Friday, 24 June 2011

Another lovely evening

Following a visit to the Bonhoga Gallery tonight where a brilliant new exhibition was unveiled by Janette Kerr called "Extreme Wave Theory" I caught this view over the Inn at Westings... of course I had to pop in for a pint too. (That is a pint too, NOT a pint or two!) Check out Janette's website to see some of her work.

Bible Reading Marathon begins

Friday 24th June at 4.25pm St Magnus Church began to read the bible. It is expected (hoped) to take 75 hours to complete and as it end on Monday 27th we begin a service of Thanksgiving for all the work completed on the restoration of the church building. The Bishop of Aberdeen will be here to conclude the reading and to begin the service. This is the first time such an attempt has been made on Shetland and we have many people taking part from all over the islands. Sir john Scott began by reading Genesis chapter one.
Here are some pictures from the opening moments.

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Flying over the Islands is magical on a good weather day, and we have had some recently. The opportunity to go flying came my way and I naturally jumped at the chance.... wow... Biggles eat your heart out!

Sunday, 5 June 2011

Sunday after Ascension 2011.(address given in church)

Just try to imagine the scene….?????
It is so hard isn’t it to apply many of the thought processes which we naturally put to the gospel readings to the idea of ascension.
We talked on Thursday how in iconography it is actually quite unusual to see the moment of ascension graphically portrayed, the after effects of it yes, but the moment of it .. no.
It is in more modern Western art that we see some very clumsy and pretty well impossible portrayals put to canvas.
But even to imagine the scene makes me stutter. I am fine thinking of the disciples climbing the mountain (I have climbed many mountains, so I know what that is like)…. I am fine with Jesus speaking with the disciples and telling them that they were now going to be the witnesses to these things (it is natural to listen to a teacher and to learn from them) I am fine seeing the disciples gathered in the “room upstairs” where they found fellowship together and prayed together….
… but the bit in between feels a bit of a blur at the best of times.
On Thursday I spoke about the need to explain to people not versed in the bible and the stories of Jesus what is going on without sounding truly unbelievable, incredible beyond belief, or simply to sound stupid.
One of the clear reasons why this is the case, most especially with the Ascension of Christ is that we actually live in a different world.
For those with the experience of warp drive, vulcans and clingons it is not at all strange to be able to be transported down to the planet below and back again at the touch of a button.
To those used to the clash of Time Lords it is not unusual that a police box from the 1950s should be the vehicle to transport people from one age to another.
To those who see the world built of layer upon layer of existence with a hades below and the highest heaven on the very top rung of existence it would be natural to speak of someone important moving into this new state of existence.
But to us today these concepts may be impossible to comprehend.
Following Thursday evenings questions about Ascension, one person described it as a feeling rather than something that can be explained. I think there is something in this, though we can never know what someone else is feeling it needs to be said.
I asked the question also to Rodney, if he could explain the difference between the Resurrection and Ascension, and though I am not going to ask him today it is still a question worth pondering. In thinking about the question a little more myself I find something of a solution in the world where existence is based on layers, and in this world Jesus Resurrection and ascension is a good way of trying to understand the “enthroning of Jesus” in the highest heaven where you have to literally pass through the heavens (layers of heaven) to get there.
This week I have been meeting with couples who are thinking about or preparing for both marriage and the baptism of children. When it comes to the moment of marriage or the time of baptism, those gathered will feel certain things and hopefully they will feel a sense of God and a sense of fulfilment and blessing. They will feel that something is happening.
They will however not know the details of the journey (completely at least, though those close to the family may know of some details) they will not know what it feels like to the couple or family because they are just witnessing the event. Nevertheless it should be evident that Love is real even if you cannot explain it or put it in a test tube.
The Disciples knew what it was to be Loved by Jesus, they knew what they felt as they loved in Return. They knew what it was, to use the wonderful phrase from 1 Peter, “to cast all your anxiety on Jesus, because he cares for you”. The disciples knew what it was to feel the “authority” of Jesus coursing through their very beings after the crucifixion and they knew that this meant for them that Jesus was very much with them and never would leave them. This same Jesus, to confirm this, is enthroned in the highest heaven. That was enough to know,
That was enough to live by.
The disciples, to come back to earth so to speak, devoted themselves to prayer and fellowship, and this showed to the world what it was to be a “follower of Jesus” even though most others may have just seen the same man “crucified outside the city wall.”

