Archive for ‘35mm Film’

April 23, 2012

What we will be…

(Photo: Window reflections at All Saints, Kilmalooda.)

Sermon for the third Sunday of Easter, 22/4/12. Text: 1 John 3:1-7

When you were a child did you ever wish that you had different parents? Perhaps your friend was allowed to stay up late to watch T.V. and you weren’t and you wished you could swap parents with them! We might also be tempted to wish we looked different from them, that our nose had a better shape that our ears were more ‘normal’ and didn’t stick out like two radar dishes, and that we weren’t so short, balding or tubby! But as we get older, so long as everything was O.K. with our parents, we realise that things could have been worse and in fact they were actually a blessing to us in so many ways. One thing that often comes to us as a bit of a shock is when we realise just how like our parents we actually are, but of course our likeness to them is the proof of the relationship we have. We are like our parents because we are their children. Even children with step-parents or those who are adopted develop a likeness to their parents, even if genetically speaking they are different. My step-father and I always found it funny when people who thought he was my natural father said that I looked like him!

In our reading today from the first letter of John, the Apostle takes the concept of parents being like their children and applies it to our relationship with God. He says:

See what love the Father has given us, that we should be called children of God; and that is what we are.

We are a ‘rags to riches’ story; it is as if we are an orphaned child living in the gutter, covered in muck and wearing tattered rags. We look up from the filth we are in and we see the King! Our eyes can hardly believe what we are seeing, but the King comes over to us, He reaches down into the gutter and he grabs hold of us and He lifts us out of the darkness and holds us up in the air against the light. He knows our name and He speaks to us softly and He says, ‘Now if you are willing you will be my child. I am not forcing you, you can stay here in the gutter if you wish, but I would much rather you came with me back to the palace – I will carry you there and I will wash you clean and give you new clothes and you will be my own child and live with me for ever…’

The love that God has for us is a love beyond all measure, that He, Almighty God, Creator of the Universe should not only know I even exist but have actually created me and made me to be His child, this is a wonder beyond all wonders and a joy above all joys. Why would He do such a thing? The answer is beautiful and simple: God is love and love by its very nature gives. Because God loves so much He gives so much. He gave us His one and only Son, that we might not die in the gutter but have everlasting life with Him.

Many of us find this unconditional and limitless love hard to accept. Perhaps a reason for this is that with our parents it always felt like we had to earn their love and approval. Maybe that still is the case for us even if our parents are old or have died, we are still trying to please them but they just never seem (either in reality or in our imagination) to be happy with our achievements and we never feel totally accepted by them. It is of course all to easy then to see our Heavenly Father like this. Let us lie back and bask in the fact that God loves us, yes He really really does. We do not need to rush around doing things trying to please Him, He already is pleased with us! We must not fall into the trap of making our relationship with God one that is based on our works or achievements. God’s love and grace is not conditional on whether we have scored a B+ in our Christian life this week, He loves us perfectly, unconditionally all of the time.

Once we have accepted God’s offer to become one of His children, we will start to develop the family likeness. We will start to become more and more like Him and less and less like our old selves that we left behind in the gutter. We don’t do good works because we think they will make God love us more, He cannot love us more than He does already! We serve God and do all we can in His guidance and strength because we love Him and want to show Him that we love Him and how grateful we are to Him for the fact that He loves us.

John then goes on to say:

The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know him.

Maybe when you gave your life to Christ (and if you have not yet done so, what are you waiting for?), you soon realised that some people were overjoyed for you and others just didn’t get it at all, they might even have been hostile towards you. Well, we are in good company; many people did not ‘get’ the Lord Jesus at all and even though at times He was followed around by great crowds, many people just wanted what they could get from Him so that in the end His followers were very few. Thousands were with Him on the grassy slopes sitting in the sunshine, listening to His teaching and getting their fill of loaves and fishes, but only a very small number of them stood around Him when the sky turned black and He was dying upon the cross.

If we were to take a good long look at ourselves in the mirror and saw who we really were we would be astonished. John tells us:

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed.

As we look in the mirror and notice all the physical blemishes, we are wowed by the fact that we will not always look like this. John continues:

What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him, for we will see him as he is.

