Advent Word 2019, Day 5 'Raise'

#AdventWord #Raise

When we raise something, we put it above everything else, make it stronger, better, and more noticeable. What is our focus for all the things that we raise in our own lives: children, questions, concerns, taxes, salaries, walls, fences, money, prayers, and more?

Isaiah proclaims that the mountain of the Lord’s house “shall be raised above the hills.” It will draw all people and nations to God. Advent echoes this prophecy and offers us the ability to focus and redirect all that we raise up in the present to the future hope and promise of Jesus Christ.

Shelagh Casey Brown is the director of Alumni and Church Relations at VTS and is the president of the Consortium of Endowed Episcopal Parishes board of directors.

The Lantern Tower at Sheffield Cathedral. ‘The wooden structure represents Christ’s Crown of Thorns and the colours symbolise humanity’s struggle and conflict (blue and violet) transformed through the Resurrection and the Holy Spirit (gold and red) into healing and growth (green)’.

Advent Word 2019, Day 4 'Humble'

#AdventWord #Humble

“…do justice…love kindness…walk humbly with your God.” These words from the prophet Micah stand in contrast to the ways of the world, where power and self-importance reign, and humility is seen as weakness. As followers of Jesus we are called to lives of humble service, letting go of ego in order to care for the oppressed, love our enemies, and share Christ’s peace with all.

The Rev. Canon Loren Lasch (VTS ’08) is the Diocese of Missouri Canon for Formation and the president of the VTS Alumni Association Executive Committee.

The Celtic Cross in St Aidan’s Chapel at Bradford Cathedral depicts people of all times and places in their pilgrimage towards God.

Advent Word 2019, Day 3, 'Time'

#AdventWord #Time

Advent proclaims that time is of the essence. But rather than flying away, the Coming of the King reveals that time keeps slipping into the future. And what will God’s future look like? – the truth, beauty and love of a newborn child that no power on earth can withstand.

The Rev. Nicholas Porter is the cofounder and Executive Director of Jerusalem Peacebuilders.

The sundial at Ely Cathedral. The Greek words at the top read ‘Kairon Gnothi’, meaning ‘Choose the timely moment’.

Advent Word 2019, Day 2, 'Visit'

#AdventWord #Visit

In Palestine, visits are not planned or coordinated in advance. Guests just show up at your door. In traditional Palestinian houses, there is a saloon designated for guests and always available. The household always has food and drink set aside for such occasions. So, when the guests arrive, they can enjoy their presence. So, we should always be ready for God to visit.

Shadia Qubti is manager and lead for faith and development for World Vision in the Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza branch.

The steel nativity in the city of steel ~ Sheffield Cathedral

Advent Word 2019, Day 1 'Unexpected'

Happy Advent Sunday to you all ~ Advent Word Global Advent Calendar 2019 starts today!

Advent is a busy time. Lots of events going on, and lots of preparations getting ready for Christmas, so it’s good to stop a little and take some time for meditation on the real meaning of Advent. For the past few years, I’ve taken part in the AdventWord project of the Episcopal Church, and this year too. It’s run by Virginia Theological Seminary (VTS) – they invite different people to share a short meditation on a theme word. I will post those meditations and share my own photo linking to that theme word, known as the #AdventWord. This year, VTS are posting in English, Spanish and Haitian Creole, apparently those are the 3 official languages of the Episcopal Church – but there’s no Chinese, sorry about that. So I will post the English meditation, one a day on here, also on Facebook and Instagram. For further info, check out the AdventWord website here. You can sign up yourself to take part. It’s creative – and it’s fun! The photos I post with the meditations are all ones I took at cathedrals while I was in the UK last year and early this year. You can use your own imagination as to why I might have chosen each particular photo.

Today’s AdventWord is UNEXPECTED. The photo was taken in the Lady Chapel at Ely Cathedral.

#UNEXPECTED

“The Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour.” Advent reminds us that accountability (this is what the second coming represents) will be unexpected. It might be the cosmic intervention or it might just be the passing from this life into the next. Either way, the point is simple: Life is precious and short. Are we using the gift of time well? We should treat every second as an opportunity to grow, to forgive, to support someone in need, and to love.

The Very Rev. Ian S. Markham, PhD, is the Dean and President of Virginia Theological Seminary.

Must-Visit: Badouzi and Shenao Elephant Trunk Rock!🐘🐘🐘

Taiwan’s N. E. Coast on a sunny day is THE place to go, and especially Chaojing Park 潮境公園 at Badouzi 八斗子 in Keelung, and Shenao Elephant Trunk Rock 深澳象鼻岩 in Ruifang. They make for a great day trip from Taipei: it’s become a must-see, must-go place for everyone. And not wanting to miss out on what’s going on, so we had to go too!

From St. John’s University, that area of Taiwan’s NE coast is about 60 km away, that’s 90+ minutes drive on a good day, but at least double that if you go by public transport – that’s us! There’s 2 ways to go, either round the northern coast through Keelung on the No. 862 bus – but on a Saturday morning that bus is slow and full of people going shopping in Keelung – so instead, we went through Taipei, by bus and MRT to Yuanshan, where we took the No. 1579 bus, which runs every 15 minutes from Yuanshan MRT Station, destination Badouzi. It takes an hour, avoids us changing in Keelung and is really comfortable, a win-win!

