Categories
signs wisemen

Signs

Taken by myself December 2021

Tonight I’m talking about The Wise men with my youth group. The points I want to look at are SIGNS and GIFTS so I thought I’d post about them.

The other morning the dog and I were out walking before the sun came up. As I looked to the East there was a full moon in a halo of clouds. All the clouds were on fire as they caught the rays of the sun that was still forty odd minutes away from coming over the horizon. This morning was a similar time but much denser cloud cover, and yet I could still see that the some of the clouds were lighter than others where they were again picking up that sun. But if I looked in a different direction then the sky was dark. There was no light at all.

I think the Biblical wise men were wise enough to be looking at the signs that the Jewish believers should have been looking at too. The Shepherds are amazed. They had not been taught about looking for signs. But these people from another land and another religion were looking at signs. They had not prophecies in their religion to tell them about a coming Saviour but they were looking to see what was going on. They were ready when it happened. They were also willing to walk, probably on camel, many hundreds of miles. [Google mapped the distance from Iran to Jerusalem and it is over 2000 miles and could take about 3 weeks – less distance than I thought but still interesting]

So these people took a couple of months out of their lives to journey to a foreign land and back again to worship a king that they had seen in the stars. Amazing.

Do we look for signs now? Or do we wait for someone to tell us? Are we like the learned men with Herod who had to get their prophecies out after the wise men had arrived? Are we willing to spend time looking for something we don’t even know is there but we have a faint inkling? There must have been something that the wise men saw that made them look at other things and come to the conclusion this was worth making a dangerous trek across the desert for.

So as I think about this I have to think am I willing to look at the signs and not just either listen to what I’m told on various forms of media, or just put my head down and not see that the light is coming?

But I also need to be looking in the right direction. As with the rising of the sun if I look a certain way then things look dark but I only need to turn my head sightly and look the other way and things are bright.

Which way will I look? Which way will you look? Which signs will I see? Which signs will you see?

It is all about choice. And Jesus does say about looking to the signs and being ready. [just go to www.biblegateway.com and search “signs”] Are we ready or are we caught in looking the wrong way?

Categories
media prayer

There is so much more going on in the world than the media tell us

https://wildfiretoday.com/2022/05/08/updates-on-wildfires-in-northern-new-mexico/

I receive a weekly email from a woman who runs a ranch in New Mexico which she uses for healing retreats. Today’s one is full of her grief about the fact that her ranch is being destroyed by the wildfire that is sweeping across New Mexico killing people, destroying lives, making people homeless and jobless, killing animals, destroying nature, and changing the landscape of a huge expanse of the US. President Biden has declared it a state of emergency. And this is in a country with very little social support which – even though we criticise it deeply here in the UK – we do take for granted.

I also receive a newsletter weekly that ask me to pray for persecuted Christians around the world. Some of things these believers endure is horrendous. Again here in the UK we get very little persecution or even abuse.

But it got me thinking of how much the media controls what we know about the world. Yes the war in Ukraine is awful but it is not the only bad thing going on. Yes there will be a huge knock on effect with food but it is not the only place where our food comes from that might be struggling.

But these things I have mentioned – New Mexico wildfires, Ukraine, persecuted Christians – I only mention because they are things I can connect with. I did also get an email from UNESCO asking me to give money to children starving on the Horn of Africa. I did have to look up where it was. And I am sure the wars and climate change that have caused these children to be starving will effect more than just them. There will be a knock on. But it is in the news? No.

Too often we get caught in the trivial. And yes our politicians should held accountable but it should not fill our news screens. Yes we should know about wars not just that affect those with a similar skin colour to us but also those whose skin colour is different. But again it should not fill our news screens.

I wonder often how we can get a fuller picture of what goes on in our world?

I was talking to my husband, who is an avid news watcher, who says he watches the news so he knows what to pray. A very valid reason too. But I did wonder if maybe we/I should be asking God to show me where prayer is needed though listening to that Still Small Voice. I wonder if then maybe, just maybe, my prayers would be directed where they are really needed.

But as I write this I realise too that it is hard to find that time to sit, to be still, to hear the small voice, and to know what is needed prayer wise. Maybe I’ll start to try and get back to you – or maybe, like too often, I’ll just get busy and forget! Or maybe even turn a blind eye and hope it all goes away?

