Wednesday 27 June 2012

Sabbatical update (3)

The study part of my sabbatical has been going well. It's been great to mine a bit deeper into the Gospels, taking time to think about why Jesus said the things he said and did what he did, and  exploring his character more closely. I've handed in an essay called Who is David's Son to Dave Allen (no, not that one - my supervisor at Queen's College) and we've had a really interesting discussion about it with lots of ideas where to develop things further.

Elisa and I are now getting ready to fly to Israel on Tuesday 3 July. For some reason this requires shopping and I am blogging while waiting for Elisa to drag me off to Birmingham to buy some travel essentials. People tell us it's very hot and humid in Israel at this time of year so we need lightweight clothes that are still modest enough to please both Islamic and Orthodox Jewish sensibilities. We're greatly looking forward to every part of the trip, but most of all to being in Galilee and walking in the footsteps of Jesus.

Several people have sent us money, some anonymously, to help us with the costs of getting to and staying in Israel. We're really grateful to you for your kindness! In fact we wouldn't be able to do it without you, so God bless you for your generosity.

The downside of being on sabbatical is having to stay away from St Matthew's. We miss you and all your love, fellowship and support. Still two months before we're back, so behave yourselves, keep St Matthew's moving forward in love, look after Liz and don't forget to pray for us.

God bless you!


Monday 18 June 2012

Thank you everyone for your prayers and support while I'm on sabbatical. It's been surprisingly difficult to adjust to a different rhythm and to start each day without deadlines to drive me on.

Last week I was at Harnhill (a Christian Healing Centre near Cirencester) on a course called Learning Healing Prayer. It was a very useful and productive week even though I did more crying than I have done for years. I decided that it was time to do something with the anger that keeps burning up inside me (I know you don't believe me but it does) and I couldn't get there without probing at some touchy stuff… So I've ended up a bit like a wet rag but happy that God knew about all the painful things and is working through it with me. Let's see if I'm any different when I start back at work in September.

The quadrant model they use to help them listen out for where people are hurting and where God wants to heal is very useful. So the week has all been very productive and worthwhile. I'd like to see if I can get some of St Matthew's Prayer Ministry Team to go along next time Harnhill do the Learning Healing Prayer week. Their website is on – let me know if you're interested when I get back.

Be in touch again soon, Love Colin.

Saturday 9 June 2012

Thanks for keeping up to date with my sabbatical news. Although my reading list of weighty theological tomes is as long as your arm, I'm enjoying getting back to some study and organising my own thoughts about the amazing character of Jesus.

On Monday though I'm taking a break from study. I'm off to the Christian Healing Centre at Harnhill for a week of healing ministry. Please pray for me as I seek to go to a new level with this.

Finally I wrote a couple of articles in "thought for the day" style for the local press just before I went on sabbatical and I hope you might like to see them - see posts below.

God bless you, keep on praying and loving one another!

Theory of Everything…

Three people are standing by the railway line as the London to Brighton train hurtles past, discussing what makes it go.

 The first one says, "I'm a physicist. When a magnet moves through an electric coil a powerful force is generated. This can be harnessed to turn a wheel. That is why the train goes to Brighton. It's just physics."

 The second one says, "Well I'm an economist. There would be no trains to Brighton if there wasn't a strong tourist industry there. Obviously it's market forces that make the train go."

 The third one says, "Yes, but why should there be a tourist industry in Brighton in the first place? As a biologist I know that people evolved as opportunistic feeders driven to exploit new environments - such as the seaside. It's deep human drives that drive the train…"

 Who's right? I'll leave that to you, but I know who's wrong. It's the one who says, "Only my explanation will do. Other explanations don't fit my rules – so they don't count." Such a person shuts out the full experience of the reality before them. Instead of helping them come to terms with reality, their explanation closes life down.

 One of the many things I love about trusting in God is that it allows me to be fully open to life. God is beautiful, God is love, He is the rational Creator of everything. So I can be inspired by the beauty all around me, I can try to live a just and loving life, I can use my reason to study the universe, not on the basis of fractured and partial views of reality, but in relationship with the One.

Scientists are trying to put together a theory of everything. They are doing this because a theory that explains lots of things is unquestionably more powerful than a theory that only explains a few things. The trouble is that the physicists' "everything" is limited to physicists' things: mass, electro-magnetism, nuclear and chemical forces. What about beauty? What about ethics? What about consciousness? What about love?