One day we shall be like Jesus, as a caterpillar becomes a butterfly so shall we be changed into His likeness. To bring us back down to earth for a moment, think of Charles, the Prince of Wales. He is heir to the throne of Great Britain and his whole life has been lived in the light of what he will be one day. He does not yet possess his full inheritance, but his whole life has been, and is shaped by it. In a much greater way, one day we shall be like Jesus, changed into His likeness. In the meantime however, with the help and grace that God gives us, we need to live up to what we shall one day become.

So John says:

And all who have this hope in him purify themselves, just as he is pure.

I don’t know about you, but I feel very much more like the caterpillar than the butterfly; I despair at my lack of progress and find it all too easy to look at my many weaknesses and failings. I turn around and the gutter from where I have come from does not seem very far away… But we have a sure hope don’t we? We have a sure hope that we shall be changed, we really will one day become how God meant us to be all along, we will no longer be human becomings, we will be like Christ. John says that in the meantime we must ‘purify ourselves’. This means cutting out of our lives all the bad stuff that is there. Of course we need help to do this, we need God’s help and we need the help of those to whom we are closest and who we can trust. But as you look back on your Christian life can you not at least see some small victories, so that things you used to do you do no longer? Perhaps you no longer cheat on your tax return, perhaps you have given up destructive habits or addictions, perhaps you are much more generous, thoughtful and kind. Maybe people have even commented on how you have changed. Slowly but surely, with the help of the Holy Spirit who works in us like a gardener getting rid of weeds and planting that which is good, we are being changed, the old is falling away and what we shall become is slowly (very slowly we might say) being revealed.

So let us be encouraged and blessed, especially in those times when we despair, when we are all to aware of our sin and failures. Let us live now in the light of what we will one day become, let us remember the wonderful and beautiful truth that God has called us His children because that is what we are.  Amen.

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(Numerous thoughts and ideas in this sermon are taken from David Jackman’s book: The Message of John’s Letters, The Bible Speaks Today, I.V.P., 2nd ed. 1996.  In particular the idea of wanting to change our parents in the opening paragraph and then the reference to Prince Charles’ heirship to the throne.)

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April 15, 2012

Unity

Leaving a mark...

Today’s Sermon.  Text: Psalm 133.

Parents, Aunts, Uncles, Grandparents and teachers love it when the children they are looking after are getting on together. It makes life so much easier doesn’t it? When we see children sharing and caring, when they remember to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ when they use their knife and fork rather than shoveling the food into their mouths with their hands (or something they have found in the garden), it makes us happy and realise that all the hard work in trying to bring them up was actually worth it. Of course the reality is that often children are selfish and rude and forget how to behave towards each other and to grown-ups and it can often be very difficult for those who have responsibility for them.

One of the greatest privileges for those who are parents is that the actual experience of bringing up children gives them a deep insight into the relationship we all have with our heavenly Father. When confronted with a stubborn child stamping their foot and shouting ‘NO’, we hopefully realise that we too have done this sort of thing with our heavenly Parent, God! We might not have actually stamped our foot and stuck out our bottom lip, but we have been just as defiant in wanting our way rather than the right way.

As we look at the church, we remember that we are all God’s children and as such we ought to admit that we are not particularly obedient children at that; we are always bickering about this that and the other thing (and that is even within our denomination, let alone between different Christian traditions). Every way that we can let our Heavenly Father down we have and every way we could have hindered Christ’s mission, we have. Have you ever been in the supermarket and seen and heard a child screaming at their poor mother of father? Perhaps the child is lying on the floor, clutching a bag of sweets they are not allowed to have and the red-faced parent is trying in vain to be in charge. In looking at so much of the debate and dissension in the church today, are we not just like that child in the supermarket? We shout out ‘I am right, my way is best’!  Worse still, we mock our brothers and sisters who disagree with us, if not face to face, then in hushed conversation with others in the church car park, or on the pages of the Gazette or on Facebook or Twitter. Sometimes it is just heartbreaking, that whether it be between members of our own church congregation, or between different churches or between clergy there always seems to be some issue that threatens to divide and break up any kind of fellowship that we have. What does God think of all this I wonder? Perhaps our Psalm for today, Psalm 133 will help us:

How very good and pleasant it is to dwell in unity.

