Advent Word 2018, Day 14 ‘Prepare 預備’

#AdventWord #Prepare #預備

在我還是個年幼的納瓦伙族印第安男孩長大的過程中,我還記得年長者跟我們談論人生的道路,我們該走的路以及我們必須預備自己的人生旅程。我們需要預備一個可以向右轉或向左轉的道路,儘管那條路可能很難走。但我們走的道路是上帝命定的旅程,有了上帝的幫助,我們可以為前方做好準備。因著復臨節的到來,我們被要求要讓道路變筆直,為上帝開闢道路,引導我們走人生的道路,這樣我們就可以認識基督。

As a young Navajo boy growing up, I remember the elders talking to us about following our road of life, our path, and how we must prepare ourselves for the journey. We need to prepare for a path that can veer to the left or right, and that even can be hard to walk. But the journey we are on is God’s journey and with God’s help, we are prepared for all that lies ahead. This Advent we are asked to make the path straight, to make a way for God to guide us down the path of life and we may come to know Christ.

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The causeway leading to the Holy Island of Lindisfarne, on a rising tide.  Tide tables and weather forecasts need to be consulted before crossing, because the road is covered by the sea for 6 hours twice a day.  Road signs warn of the dangers ahead. The wooden structure on the left is a refuge shelter for stranded travelers, who find they need to abandon their cars (and maybe their egos too) to the rising waters.  Otherwise, the only way out is by calling the coastguard.  But rest assured, 650,000 people visit the island safely every year. Just go prepared.

Advent Word 2018, Day 13 ‘Prune 修剪’

#AdventWord #Prune #修剪

先知瑪拉基談到上帝的信差是一位「淨化」人的使者,就像是「煉金之人的火」或是「漂布之人的鹼」使他們成為「使上帝愉悅的」人。這位先知的目的在說明,上帝會用力擦淨並精煉人性,因為上帝的統治要造就他的再來。威廉.坦普談到上帝看起來似乎很嚴酷地希望要修剪那些不令人愉悅的,這一切都是因為「愛的緣故。」這份愛「不是濫情地給我們一切想要的;它是一種熱情的渴望要讓我們長成祂的樣子。」

The prophet Malachi speaks of God’s messenger as one who will “purify” the people, like “a refiner’s fire” or “fuller’s soap,” to make them “pleasing to the Lord.” The prophet’s point is that God has a lot of scrubbing and refining of human nature to do as God’s reign makes its advent. William Temple speaks of God’s seemingly harsh desire to prune away that which is not pleasing as done purely for “very love’s sake.” This love is “not a sentimental readiness to give us what we want; it is a passionate yearning to raise us to its own likeness.”

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Roses in front of Cambridge House, Holy Island.  Late autumn is not a good time for roses, they’re overgrown and straggly.  They’re coming to the end of their flowering season, though everyone seems to wait until early spring for pruning rosebushes.  At this time of year, they’re not at their best, but still providing beautiful splashes of colour in the garden.  The rose garden is a metaphor for life.  Making our lives “pleasing to the Lord” is what we’re called to do afresh this Advent.

Advent Word 2018, Day 12 ‘Smooth 平坦’

#AdventWord #Smooth #平坦

我們想像施洗約翰有一天能夠讓所有創造物享有平等。使道路平坦能讓所有人有機會接觸上帝所賜予的解放生活,這需要移除阻礙我們通往恩典路上的所有障礙物。我們在面對世界的凱薩時是需要堅持的,因為我們的希望存在於已經把道路鋪平的那位,耶穌基督。

We envision with John the Baptist a great day of leveling for all creation. Making the way smooth for all to have access to the liberating life of God requires removing every obstacle we have constructed that blocks the path of grace. We persevere as we face the Caesars of the world for our hope is in the One who has already made the way smooth, Jesus the Christ.

