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Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Turn Around

We watched as a long HGV somehow made the tight corner down the unpaved, rutted track that leads to the back of beyond. After awhile, we watched it re-emerge: somehow it must have turned on the cattle tracks. It headed past our house and on down the narrow, paved road. 

A skilful driver doing something I would have thought impossible. 

We all make mistakes. Take wrong turns. Struggle to return to the best way for us to go. Maybe even despair that we can never get back.

‘Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.’

He can help turn us around. That is the better way. A way that offers joy and peace and hope.

Monday, 30 January 2017

A Chill Wind

Minus 10C, around +20F, this morning but my neighbour and I braved it for our walk. Oddly, the road was not slippery, which is the criterion by which we make our decision to walk, or not to walk.

Ice crystals define the twigs and branches all around and set up beautifully against a pale blue sky, lightly swept with swatches of cloud. Not a breath of wind. 

I’m a warm-weather woman, but I can appreciate the beauty of such a day as this.

There is a chill wind blowing from DC these days, though, a chill wind with a sharp cutting edge, whining away under dark skies. A wind of hostility and hatred; a wind of selfishness and protectionism. A wind which is blasting the lives of the innocent and the hurting, both those inside and those outside the country. There is no beauty in what is coming out of the White House now.

Ripping up the generosity of past generations; denying the hospitality and open-armed welcome of a couple of centuries. Rejecting the notion that we are all immigrants. Among us, there may be a few with ill intent, but isn’t life itself a risk? Without a willingness to take a calculated risk, we might as well retreat to a dark underground bunker and await death, which comes to us all anyway.

Shock. Disgust. Dismay. Sorrow as I think of the sacrifices of my dear old Dad, who fought the terrible war in the Pacific in order to preserve a nation founded with high ideals of liberty and justice. I’m glad he’s not here to see what is happening to that nation. 

We didn’t pray in schools when I was growing up in the 50s and 60s, but every morning we started by standing and reciting, hand over heart, ‘I pledge allegiance, to the flag, of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.’

No longer. Unless the system of checks and balances begins to operate as it was intended, and the xenophobic hatred is curtailed and denied, and the executive orders stop. 

The world we live in may be harsh, but it can be beautiful if we live with faith in the God who loves each and every creature, and if, with arms wide open, we welcome all those who are hurting and vulnerable, and we help those who are too weak to help themselves.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Humble me

Humble me, humble me, Lord Jesus...

For over twenty years, one of the favourite praise songs sung by the teens at our church opens with this prayer. Humble me. The words go on to extol the beauties and magnificence of the world God has created. 

It’s a beautiful world God has created, which humanity excels at spoiling through ignorance, greed and hubris. People all over the globe groan in grief and pain, and it is a heinous shame that the ‘leader of the free world’ has closed the gates to those in greatest need. If copper could weep, the Statue of Liberty would be weeping now.

What kind of a country is being created as the borders close? It’s as if the Iron Curtain is falling again, but this time in North America. It’s not the US I grew up in; it’s not a country inspired by Christian generosity and hospitality but one shrinking into selfish protectionism and cynical suspicion and fear.

May God encourage and embolden those entrusted with maintaining a balance in the federal government, those in the judiciary and legislature who can act to limit the damage being done by so many executive orders. May God keep the rest of us on our knees, and also protesting through social media and on the streets. God bless all those adversely affected by these orders, whether those fleeing repressive regimes or war, or those robbed of humane health care provisions.

Through it all, may humility keep us grounded, and God give us vision, courage and hope for a better future for all. Humble me, Lord Jesus.

Thursday, 26 January 2017

Til a' the seas gang dry

In season and out, God always loves you.

The first time Don sent me flowers (maybe the only time he ever sent them) was as he came across the States on business, ending up in LA. He sent them from St Louis, with a line, ‘til a’ the seas gang dry’. How could I refuse???

I try not to buy veg and fruit when it is out of season, as I am aware of the carbon footprint. But when he comes in with roses (definitely not local in January), how can I refuse? 

‘Til a’ the seas gang dry. Rabbie Burns. We’ll have our haggis at the weekend but I’ve got the roses now.

In season and out, God always loves you.And I am grateful for a husband who is still a romantic after 41 years.

Wednesday, 25 January 2017

Beyond the Pane...

When I got up this morning I commented on what a dark, stormy day it looked. An hour later, sitting in the prayer window, all had changed. The sun was out – and still is. The wind has dropped. 

Looking at the view, though, I was very aware of the pretend panes formed in the glass by strips of white plastic between the double glazing. I was aware of the water spots and dirt on the outside of the window. I was distracted from seeing the view.

Sometimes things get in the way and it’s hard to appreciate that life is beautiful. A change of focus is needed (and a window cleaner...) 

I lift my eyes to the hills – my help is in the name of the Lord. That psalm is a family favourite since the time of my grandfather, who I never knew but who I remember when I think of or read the psalm (121). I’m grateful for that connection to him.

Looking beyond the plastic strips and the dirty spots, I see a future where the sun will always shine and there will be no more distractions, big or small, to prevent us enjoying and worshiping the Lord. And being with those we love.