Sunday, 31 January 2010

The Feast of the Presentation (Up Helly Aa Sunday)

We had candles in church today... it is not uncommon for the feast of the presentation but I suggested that it was a little understated following a thousand torches on Tuesday! Next year we will have to think again.

Any way here is the address I presented this morning at St Magnus

Here we are

The end of the beginning and the beginning of the end.

The feast of the presentation brings to a conclusion the Christmas season in which we have traced the revelation and manifestation of God and His love in the person of Jesus.

From his birth narratives, the worship of the shepherds the glory of the humble manger bed, through the manifestation to the world in the persons of the magi who brought their three mysterious and meaningful gifts which were signs of things to come, to the baptism which set the seal of the kingdom on him and sent him to his ministry among Gods people, through the signs and wonders which further highlighted the glory of God in Jesus, and now back to the child being presented to the Lord at the Temple according to Jewish customs.

It has all be set before us, we too have been presented with the person.

But the conclusion of Christmas is but the beginning of Lent and so another cycle in the church year begins and our faith stories are woven into it all.

Like the Roman God Janus from whom this month of January gets its name, we look back and forth. Over the old and into the new at the same time.

The gift …. The ability to see both directions at once, the before and after, forward and backwards. Is one of the things which marks us in humanity. Perhaps it makes us special.

Simeon sees the beginning when Mary and Joseph bring the baby to the Temple. It is something he has been waiting and longing for… the redemption of Gods people. And in Christ he sees the beginning of this moment, and in so doing he is made ready for his own end.

In seeing Christ the redeemer he is filled with Peace and ready for his journey to continue.

The presentation is the hinge point and from the manger bed we look to the grave beside Calvary. The manger turns to the cross and yet in all the squalor of both stable and Golgotha we see God and recognise his presence.

It is now the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. This place has become the focus of that most dreadful of events seen in modern Europe this last century. It is impossible to recognise what must have happened, what must have been endured there and in other such places. Yet even here in the lives of the survivors and their stories we can recognise the face of God, the glorious face which beats down oppression with divine love shining through.

Three weeks since the earthquake in Haiti

There is nothing which Gods love cannot reach into and redeem.

The film directed by Mel Gibson “The Passion of the Christ” controversial when it was released but non the less fascinating. Those of you who have seen it will recognise the way Mary travelled all the way to the cross alongside her son. It was one of the most moving aspects of the film. In all the horror unfolding there was that simple and wonderful witness of love, “near the cross stood Mary”

The moment the spear pierced Christ was also the time Mary felt the pain of birth all over again, birth brought life, and yet his death also brought life again. The events of the Garden of Eden, in traditional understanding, have been undone in Christ, we enter again the garden which God has planted, and from which we were banished, through the death of Jesus.

Mary becomes the link of continuity between the beginning and the end. She holds it all and presents it to us.

Christ is presented to us. We too who have been waiting for the signs of God’s love. We too, ho have been waiting for that moment of recognition, are presented with the sign of hope. We come to recognise God’s promise of healing and wholeness, that for which we all deep down yearn for.

And so we stand at the junction again, The beginning lies behind, the future lies in front, we see both ways and are blessed in the middle.

Standing in the middle may at time be a bit bewildering, like wondering which way is really up? We may feel disorientated and we might wonder which direction is best.

But we can actually only go forward. God may have blessed the past with signs of his glory but it is to the future he leads us now. We cannot and must not live in the past.

But the future is again uncertain, pain and passion lie ahead for sure. But all this with God.

Of course we do look back, often it was good. Like the grieving husband or wife looking back on great memories and all that has brought them and carried them. The past may indeed carry us and inform us. We may even God willing learn from past mistakes.

But we go forward there is to be found our further healing, the moments we are once again made whole in Christ.

Eventually we come with Simeon to our own moment of presentation and we pray that with him we too can say “ now let your servant go in peace for mine eyes have seen the salvation of God”

God bless us as we walk the way to Jerusalem, the way the death and life.

It made me wonder something. If I had been waiting for many years for a revelation from God, and then one day I believed without doubt that I had experienced it, … what would I do?

What might I expect to happen next?

How might I feel?

Should I tell anyone?

The gospel of Luke deliberately puts the story into the birth stories, which have been emphasising the action of God breaking into the world. It wasn’t just Anna and Simeon who drifted back into obscurity… what about the Shepherds too at least.?

