Posts tagged ‘Nikkor 35mm f1.8 DX’

January 18, 2013

A holy enchantment

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Nikon D7000, 35mm f1.8 G DX,  (1/250 sec, f8, ISO 400) Processed in Instagram.

It was Sunday morning.  As usual I was in a hurry to get myself ready and get out of the door, into the car and on my way to church to make it in time for the 9.00am service.  To make matters worse when I did get to the car it was coated in ice!  I quickly dashed back inside and filled a large jug with warm water to defrost the windows.  I was really running late now (or so I thought).  I drove reasonably quickly whilst taking care to be on the lookout for patches of ice on the road.  The sun was just coming over the low hills on the Eastern horizon, it was spectacular.  I had the camera in my bag and I started to think about how I would find the time to take a photo.

Much to my surprise I arrived in Timoleague in good time, I was early.  At the entrance to the village I pulled over and got out with my camera to try to get a picture of the Abbey ruins with the sun rising behind it, but there was a problem – I only had a 35mm lens, which meant that the Abbey was too far away and there would have been too much junk in the foreground of the picture – I really needed 150mm or more to get the right shot.  A voice in my head said ‘drive on, keep going’.  I got back in the car and drove to just beside the Abbey, facing the estuary, the tide was high.  I got out of the car and walked over to the water’s edge.  As I was lifting the camera to my eye I heard a flapping noise to my left; my presence had alerted a duck and he was now flying low across the water.  He came into the viewfinder and I waited until he was in just the right spot and then I pressed the shutter release.  I had my photo, but much more importantly I was now relaxed and ready for worship, my stress had gone.  Somehow in that moment by the water’s edge I connected with God, with His Creation as a means, a platform for holy enchantment.

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January 13, 2013

When you pass through the waters

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Photo: Glencar Lough, Co. Leitrim, January 2013.

Sermon for Sunday 13/1/13.  Text: Isaiah 43:1-7

Have you ever been in that place where you just want to give up? The pressures of your work, your family situation, your finances or whatever sphere of life you are concerned with just becomes too great, too overwhelming? You wish that you could get on a boat or a plane and find a desert island somewhere where there would be no telephone, only the sound of lapping waves, no bank statements, only leaves falling from the trees and no one to be cross with you or gossip about you, only the feeling of the warm sand running through your fingers…

All of us who have lived for any length of time know that life can be great but it can also seem like hell at times too. Sometimes as Christians we think that we cannot get emotional with God, we have to keep a stiff upper lip and pretend that everything is alright. Really what we want to do is find somewhere where we can shout and something that we can punch, but instead we think that God would not approve of such behaviour so we bottle it all up somehow until it bursts out of us in some other way, such as during an argument with a friend or when we beep the horn ferociously at someone who cuts us up at a roundabout!

Martin Luther King Jr. was perhaps the leading light of the movement in the United States in the 1950s for racial equality through nonviolent resistance. I doubt any of us could imagine the pressure and stress he was under; he received as many as 30 to 40 threatening phone calls a day. One night in January 1956 he returned home late after a long day of meetings. His wife and young daughter were in bed and he was eager to join them, but then the phone rang; it was yet another threatening call. He wanted to go to bed, but he could not shake the menacing voice of that phone caller that kept repeating the hateful words in his head. He made some coffee and sat down at the kitchen table. With his head buried in his hands he cried out to God. There in his kitchen in the middle of the night, when he had come to the end of his strength, God spoke to him. King later wrote: “I heard the voice of Jesus saying still to fight on … He promised never to leave me, never to leave me alone, no never alone.’ In the stillness of the night the voice of Jesus was greater than the voices of hate and it gave King the courage to press on, to press on for the rest of his life[1]. That is what each of us needs, the voice of Jesus speaking into our lives, into our situations. It is a Voice that is greater than anything or anyone that can come against us.  If we are a Christian, then we have a relationship with God. In our reading from Isaiah, God says of that relationship:

But now thus says the LORD, he who created you … he who formed you … Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.

Aren’t those phenomenal words? God created us, he knitted us together in our mothers wombs (cf. Ps.139:13), He knows us completely and He speaks to us as He spoke to the people of Israel and he tells us not to fear, he has redeemed us (in other words he has freed us from blame, we are forgiven), and not only has He redeemed us through the cross of Christ, he also calls us by name.  I remember in the equivalent to National School that I went to all the girls were referred to by their Christian names but all the boys were simply called ‘boy’. It was wonderful then in my next school to hear my new teacher, Mrs. Jenkins, call me by my name.  I felt like a real person, I felt valued and it made me want to do my best work for this kind teacher.  God knows us by name, He knows us intimately and He cares about us and we matter to Him.  I love the bit at the end of the verse where God says, ‘you are mine’. Can you imagine God punching the air, saying your name and going ‘yes, you are mine’? We are not an afterthought for God, He is passionate about us.

Verse 2 has appeared in lots of songs, the words are poetic and beautiful:

When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

There’s a magnificent song by U2 called ‘drowning man’ about a man drowning in the “winds and tides” of life. As you listen to the song you can imagine him being swept down a fast moving river and he is about to be carried away out of sight when suddenly out of the darkness comes a voice saying “Take my hand … hold on tightly … hold on and don’t let go of my love … hold on tightly to this love which will last for ever…” All of us go through troublesome waters in life and if we try and swim in our own strength we are more likely to fail. But God’s promise is that the waters shall not overwhelm us.