A theory that explains lots of things is more powerful… Such a theory has been alongside us for millennia (among others, belief in God also inspired all the great pioneering scientists – check out their biographies). It's more than time that we dusted this theory off and took a fresh look.

Athens sneezes, Berlin catches cold, the Euro is rushed to hospital and suddenly the world economy is on the brink. And now we're all asking, "What will happen to my job? Will my kids ever find employment? What about my savings? Is my money safe in that bank…?"

 It's a great irony that the very soul of our materialistic culture is nothing more solid than an idea. After all, you can't eat gold if you're hungry. You can't get warm with silver – though I suppose if you had enough paper money to keep a fire going you might be all right. Money only works because we all agree to believe in it. It is no more than a promise. As that bank note in your pocket says, "I promise to pay the bearer on demand…"

 So what follows when people stop keeping that promise? That's what is happening in the news right now. If Greek banks don't back up their promise to pay what they owe… If a corrupt world slides into massive, unpayable debt… if speculators invent sub prime  investments to con a gullible public… if the greedy award themselves telephone number salaries while fleecing everyone else… Well, money itself is undermined. People don't trust the promise any more.

 So beneath one abstract idea, money, there is another, more fundamental idea, which is the only thing that can make money work. Integrity. Without integrity the whole system falls down. Where oh where can we find people who will keep their promises, who are driven by concern for others instead of exploitation, who turn away from cheating and corruption?

Trust, integrity, honesty… Christian values arising from a God who is trustworthy. Without them the whole system starts to look like a house of cards. Or as Jesus puts it, "Don't set your heart on treasures on earth, where moth and rust corrupt, and thieves break in and steal. Set your heart on treasures above…" Where's your treasure today? In the faithless promises of bankers? or in the promises of God?

Anyway, next time you meet someone who says they only believe in things they can see and touch, find out if they really mean it. Point out that their money is no more than an idea and tell them to hand it all over. I think I know what the answer will be…

Tuesday 5 June 2012

Not much to report as far as the sabbatical is concerned so far. Since 1 June I've been down to my brother's 50th birthday party, watched a lot of Diamond Jubilee telly (as is my duty since the Queen is Governor fo the Church of England) and caught up on some much needed rest. Because it was really busy just before I went off, with Radiance, the confirmation and everything.

Wasn't that confirmation special? We had a barbecue for our 6 newly confirmed people and their families, and everyone was still glowing! It was a wonderful evening of worship, witness and commitment. And as for Leanne's testimony - you really put us through the wringer Leanne. Sorrow, joy, pain and love all mingled together, just like the Gospel. Thank you! Huge thanks too to the Church Hill Praise Band, the technical team and the office because we couldn't have begum to do it without you.

What about Radiance? Not all the feedback on the poets was positive because not everyone likes poetry. But a quite a few people said they enjoyed my piece called Living Water, so it's copied out below. Others said they would like to order our book Five Squared. Well you can find it on go to buy, then type in Five Squared in the text box. It's £12.50 + p&p. Enjoy!

Anyway sabbatical things start seriously soon. Off to Queen's College in Birmingham on Thursday for some induction, then a week at Harnhill near Cirencester to learn more about healing...

Living Water

Little bottle at my elbow,

can it be that you have shared

in the world-encircling surf and surge,

that you threw yourself on the shore

to break cliffs and drown cities

that you danced with the moon your lover

and beat with the steady breathing of the earth,

that you were home to shark and sponge

and Beryl in a bikini?

O can it be that the sun your father

warmed you and called you higher,

that your brother the wind chased you

rapturously round the skies

to make diamonds together, swifter

than Superman and more gaudy?

Did you invent a billion new shapes

as you drifted over the mountains

and hardened into the monsters that grind them away?

Or did you fall as swift rain

that quickens the earth and spurns it

as you spurted through its valleys

to surge in the seas again?

How can it be that we caught you

and moulded you to our plastic will?

That you wait, servant-like,

in the shape we assigned you

until the time comes to pour forth again?

If it be that I may taste of so holy a thing,

then may the tide of the universe in you

flow through this body

and live in every cell.