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Fire escape on the side of Marygate House, Holy Island, Lindisfarne.  Many visitors and pilgrims come to Holy Island today to escape from their everyday lives, even if just for a few hours. Making the way smooth may well involve a time of escape.  The obstacles blocking our path of grace are many.  We need a chance to reflect.  A place to lay aside our concerns.  A time to be, and to pray.  The liberating life of God is on offer to all.

Advent Word 2018, Day 11 ‘Rough 粗糙’

#AdventWord #Rough #粗糙

施洗約翰摘錄以賽亞先知的話,路加福音的作者宣告:「高高低低的道路要改為平坦」為預備神的到來。這個訊息已傳承了許多世代,現在臨到我們,我們被呼召要完成道路平坦的任務。嚴厲的話語,尖銳的碰撞,以及憤恨的習性都是建立和諧關係的挑戰,無論是與人或與神的關係。精練是使道路平坦的必經過程,而我們被呼召做這事,是因著那位以慈愛來精煉我們的神。傳遞下去。

Luke the Gospel writer, quoting John the Baptizer quoting Isaiah the Prophet, proclaims that the “rough ways will be made smooth” in preparation for the coming of God. This message, passed down through the ages, now comes to us and we are called to the task of making smooth. Harsh words, sharp elbows, and uneven temperaments are challenges to harmonious relationships, human and divine. Refinement is the process of making smooth and we are called to this work by the One who lovingly refines us. Pass it on.

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The local herring industry was at its peak on Holy Island during the second half of the 19th century, when there were 30+ herring boats, and the herring were smoked and preserved onshore.  These days, the fishing industry is much smaller, just a handful of small boats catching mainly lobsters and crab. The old herring boats have been upturned, coated in tar, and are now used by local fishermen as storage sheds.  The sheds are almost iconic, architecturally and culturally ‘rough diamonds’ but lovingly restored and maintained.  Recycling at its best.  On one of them is the sign, ‘An old fisherman and the catch of his life live here’.  Yes, we are called to the task of making the rough ways smooth.  Today.

Really Rockin’ it @ St. Andrew’s, Haughton, Darlington, Co. Durham!

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It’s true. Yes, some of the congregation told me that St. Andrew’s really rocks!

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St. Andrew’s is Darlington’s oldest church, built around 1125, and is now linked up with Sadberge, another of my link churches. My previous visit to them was in February 2015 (see that blog post here). The vicar, Rev. Mark East has a really good lay leadership team, all busy doing things. So versatile and adaptable; everyone seems multi-talented! Stoker is a retired priest based at St. Andrew’s, and formerly the diocesan IT adviser – in so many churches it’s the younger people in charge of all things technical, but not here, at St. Andrew’s it seems that everyone, young and old, is really high-tech!

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Sometimes the church also helps with training for theological students from Cranmer Hall, Durham. A few years ago, one such student was Jonathan Gillespie, now curate of Windermere in the Lake District – it was he who took my father’s funeral service last year, and did such a great job. Everyone loves him to bits! Sadly, St. Andrew’s has recently lost Jacki, their much-loved pianist and keyboard player, so the music group was supplemented by Mark on his guitar and John on his clarinet, plus others singing their hearts out. Rockin’ it, they certainly were!

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St. Andrew’s is a busy bustling church, and this past weekend was a bumper weekend extraordinaire! A first for me ever was a Taiwanese evening on Saturday night where the congregation cooked their own Chinese food. Yes, really good REAL Chinese food. Cooked by the congregation. Not bought, but cooked. And it was great! We had all sorts of delicious dishes, and everyone enjoyed it all. They were encouraged to wear red and gold, and I got to share my power-point of Taiwan. Such a fun evening. I was delighted to welcome along Naomi, who was one of my former youth group in Heighington many years ago, and came dressed in her Chinese outfit – turned out she knew several others in the church too. Thanks to Muriel and Pam for all their hard work planning everything and making it all happen, it was amazing. Something to remember for decades to come!

