Monday, 27 June 2011

pass the balloon

What is family?
Family is the people you are related to
Family is the people you relate to
Family is the relationships we value
Family is the relationships with people who matter in our lives
Family is all of the above and much, much more

Our Family gathered yesterday - some were related by invisible ties - and others by visible ones - some were related by association - others by neighbourliness - some had met only rarely - others live together in the same household - but All, ALL were related and part of that bigger, wider, more wondrous family - God's Family

I'm in!
Are you?

Monday, 20 June 2011


Andrei Rublev’s icon of the Trinity has been reproduced in varying forms; first created in the 15th century it is an image which has stood the test of time and stirs within the observer something often un-named, something indefinable

I have had a little copy of the icon since my student days - it was a gift from my friend Eileen, and often meditated on it; prayed about it, and studied its meaning and symbolism.

I did not know where the original was kept – although I assumed somewhere in Russia.
I did not know where it was until about six years ago.

In the summer of 2005 I was lucky enough to visit Moscow for a holiday; one of my closest friends was living there whilst her husband had been posted to the Moscow office... and she had thoroughly enjoyed having visitors to stay and showing them the sites.

She and I had visited many churches and monasteries – and everywhere we went there were copies of the icon- old and new, plain and simple or rich and gaudy; towards the end of my stay we had spent the day in the city, and had sat in Red Square drinking coffee and watching the world go by – a very surreal experience!

We then went into St Basil’s Cathedral – an iconic church instantly recognisable the world over!

St Basil’s is actually seven churches, each built around the central core church so that as you explore you spiral round from one to another, each different, each from a different era. I was telling Barbara once again about Rublev, and how much I’d love to see the original...

She was a few paces ahead of me in a narrow, winding passage when she suddenly halted
She held my arm and pushed me gently forward
And there it was
Behind glass
With a bench in front to sit and gaze
Rublev’s icon
So beautiful
Burnished Gold
About a metre square
Protected from light, and heat, and people

It moved me then
And it moves me still

One of the first things I did as I sat and took in the wonder was think of Eileen - so I sent her a text, right then! From Moscow to Aberdeen with love!

The icon shows three individuals; each face is identical
All three figures wear a blue garment – some more visible than others
Blue is the colour of heaven and of divinity
Each also wears a garment that speaks of their individual identity
We begin with the figure on the right
The Spirit
The Spirit wears a blue robe, for divinity
And a green robe representing new life
The Spirit is also touching the table, bringing to earth the divine life of God
Think about the Spirit’s touch during communion; we invite the Spirit to come; in one of the prayers are the words: “Lord you are holy indeed, fountain of all holiness, let your Spirit come upon these gifts to make them holy”
Behind the Spirit is a mountain
Mountains have long been associated as places where people meet with God
Jesus was transfigured on a mountain – allowing Peter, James and John to glimpse God’s glory
Reflect on your own mountaintop encounter with God
The Spirit is inclined slightly to the left, drawing us to look at the central figure:
The Christ
Again we see the blue robe of divinity, this time paired with brown for the earth, confirming his humanity
He also has a gold stripe on his robe- signifying his kingship
The Christ rests two fingers on the table: showing both his divinity and humanity were present on earth; with his other hand he points to the cup, showing the cup he bore, and the price he paid...
Behind the Christ there is a tree
The tee represents the cross – the tree on which he died
The cross is the tree of death, which in turn became the tree of eternal life
The tree of life was lost to humanity when Adam and Eve disobeyed
It is restored to humanity now, because Jesus obeyed
Reflect for a moment on the paradox of the cross: where death and life collide
Death gives way to resurrection and eternal life
The Christ is inclined to the left and once again our eyes are drawn onwards, this time to the third figure
The Father
This figure is at rest within itself
There is a blue garment, but it is almost hidden by the shimmering, ethereal robe of gold – kingship
The Creator is not visible to human eyes but is known through the Son and the Spirit; the Creator clasps his staff with both hands
All authority in heaven and earth belong to the Father
Behind the Father figure we see a house
The dwelling of God
“In my Father’s house are many mansions....”
“I go there to prepare a place for you”

All three figures show us God, united, yet distinct

each: Father, Son and Spirit touch us, move us, change us - and through them our blessings multiply - what a blessing!

