Tuesday, 28 May 2013

Eye Eye!

Today I had my second cataract operation.... I am taking things easy for a day or two and no driving for a couple of days I expect! But Wow!! what a difference this is going to make. When I had the left eye done a few weeks ago the transformation in my sight was amazing, so with both now complete I am expecting to be able to see around corners.

The puffins are back and they are just as quizzical as ever.

Rachel and I had a lovely three days on Yell last week. The weather was to be honest pretty awful, but it did give us chance to unwind, relax and catch up on sleep. While we were there we had a day on Fetlar and enjoyed the hospitality of the sisters at The Society of our Lady of the Isles. (SOLI)

Friday, 17 May 2013


Pentecost is sometimes called the birthday of the church, and though I might have mentioned last week that Pentecost was the time the Holy Spirit descended on the church, I have been reminded, if I did say this, that in many respects this description is probably incorrect and at best unhelpful!
It is probably incorrect because as the person who contacted me pointed out, you could hardly describe the church as existing in any recognisable form at the Feast of Pentecost.
At that time the disciples at best could have been described a s a group of like-minded people forced together by force of circumstance and a deep admiration for Jesus of Nazareth whom they had seen crucified and who was somehow also alive still for them.
It could be however true that something once again happened to this bunch of friends on this feast day as all of a sudden they were no longer kept behind closed doors for fear of the Jews!
If the Holy Spirit was like a wind from heaven blowing amongst the disciples, then it certainly blew the door off their hinges.
It is also probably unhelpful to describe the Holy Spirit as descending on the church at Pentecost.
First of all is could suggest that the Holy Spirit was new at this time, when of course we know that God’s Spirit had been around his people long before the disciples experienced it at Pentecost. Indeed the Jews had gathered in Jerusalem to celebrate Pentecost, the time when The Law was given by God as a constant reminder of his presence with the people.
What the church does with the feast day is quite similar as we also proclaim it is the sign of God’s presence with us his people today. And just as for the Jews around Sinai clouds storms and winds come into the experience of God.
Another way it is unhelpful to speak of the Holy Spirit Descending, is as someone else pointed out to me, the Holy Spirit comes within us and some prefer to speak f the experience of being filled with the Holy Spirit rather than it being poured on us like water, though of course the link to baptism can also be helpful in describing the experience.
On Wednesday morning we had a reading from 1 John and an interesting and perhaps more helpful expression came to light regarding eternal life…. The idea that it was something that abided in us and not something which we received or earned if you like. The same could be said of the Holy Spirit of course.
We so often use the language of acquisition, or earning it or being rewarded with it like a medal, instead of the more helpful analogy of recognising it as part of who we are before God.
Perhaps it may be helpful to understand the way God’s Spirit works within us to look at the Gospel reading for today  which talks about Love. We are more used to seeing Love as something we have within and which we share with those around. Jesus certainly focused on the Act of loving as the sign that God was with us. Jesus also speaks of something called God’s Spirit abiding within us.
At Easter we have celebrated Life bursting from death and at Pentecost we celebrate Love bursting from within us and empowering us to be witnesses.
The whole meaning of the story set before us today is that we are witnesses to God loving and living presence. This presence literally changes who we are and others should recognise it.
When Moses discovered the presence of God in the burning bush he was told it was holy ground and in respect he removed his shoes as many still do in holy places.
At Pentecost the people were gathered and recognised God and asked Peter what they should do now that they have recognised this.  It says “they were cut to the heart when they recognised God in their midst on the Day of Pentecost and asked when must we do… Peter said “repent and be baptised” and Luke records three thousand were baptised that day.
What part of the gathered crowd are we?
Are we going to scoff?
Are we just here for the show?
Do we recognise God still in our midst at Pentecost?
Elizabeth Barrett Browning once wrote:

Earth’s crammed with heaven
And every common bush alive with God.
Only he who sees takes off his shoes;
The rest sit around and pluck blackberries.”
(Aurora Leigh)

As someone I knew and loved used to say. “Good old God”

Monday, 6 May 2013

St Ninian's Pilgrimage Day

We had a great day on Saturday at st Ninian's Isle. Many of us made it across the Tombola on a very cold and , day to celebrate the Eucharist before heading back to Bigton Hall where others were  assembled and we had communion together followed by a warming feast of soup and pancakes. Here we are braving the elements !!