When we walk into a house where everyone is at each other, arguing and fighting, we can sense the atmosphere almost immediately. On the other hand, when we walk into a house where the occupants are together and at peace with one another, what a difference it makes! Isn’t it lovely to walk into a peaceful and unified home, a genuine pleasure? The context of today’s Psalm could have originated in a number of different places – perhaps it refers to the relationship between Abram and Lot in Genesis chapter 13:8, where Abram said:

Let there be no strife between you and me … for we are kindred.

Perhaps this verse refers back to tensions between the tribes of Israel or perhaps even between the sons of King David, but I don’t suppose any of that matters to us too much because it is as wonderful today when people live together in unity as it always was.

The next couple of lines are interesting, we read:

It is like the precious oil on the head, running down upon the beard, Even on Aaron’s beard, running down upon the collar of his clothing.

Interesting it might be, but what on earth is it saying? You may remember the character of Aaron, as Moses’ brother, Israel’s spokesman to Pharaoh and the first high priest in Israel’s history. When Aaron was made priest, special and expensive oil was used to anoint him (and all those after him too). The oil was consecrated, which means dedicated, devoted and set apart for God. A generous amount of oil was used, hence the fact that it ran down over his beard and the collar of his robes. So how then is living together in unity like this oil? The idea is that when God’s people are unified then it is a community of people that are genuinely set apart for Him and carrying out their calling in the world. Unity, like the sacred oil, is a precious thing.

When we as brothers and sisters are living in disunity then we are set apart from God, but when we are together then we are set apart for God.

I think that there are few things that give the devil more pleasure than infighting between God’s children; it is a gift to him and a gift that we should at all costs avoid giving to him! But when we are together, when (as it were) we are all singing from the same hymn sheet, all pulling in the same direction, all playing for the same team, then wow, look at what God can do!

Next in our Psalm we read:

It is like the dew of Hermon running down upon the hills of Zion. For there the Lord has promised his blessing: even life for evermore.

Mount Hermon is a high snow-capped mountain in the north of the land. Today the region is between Syria and Lebanon. We might not think too much of dew in our green and wet climate, but if you are a farmer in an arid climate then the morning dew is crucial for the survival of vegetation during the dry season. The dew ran down the sides of the mountain and gave life to the plants round about. This then is a picture of what unity does amongst God’s people, it brings life and blessing to the church, it brings growth and a harvest. Without the water from the mountain, the plants would wither and die; without unity the church withers and dies and there is no blessing, no harvest and no future.

It is very exciting to see God at work in this Parish; I could not even begin to list the many great things He has done, they are too many to mention here. Someone recently had the idea of writing a book of people’s stories and I think that would be an excellent idea. We must not be complacent though because the enemy is constantly trying to sow seeds of disunity amongst us.  We must fiercely and jealously guard our unity. We need to pray for each other and we need to look out for each other. When someone comes at you with some gossip, ‘Did you know, so-and-so did this, and they didn’t do that,’ remember this: gossip is not harmless fun, it is evil, it destroys. Every time we say an unkind word we destroy a little bit of that person’s character and the devil gets very excited about it.

Sadly I hear a lot of gossip and I have to tell you that I hate it. I have never seen any good come from gossip, it destroys friendships and trust and unity, it is an evil thing that has no place in the life of the church where we are to dwell together in unity. We have to learn to fight each others corner, to stand up for each other, we are family! If someone or something attacks one of us, then we are all attacked, if one of us is gossiped about then all of us are gossiped about – we are one body – does a body fight itself? No! All the parts of one body work together to fight off the common enemy, and that is how we as the body of Christ should be, fighting off all that comes against us with God’s strength, which is there for us when we live together in unity. God loves it when we get on together and He will continue to bless us so long as we are.

Let us pray … Amen.