When I read the words ‘walk through the fire, I am reminded of the event recorded in Daniel chapter 3, where Daniel’s friends, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego are thrown into the Fiery Furnace for refusing to worship a 90’ high gold statute. But rather than be burnt up in the flames they were completely unharmed, with even their hair left unsigned! When King Nebuchadnezzar looked into the furnace he exclaimed to his soldiers:

Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire? They replied “Certainly, O king,” To which he replied:

Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.

God sent a heavenly visitor to help the three men during a time of great trial. God will help us too. Perhaps some of you have stories of how God has helped you through great trials and difficulties in ordinary or extraordinary ways. Perhaps we would be amazed too at all the times and in different ways God has saved us in different situations which we have no idea about…

Fire and water represent the totality of trials, of whatever sort and however they come – in all things, the Lord is with us[2].  As I was thinking about this I remembered the story of Terry Waite, a representative of the Archbishop of Canterbury who went to the Lebanon to try to secure the release of four hostages but ended up being held hostage himself for four long years. In his autobiography he writes much about his faith in the midst of intense difficulty. One of the bits I remember is where he used to save a little bread when it was given to him and together with a little water in a plastic cup he used to recite the Communion Service from memory. In solitary confinement, far from home, frightened, he nevertheless drew great comfort and support from the fact that God was with Him in the midst of his great trial, He did not allow Terry Waite to be overwhelmed or drown in despair, God carried him through until he was released.

In the next few verses, God shows His people how much they mean to Him, by naming the nations he has saved them from and punished in their stead, Egypt (remember Moses and the Israelites crossing the Red Sea) and Ethiopia and Seba (countries beyond the borders of Egypt). Then Isaiah plunges forward in time to a regathering of God’s people from the ends of the earth at a time far removed from the day of writing.  Some people say that the modern day nation of Israel is a fulfillment of this prophecy, with Jews from all over the world leaving the countries of their birth and setting up a new home in the land of their ancient ancestry.

In the past God gave nations in exchange for His people, with Christ though He did much more than that.  Isaiah himself would give a clear indication of this in chapter 53 when he wrote of the Messiah, the suffering servant:

But he was wounded for our transgressions, crushed for our iniquities; upon him was the punishment that made us whole, and by his bruises we are healed.

In Christ we have the ultimate fulfillment of all that Isaiah wrote. Through Him, we have a special relationship with God; we are His children, called by name, knitted together by Him in our mother’s womb. He is with us before we were formed; he is with us through life and through death. Certainly we are his if we want to be.  Often I come across people who are going through trials of one kind or another and it breaks my heart to see them trying to cope without God’s help. For different reasons people try to cope on their own – but it really doesn’t have to be like that.   He calls your name, He tells you not to fear, He has redeemed you and you are His now and always… Amen.


[2] Alec Motyer ‘The Prophecy of Isaiah’, Inter Varsity Press, 1995, p.331

December 11, 2012

mind at peace

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You keep him in perfect peace
whose mind is stayed on you,
because he trusts in you.

(Isaiah 26:3)

I found it very helpful recently when I heard this Bible verse quoted in a sermon I was listening to.  Staying or fixing or focussing our minds upon God, whether in the quiet place of prayer or in the midst of a hectic day results in peace.  God is the fixed point of focus when everything else is all over the place, it is great to remember that He is the God of peace…

December 3, 2012

Stillness

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Something that I find hard to do (and I know I’m not alone in this), is to be still.  To be able to just sit or stand and listen, listen to the noises around me; traffic in the distance, birds in the tree outside the window, the sound of my breathing, even my heartbeat, is a wonderful thing to do now and again.  One of my favourite quotes from the Bible is from Psalm 46 where the LORD speaks and says:

Be still and know that I am God.

It seems that in all our rushing around and in all our busyness we can miss something that is very important – connecting with God and hearing his ‘still, small voice’.  God taught this lesson to Elijah a long time ago and to this day His voice to us is often no more than a ‘gentle whisper’:

Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. After the earthquake came a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. (1 Kings 19:11,12)

If I am reading the Bible and am surrounded by noise and busyness then it is a lot harder to hear God ‘speak’ through the words I am reading.  Similarly, in the place of prayer, how much do I rattle on to God about this and that, say ‘Amen’ and then jump back into hectic hurry once more? It is important to be still, to listen, to connect with God, to receive His word, blessing and strength for that which lies ahead.

Stillness is good.

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Photo notes:  Kinsale Harbour on the morning of the 29th November.  Nikon D7000, Nikkor 35mm f1.8.  (ISO 400, f11, 1/350 sec) out of camera jpeg with no post processing, (part of my ‘one camera, one lens, one year’ project).

November 14, 2012

One camera & one lens (for one year)…

I’ve wanted to do this for a while, ever since I read Michael Johnston’s article “The Leica as Teacher”.  The idea is that in restricting yourself to one camera and one fixed focal length lens you begin to ‘see’ better as a photographer.  Also by only using black and white, you learn to look at patterns and textures, light and shade, things which are often forgotten in the splurge of colour.

So the set up is a Nikon D7000, which I have been using for the past year and a Nikon 35mm f1.8 lens, which I got recently for (an early) birthday present.

Really this should be done with a film camera (and ideally a Leica), but I don’t have a working film camera any more so I’m just using what I have.  Part of the challenge is to shoot at least two rolls of film a week (that is at least 72 exposures) – that’s a lot of pictures, but I will give it a go.  I’m looking forward to the challenge very much.  I plan to get the best photo from each month of the year printed so that at the end of the year to have a set of twelve prints to display on a wall somewhere in the house.

The year starts tomorrow 15th November and I’ve decided to do this project in a separate blog (as well as keeping this one going).  The blog can be found at:

http://onecameraonelens.wordpress.com