Archive | August, 2014

Photoessay: Reflections on Singapore

28 Aug

great images!!

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to see, anew, again-Priscilla’s notes

22 Aug

something happened
First of all welcome. Thank you for welcoming me and Charlie for the year and a half we have been worshipping at St. Luke’s. I have felt welcomed and encouraged by the Body of Christ here.
So tonight I would like to encourage you with a verse that has encouraged me. Encourage means, to give courage to fortify, to cheer or to uplift. That has been my experience here at St. Luke’s and that is my purpose here tonight-to encourage you all. So…
How will I talk tonight with you? By sharing one of my devotional moments with you.
When I do my devotions I have learned to ask questions. This is how Martin Luther meditated on scripture. Let us walk together tonight thru one of my moments, a moment I had a glimpse of God; of my seeing God and His seeing me. The text I would like to explore follows. It is the story of Hagar in Genesis 16 in the desert. My key verse is:
A. Genesis 16:13…” I have now seen the one who sees me.”
So let’s go to the scripture in its context.

B. Genesis 15:1-5
Genesis 15:1-5The Message (MSG)
15 After all these things, this word of GOD came to Abram in a vision: “Don’t be afraid, Abram. I’m your shield. Your reward will be grand!”
2-3 Abram said, “GOD, Master, what use are your gifts as long as I’m childless and Eliezer of Damascus is going to inherit everything?” Abram continued, “See, you’ve given me no children, and now a mere house servant is going to get it all.”
4 Then GOD’s Message came: “Don’t worry, he won’t be your heir; a son from your body will be your heir.”
5 Then he took him outside and said, “Look at the sky. Count the stars. Can you do it? Count your descendants! You’re going to have a big family, Abram!”

First slide-
Read and picture. Wikipedia Julius von Cardsfeld Bibel in Bildern
Abraham is discouraged because he has no heir and laments that Eliezer –a distant relative and a mere house servant- will be his heir
But God hears and answers vs.5 he took him outside and said” Look up at the sky and count the stars- if indeed you can count them, ” So shall your off spring be”

C. Now let’s read
Gen 16.
16 1-2 Sarai, Abram’s wife, hadn’t yet produced a child.
She had an Egyptian maid named Hagar. Sarai said to Abram, “GOD has not seen fit to let me have a child. Sleep with my maid. Maybe I can get a family from her.” Abram agreed to do what Sarai said.
3-4 So Sarai, Abram’s wife, took her Egyptian maid Hagar and gave her to her husband Abram as a wife. Abram had been living ten years in Canaan when this took place. He slept with Hagar and she got pregnant. When Hagar learned she was pregnant, she looked down on her mistress.
5 Sarai told Abram, “It’s all your fault that I’m suffering this abuse. I put my maid in bed with you and the minute she knows she’s pregnant, she treats me like I’m nothing. May GOD decide which of us is right.”
6 “You decide,” said Abram. “Your maid is your business.”
Sarai was abusive to Hagar and Hagar ran away.
7-8 An angel of GOD found her beside a spring in the desert; it was the spring on the road to Shur. He said, “Hagar, maid of Sarai, what are you doing here?”

She said, “I’m running away from Sarai my mistress.”
9-12 The angel of GOD said, “Go back to your mistress. Put up with her abuse.” He continued, “I’m going to give you a big family, children past counting.
From this pregnancy, you’ll get a son: Name him Ishmael;
for GOD heard you, GOD answered you.
He’ll be a bucking bronco of a man,
a real fighter, fighting and being fought,
Always stirring up trouble,
always at odds with his family.”
13 She answered GOD by name, praying to the God who spoke to her, “You’re the God who sees me!
“Yes! He saw me; and then I saw him!”
14 That’s how that desert spring got named “God-Alive-Sees-Me Spring.” That spring is still there, between Kadesh and Bered.
15-16 Hagar gave Abram a son. Abram named him Ishmael. Abram was eighty-six years old when Hagar gave him his son, Ishmael.

Second slide-Abraham dismissing Hagar and Ishmael by Barnet Fabritus
and Hagar and Ishmael by Jean Baptiste Camille Corot
http://www.artbible.info/art/large/826.html
So this was the scripture; now our walk, our questioning walk through it.

1. What does this scripture tell me about God? My answer? God sees things differently than I do
He sees Sarai as she has runs out of patience, and is determined to get what she needs. She is a sinner who he still sees and heard her.
He sees Abraham also out of patience who gives in to his wife’s badgering and is complicit in getting what his wife and he wants: an heir and He –our God-still hears him.
God doesn’t ‘run out’ of patience. He always hears. Always listens. He always sees.

