Posts tagged ‘Nikkor 35mm f1.8 DX’

October 24, 2014

The wind blows where it wishes…

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The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.

(John 3:8)

A low, beautiful, sharp and bright autumn light was shining through the leaves of this Japanese Maple.  The dark red of the leaves contrasted wonderfully with the clear azure sky.  I had a photo in mind of the leaves against the sky, showing lots of detail and texture, enhanced by the light shining through from behind.  However it was very windy and even using a fast shutter speed didn’t enable me to get the shot I was looking for, so I tried a different approach.  I dropped the shutter speed down to 1/45 sec to show the motion of the wind, as leaves and branches were buffeted to and fro.  I was quite happy with the result, a static picture, but showing lots of motion…

It reminded me of the Bible verse above, where the Lord Jesus talks about the Holy Spirit.  I like the way that in the original languages of the Bible (Hebrew and Greek) the words for wind and Spirit are the same.  The unpredictability of the wind blowing through this tree was a reminder to me that God often works in ways we cannot always predict or understand, but nevertheless we can always trust Him because He loves us beyond all measure…

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August 13, 2014

Getting out of the boat

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(Photo: Inishbofin Ferry, July 2014)

Sermon for Sunday 10th August, 2014.

Text: Matthew 14:22-33

As we look at the gospel reading this morning, many of us (if we are honest) will find ourselves identifying with the disciples in the boat. If you think about it, it is a picture of much of the church in our part of the world today. As we look beyond the confines of the boat, we are intimidated by the height of the waves and the strength of the wind. The world is in such a mess, with seemingly endless numbers of spiritually starving people all around us, and the world beyond appears to be nothing but war and rumours of war, disease and disaster, with countless numbers of innocent men, women and children caught up in it all. “It’s much better to say in the boat”, we say to ourselves, “where it is safe, where it is dry and where we can hide from the oceans of need all around us”.  

I have a memory from when I was about five or six years old of watching an episode of Dr. Who on TV – there I was, eyes glued to the old black-and-white television when all of a sudden a scary screaming monster type thing came on to the screen and I was terrified. I got up and ran around to the back of the sofa, occasionally peering over the top to see if it had gone away and then ducking for cover once more. My mother then came in to the room and told me not to be afraid, it was just a man dressed up in a silly costume and it was nothing to be frightened of. I didn’t need to hide behind the sofa any more after that.  

But staying in the boat, or hiding behind the sofa or just keeping ourselves busy with church activity is not where the Lord wants us to be. He does not want us to live in fear, He wants us to trust Him, He even wants us to get out of the boat…  

The reading starts off with the Lord Jesus telling the disciples to head out in the boat and go over to the other side of the lake whilst he goes up the mountain by himself to pray. Did the disciples know that their master and friend was going to pray? I’m not sure, but if they did, then perhaps they didn’t need to fear what was going to happen next. The same is of course true for us. In Hebrews 7:25, the Bible gives us the wonderful promise that Jesus prays for those who come to God through Him. Isn’t it a very special thing, to know that Jesus prays for us?  

So whilst Jesus is alone on the mountain, the disciples are making their way across the lake, but a storm has arisen, the boat is being battered by the wind and the waves and they are far from the shore. It’s quite a contrast don’t you think? Picture the serenity of Jesus in the place of prayer up on the mountain and then in the distance out on the water are the disciples, being lashed, buffeted and bashed by the waves and the wind which are coming hard against them. Remember that a number of the disciples are experienced professional fishermen, they have encountered many storms before, but this is a bad one. The disciples are in a state of panic and in fear of losing their lives and yet they were in fact perfectly safe, Jesus was praying not only for Himself but also for them and He very soon would come to them. How many times have we been in a state of anxiety and fear only to realise later that God was with us all along, looking after us, holding and protecting us?  