Badouzi area has lots of little ports full of fishing boats, many with lights for attracting squid on night-fishing trips…

We headed first to Chaojing Park… plenty of hills to climb, cafes, playgrounds, things to see and do, even a red temple…

It turns out, in this article here that, “This rugged headland ….. was an island until the 1930s. The Japanese colonial authorities filled in the trench between the island and the “mainland” so they could build a power station. The plant burned coal until 1981. Much later, its shell was re-purposed into part of the marine museum”. That museum is the ‘National Museum of Marine Science and Technology‘ (國立海洋科技博物館), but we had no time to go there – we were too busy enjoying the fine weather outside! The views below are from Badouzi across the bay towards Shenao in the foreground, while in the far distance are the mountains surrounding the old mining town of Jiufen, once known as ‘Little Shanghai’, and now a major tourist destination – I was there only a few weeks ago. Just don’t go to Jiufen on a weekend, especially by bus, you’ll never get out!

Next stop was Badouzi Railway Station, possibly Taiwan’s most scenic railway station – though there’s also a similar view from the one at Duoliang in Taitung, it’s also right on the sea, so, well, it’s a bit competitive!

The railway was built to serve the local mining industry of coal, gold and copper, but these days it runs for tourists, and we happened to arrive at Badouzi Station just as one of the hourly trains was in…

Then a bus turned up and we got on and headed to Shenao Fishing Port. From a distance, the cliff face looks a bit like a face outline of a very unfriendly giant…

There were lots of fishing boats – and fishermen relaxing on a sunny Saturday afternoon…..

Shenao is a major stop for tour buses – and for people going to see the Elephant Trunk Rock, at the end of the promontory… an impressive sight eh?!

Until last year, unbelievably, the whole rock – the head of the elephant – was completely open to people walking all over it, until someone fell off and was killed in October 2018. Fortunately it is now roped off and a lifeguard is on duty. Most of the visitors are older rather than younger, and there is no fixed path to get there, so everyone staggers from rock to rock – we even met one lady in high-heeled shoes! 🤔 The rocks are the same as at Yehliu, all mushroom shaped – and that is Keelung Island in the distance..

The views over towards Jiufen are spectacular…

From there we tried to get back to Keelung, but after waiting ages for a bus, a lady taxi-driver pulled over, and as she had a cross in her windscreen too, so we went with her to Keelung where she dropped us at the Miaokou Temple Night Market – the journey cost about NT$ 300, but there were 3 of us, so it was well worth it. She said buses are few and far between on weekend afternoons, and they are all full and take ages cos there’s so many people trying to get home. Anyway, she started out as one of only 2 lady taxi drivers in Keelung 30 years ago, but now there’s 50-60 of them. That’s quite a lot of lady taxi drivers for such a relatively small place like Keelung. She was just starting work that day, she works mostly late afternoons and well into the night, cos there’s more customers then, and yes she’s a committed Christian. She had quite a testimony! And she told us the best things to eat at the night market too – crab, oyster omelette, sandwich, pao-pao-bing and tempura. We tried them all except the crab. Very good! And from there we got the No. 862 bus back to St. John’s University, which took 90 minutes – in the dark.

Y’know, it always seems a very long way to Taiwan’s far NE coast past Keelung; it takes ages to get there and back, but it’s worth it, especially on a sunny day! The weather was really amazing. Warm and sunny but with a nice breeze. I had my 2 friends, Ah-Guan and Miao-Shia with me. It was their idea to go, but my cellphone that got us around ~ ah it was fun! They are from Taichung in central Taiwan – where sadly these days they say there are hardly any days with a deep blue sky – it’s all hazy, cos of the poor air quality. Anyway, they’re so happy to be here!

And the highlight of the day? It must be that elephant rock, oh and the views over towards Jiufen. What a place! We have an elephant rock here and an elephant mountain in Taipei. So if you like big grey animals, do come and visit! This was the wall mural in Shenao …

Ah yes, we just love our elephants! 🐘🐘🐘

富貴角燈塔 Fuguijiao Lighthouse @ Taiwan’s Northern Tip!

Only 12 km up the road from St. John’s University is the northern tip of Taiwan, easily accessible by bus and then a 15-minute walk, which leads to the Fuguijiao Lighthouse 富貴角燈塔 .

The original lighthouse was built by the Japanese in 1897, apparently the first one built in Taiwan during the Japanese colonial era ~ this one was put up in 1962. On the lighthouse compound are unused lookout posts, pillbox-style and the lighthouse is right next to an army base, but the grounds have been open to the public since 2015. It’s famous for its foghorn, much in use during winter. On a sunny day, it’s pretty spectacular – these photos were taken a few days ago, just after 4:00 pm – check out the lighthouse sundial.

Just wishing every winter day on Taiwan’s northern coast could have weather like this!

Yes to God, Yes to Mission, Yes to Taiwan!