And Luke continues his revelation of Jesus Christ with the story of Jesus again in the Temple when he was 12 and then jumps to John also recognising him before he begins his unmistakable public ministry.

Luke unfolds time and time again how God is at work in Christ both in teaching and miracles (signs that the Kingdom of God had indeed come) He shows the death and resurrection as the way in which God’s Glory is shown in Christ and how his power is displayed.

We become witnesses to all this by virtue of reading his account. Luke has intended that we too are moved to realise what we have seen or heard about in our midst. And then comes his finale, and looking at his gospel again this week I felt particularly moved to realise that it was not until the end of the gospel that Luke seems to assume that the disciples are now going to be the witnesses to all this (as he has unfolded it) The final discourses that Luke puts between the risen Lord and the disciples are all about recognising Jesus again in their midst, (just like the birth stories) the breaking of bread in Emmaus the women at the tomb, and then the time of Ascension when Jesus leaves them specifically as witnesses to all this.

Their response was to spend all their time in the Temple praising God…. and so Luke puts his pen down….

that is until he picks it up again and documents something of this witness in the Acts of the Apostles. It was as if he had written “The Story” on volume one and, “the consequences” on volume two.

So the fact that we hear nothing more of Shepherds and Anna and Simeon doesn’t matter so much. What matters is what the story means to us, for we are now the witnesses of it. It is little use blaming the witnesses of the past, we must recognise God in our midst for ourselves and then become witnesses to even that.

Friday, 29 January 2010

A snowy gale

Woke up this morning to horizontal snow and white everywhere. Care needed on the roads again.

Here is a picture of me and Eli on our walk today on East Burra

Wednesday, 27 January 2010

Another Picture from last night
just before the torches were thrown

I have at last solved the time problem

sorry to my readers. I think the time may now be posted correct for UK. I think I was imagining that I was on Hawaii!

Up Helly Aa

What a spectacle, what a night! 1000 torches in procession, carried by men in tights! (Some people call this day Transvestite Tuesday)and then the Galley (boat) is burnt. Quite emotional really and it felt like everyone was here to share it.
After the burning I got changed and went to one of the "Halls". Here the fun continues and throughout the evening each of the "Squads" of Guizers come to the Hall in strict rotation to perform a small sketch or dance before moving on to the next hall. The Guizer Jarl's squad goes around the Halls in the opposite direction and it is quite a feeling when they arrive at the Hall. For me this was something like 3.45am. In the Halls men women and children all mix so wonderfully together. There is no alcohol in the Hall itself, for the over 18's there is a room sert aside for drinking, and if you take booze you just put it in here and drink it when you want. (Nobody else touches your booze) The band plays dances (like country dancing and waltzes etc)and people get up to dance with whoever. There are indeed some seriously drunk people there and noboday seems to mind in the slightest, it is all part of the scene. No Trouble at all!! I really could not imagine putting over two hundred people in a room all night and with some absolutley plastered without somethung happening... it all seemed just so natural and safe.
Food was served all night. Tea, Cofee, Tattie Soup, Sandwhiches and cakes, and lots of people just muck in to help it all happen.

I eventually left the Hall at around 7.30am Knackerd but so glad I had stuck it out and been there. How do I feel after accomplishinhg a dream since seeing it on Blue Peter when I was 9 or 10? exhilerated and looking forward to next year. Maybe one year I might even get to go dressed as a woman?

Tuesday, 26 January 2010

Da bill 2010

here is Da Bill

Up Helly Aa 2010

Well it has begun, Up Helly Aa 2010. I went down to the starting procession and stood outside fort Charlotte to watch the procession go past and the Galley. It was then set up on the waterfront for photographs and general milling. It was very wet and cold but the atmosphere was great with many smiling faces. I think every school and nursery came out to see it too and it was a big family occasion. Needles tosay the Peerie Cafe was packed after.

Da Bill was erected in the Market Cross earlier this morning and here are some photos of that too.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

First guests

Well Ken and Mary arrived yesterday morning safely. It is lovely to see them and we have been learning the Up Helly Aa songs so that we can join in on the day. Of course Mary was the choir master!
We went around toon yesterday and saw many of the shop windows with their Up Helly Aa displays, and also noticed a Muckle number of fok all up fae the festival on Tuesday.
The weather is dull wet and slightly breezy at the moment, evryone is hoping for dryer times for Tueasday.

