I need to do to feel better.
I ask and receive everything in Jesus' name.
Friday, 29 October 2010
Thursday, 28 October 2010
"Some sceptics say, ‘Oh, the miracles. I can’t accept miracles.’ "Well consider this then. One may drop a brown seed...
and up comes a green shoot. You let it grow...
and soon enough you’ll pull up a root that is red.
Now you cut that red root and you find it has a white heart.
"Can anyone tell me how this comes about—
how brown cast into black turns up green
with red underneath and white inside?
Yet you eat your radish without even thinking of it as a miracle.…
Everyday is a miracle—a miracle of life that sustains our hope!"
In these difficult times pubs like every other business are feeling the pinch, so this enterprising publican in Ennistymon is covering all the bases in this inclusive sign that mentions everything bar the kitchen sink.
This must be the most redundant book title ever to grace the shelves of an Irish bookshop. There are many areas of human endeavour that we as a nation may need guidance and instruction in but how to drink is not one of them. In fact a more necessary title might be 'How To Stop' ! I spotted the book in a tourist shop in beautiful Ballyvaughaun.
Saturday, 23 October 2010
He seems to come in like the leaves -
Blown in at the open window ...
And always, I've noticed,
At an inconvenient time -
Right in the middle of the washing.
He looks at me and shows me these holes in his hand.
And, well, I can see them in his feet.
'Not again,' I say,
'Please don't stand there bleeding
All over the kitchen floor.'
Sometimes he comes softly, sadly,
At night - close, by the side of my bed -
Sometimes I latch the door -
But he never goes away.
Tuesday, 19 October 2010
O Lord God,
As I survey the stormy economic seas troubling our nation,
Troubling me, my family, my friends, my community,
I ask Lord that we may steady ourselves in these winds of change,
By reaching out to you, being stronger servants.
O Lord God,
You banished Adam from the garden for disobedience.
You told him to work with the scare resources of the earth.
I ask Lord that we may learn to manage our resources more wisely,
By reaching out to you, being wiser stewards.
O Lord God,
You told the rich young ruler to give everything up and follow,
You understand the material walls we build to shut you out,
I ask Lord that we may constantly seek to break down the barriers,
By reaching out to you, being better disciples.
O Lord God,
You provide all that we need to live a life fulfilled,
You never abandon us even when we are selfish and foolish,
I ask Lord that we may see the wealth we have in you,
By reaching out, being dependent only on you.
O Lord God,
You sustain your faithful people through good times and bad,
You know when we fail and when we are faithful to your will,
I ask Lord that we may show the Gospel in the midst of economic confusion,
By reaching out to you, being beacons of your Word.
Thursday, 14 October 2010
ON TOP OF THE WORLD !
with his wife after being brought to the
surface from the San Jose mine
There were so many heroic acts associated with the rescue it is difficult to single out one, but certainly the rescue worker who made the initial descent stands out for me as the man of the hour whose bravery and composure were just extraordinary. On another level the co-operation of nations shows what can be achieved through unity of purpose, apparently American engineers were pivotal in the drilling operation and the specialised drill was manufactured here at Smithfield Industrial Estate at Shannon, just a fifteen minute drive from my home. The world media gathered to cover the rescues and ensured when the first man, Florencio Avalos (31) emerged unscathed there was global celebration.
Luis Ursula (front right) the foreman of the
mine and leader of the trapped men
was the last to be rescued.
Many people around the world have been praying for this happy outcome, a point acknowledged when the Chilean President described the rescue as ‘a miracle’. Chile is still largely a country of religious faith with a large Roman Catholic population and a growing number of Evangelical Christians. As well as food and water miniature Bibles were also fed down the pipeline to the miners and it will be interesting to hear in coming days the details of how they lived together and kept their morale up in such difficult circumstances. Mario Sepulveda, the second miner to be rescued said in an interview, "I have been with God and I've been with the devil," And judging from the disposition of the men as they emerged from the rescue capsule, morale was maintained and spirits were kept high. At a time when we are so accustomed to the daily tirade of doom and gloom it is a wonderful occasion to genuinely rejoice and celebrate this marvellous outcome of human endurance , ingenuity and courage.
Tuesday, 12 October 2010
This remarkable picture shows a beaming unborn baby breaking into a broad grin at just 17 weeks ,while in the UK an abortion can legally be performed up to 23 weeks. The remarkable scan surely suggests that a baby experiences feelings and emotions much earlier than previously thought. Professor Stuart Campbell who took the scan said that while the image did not necessarily show the child had feelings, it was a display of recognisable human behaviour. It seems to me to be another significant finding indicating what many of us have contended all along , that the unborn life is sacred and should not be aborted or interfered with. The obvious Scripture that immediately comes to mind is Psalm 139...~GOSh.~
and knit me together in my mother's womb.
Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
Your workmanship is marvellous—how well I know it.
You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
You saw me before I was born.
Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
Every moment was laid out
before a single day had passed.