So where does this leave us today?
Are we the ones gazing up into the sky and being told “don’t get stuck there” “do not cling to this image”
Just as they were when they gazed into the tomb and were told “what are you doing here? He is not here he is risen…. Why look for the living among the dead?”
Or are we the ones filled with all authority under heaven, who are devoted to fellowship and prayer, and are called witnesses (to these things) to the ends of the earth…. Starting in Shetland?

Wednesday, 1 June 2011

Images of heaven?

The walking is often nothing short of heavenly. Every turn of the way can open up new experiences.
I try to take pictures as I go, as you know, and it is great to share some of these here.

As you can see from the other post, Eli enjoys this too and even caught a baby rabbit the other day!!!

June arrives?

It may be June today, but it does not feel like it! Even a large cruise ship coming into harbour today seemed to turn around and head away again! Basically a horrible day for going out!

I have been at Annsbrae today which has seen me traveling some distances up and down the island. I continue to enjoy this work very much and my colleagues are just the best. It makes such a difference to work as part of a team instead of just on your own. (as it felt before)

The boat off Burrs is now breaking up and sending wreckage all over. It is so sad to see, but as it is well known fishing is still Britain's most dangerous occupations. The trouble is that most of the time these tragedies go un noticed.

My friends from Cambridge had a great time last week and have returned home to encourage others I think.

Sunday's contribution!

Easter 6

If you loved me? …….Please do not ask me!
Such a question might cut us to the heart.
If you loved me, then you would not have done that… suggesting that you do not love, and therefore you have failed in something.
It seems as though we are being tested to see if our love is genuine or strong enough, and the outcome might therefore be…. A sense of failure or unworthiness.
With this in mind today’s reading from John might well make us feel very uncomfortable.
For me there are huge echoes with the end of John’s Gospel when Jesus embarrassingly asks Peter if he loves him and we know he is here seen to ask the question three times even with an affirmative answer from Peter each time.
“Simon son of John, do you love me more than these?” Lord you know that I love you….
How he must have felt to be asked over and over again, apparently in full view of his friends too.
I am sure todays reading and the end of the Gospel have a real connection, and today it is quite rightly you and I who are being addressed…. Do you Love me? Do you? Can you prove it?
Of course our answer like Peter’s is probably going to be something of a yes, even if we are brave enough to say yes….. but!
What is being asked of us though as proof of the answer?? “If you love me, you will keep my commandments!” so although we desperately want to say yes we do Love you Lord, we know in our heart all the times we seem to show something else.
Keeping the commandments in terms of what we hear today is the new commandment that we love one another as Jesus Loves us. That we Love God and our neighbour and can show that we do.
Oh dear isn’t love demanding?
However we see it then Love is demanding. It is tough going at times and the disciples knew this all too well, and Last week we were reminded that suffering and persecution may even rest alongside the loving.
This week we see things changing, the story so to speak moves on and Ascension day is Thursday (7.30pm Eucharist, no night prayers.) At the end of ascension day symbolically the Easter Candle is processed to the back and takes its place alongside the font. It is not that Jesus has gone from us for we know that this is not the case, just in the same way that no matter what happened on the mount the Disciples were continually filled with hope and forward movement, especially when we see the new presence of God burning through them at Pentecost and beyond.
The question about Love was not and is not going to go away, and each morning when we awake we may hear Jesus asking us again if we do love him, or each night we might hear the suggestion of doubt? Do you? Did you?
Let us be reminded though as we move into a new time in the year to the assurance that no matter what the answer might feel Jesus is present with us. Jesus continues to reveal himself to us, he does not leave us “orphaned”
For all that it is not an easy ride, and we still have to learn to grow into salvation as Peter told us last week.
The Easter readings have all contained within them the sense of hope and movement, whether it be eating breakfast on the beach, or walking to Emmaus, or simply even waiting in the upper room. At every turn of the page Jesus Shows himself present and still feeding …still being recognised as bread is broken and where two or three gather in his name.
As we move to Pentecost we earnestly pray that our hope and love is fulfilled and that Gods Spirit will burn within us in all that we do and say, and in all our attempts to be loving. And as Paul says in the Aereopagus…. God is indeed not far from each one of us. “In him we live and move and have our being”, wow is that not at the same time daunting and encouraging.
Why do we sometimes behave as if God were so uninterested and distant…. And judging (condemning)
Jesus says…. Do you love me. And we answer YES. Alleluia