April 7, 2012

Joseph & Nicodemus

Good Friday - the shadow of the cross

Kilmalooda Easter Vigil, 7/4/12. John 19:38-42

Not long after I became a follower of Jesus, at the age of nineteen, my Mother gave me a small golden cross on a necklace as a present. I wore it every day, as a constant reminder to myself of what Jesus had done on the cross. One day at college, a fellow student noticed me wearing it and he asked me, ‘I see you are wearing a cross, does that mean you are a Christian?’ A perfectly normal question, but it suddenly dawned on me that I had told very few people about my becoming a follower of Jesus and for a brief moment I was faced with a choice; do I keep my faith a secret (in which case it would all be a sham) or am I willing to stand up and be counted as a believer in Christ? Thankfully, by the grace of God I found my voice and was able to reply, ‘Yes, I wear this cross because I am a Christian.’ It is not always easy to admit to being a follower of Jesus, as I have experienced many times since (and not always successfully) and no doubt many of you have also.

In our reading for this evening, two disciples of Jesus who had previously been afraid to show their allegiance to Him, come out from their hiding place and show, finally, that their faith really is genuine. Joseph of Arimathea, a respected leader in the Jewish council and Nicodemus, a Pharisee and also a member of the Jewish council come and bury Jesus’ body.

Joseph approaches Pilate and asks permission to take the Lord’s body away from the cross, and when the permission is given, he takes away the body. Nicodemus brings about a hundred pounds of myrrh and aloes and together they wrap Jesus body in the spices and in linen cloths and they place it in ‘a new tomb in which no one had ever been laid'(41). In Matthew’s gospel we learn that this tomb belonged to Joseph and that he had recently cut it out of the rock (Matt.27:60). It was then in this new tomb, in which no one had ever previously been laid that they left Jesus’ body.

What must have been going through Joseph’s and Nicodemus’ minds at this point? I suppose we can hardly imagine what they felt. But now, when all the other disciples have scattered and fled, the two followers of Jesus that will stand up are the ones that previously were too afraid to do so. Something has happened, something has changed these two men, turning them from cowards to bravehearts. They no longer care what other people think about them, their lives are in danger for what they are doing, but that no longer matters, Jesus comes first, giving Him a proper and honorable burial is what matters now, and that is what they do.

One of the things about Jesus is that there is no sitting on the fence; either we are for Him or we are against Him (Matt 12:30). There is no cosy middle ground where we can pick and choose, where we can walk with Jesus when we need Him to help us and abandon Him when everything is going well once more. He wants all of us all the time!

I pray that all of us this now this Easter would see things as they are more clearly. Even if only for a moment would we shut out all the distractions of our busy lives and let ourselves be carried in our minds and in our spirits to the foot of the empty cross? Let us look at the hard, rough and cracked wood, the dry, dusty soil splattered in blood and ask ourselves, ‘What does this mean to me?’ Would it not change your life forever if someone died for you like that, and how much more so if it was God’s own Son who died for you like that? Guess what, it’s really true, He did it, He really did, and He did it for you … Amen.

March 18, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother and child Zebra at Fota Wildlife Park

Mother and Joey

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March 17, 2012

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

St. Patrick

Statue of St. Patrick in Timoleague, Co. Cork

St. Patrick’s Day Sermon, 17/3/12
Text: John 4:31-38

Of course we don’t know a whole lot about St. Patrick and it can be hard to know sometimes where the facts end and the legend begins, but one thing we do know is that he was passionate about serving his Master. In Patrick we have a man of God and someone who was willing to give up everything in order to follow God’s call upon his life. For Patrick God was everything; he would have wholeheartedly agreed with the Psalmist when he wrote of God:

Whom have I in heaven but you? And there is none upon earth that I desire beside you. (Psalm 73:25)

Wouldn’t it be great if we could have this same passion, this same focus and drive and commitment?

In the Gospel reading for today, we see that the Lord Jesus is tired from the long journey that He is making with His disciples, as they walk from Judea to Galilee. He is sat down by Jacob’s well, where he has just had that famous conversation with the Samaritan woman and the disciples come up to him and urge him, saying:

‘Rabbi, eat something.’ (31)

To which Jesus replies:

‘I have food to eat that you do not know about.’ (32) and
‘My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to complete his work’ (34)

It is as if Jesus is saying to his disciples that doing God’s will is even more important than eating! It is from doing God’s will and God’s work that Jesus gains spiritual strength and sustenance. Yes, we make sure that we are physically fed and nourished but what about spiritual food (in other words doing God’s will for our lives)? Perhaps one of the things that we are reminded of in Lent is that food is just for the physical nourishment of our bodies. Yes, we can enjoy food (and who doesn’t), but let it not preoccupy us so much. Let us spend more time being preoccupied with Spiritual food, doing God’s will, for that is where true nourishment is found.