I am off to St Magnus again this morning for another "show" (as my dear freind puts it!) I think both Ken and Mary are coming too! (Ken I think has been lured into a false sense of security by the thought of a great fry up at the co op before church... a bad habit I have so easily slipped into)

Tomorrow I have my induction training for Crossroads. At last something is happening on the work front. Hopefully Walter and Joan will not be too far behind. I think it sounds as though Crossroads will ask me to do things fairly soon, so even an hour or two will help.

I am getting older it is official! Yesterday I received my "bowl test kit" free for the over 50s!! I have yet to work out how to use it but after I have I have to put it in an envelope and send it away.... I am sure the posties know what is in here so I bet they have a comment when they see it "passing" through their hands!

Well more later,and hopefully another video clip of Up Helly Aa on Tuesday night.

Have to go now Mary has called another choir practice!!

Monday, 18 January 2010

Downs and ups

Here are some pictures from the journey to Yell yesterday. The Ferry opens its bowls to receive new passengers just as it is arriving at the terminal, so this is a slightly weird sight like a monster crawling to devour its prey. I am assured it is quite safe.

St Colman's is the most northerly episcopal chuerch in Great Britain. A lovely small church with an even smaller harmonium. (I thought of Don playing this, or Mary for that matter.)

Eli wasmade welcome again yesterday and he behaved himself too. He was though a major factor in the congregation because we were low on numbers of humans.

I am pleased that people seem to be reading this blog and enjoying it too. I know this because now and again I am told this is the case and I get the occasional message too.

One person who will remain nameless (you see I am protecting your identity Chris) suggested I was having too much fun up here. Well though it is still good to be here, it is not all just fun and games and Fire festivals.

Signing on was not only complicated and drawn out but it also reminded me of the financial difficulties of not having regular paid work. I am very aware of the need to get this underway soon, and I have been encouraged by actually receiving my Disclosure form for the Walter and Joan home. However it is still poosibly at least a week away from being inducted yet. I know realistically that I have no need to worry at this point in time, but if things persist I will have problems... and this is not "fun".

I am however positive in the long run.

Then there are the times when I feel lonely. Eli is a great help of course and it is always great to go for a walk. This always lifts my soul even if it is a walk I have done before. Perhaps naturally after being surrounded by so many people in the past, I do notice the periods of time when I am "alone" here. Sometimes I just revel in it, and it is good to be able just to "chill" but there are also the times I wish I was not quite so alone too. This is not fun either.

I have the normal (is it normal?) ups and downs each week and each day. I know that a down may not last so long and it all balances out.

I do not really want to pretend it is aLL "FUN" here, it is the end of the day a normal place with normal people. I know it suits me, and even when I am feeling down about things, I am not down about being here. For the person who will remain nameless I will try to be more honest here, but don't expect me to tell you my deeper soul!

Saturday, 16 January 2010

Fishing over for the day

I took this picture during the week. Evening time and a fishing boat drew into Hamnavoe harbour for the night

The Windy North

Yesterday, and all day today, (Saturday)we have been facing heavy wind. It has been very dramatic at sea, and I went for a walk on a beach in the south yesterday and it was fantastic seeing the south facing beach being washing by southerly winds and heavy seas. It was also an amazingly interesting beach catching all that bobs around in the sea. The geology was also fascinating with great swaths of white stones and pebbles lying next to another patch of similar but dark grey pebbles, and then another patch with flat gray pebbles too... all on one beach. I had not been to it before but I will go again with more daylight to enjoy it.

Today walking is almost impossible. Even Eli is walking at 45 degrees to the ground, so I have spent pretty much the whole day indoors either doing housework (yes!) or watching the Snooker on TV... which was such an exciting match too, so I am glad I saw it.

The Ferries have been cancelled last night and until Monday due to heavy weather. Tomorrow I am due to go up to Yell and I hope the inter island ferry is running. The forecast is saying it should be better tomorrow from the wind point of view.

Today at last my disclosure (CRB) has come through, so I will be on to the Walter and Joan on Monday to see about my induction training.

I have registered at the Health Centre and Eli is registered at the vets now too. They say he is in good form and shape and perfect weight, fit and healthy... shame he was neutered.
I see the nurse on Monday for my "welcome to the Health Centre Check" I wonder what she might say.....!!! shame about the body ... perhaps he should be neutered? (maybe)
Of course I will not tell you what she really says, that is unless she mistakes me for a god! (I know that is not at all likely)

I found Rowan Atkinson on You Tube today.... brilliant...Check him doing "The Creed" and "Jesus" (where he reads about the wedding at Cana. It will lift your day.

more pictures next week I hope, for now it is tea time.