I also met my good friends, Sue and Paul plus plenty more lovely church members who welcomed my so warmly. Helen and John welcomed me to stay in their home, and it was so good. Helen is a very creative and talented textile artist, and kindly gave me one of her stunning pictures to take to Taiwan – it’s inspired by the rain and mud of the Lake District!  Come to Taiwan if you want to see it on display!

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On Sunday I gave my sermon at both morning services, 8:45 and 10:45 am; and then in the afternoon at 3:00 pm there was Tea and Praise with a Taiwan theme, held at the local home for the elderly, with a delicious tea afterwards. There were 4 of us with the name Catherine at that service lol! Helen and John hosted a dinner in the evening too. Soooo much delicious food, I won’t need to eat for another week. Food at St. Andrew’s means fellowship, friendship and fun, and there was certainly plenty of each.

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A big big thank you to Mark and all at St. Andrew’s Church for all your support over the years, your prayers, letters, messages of encouragement, financial support for CMS, your warm welcome – and all that yummy food! Rockin’ it indeed.  Thanks be to God!

Advent Word 2018, Day 10 ‘Go 成長’

#AdventWord #Go #成長

在復臨節,我們祈禱恩典實行並且「預備救恩的道路…我們以喜悅迎接耶穌基督的來臨。」當我們迎接他時該穿戴什麼呢?巴魯克說:我們應當「穿戴來自上帝正義的袍子。」所以,穿戴上那神奇的外袍,開始去實行吧!預備道路!以喜悅迎接上帝!去實行吧!

In Advent, we pray for the grace to go and “prepare the way for our salvation . . . that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ.” What shall we wear when we to to greet him? Why, says Baruch, we should “put on the robe of the righteousness that comes from God.” So, put on that wonderful garment and go! Prepare the way! Go! Greet Jesus with joy! Go!

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With the dissolution of the monasteries and the closure of Lindisfarne Priory in 1537, so the last of the monks left Holy Island.  Soon after, in the 1550’s, Lindisfarne Castle was built to protect the island against invasion from Scotland, but in 1603, England and Scotland were united under the rule of James I, and so its military importance diminished; the castle was finally demilitarized in 1819.  Fast forward to 1903, and Edward Hudson of Country Life magazine bought the castle, and with the help of the famous architect, Sir Edwin Lutyens, converted it into a very stylish holiday home. Today it is owned by the National Trust and open to the public. Saints, monks, soldiers, magazine owners, tourists and pilgrims, all have come and played a part in Holy Island’s rich history. Many have stayed a while, some their whole lives. Holy Island is a place to come to, and a place to go from.  Hopefully we all leave the richer for having been there.

Advent Word 2018, Day 9 ‘Cry 哭泣’

#AdventWord #Cry #哭泣

復臨節是一個把我們的哭泣轉換成喜悅的時節。年輕的瑪麗亞害怕身為人母的未知。然而,如同瑪麗亞一般,我們有上帝的恩寵,在生命的每個時節,我們的上帝與我們同在並傾聽我們的哭泣。基督再來的日子近了…喜悅的眼淚如同瑪麗亞第一次撫摸新生兒的柔軟髮絮,並當他輕吮著她的乳房時,她因喜悅而哭泣。復臨節是把恐懼轉為喜悅的眼淚。

Advent is a season to turn our cry of fear to joy. A young Mary’s fear for the unknowns of motherhood.  Yet, we, like Mary, have favor with God and in all seasons of life, our Lord is with us to hear our cry.  The coming of the Christ child is soon… joyful tears as Mary first touches wisps of soft newborn hair and cries with love as he tenderly claims her breast.  Advent is the cry of fear turned to joy.

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The Holy Island of Lindisfarne must have shed many tears over the centuries, cries of fear as the monks were forced the flee the island in 875 to escape attacks from the Vikings, and then again in 1537 when Henry VIII closed down the Benedictine Priory, which had been established in the 1120’s.  These days, Holy Island is a peaceful place, the ruins of the Benedictine Priory are well-maintained by English Heritage, and when the tides and weather are good, there are visitors and pilgrims galore.  Holy Island’s cries of fear have turned to joy.

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