We see a great and godly example in the life of St. Patrick. In his early twenties he was willing to leave his parents and homeland for the sake of following God’s call. Patrick heeded God’s call to come to Ireland, a land where the Good News of Jesus Christ had been little heard, a land of hardship and warring kings, a land of pagan worship practices and a land of spiritual darkness. But with the eyes that God gave him, what did Patrick see? He saw the same thing as Jesus saw when he said to his disciples:

‘… But I tell you, look around you, and see how the fields are ripe for harvesting.’ (35)

Patrick saw a land of people who were starving, not for lack of food but for lack of God. In his own words he wrote:

I saw a man coming, as it were from Ireland. His name was Victoricus, and he carried many letters, and he gave me one of them. I read the heading: “The Voice of the Irish”. As I began the letter, I imagined in that moment that I heard the voice of those very people who were near the wood of Foclut, which is beside the western sea—and they cried out, as with one voice: “We appeal to you, holy servant boy, to come and walk among us.

Just as the Lord Jesus, in the land of the Samaritans, saw people who were ready and eager to receive God’s word, so Patrick saw that the Irish were hungry for truth and thirsty for salvation.

For someone without faith, it would have seemed an impossible task; to go to another country, where many of the people were hostile and speak to them of a God of love, a God who gave his Son to die in their stead upon a cross, in a place far away in time and distance from their own and yet Patrick did it anyway. Patrick took the risk, he did not play it safe. He did not try and form a committee or organise a mission conference or plan a direct mailing campaign, he just went.

As I think about that I find it exhilarating, exciting and liberating. We do not need to carry the weight on our shoulders of what we need to do and when and how we need to do it; it is not our work, but God’s. He is leader, we just need to follow.

As we look over Ireland today, in almost every conceivable way it is a very different Ireland from the one whose shores St. Patrick would have landed upon all those centuries ago. In Patrick’s time there were no tarmacadamed roads, no means of instant communication over long distances, no cars, no computers, no shopping centres or multiplex cinemas, none of the ‘stuff’ that occupies so much of the time we always complain we don’t have enough of today. Yes, the landscape might be very different, but the people are not so different really; just like our ancient forbears, we have hopes and dreams, ambitions and fears and we all like they need a Saviour.

The fields are as ripe for harvest today as they ever were. How many of the people thronging the streets of our towns and cities and celebrating this day are lost, lonely and hurting inside? For how many of them does life seem hopeless and bleak with no apparent purpose and meaning? And who are the St. Patrick’s today who will tell them and show them Jesus?

We are.

March 6, 2012

Great and Small

early evening moon
DSC_1313.jpg

February 20, 2012

A mountaintop experience

Annascaul Lake(Photo:  Annascaul Lake, Co. Kerry, January 2010)

Yesterday’s Sermon. Text, Mark 9:2-9

Do you ever like to ‘get away from it all’?  You know, to go to some quiet place, away from the busyness and the hustle and bustle of everyday life, some place to relax and de-stress.  Probably most of us like the idea but may seldom if ever get around to doing anything about it.  If you look at the gospels, you will see that the Lord Jesus liked to get away from the crowds, He liked to spend time alone with His Father, time to recover and rest so that He could continue His ministry with a fresh energy and vision.

One such time though, Jesus decides to not go alone but to take with him three of His disciples, Peter, James and John.  The four of them journey together up a high mountain.  I wonder what was going through the disciples’ minds as they journeyed along?  Perhaps they were curious as to why Jesus was leading them up such a steep and rocky path, perhaps they wished they could get to the top sooner, perhaps they wished they were not so hot and thirsty and tired.  But whatever they are thinking or saying they do not turn back, they keep following in the footsteps of Jesus.

Once they reach the top, something remarkable happens.  In the second half of verse 2 and then in verse 3 we read:

And he was transfigured before them, 3and his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them. 