Categories
Focus priorities

Who Guides Our Priorities?

Photo taken by Diane Woodrow at end of Feb 2022 Taken whilst she was walking on a Saturday morning with her dog
Morfa Conwy Feb 2022

How often have you wondered who guides what you priorities? What you focus on? What you worry most about?

Today there is much talk across the Christian community of Ash Wednesday being a day of prayer for Ukraine, which is great. It really is. But what about the other things? But if I dig a bit on various news-feeds I read about ethnic inequalities, massive inflation across the world, there is still a climate crisis, there are still people being persecuted in Afghanistan, Nigeria, Myanmar, and still people dying from Covid across the world. But it is hard to find out any other news.

I remember back in September 2011 when the twin towers were destroyed and all focus on was on them. A friend who worked with orphans in Africa said more children had died of starvation and AIDS in one day than had died in the twin towers. Or when Princess Diana was killed in a car accident the pastor of the church I was attending at that time asking us to pray for all the other people who had died in car accidents that night who would be lost under the media coverage of her death.

Don’t get me wrong, I do think this situation in Ukraine is awful as was the Twin Towers disaster, but I do think too often we then forget other things. We forget had forgotten that there had been Russian oppression in parts of Ukraine for over 10 years because the media got bored and turned us to other things. We get bored of hearing the same thing day in day out.

We are fickle human beings and, I believe, more so now with 24 hour news, internet access, etc. I think too that if this conflict in Ukraine hits a point where there are no big headlines we will move on to something else.

Is it that we don’t care? I don’t believe that at all. But I do think it is because when we are bombarded with news and information day in day out our brains cannot cope so we shut off. And then the media needs to keep us watching the news, reading papers, scrolling through the internet, because they earn money that way. So they will find us the next thing to be drawn into, the next thing to worry about, the next thing that we give our money to.

This isn’t wrong but it is just the way it is. Can we change? Maybe this is about again looking at aligning with God, with the Universe and fixing on that and being willing to go for whatever we are called to for the long haul – which is hard.

Are you, am I, willing to take time out and find out what my true focus is or am I, are you, going to be swayed by the winds of the world?

If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.

James 1:5-7
Categories
Celtic saints Heroes

No More Heroes Anymore?

Stature of a saintly figure in a bishops mitre surrounded by an iron fence set in a park. Photographed by Diane Woodrow May 2016
St Patrick in a park in Dublin – taken by myself May 2016

The title is pinch from The Stranglers’ song No More Heroes song from released in 1977, which also contains the line about Leon Trotsky which helps me to remember how he died. But that’s another story.

Last week Christine Sine in Godspace suggested doing some research around known Christian figures of the last century; for example Martin Luther King. What struck me as I pondered this was how different the tales are about modern day Christian heroes compared to the Celtic saints. Our known figures come with feet of clay and one is not afraid to mention their faults, whereas the Celtic saints were very much on the line of mythological figures who conquered all evils, including things that would lead mere mortals astray.

But I wonder have we gone to far with pointing out our leaders flaws. Yes it is good to have accountability but how often do we mention our leaders good points, the trials they struggle through, the enormous decisions they have to made every day, as well as being reminded that they are human.

The writers of the Celtic saints did not want their readers to know that these men and women were actually fallible human beings, but now our media only want to point out the fallibility of our leaders without reminding us of their good points too.

I do not think either swing of the pendulum is beneficial to the reader. With Celtic saints the reader or listener to the tales knew they could never aspire to be so amazingly godly so why try. And with our current leaders why would anyone want to be in their position when each flaw and mistake is headline news?

Perhaps we need to pendulum of judgement to swing slightly back the other way, so that yes we do see the flaws and mistakes our leaders make but we also see the struggles they do with trying to lead our world, our nation, our institutions.

For 45 years [which is suddenly a very long time since I was a quiet punk] I’ve been humming No More Heroes and through that time we have so few heroes remaining without being blown out the water. I wonder if this is what encourages to feel anxious, unable to commit, worried at who leaders us? Are they really as bad as the media has us believe? And were those Celtic saints as amazing as their publicists would have them believed to be?