Last, not at the least, He sees Hagar, a lowly servant who is used sexually, abused emotionally; who is exhausted spiritually. Everyone has run out on her; and she is put out. She ends up in a desert. She who is cast out with a child, the heir given by man’s hands and will, now despised, she is alone. But here, here in the desert of Moses and Jesus’ temptation, and God sees and hears her
Here she is lifted to a higher status. She is seen by god. That is enough; for than enough for the ‘God who sees-sees me.’ So what …

2. What does this scripture tell me about me? My answer?

I would not be so patient with Abram and Sari. I would think they don’t deserve God’s ear. I would not want to hear them

I would probably feel compassion for Sarah but there would still be lingering threads of judgement from me. I need to snip; cut off; remove these judgements from my eyes. I need to remove these splinters, these logs, so I can see as God sees; I want to seen the unseen.

3. What can I thank God for?
That he still sees hears me when I lose faith in his promises. That he still hears and sees me when I am mean and enraged like Sarah. That he still hears and sees me when I am a coward like Abraham and give in when I know I should stand strong in Gods Promises. And lastly that God sees and hears me when I feel abused or thrown out by either people in the past or present by people who have been significant to me.

Summary

4. What can I confess need the God who sees me? My answer?
I need to cry out to him in my deserts.

5. If I really believe this is true, what will change in me, in my daily life? My answer?
I will see the God who sees me every day in his word.
Do you see him?
Do you hear him? Be encouraged, remember,

Gen16:13 …”I have now seen the one who sees me”

to see, anew, again,

20 Aug

Last night Priscilla spoke at St Luke’s in Kentish Town. Her central sharing point of her talk was from Genesis 16: 13 when Hagar is alone, unwed, abused and pregnant in a desert. The angel of the Lord comes to her, and sees her. Here are the verses,
“She (Hagar) gave this name to the LORD who spoke to her: “You are the God who sees me,” for she said, “I have now seen[c] the One who sees me.”
While Priscilla was speaking, I received a flashing email from a friend about our former church home in NYC, Redeemer Presbyterian Church. Leo Schuster the Lead Pastor of the Upper East Side congregation was resigning. After four years. He and his wife Ellen are returning to Texas to be closer to family. I know them, love them. They are simply lovely. I know this was a hard decision for them. As I was reading this, Priscilla shared this scripture (Genesis 15) about Abram:

… the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision:
“Do not be afraid, Abram.
I am your shield
your very great reward.”
But Abram said, “Sovereign LORD, what can you give me since I remain childless and the one who will inherit my estate is Eliezer of Damascus?” And Abram said, “You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.”
Then the word of the LORD came to him: “This man will not be your heir, but a son who is your own flesh and blood will be your heir.” He took him outside and said, “Look up at the sky and count the stars—if indeed you can count them.” Then he said to him, “So shall your offspring be.”
Priscilla then said her first point from a question she asks about the scripture: the God who sees; sees Abram even though Abram just sees his own 86 year body. Abram has to go outside himself and look up and see the stars.
My heart and mind moved back to Leo and Ellen; Redeemer and Tim. I thought of-I believe by the spirit to Paul’s comments on this passage in Romans 4.
‘Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. This is why “it was credited to him as righteousness.” The words “it was credited to him” were written not for him alone, but also for us, to whom God will credit righteousness—for us who believe in him who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.’
So Priscilla is right on spot: what are we looking it? God sees us; RPC; Tim; Kathy; Leo
Leo-Ellen thank you for sharing your stars with us in NYC.

my Israel, my Palestine part 1

12 Aug

Late March, early April, Priscilla I went to the Holy Land, Israel and Palestine. We always wanted to go, especially Priscilla. So-prayerfully- we booked a tour through National Geographic ‘The Holy Land: Past, present and Future’. But it was birthed and run by a group called MEJDI with a young leader Aziz Abu Sarah. More on him in a moment.
This tour was composed of guides who were both Jewish (Israeli) and Arab (Palestinian). We did not desire to go on a Christian centred tour because we wanted a perspective that was and is not our own. We certainly got that for the 11 days of our journey. This blog will be in two parts. Here is the first bit. It would be impossible to give all our learnings; lovings; and a descriptive record of our experiences. Here, through are the highlights-(For me this is especially poignant with the present day events in the Mid East. No words here will directly address my feelings on these present moments. That will be shared at a later time.)