In verse 25 it says “In the early morning he came walking towards them on the lake”. In the original it says “In the fourth watch of the night”, which is between 3 am to 6 am. So the disciples had been battling the storm most of the night, and they were no doubt by this time not only frightened, but exhausted. The waves were still large and the wind still strong and there had been no let up. But Jesus comes to them ‘actually walking on the rising and falling waves’ (Hendriksen). ‘The disciples must discover that they have a Saviour who is able not only to still the storm but even to use it as His pathway’ (Ibid.) Initially they don’t realise that it is Jesus coming to them across the water, in the dim light and overcome with fear they cry out ‘It is a ghost!’ But now close to them Jesus says:  

“Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.’ Beautiful words, words that give us strength and comfort to this day. If we look at the literal translation of what Jesus says, it is even more powerful, He says: “Take heart, I AM”. When Jesus says ‘I AM’, it is very significant, because this is the name for God in the Old Testament (Exodus 3:14). Jesus is telling the disciples, and us, that He is the great ‘I AM’, so there is no need to fear. In whatever situations you are in today, this is a huge reassurance to your heart that Jesus is in control.[1]   DSC_0801_wp

(Photo: “Jesus walking on the Water”, Stained-glass window, Church of the Ascension, Timoleague)

I think Peter is just such a great, larger-than-life character. He sometimes gets criticised for being a loud mouth who always seems to put his foot in it, but what we learn from him is that it is much better to do something and fail whilst trying, than to do nothing at all. It is much better to get out of the boat and sink and be saved than to never take the step of faith at all. Peter wants to be wherever Jesus is, even if that means doing something that is impossible, something that contradicts the laws of physics, such as walking on water. Of course it was Jesus who created water in the first place, it was He who determined the laws of physics and nature, He is Lord over all He has created and it is subject to Him in every way.  

Peter has enough faith and enough courage to step out of the boat, which at this time is still being buffeted about. To begin with it all goes well, he is actually walking on the water towards Jesus. But the initial wonder of what he is doing evaporates as Peter takes his eyes of Jesus and notices the strong wind. In so doing his faith is replaced by fear and he begins to sink. Turning back to Jesus he cries out “Lord, save me!” Jesus’ response is immediate, He reaches out and catches hold of him. Perhaps it is then as the two of them are walking back to the boat that Jesus says: ‘You of little faith, why did you doubt?’ In other words, Peter should have taken to heart that He was in Christ’s presence, and he should not therefore have been afraid.  

Perhaps some of us can relate to Peter, yes we have faith, but mixed in with that faith is fear and doubt (Wright). It can seem that what Jesus has asked us to do is impossible, whether that is being a witness for Him in the home, in school or in the workplace; whether that is being involved in ministry of some kind to those in the church or to those outside; whether it is in helping those around us or helping those in far away places. It can all seem, at times, overwhelming. If like Peter we look at the wind and the waves we will conclude that what God has asked us to do is impossible. All we have to do though is keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, in prayer, in His Word, in worship and praise and as we go out into the world. Spending time with Him is key so that not only will we know what He wants us to do, but we will have the power, energy, strength and faith to do that which He asks of us.  

As Peter and Jesus get back into the boat all is calm, the wind stops and the disciples cry out now not in fear, but in worship, saying to Jesus ‘Truly you are the Son of God.’  Worship is of utmost importance.  

One of my favourite books of recent years is John Ortberg’s “If you want to walk on water You’ve got to get out of the boat.” He writes:   “When human beings get out of the boat, they are never quite the same. Their worship is never quite the same. Their world is never quite the same. Whatever the results, whether they sink or swim, something will have changed… Jesus is not finished yet. He is still looking for people who will dare to trust Him. He is still looking for people who will refuse to allow fear to have the final word. He is still looking for people who refuse to be deterred by failure … Just remember one thing: If you want to walk on water, you’ve got to get out of the boat.”[2]  

Let’s pray: Lord, we ask that You would give us courage to get up and to step out and to follow You and Your will and plan for our lives, now and always … Amen.  