Saturday, 9 January 2010

More Fire Festival from last night

It is still frozen underfoot here and almost more difficult to walk around today then it was yesterday. Any way here are som more images from last night, and another video.

BY THE WAY .... the turkey that appeared in this blog earlier is still alive!

What an amazing introduction to Up Helly aa. Scalloway kicked off the fire festivals last night with the first of them. It was quite brilliant and you certainly got caught up in the spirit of it all. A flare was sent up to signify the start of the procession and the street lights were all put out. The smell of parrafin filled the air before the torches were lit and the procession set off around the small town and along the waterfront. Various squads of "guizers" (people dressed up) marched behing the Yarls squad (dressed as vikings)They were all led by a brass band and a pipe band. Chanting and singing and we all followed along to the boating club and slipway where the Galley was set down. The squads did a curiuos formation march amongst themselves chanting and singing, then squad by squad they threw their torches onto the Galley. As it caught light it was launched into the sea and burnt away there. People then began to disperse.many would have been going on the one of various "Halls" where food and warm drink awaited. (bring your own booze for most of the Halls)Dancing and music throughout the night as each squad calls in to the hall to perform its own little sketch or small play (based on the particular costume they had dressed up in this year.

All quite brilliant, and to think that I had wanted to be at Up Hellya since I was about 9 thanks to Blue Peter! The Lerwick one later in the monnth is of course the more famous festival and also the largest of its kind in Europe, with over a thousand torches very often. (Saclloway had around 100 I am told last night)

Thursday, 7 January 2010

Sunset over Scalloway

On the way back tonight (7th Jan) I was greeted with this sight as I dropped down into Scalloway. There are often good views and lights here but I thought it was well worth stopping tonight. Hope you enjoy it too.

7th January

I have found heaven.... The Perrie Cafe has a wireless network!!! So now I can drink Coffee, eat soup and update blog while sitting in one of my favourite cafes.
I have now "signed on". what a process, but at least on Setland the faces are friendly when they interview you. I have also had my eyes tested, and discovwer that eye tests are free for us Scotlnders! I am about to get my hair cut.... I miss you Sarah! (Hopefully they will recognise past good labour) I have also finally sorted the council tax out too..

Quite a productive morning so far.

The weather is bright and cold, and I think the worst of the snow is now over.

No doubt many of you down south caught a glimpse of Shetland on the national news last night.... a car slid off the snowy road and killed the driver! I was on that stretch of raod yesterday and saw the fire engine racing to the scene. Needless to say it was not me.... and I am still alive.

If Neil reads this he may be interested to hear that Pottingers pineapple was playing in the Market Cross this morning when I walked through.

That is all for now

Wednesday, 6 January 2010

The Epiphany (6th January)

Well here we are in 2010. I am sorry I have not added anything for a few days, no excuse really, I just didn't get around to it.

We have had snow on the ground now since just before Christmas and generally it has just laid there freezing. It is odd to walk over a snow covered beach and feel like skating. I have slipped over a few times and you do have to be careful, even on the pavements in Lerwick.

The pictures here were all taken this morning except for the Yell Ferry arriving at Toft to pick me up the other day. The picture of Foula on the skyline I have been trying to get for days but each time I go to take it the Island vanishes.
Eli and I have a regular walk over the "hurds" in the morning and today everything was very calm, but you could see snow coming from the north and I learnt it is already snowing in Lerwick.

Today I have to hang around for the Job centre people to phone me back. I am still waiting for the CRB clearence to come through to start work at the Walter and Joan home, so in the meantime I have to "sign on". They seem to think that the time of the unemployed does not matter as they said it could be any time between 1 and 6 and I have to wait in for them. I have already had 25 mins on the phone completeing the first part of the application process.

Well it does mean that I will be able to prepare for Sunday and write my sermon. I am thinking about meals I think and how central they could be for who we are. We will see.

Travelling on the roads has been les than fun recently and you really do have to watch out. I have now bought a tow rope having used other ones twice now in as many weeks. I keep a snow shovel and salt in the car and have used it a few times already either for me or others. It took a good 45 mins to get out of a fix the other day!

I am off to Yell a week on Sunday again for the service, thhey are great folk and last time Eli enjoyed it so much he wants to come again.

I will try to add some more again soon do not worry.