• 28 -29 March –we flew overnight from London to Tel Aviv. We then drove to Jerusalem where we spent the 3 and half days. Landing at 6:30 am; arriving at our hotel at 8:00 am we had a breakfast; found a Palestinian cab driver and said ‘Take us to the one place you would go if you had a half a day.’ He paused and drove us to the top of the Mount of Olives, said walk down I’ll meet you at the bottom in two hours. He did and here is what we felt and learned: We walked where Jesus walked. Most tourists only go to the top or the bottom-the Garden of Gethsemane. We walked the entire steep way. Two hours. We prayed as we walked. Jesus walked up and down this Mount everyday after teaching in the temple. He worshipped. That is what we did. For me this was and are the best moments of our trip, walking in His steps; seeing the temple and the trees and land and sky He saw. Loving Jerusalem and weeping over it. I still weep today.
• 30 March-A short visit to a Baptist Pastor on a Sunday in Jerusalem. This was the only time on the tour we were with an overtly Christian leader in Jerusalem and on the tour. Jerusalem is a city divided the East is Arab; West Jewish. Jews and Arabs do not mix and that was what made this tour so special. We could see and hear mixing of cultures and points of view from people who were listening to one another. This day we walked the city; Arabs have less water; less electric power and less overall services and they do not want them from Israelis. Arabs believe this is their land –Palestine. They do not believe in a literal King David and see all their houses and lands and flats slowly being swallowed up by Israelis. On top of apartment building if you see big black water tanks, those buildings are Arabs-they do not even want water from the Jewish sector. We were told that their leaders would be killed if they would even consider ‘compromising’ and taking some of the water that is offered.
• 31 March & 1 April City of David And Holocaust Museum and the Via del a Rosa during the day (busy days) and, meetings with the ‘Parents Circle at nights. We meet the people at night. We eat with them; listened and talked. What people? Again Jews and Arabs together united by sorrow-All parents in these circles have lost a child in the conflict. Seeing people embracing one another from these different pats and cultures was beyond hopeful and moving. They were sharing and were united together. If there is any hope in this land-besides the Lord’s return- it will come from people listening to one another. But the present conflicts seem to stop this from continuing in growth.
• 2 April Bethlehem
Seeing the fields surrounding the town and Jesus’ place of birth in a cave and the church of the Nativity above it added life and depth to our scripture and understand. Big take away? The fields where the shepherds were are/were Boaz and Ruth’s fields and only a ten minute sojourn into the town of Bethlehem. Everything is close together. Everyone had to know one another. Mary and Joseph weren’t thrown out of an inn; they were honoured in a home’s extension, a cave.

Our funny shared moment? An older semi toothless Arab man selling postcards stopped me and said, ‘Your daughter (Priscilla) is very beautiful. Can I buy her from you for 26 camels?’
I got him up to 27.

• 3-4 April We journey to Galilee. Sailed on the Sea; visited the Dead Sea; climbed Masada.
Please see my Stewardship blog here on this experience.
http://www.stewardship.org.uk/blog/blog/post/267-generous-spirit-a-breath

And I will continue on this journey recap with you in a week or so-truthfully!

Below is a 19 minute video of hope about Aziz Abu Sarah-the visionary behind this tour and our experiences. Rarely do I attach videos-watch it if you can-if you are really squeezed for time, watch the last three minutes. These moments say it all. All

Love
Charlie and Priscilla

poem, I love

10 Aug

I love
my doubts, my flights , my life

My Lord, love me out of my fears into
Into your service

Love me into, your control
I love serving you, not

me, myself
no one loves me like
you
no one

not even myself

Thoughts2

4 Aug

from Debroah Warner

At the End of the Day

…it is you in the corner
Tree, stage
preformed, perform
with colour, intensity
passion

what is this character about?
Practice twenty times; then lose it

lose it
Repetition, a title, means change in tone hue colour Colour develops through nuanced repetition

Artists create communities of practice
Share leading edge if techniques bring emotions out of emotions

like
Musicians who worship themselves or their instruments so,
Your work space is your work worship station

work, worship, another besides
with, yourself

Sleeping children

1 Aug

A voice is heard in Ramah,
weeping and great mourning,
Rachel weeping for her children
and refusing to be comforted,
because they are no more.”
After Herod died… Matthew 2: 18-19a

Herod murdered sleeping children. Matthew 2 tells us the story of a ‘great’ King who was visited by wise Magi from the East searching for a greater king, a baby whose birth had been foretold for centuries. For centuries the Magi families awaited for His star to appear in the sky. Its coordinates lead them to Jerusalem where the star disappeared for a time. Sharing the story of the quest to King Herod, the Magi were seeking help from what they thought, according to Herod’s words, from a fellow worshipper of this new King of the Jews. In fact, after directing the Magi to Bethlehem, Herod was planning to murder this baby. When he realized that he was tricked and the Magi wasn’t returning to Bethlehem, Herod planned a murderous strike of sleeping children, males two years and under, in the Bethlehem area. The Times of India reported this ancient story today, July 31 with some name and narrative changes,

UNITED NATIONS: Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon condemned the attack on a UN school in Gaza that killed at least 16 people early Wednesday as “outrageous” and “unjustifiable,” and demanded an immediate humanitarian cease-fire in the war between Israel and Hamas.
“Nothing is more shameful than attacking sleeping children,” Ban said on his arrival in San Jose, Costa Rica. “I condemn this attack in the strongest possible terms.”
Ban said “all available evidence points to Israeli artillery as the cause” of the pre-dawn attack, and he pointedly noted that Israeli military authorities had received the coordinates of the school from the United Nations 17 times, including on Tuesday night.

The United Nations trusted Israel, a present day Herod, with coordinates 17 times; the wise Magi never trusted. Sleeping children died in either case. The only consolation? As beginning of Matthew 2: 19a tells us ‘After Herod died…’

All Herods eventually die.