This word ‘transfigured’ is a curious one, what does it mean?  It means to change or transform; the Greek word used is μετεμορφώθη (metemorphōthē), from which we get the word ‘metamorphosis’.  It is like the change of a caterpillar into a butterfly, and it was something like this that happened to the Lord Jesus.  His appearance changed, Mark tells us that ‘his clothes became dazzling white, such as no one on earth could bleach them.’  There is something wonderful and beautiful and heavenly happening here.  Peter, James and John are seeing the Lord Jesus in his glory, in His deity and power and His appearance is like nothing they have ever seen before, it is like nothing else on earth.

I would imagine that as Peter, James and John looked on in awe, that any sense of tiredness at climbing the mountain evaporated at this point and was replaced with joy, elation, wonder and even a little fear at this numinous, otherworldly encounter with Jesus, whom they thought they knew, but now know in a whole new dimension.

As the three disciples gazed, unable to take their eyes off Jesus, look what happens next.  Mark writes:

4And there appeared to them Elijah with Moses, who were talking with Jesus.

Elijah and Moses were two of the Old Testament greats, they were looked up to as men of God, as examples to follow, and great leaders of God’s people in the past.  During their lifetimes, both Elijah and Moses had spoken with God on mountains.

In Exodus chapter 34, we read about Moses meeting with God on mount Sinai and when he came down, his face had such a radiant glow that the people were afraid to come near him and so he had to put a veil over his face until he went back to speak with God again.

Elijah too met with God on Mount Sinai, (we can read about it in 1 Kings chapter 19), and it was there that God revealed himself not in a spectacular way, but in an incredibly gentle way, a ‘still small voice’ (KJV) or ‘gentle whisper’ (NIV).

So why then were these two Old Testament veterans meeting with the transfigured Jesus on another mountain and many many years after they had died?

Firstly, there is the obvious connection that they are, in talking with Jesus, in fact meeting with God.  There is an implied familiarity between them; these guys are not strangers, they have met before, they know each other.  Secondly, Elijah as one of the greatest heroes in the history of Israel, is there to represent all the prophets of the Old Testament and Moses, as the one through whom God gave the Ten Commandments is there to represent the Law.  So the significance here is that in Jesus, revealed in His Divine Glory, we are shown the One in whom all the Old Testament prophecies concerning the Messiah are fulfilled and the One in whom all the Old Testament law is fulfilled.  The Lord Jesus is shown to be above and superior to Moses and Elijah and the One who is the fulfilment of everything that had gone on before.

Last week we went on a family outing to the cinema to see the 3D Star Wars film that is out at the moment.  As we walked into the auditorium we were handed special glasses to wear so that we could see the 3D effects on the screen.  I must admit that the three boys found it very enjoyable (though my better half less so, as she actually fell asleep during the film).  Of course, special effects are not enough on their own to make a good film; the story needs to be good too.  The ‘Transfiguration’ of Jesus was much more than just special effects; there is a very important story and meaning behind what happened that day on the mountaintop.

Peter tries his best to deal with the amazing event and ‘special effects’, that he is witnessing and so he says to Jesus:

‘Rabbi, it is good for us to be here; let us make three dwellings, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.’ 

Mark tells us that Peter did not know what to say, he was terrified!  I think we can all have a bit of sympathy with Peter here; the experience was for him and the other two disciples way way beyond anything they had seen or heard before, even with Jesus.  Perhaps Peter is just trying to be hospitable and make a tent – they are after all on a mountaintop and maybe it was windy!  Peter, James and John may be terrified, but their life-changing encounter has not finished yet.

Next we are told that:

‘… a cloud overshadowed them, and from the cloud there came a voice, ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ 

God the Father is here and as He spoke centuries earlier to Moses and to Elijah He speaks again now to the disciples.  ‘This is my Son’, says the Father, the ‘Beloved’.  The bond of love and attachment between the Father and the Son could not be greater.  The word translated ‘Beloved’ means a complete and total unconditional and sacrificial love, a love that is beyond all others.  And it is the same word that Jesus Himself when He says to His followers:

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. (John 13:34)

As the Father loves the Son so the Son loves us and asks of us to love each other.