Tuesday, 14 June 2011

Death and Dying #2

Last night as I watched TV I experienced huge emotions:
The programme was Terry Pratchett - Choosing to Die

Much publicity was given last year when this very talented author let it be known that he had been diagnosed with Alzheimer's. He set out to make this documentary to investigate assisted suicide (not of course legal in this country) and options available to UK residents

Now, I somewhat naively assumed that those who chose this end would be close to their end, in constant pain or suffering hugely from thier disability.
The young man interviewed was only 42; he had MS and was certainly suffering; but he was also totally cognisant; he talked very calmly about how he didn't want to get worse, how he had reached what he considred to be his limit.

The interview with the doctor from Dignitas I found more alarming - the person being 'assisted' must be capable of administering the drug themsleves - if they left instructions, but had reached a point were they were incapable of speech, or of holding a glass to the lips then the drugs would not be given.

Terry and his assistant visited two men at home in England, and then in Switzerland. One they stayed with right to the end - filming the drugs being taken, and the cameras staying on while he died - off camera.
I found it incredibly disturbing - and hopeless - and so wrong!!!

The very fact that the phrase 'helped to die' is used gives a softer light to somthing that is not at all soft - it is hard, hard truth. Suicide is not an easy answer, and suicide in this manner - clincalised somehow did not feel right.
To my mind euthanasia is for those whose life is beyond any treatment, any help - not just because if it's not done now - while I have strength, while I can speak, then it won't be an option.
One of the other, horrifying statistics quoted was that not everyone who passes through that door is ill - terminally or otherwise - just 'weary of life'

I am appalled
I was revolted by the programme
But I also recognise that this is an issue which is not going to go away; is not going to die a natural death
When I wrote about euthanasia in January it was after much heart searching as I took the decision to let my dog die - that decision took me months to come to

Human life is precious - our life is a God-given gift.
Having witnessed the assisted death of a man who was still vital, who still had life in him I cannot see that it was a good decision

I wonder how many others watched?
And how many are filled with questions today?

Monday, 13 June 2011


As so many people have observed time is a peculiar thing: when we are anxiously awaiting an event time drags... oh so slowly
and when we need more time to fit in everything we hope to acheive it seems to fly through
Of course - all of that is nonsense! Time is constant... it is measured, unassailable... it is only our own perceptions that change.
this is my excuse for not blogging for two weeks!!
I've been busy working!!

Now - yesterday was Pentecost - birthday of the church... the day we remember the day that yet another of God's wondrous promises was fulfilled - the Holy Spirit came... the Holy Spirit touched and transformed lives... and the Holy Spirit remains from generation to generation inspiring, empowering and bringing life and love to bear

One of the questions I pondered last week was where is the Spirit in my life? where has the Spirit been? and where is the Spirit now?

I asked myself - in order to be reminded of the amazing and astonishing things I have done - not through my own strength but because I have allowed the Spirit in. It's a blessing!!

One of the challenges I issued during worship yesterday was to contagion - the Spirit's effect can be to make us contagious!! I remembered the way I caught it - from my parents and grandmother - they influenced me more than I knew at the time... but now decades later I can look back and know that they have given me an awesome legacy - faith!

The Spirit’s coming was a once and for all event
The Spirit came
And the Spirit is still here
What we need do now is what so many generations have done, and continue to do: spread the word; become contagious Christians -
You sons and daughters prophesy,
You young men see visions,
You old men dream dreams…
And pass on the legacy

Thank you Mum and Dad for teaching me to love God and passing the legacy on!