Posts tagged ‘Kodak’

June 7, 2011

Charlie Chaplin takes a coffee break…

Charlie Chaplin takes a coffee break...

It’s not everyday that you see a 20th Century screen legend coming out of McDonalds with a coffee…



February 27, 2011

Do not worry…


(Photo: Not ‘Lilies of the field’, Snowdrops from Blarney will have to make do…)

Sermon for the Second Sunday Before Lent, Year A, Matthew 6:25:34

How you can tell when it’s going to be a rotten day:
You wake up face down on the pavement.
You call The Samaritans and they put you on hold.
You see loads of reporters and camera crews waiting outside your office.
Your birthday cake collapses from the weight of the candles.
Your twin sister forgot your birthday.
Your car horn goes off accidentally and remains stuck as you follow a Scary biker gang on the motorway.
Your boss tells you not to bother to take off your coat.
The bird singing outside your window is a Vulture.
You wake up and your braces on your teeth are locked together.
Your income tax check bounces.
You put both contact lenses in the same eye.
Your wife says, “Good morning, Bill”, and your name is George.
Source Unknown.

These days are for many a time of great worry and testing; things that we took for granted can no longer be viewed that way.  Many of us never worried about the fact that there would be enough money to pay the bills.  The mortgage was high but then so was the income to pay for it.  Food prices were amongst the highest in the world, but then so was our standard of living.  For so many people in this country the difference today from just a short couple of years ago could not be greater.  Then it seemed that the sky was the limit, now our feet our firmly on the ground, in a queue, outside the social welfare office…

Even if we ourselves are not out of work or in a desperate financial situation, we certainly know people who are; they are among our family members and friends.  We have found ourselves helping people who would be really stuck otherwise.  All of us are in this together, especially so in the family of God.

Speaking of God, where is He in all of this?  Does He just sit up in heaven and shake His head as He watches us make a complete mess of things?  No, His response is very clear, so clear in fact that at least until we grasp its truth it can be infuriating!  He says:

“Do not worry.”

It is not difficult to picture the scene:  You have just opened a ‘final notice’ letter from the bank; you simply do not have the money to meet all those who are demanding it from you.  You feel a deep anger at the former government and at the bank which is demanding your money. You feel the sheer weight and pressure of responsibility upon you to provide for your family, to feed them, to clothe then and to provide a roof over their heads and you would like to find any way possible out of this mess.  Then in the midst of all of this, the Lord Jesus says “Do not worry!”  ‘How could He possibly understand my situation?’ you say.  Actually He understands your situation more than you will ever know, and that is the core of it; He wants you to trust Him.  He wants you to hand over to Him every burden, every weight and the pressure of all your responsibility, the worry, anxiety, guilt, anger and pain.  Hand it over to Him, for He is more than able to take it from you and more than able to deal with it and He is more than able to provide for you and your family for all of your needs.  You may lose your home but you will not be homeless, you may not be tasting Pate Fois Gras anytime soon, but you and your family will have more than enough to eat.  You may not be able to drive your dream car, but you will be able to get to the places you need to.  Your clothes may not be the newest and the best anymore, but you will have all that you need.

God will provide.  Our heavenly Father feeds the birds and He provides the lilies of the field with more beautiful apparel than the finest of Kings.  God knows what we need, in fact our Heavenly Father knows what we need better than we do.

Is there a catch?  Well there is and there isn’t.  (Red Herring alert) God will provide for us, He provides enough for the whole world, the only reason so many are without is because countries like ours hoard so much and it is our greed ultimately that leads to the deaths of so many who do not have enough food in other countries.  Yes there are other factors too, whether it be tyrannical regimes in power in those countries, famines and poor distribution because of bribes and corruption and sheer apathy amongst their leaders to do anything to help.  But when we look at our problems in the context of the world in which we live rather than just on how we used to live then it does help to put some kind of sobering perspective on things.

In this life we cannot have everything that we want, there will be good times but there will be bad times too.

There’s a great magazine called Leadership Journal and this is what the editor Marshall Shelley wrote in November of last year:  My wife’s father is a farmer. He’s spent a lifetime raising wheat, corn, beef, and along the way some sheep and chickens. One morning while I followed him around the farm, we talked about the differences between living in the town and in the country.

“Most people who live in towns that I know expect each year to be better than the last,” he said. “They think it’s normal to get an annual raise and to earn more this year than you did last year. As a farmer, I have good years and bad years. It all depends on rain at the right time, dry days for harvest, and no damaging storms. Some years we have more; some years we have less.”