Dumbstruck as they were, by what they had seen and heard, this extreme, mountaintop ordeal was now over for the disciples. We are told next that:

8Suddenly when they looked around, they saw no one with them any more, but only Jesus.

It was over.  It had seemed like time had stood still, all their senses had been overloaded with this experience of the Divine and now it was all quiet, all calm and they were alone once more with Jesus, not the Jesus who was too bright to look at, but the same Jesus they had been with on the way up the mountain.

What they had witnessed Jesus told them to keep it to themselves until much later when He had risen from the dead.  I’m sure that once their fear had subsided and given way to worship they would have greatly treasured this ‘mountaintop experience’ for the rest of their lives and it would have been something for them to remember during times of doubt and fear, persecution and testing that lay ahead for each of them.  Perhaps we too can draw upon those great times with God that we may have experienced in the past to help us with the struggles of the present and future.  Mountaintop experiences can sometimes be the thing that keeps us going when we find ourselves in the darkest valley.

Maybe we think that getting away on a holiday would be the answer to all our stress and tiredness, but perhaps what we really need is an encounter with Jesus, a ‘mountaintop experience’ where we realise either anew or for the first time, who He is and what He has done for us, just how much He loves us and how He longs for us to come to Him, to follow Him, to believe in Him and to trust Him.  As God the Father said to Peter, James and John, so He says to us: ‘This is my Son, the Beloved; listen to him!’ Amen.

December 1, 2011

Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand?

“Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand…

Barley Cove 1
and marked off the heavens with a span,
From Old Head of Kinsale
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
Inishmore Farmand weighed the mountains in scales
Cumbriaand the hills in a balance?
Towards Snowdonia
(Isaiah 40:12 ESV)

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Notes:

Photo 1 – at Barleycove Beach, Co. Cork, taken with a Nikon F100, 50mm and Fuji Reala 100 film, June 2010

Photo 2 – From the Old head of Kinsale, January 2007, taken with a Panasonic FZ50

Photo 3 – Inishmore, taken with a Pentax P50 and 70-300mm zoom using Kodak film, possibly in 1995

Photo 4 – From the summit of “Green Gable”, Cumbria, July 2005, taken with an Olympus C-310

Photo 5 – from Shell Island, North Wales, taken with a Panasonic LX1 in July 2009

September 29, 2011

Gold Coast

On a recent trip up to Co. Waterford, we turned off at the promising sounding ‘Gold Coast’, near Dungarvan.  Perhaps it was because I was expecting something a little more exotic that the reality was a  bit disappointing – ‘Grey Coast’ seemed a more accurate description.  Nevertheless we had a decent scramble across the beach and I wanted to try and get some dramatic shots with a new roll of Kodak Tmax 100.

There was something about the rocks in the above picture that caught my attention; the lines, patterns and textures all tell a story, one of unending erosion, pressure, climate and sea-level changes.  You know how sometimes when you look up at the stars on a clear night it makes you feel so small in the context of things?  Well standing on these rocks of immense age and trying to imagine how this place first looked at the beginning of time / Creation evoked a similar emotion.  But something else too, not just a sense of smallness, but a sense of God’s vastness and greatness, his capacity to know everything infinitely and his unlimited power and yet even though we might be very small and insignificant in the grand scheme of things, He cares about us so much that He gave His Son…

Perhaps Gold Coast is not a bad name after all.

September 23, 2011

Bantry Harbour

I rediscovered these pictures last week that I had taken earlier on in the year.  I had gone to visit someone in Bantry Hospital and the little harbour for fishing boats caught my eye.  I pulled the car over and got out armed with my Olympus OM-1 and 50mm lens.  The film was Ilford Delta 100 and I used a yellow filter to help bring out detail in the sky (without it the sky appears just white).

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There were a couple of old fishermen about that looked like they had seen more than their fair share of wind and rain and storms enough for several lifetimes.  I wish I’d had the courage to ask them if I could take a photo of them, but we just said ‘hello’ as they continued to eye me with curiosity as I took pictures (about 5 in total) of their boats.  I had taken the clerical collar out of my shirt as an attempt to look somewhat ‘normal’, but I’m sure I still stuck out like a sore thumb!  Anyway I was quite happy with the pictures I had taken and the experience gave me something to smile about on the journey home.