Sunday, 12 January 2014

Broadcast memories.

A radiogram like my granny had.

My Sunday mornings are inextricably linked these days to Radio 2.  The alarm clock blasts us awake to the Sunday House presented by a perfectly nice ex-Blue Peter presenter who tends to put in rather more "worship songs" than is to my personal taste and then proceeds on to Clare Balding who generally manages to combine quite interesting spiritual conversations with essentially non religious music.  I prefer the latter, myself.

It struck me today that this represent a major change in religious broadcasting from the days of my youth.  Then it was "Stars on Sunday" with Jess Yates (later drummed out of the religious broadcasting Brownies for an extra marital affair - viewers, then as now, disliked "hypocrisy", which kinda missed the fact that his wife had fathered their daughter by Hughie Green, so he was at least as much sinned against as sinning) or Highway with Harry Secombe whose brother was a Vicar in darkest Hanwell just up the road from where  did my 2nd curacy.  Thora Hird also appeared later on with "Praise Be!"  It was all slightly "hymn sandwich" with comforting piety, although Harry Secombe had a sense of humour and did the human interest stuff very well.  Today however, the presentation has got younger (despite congregations getting older) and more predominantly female - gender balance and all that but perfectly sensible given that most churchgoers these day are women.  What struck today most strongly is that the presenting has moved from white family favourites types to a much more mixed bag.  More women, the 1st black Blue Peter presenter (all after my time when it was John Noakes and Shep) and a lesbian in a civil partnership.  And it's on the BBC - the State Broadcasting agency.  

No doubt those whose read the Daily Heil and sic like publications lament this ("left wing metropolitan elite influence", "political correctness", yada, yada, yada).  I can't say I do.  Diversity is a good thing and variety the spice of life.  I'm delighted on the whole that the world has moved on since my youth.  No more NHS heavy framed specs, cooking has advanced beyond boiled spuds, 2 veg (overcooked) and some well done meat (child of the 70's I am - mind you the sausages did taste better as they came from the butchers, not a factory in Ireland).  Generally, the world has improved. Or more correctly, my bit has improved.  There always were and always will be tragedies both personal and global and perhaps we hear more of them now due to rolling news, the Internet and social media.  God may be unchanging but his world isn't and was never meant to be and nor were his people or his Church.  Faith may be the constant but how it is expressed changes according to context and situation and rightly so.  A simple illustration - my granny listed to the radio on her radiogram, I as a kid had a tranny (a transistor radio not a transexual in my young days!).  Now I use a DAB digital radio.  Same stations, different technology, better reception.  Simple isn't it?

Monday, 6 January 2014

Keep calm and carry on.

Isn't it funny how things can resolve themselves with a little purposeful calm?  Before Christmas things were a bit fraught, what with medical worries, Rachel's mum having a funny turn (which may or may not have been a stroke) and a complaint raised against me at work by a member of the public.  All quite stressful.  But by not panicking, following procedures and keeping calm and getting on with the job, all has passed.  The doctor has given me a tablet, the mother in law has belatedly gone to see the GP and said what actually happened and work have just sent a letter to the complainant saying that, after due investigation, I was simply following guidelines and there was no grounds to the complaint.  Once upon a time I'd have been in a total tizz over this and probably as drunk as a skunk in the meantime.  Now I've come through with dignity and reputation intact.  And still sober and in employment.
Some words from Matthew Henry 's Commentary on Psalm 31 seem apposite: "God will be sure to order and dispose all for the best, to all those who commit their spirits also into his hand. The time of life is in God's hands, to lengthen or shorten, make bitter or sweet, according to the counsel of his will. The way of man is not in himself, nor in our friend's hands, nor in our enemies' hands, but in God's. In this faith and confidence he prays that the Lord would save him for his mercies's sake, and not for any merit of his own. He prophesies the silencing of those that reproach and speak evil of the people of God."  The Psalm itself is a source of comfort:
Psalm 31
1In thee, O Lord, do I put my trust; let me never be ashamed: deliver me in thy righteousness.
2Bow down thine ear to me; deliver me speedily: be thou my strong rock, for an house of defence to save me.
3For thou art my rock and my fortress; therefore for thy name’s sake lead me, and guide me.
4Pull me out of the net that they have laid privily for me: for thou art my strength.
5Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O Lord God of truth.
6I have hated them that regard lying vanities: but I trust in the Lord.
7I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities;
8And hast not shut me up into the hand of the enemy: thou hast set my feet in a large room.
9Have mercy upon me, O Lord, for I am in trouble: mine eye is consumed with grief, yea, my soul and my belly.
10For my life is spent with grief, and my years with sighing: my strength faileth because of mine iniquity, and my bones are consumed.
11I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.
12I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.
13For I have heard the slander of many: fear was on every side: while they took counsel together against me, they devised to take away my life.
14But I trusted in thee, O Lord: I said, Thou art my God.
15My times are in thy hand: deliver me from the hand of mine enemies, and from them that persecute me.
16Make thy face to shine upon thy servant: save me for thy mercies’ sake.
17Let me not be ashamed, O Lord; for I have called upon thee: let the wicked be ashamed, and let them be silent in the grave.
18Let the lying lips be put to silence; which speak grievous things proudly and contemptuously against the righteous.
19Oh how great is thy goodness, which thou hast laid up for them that fear thee; which thou hast wrought for them that trust in thee before the sons of men!
20Thou shalt hide them in the secret of thy presence from the pride of man: thou shalt keep them secretly in a pavilion from the strife of tongues.
21Blessed be the Lord: for he hath shewed me his marvellous kindness in a strong city.
22For I said in my haste, I am cut off from before thine eyes: nevertheless thou heardest the voice of my supplications when I cried unto thee.
23O love the Lord, all ye his saints: for the Lord preserveth the faithful, and plentifully rewardeth the proud doer.
24Be of good courage, and he shall strengthen your heart, all ye that hope in the Lord.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

New year - Back again!

(Edinburgh Castle just after midnight at New Year!)

After a bit of a break (2 months) it's time to start blogging again.  It has been busy with Church stuff (we're in the middle of an interregnum) and fairly hectic with a new boss at work. We've also had a few wee health scares.  Luckily, they came to nothing (I'm just middle aged, male and need to take a tablet to stop me going to the loo as often).  I am looking forward to a wee break later in the month as we will head off to York.  We did think of Aberdeen, but the hotel costs were rather prohibitive.

A new year can be an interesting experience.  We went to a Watch night service on Auld Year's Night which was part reflection and part looking forward.  That is something we can all do with from time to time.  I have recently restarted my use of a Spiritual director, which involves both those things. Reflecting on what has been and looking towards how things may develop with God.  Partly this was prompted by my need to review my Rule of Life having joined  Rachel in the ranks of the OHP Tertiaries and partly by the nagging sense that I'd allowed myself to drift in terms of  my organised spiritual life.  I've been slotting things in here and there and need to focus a bit.  I'd say my reflection has been profoundly influenced by my ongoing experience of AA.  There I have learnt radical honesty and a willingness to be me and accepted as such.  Ideally this should be our experience of God in  prayer and in the Church.  It isn't always and when it goes sour people can be deeply scarred and wounded. And even driven away from any form of religious observance.  Luckily I was never totally destroyed by my negative experiences in life.  My core of belief and faith remained.  How I expressed it and worked it out in the rest of my life adapted and changed.

The Season of the Epiphany reflects a little of this.  The Magi changed their world view through the process of their journey towards Christ.  So do we if we let Christ direct and mould us and remain open to the possibility that God truly will enter into our lives and make a difference.