Further Reading:

  • William Hendriksen, New Testament Commentary, Matthew, Banner of Truth Trust, Edinburgh, 1989
  • John Ortberg “If you want to walk on water You’ve got to get out of the boat.”, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001
  • Tom Wright, Matthew for Everyone, Part 1, SPCK, London, 2004

[1] http://acs.alpha.org/bioy/commentary/765

[2] John Ortberg “If you want to walk on water You’ve got to get out of the boat.”, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 2001, p.202

July 3, 2014

Random Light No. 9

Here are some photos taken in the last few months…

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A Worcestershire Poppy field

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Colourful Kinsale

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Evening Reflections at Trimpley reservoir, Worcestershire

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A family of ducks makes their way home in the last light of the day…

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One of Fota’s more colourful residents…

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Bantry harbour boats (with “cross-process” effect)

DSC_8811_wpMwnt, Ceredigion.

 

May 26, 2014

The Beach House

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It’s been a while since we have been to any of the beaches in East Cork.  The house above is in a wonderful location not too far from Garryvoe, a place that we often used to make a trip to when we lived nearby.  It’s a quiet, isolated location and would make a wonderful place to retreat to, a perfect weekend or holiday home.  Although it is up for sale, by the looks of things it would need a lot of work.  It would be lovely to think of somebody buying it who has the time and resources not only to repair it but to enjoy it as well…

April 29, 2014

Homeless

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From the upper deck of a double-decker I saw these two men sat chatting on St. Patrick’s Bridge in Cork city.  I wonder what they were talking about?  The man in the black hoodie on the left seems to be listening intently, his hands in a curious gesture, as if pushing something apart.  The little cardboard coffee cup between them seems to be for passers-by to put money in, but it only seems a half-hearted attempt to gather, as if they are a little embarrassed by the asking.

All curiosity aside, I pray these men will, if they don’t now, then one day very soon have a place to call home.

 

 

November 17, 2013

Prayer

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I think that the longer a person knows God, the more they want to get to know Him.  Prayer is such a wonderfully rich and fathomless subject and something that can be both easy and very hard, uplifting and elusive; something that can release tears of joy and tears of sorrow.

As well as stumbling and stuttering in prayer and in trying to pray throughout the day, directing everything heavenward, I like to write out my prayers in a book too.  That way I can come back to them and see what transpired.  Looking back sometimes I am very grateful that God didn’t answer a prayer the way I wanted Him to!  The best times of prayer are when we pray with our boys at bedtime (some of the things they come out with are priceless!) and then later in the evening with Sonja, when together with God we bring to Him ourselves, our lives, and pray both for those who have asked for our prayers (and also those who have not!), as well as other things and different situations.    

For the beginner (and I think I will always be a beginner but that’s no bad thing), I recently came across an article on the Church of England website entitled “Learn to Pray”, which I really like.   There are lots and lots of books on prayer, but my favourite is Gordon MacDonald’s “Ordering Your Private World”, which has taught me much about how the inner life of prayer affects the outer life we live every day.

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Photo: A man at prayer in the Church of St. John the Baptist, Cirencester

Nikon D7000, 35mm DX lens at f1.8, 1/90 sec, ISO 160

July 24, 2013

A walk through history

Last Sunday our Parish took part in the Clonakilty 400 celebrations.  We walked from the site of the ancient church to the ‘new’ church that was built in 1818.  Here is a gallery of photos from the day…

Here are the words I spoke in the church service:

21st July 2013, Kilgarriffe Parish Church, Clonakilty.  

I would like to thank Tomás Tuipéar for his excellent talk up at the old church site and for giving me all the fascinating bits of history that I am about to share with you and for all his help in preparation for today.  There are many others to thank also, including Councillor John Loughnan, the Mayor Phil O’Regan and members of the town council, Cork County Council (who did a huge job in preparing the walkway for us today), members of Clonakilty Duchas and of course the Clonakilty 400 committee, without which the walk would not have been possible. Thank you to our bus drivers John and John, and a special thanks to our churchwardens, Joyce and Elma, organist Roy, Ernie, Jean, Tommy and to the many others who have more than played their part in making this event happen…

This church building where we are now takes its name from the ancient church at the old Kilgarriffe, from which many of us have walked.  The name Kilgarriffe comes from the Gaelic ‘Cill’ (kill) meaning church and ‘Garbh’ (gorrive) meaning rough or rough ground.  Kilgarriffe is of course also a townland and gives its name to the Civil Parish of Kilgarriffe as well.