It was one of those indelible moments of stunning clarity. And that “law of the harvest”—some years being fat and others being lean—applies to much more than agriculture. Growing in spiritual maturity requires gratefully accepting the “seasons of more” and the “seasons of less” that God weaves into specific areas of our lives—our friendships, marriage, career, finances, ministry, and spiritual growth.[1]

So our Lord and Saviour does not want us to worry, He wants us to trust Him, but is there anything else that He wants us to do (now we get back to the ‘is there a catch?’ question.)  It is of course not really a catch, He simply wants us to stop being negative, He wants us to replace the worry, the fear, the anxiety the guilt, anger and pain with something that is good and positive.  He wants to change our outlook on life, He wants to replace the worry with faith and He wants us to not strive after the things of this world but to strive instead after the things of God; His Kingdom and His righteousness and if we do that He will take care of the rest.  We keep our eyes focussed on Jesus throughout the ups and downs of life and all (ultimately) will be well.

“But what about tomorrow – my bills are not going to magically disappear, my debtors are not going to just melt away?”  Well they might, but what is the Lord’s response to our worries about tomorrow?  Simply this:

“So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own.  Today’s trouble is enough for today.” (v.34)

Tomorrow is the future for us, but for God who exists outside of time and for whom every one of our days is a present reality it is (or should be) of no concern to us.  As the old saying goes “Do not worry about tomorrow because God is already there.”

Of course the Lord Jesus is right; today’s concerns are enough for today.  We take our problems one at a time and present them to Him in the place of prayer.  In each thing, one at a time we place our dependence upon God and as we do so we can literally feel the weight of those things being lifted off from us.

We can all think of times in our lives where we have been in a situation where we could do nothing else than hand everything over to God.  What was it like when you did that?  Did you survive?  I can remember when I was a new and very inexperienced curate (and the rector was away) having to do several funerals in a few days – I don’t know how I did it, but I realised afterwards that God helped me.  I know that many of you have enough worries and concerns and difficulties and problems to last a lifetime (or indeed several lifetimes).  So may you draw enormous comfort from the simple truth that our reading from Matthew’s gospel reminds us of this morning; the Lord Jesus says to you and to me:

“Therefore I tell you, do not worry.”

Let us pray:  Heavenly Father, you know each of us so well and you understand every aspect of our lives so completely.  You know about tomorrow and every day after that.  Lord, we choose right now to let go, to release our tight grip upon all those things which cause us to worry; you know what they are.  We let them go and we give each of them to you now.  Lord, come and fill our hearts and lives and our homes with your love, with your peace and with your presence.  Help us to keep our eyes fixed upon you always, in the knowledge that you will never let go of us and no one or nothing can ever snatch us out of your grasp.  We are with you now and we thank you that no matter what we always will be with you and you with us.  With all of our hearts we thank you … Amen.

December 5, 2010

JtheB and the road to the Lord

Clonakilty in the snow

Thank you so much to the person (who wishes to remain anonymous) who posted me a Facebook message answering my call for help.  The message picked me up and got me writing again – thank you!

Today’s Sermon (Text: Matthew 3:1-12) Advent 2, Year A

In his poem “St. John the Baptist’s Day”, John Keble writes:

Where is the lore the Baptist taught,
The soul unswerving and the fearless tongue?
The much-enduring wisdom, sought
By lonely prayer the haunted rocks among?
Who counts it gain
His light should wane,
So the whole world to Jesus throng?(1)

The Lord Jesus said of John:
Truly I tell you, among those born of women no one has arisen greater than John the Baptist… (Matthew 11:11a)

John the Baptist was an amazing character. He lived in the desert wilderness, and Matthew tells us that he had raggedy old clothes made from camel’s hair, held up by an old leather belt. For his food / Bush Tucker Trial, he had a strict diet of locusts and wild honey. The honey sounds nice, but I’m not so sure about the locusts! He doesn’t really sound like the type of character one would normally listen to, does he? But what an awesome character John was, so holy and so humble, never seeking any credit for himself and always directing attention away from himself and onto Christ.

When I was at theological college, a Rector who I did a parish placement with discussed John the Baptist with me as I was preparing to write a sermon for that Sunday. He told me about a sermon he did on John the Baptist when he was a Curate at a well-to-do parish in Dublin. Unbeknown to the very proper elderly ladies sitting a couple of pews back from the front, a friend of his had been hiding behind the Communion Table from before the start of the service. This friend was dressed as near as possible to what John the Baptist would have looked like; he was all messy and dressed in old rags, looking like he had wandered in from the nearest desert. Right in the middle of the sermon at the pre-selected point of time, he jumped out and shouted at the top of his voice “Repent, Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near”. I’m told that the old ladies had such a shock that the preacher feared for their health. It took much apologising from both rector and curate to smooth things over afterwards!

You’ll be pleased to know that there are no hidden John the Baptists here this morning, behind the Communion Table or anywhere else!

Matthew tells us that John the Baptist came preaching in the desert. Here was a man who had given his life to God, and now God had a very important job for him to do. Firstly, he had to awaken the people to see their need to be converted and secondly he was going to introduce them to the Messiah, who would make it possible for the people to be converted.

