Posts tagged ‘Nikon F100’

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.

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March 18, 2012

Happy Mother’s Day!

Mother and child Zebra at Fota Wildlife Park

Mother and Joey

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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 12, 2011

Roll 30

A few recent pictures.  These are taken with a Nikon F100 and 18-35mm and 50mm lenses using Ilford FP4+ (125 ISO), developed in Agfa Rodinal and scanned using an Epson 4490.  Kinsale harbour

Red Strand

Red Strand

Kinsale harbour

July 19, 2011

Random Light

Here’s some photos taken over the last few weeks…

An ‘Early Purple Orchid’ growing on our front lawn. (Film: Kodak Portra 160 VC)

Long Strand, Co. Cork (Film: Kodak Tmax 100)

Garden Foxglove (Film: Kodak Tri-x)

From the hill down to Red Strand, with Galley Head Lighthouse in the distance.  (Film: Kodak Tri-x)

Not sure why I took this picture – something to do with patterns and textures I think! (Film: Kodak Tri-x)

Connonagh, Co. Cork (Film: Kodak Tri-x)

July 6, 2011

Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011

It was a couple of weeks ago now, but I’ve only just got around to developing the film…

Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011

The ‘Tug of War‘ competition was fiercely fought…
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011The cattle (to my untrained eye) all looked immaculate.

Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011I could come up with a sheep pun here, but ewe know I wouldn’t do such a thing.
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011

Great to see a potter a work, amazingly undistracted by hoards of children (and an annoying photographer ;~)
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011Oh dear.  This made me pray, both for the ‘fortune teller’ and also for anyone who felt the need to have their ‘fortune told.’  God help them.
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011Not surprisingly, all these wonderful looking cakes were behind a protective wire screen – otherwise they would have been an endangered species!
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011This fella was also behind wire – with that look in his eye, it was probably for the best!
Clonakilty Agricultural Show 2011I could not resist taking this shot – though I’m not sure he was all that happy with my taking his picture!

June 15, 2011

Which way?

Ballinspittle, Co. Cork


I was walking back to the car with two very hot ‘Americanos to go’, so balancing them vertically with my left hand and trying to hold the camera in my right I fired off this quick shot of the signpost in Ballinspittle. It was not until after I had taken the picture that I realised I was unwittingly entertaining some builders who were not working too hard!

Thankfully the picture came out OK, though if I were to take it again I would do so from a lower angle so as to avoid having any background other than the sky (as I think the background here is distracting).

I love those old signs with the distances in miles. Many times I can remember driving to places, and you would see a sign saying, for example, ‘Sligo 16’ and then around a couple of bends there would be another saying ‘Sligo 18’. The old signs are less clinical and have a more ‘ah sure you’ll get there soon enough’ attitude. I miss miles, kilometres are much too European for my liking!

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…