When Clonakilty was set up in the early sixteen hundreds, church life moved from the ancient Kilgarriffe to this place.  Historians believe this was the site of the Clogh ny Kylte castle recorded in 1367; it would have been usual to have a church or chapel of ease attached to such a castle.

The castle of Clogh ny Kylte didn’t survive the many battles of the time but it is possible that the chapel attached to it did.  In 1605 settlers are recorded here and called the ‘Portreve and Corporation of Cloughnakilty’. Their place of worship is not known but when the charter of 1613 was granted, the limits of the borough were measured from this place and referred to as ‘the old chapel’.

Richard Boyle, who was made lord of the town, is credited with building a church for worship on this site in 1613, then In 1615, James Worth is recorded as Vicar.

The next reference is in 1663 when the inhabitants of the parishes of Island, Kilkerranmore, Desert and Ardfield were united by commission to repair the church of Cloghnikilty – 139 years later in 1802, the building was re-roofed and a gallery added.  Then in 1818 it was taken down and the present church erected on the site at a cost of £1,300.  The church contains a chalice (which you can see on the Communion Table) with the following inscription ‘This cup was made in the year 1636. Humphrey Jobson Esq. and John Baker, gentleman, being church wardens.

In the Bible we have a wonderful description of the church as being made up of ‘living stones’ (1 Peter 2:4-6).  We often think of a church as a building made up of blocks of cut stone, but isn’t it a powerful image to picture the church instead as being made up of living stones, of all the people who worship together with their common foundation in Christ?  As we listened to Tómas earlier, his infectious enthusiasm helped to bring the history of that ancient place to life and my mind was transported back, imagining what the people were like and what kind of lives they lived and how for the vast majority life must have been very hard.  Their belonging to the church of ‘living stones’ must have been at least as important to them as it is for us today.  As their spiritual descendants, may each of us, regardless of what building we worship in remember that as living stones we are part of that one church founded on Christ, whose great privilege is to pass on the faith to those who would come after us so that the history of the church in this part of the world might go on being written.  Wouldn’t it be great if at the celebration of the ‘Clonakilty 800’, a mere 400 years from now that our descendants could celebrate even more than we can today all that God has done in His church and that any religious divisions of the past would be nothing more than an historical footnote?  May God bless us and bring us together more and more as Living Stones for the glory of His name, Amen.

July 17, 2013

Random Light No. 8

Hungry Horse 1

Shire Horse at Courtmacsherry, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/1000 ƒ/6.7 ISO 160 35mm

Manch Woods

Bluebells at Manch Woods, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/90 ƒ/8 ISO 220 35mm

Mullaghmore Harbour

Mullaghmore Harbour, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/250 ƒ/8 ISO 100 35mm

Mullaghmore window

Mullaghmore Window, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/750 ƒ/5.6 ISO 100 35mm

Loughanelteen Panorama

Loughanelteen, Co. Sligo, (Panorama taken with Samsung Galaxy Note II)

Ripening Barley

Ripening Barley, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/125 ƒ/6.7 ISO 200 300mm

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Pippa the puppy, Nikon D7000, Settings: 1/125 ƒ/3.3 ISO 100 35mm

April 24, 2013

“I must go down to the seas again…”

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I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.

John Masefield

 

Photo: Long Strand, Co. Cork.

Nikon D7000, 35mm, f8, 1/500 sec, ISO 125

April 17, 2013

Many are the plans…

Blogging seems to have deserted me for the last while.  I think it has been good to step back, to not be so obsessed (as is my want) with taking lots and lots of photos (and in so doing ironically miss out in appreciating that which I am photographing).

Here’s a picture taken at Dinas Cross, near Fishguard shortly after Easter.  It was a beautiful spring day…

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(Nikon D7000, Nikkor 35mm dx lens, ISO 220, f16, 1/125 sec)

Oh, the title is from Proverbs 19:21

Many are the plans in a person’s heart,
but it is the Lord’s purpose that prevails.