If any of you have ever been to see a famous band or act such as U2, Lady Gaga or the Munster Ramblers :-/ perform, they will usually have what is known as a “support band”. This is a kind of “warm-up” act, to get everyone in the mood for the main performance. Usually however, people tend to ignore the support band and not bother coming out of the bar until the main performance starts. John is a bit like the warm-up act, though his job is infinitely more important. Perhaps a better example is whenever a head of state, such as a King or Queen does something important, they may be announced with a fanfare of trumpets, the red carpet will be rolled out, and people will have spent time beforehand making sure that everything is ready for the important person to arrive. This is exactly what John the Baptist is doing for the immanent arrival of the Lord Jesus and the beginning of Jesus’ ministry. John is blowing Jesus’ trumpet and he’s laying out the red carpet to prepare the way for the coming Messiah.

So John went into the countryside all around the River Jordan and he preached a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. The word Repent in Greek is μετάνοία (metanoia), It means ‘to change one’s mind for the better, knowing that you have offended someone (in this case God) and to look with abhorrence on your past sins’ (Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon). Of course, repentance then is not just once off, it must be the way of life for the Christian. Every day in prayer and through reading God’s word we allow Him to work in us to align us to His will, to His plan and purpose for our lives and to repent of our old way of living.

Baptism was nothing new. The Jewish people had for a long time performed a ceremonial washing of Gentiles who had converted to Judaism. The idea being that Gentiles were unclean and they needed to be washed before they could become one of God’s people. But here John is having the cheek to tell the Jewish people themselves that they needed to be washed, they too were unclean! But he’s saying to them, “Yes, you are unclean, but you can be forgiven, your sins can be washed away.” His audience would have been well aware of some wonderful verses in the Hebrew Scriptures that tell us about God’s forgiveness, for example:

As far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:12)

You will again have compassion on us; you will tread our sins underfoot and hurl all our iniquities into the depths of the sea.
(Micah 7:19)

A family member told me about a dream they had once, where they were looking out to sea. The tide was out and in the mud there was lots of junk, you know the sort of thing, old shopping trolleys, washing machines and so on. The person understood these to represent all the junk in their life, in other words, all the sin. But then the tide turned, the sea came in and completely covered over all the junk. This represented what God does with our sins when we say “sorry” to Him. Even more than that, because in the dream the junk was still there under the surface – but God does much more than that, He removes our sin completely.

In other words, when God forgives, He sends our sins away to a place from which they can never be brought back. When we forgive someone, we might occasionally remind them of the bad thing that they did to us, thereby showing that we haven’t totally forgiven them at all. But God doesn’t do that. He doesn’t remind us of our sins, He completely wipes them out, so that they are no more, literally, as far as the east is from the west, or as if they had been cast into the depths of the sea.

Quoting from Isaiah, John says that there will be:

A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make his paths straight …’ The voice in the desert is of course John himself, but what does he mean when he says about making straight paths for the Lord? Perhaps that his audience should provide the Lord with ready access to their hearts and lives. May we let God’s access to us not be a windy narrow West Cork Boreen full of pot holes, but a highway where we openly welcome Him into our hearts and lives.

Later on, the Lord Jesus was to declare that John was in fact the most important of all the prophets. But even he is only a forerunner, he is only the one to announce the arrival of the coming King, the Lord Jesus Christ, the Messiah, the Lamb of God and Saviour of the world.

John welcomed the King himself, and many people who heard John’s message also welcomed Jesus as their Lord and Saviour. Let’s ask ourselves, how straight the paths are between us and God; are there obstacles in the way? Let’s be encouraged by John’s message. Let us allow ourselves to be converted, to repent, to walk in the direction of God’s will for our lives. If we’ve done this already, let’s keep going, and let us allow God by His grace to remove every obstacle in our lives that prevents us from having an increasingly full relationship with Him. Let us pray:

Lord God, you know our lives so completely, you know my life. You know the obstacles, all the pit falls, all that hinders my relationship with you. Lord there are things I try to hide, things that I am ashamed of, things I avoid; words I should say and words I shouldn’t, things I should do and things I shouldn’t … I give this all to you now and I say ‘sorry’ with all my heart. Help me Lord, help me every day to follow you, every day and every moment of my life now and into eternity. For the glory of Your Name. Amen.


September 1, 2010


Tri-x Coffee

Good Morning.  Coffee?  Fair Trade is good.

August 30, 2010



The Saturday before last we had a great day at the wedding of two friends.  It was a day full of happiness, even more than that, a day of deep Joy.

There is something very special about witnessing the marriage of two people who openly acknowledge their belief and trust in God.  Yes they love each other more than they at one time would have thought it possible to love another person and yet – their love for God is even greater.  God is love, He is the source of that powerful emotion and attribute, and no one has greater love than He for us.

A marriage then may be a reflection of this Divine love, a glimpse behind the curtain of eternity.

“No eye has seen,
no ear has heard,
no mind has conceived
what God has prepared for those who love him”
(1 Corinthians 2:9)
All that the husband and wife see in each other that is beautiful and precious and lovely are marks of the Creator’s hand.  These qualities enable a couple over time draw closer to each other in love and, if they have their eyes open, closer to God also…