Blessings #148 – Reading the Ancient Stories

I’m quite an avid reader and normally have something in my hands to read, even if it’s just my BlackBerry. One of the things that I try to do is to make reading the Bible a regular activity in my life.

SunsetThe Bible is still hugely relevant to today’s society. Amongst all of the words and events described, those of Jesus stand out as shining lights.

Over the last 60 days, or so, I’ve been re-reading the Gospels – Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. Each day as I’ve read I’ve tried to take time to think about what it means – to wrestle with the profound.

In our busy frantic world it’s not always easy to focus our lives on the important things. So rather than try to take in all of the passage that I’ve read, I’ve taken to writing down a single short verse from the text and thinking about that.
Taking just a small morsel gave me something to focus on and I’ve really enjoyed it.

The word “profound” is an over-used word, I find, so it doesn’t really give across the true meaning to describe the words of Jesus as profound, but profound is the best word that I could think of.

Profound:
1.penetrating or entering deeply into subjects of thought or knowledge; having deep insight or understanding.
2.originating in or penetrating to the depths of one’s being.
3.being or going far beneath what is superficial, external, or obvious.
4.of deep meaning; of great and broadly inclusive significance.
5.pervasive or intense; thorough; complete.
6.extending, situated, or originating far down, or far beneath the surface.
7.low.
8.deep.

Through the simplest of parables Jesus strikes through our day-to-day worries and shows us the depths of God’s love and compassion; he cuts away at our pride and demonstrates our utter reliance upon God’s grace towards us; he takes our gaze beyond the hear and now and shows us the source of our hope.

“Suppose one of you had a hundred sheep and lost one. Wouldn’t you leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness and go after the lost one until you found it? When found, you can be sure you would put it across your shoulders, rejoicing, and when you got home call in your friends and neighbors, saying, ‘Celebrate with me! I’ve found my lost sheep!’ Count on it—there’s more joy in heaven over one sinner’s rescued life than over ninety-nine good people in no need of rescue.

Luke 15

Jesus questioned provides laser sharp answers that resolve the core question, there’s no messing about with the peripheral issues. Why answer the insignificant when there’s a real deep felt question to answer. But he wasn’t beyond using his answers to demonstrate the utter foolishness of someone’s position.

That’s when the Pharisees plotted a way to trap him into saying something damaging. They sent their disciples, with a few of Herod’s followers mixed in, to ask, “Teacher, we know you have integrity, teach the way of God accurately, are indifferent to popular opinion, and don’t pander to your students. So tell us honestly: Is it right to pay taxes to Caesar or not?”

Jesus knew they were up to no good. He said, “Why are you playing these games with me? Why are you trying to trap me? Do you have a coin? Let me see it.” They handed him a silver piece.

“This engraving—who does it look like? And whose name is on it?”

They said, “Caesar.”

“Then give Caesar what is his, and give God what is his.”

The Pharisees were speechless. They went off shaking their heads.

Mathew 22

Through his actions he demonstrates a way of life that I find so counter-cultural that it challenges my actions and my attitudes. Penetrating to the depths of one’s being.

I find that if I get to far removed from these ancient stories I start to wander and to let confusion come in. The words and actions of Jesus break through all of that and demonstrate to me true value and eternal worth.

Blessings #147 – Pictures of the Past

In our loft there are several banana boxes that are full of photograph albums and piles of loose photographs. They’re in banana boxes because they’re the boxes we used to package our belongings when we moved into our current house.

Silverdale and Morecombe BayThere are parts of our life that are structured and well organised, but the photographs isn’t one of them.

The other day we wanted some pictures for a purpose that I’ll probably reveal at a later date so I took the boxes down from the loft.

Sue and I then spent an evening flicking our way through the pictures.

Photographs are a capture of a time, a place and a memory.

“A good snapshot stops a moment from running away.”
Eudora Welty

Some of these photos are well constructed and thoughtfully framed images, but many of them are simple snapshots of the family in various guises.

Many of these photos remind us that our children used to be babies, that they became toddlers, started primary school and moved onto secondary school.

Easdale TarnIn some of these pictures I am reminded that I used to have a full head of hair and a trimmer waistline.

Numerous images remind us of holidays in England, Scotland, France and America; warm places and not so warm. They remind us of sandy beaches and palm trees; waterfalls and forests; cottages, caravans and even canal boats.

The camera can photograph thought.
Dirk Bogarde

There are pictures that remind us of the clothes we used to wear, some of them are remembered with fondness, others now look like a fashion disaster.

There are memories of times when there were only the two of us, a time with thee and then four.

A photograph is memory in the raw.
Carrie Latet

Some of the images we didn’t remember, some of the people we couldn’t name.

There were pictures of people who we no longer see, and a few who are no longer alive.

Tuscany 2009As we flicked our way through the multitude of images we ride the roller-coaster of emotions as we journeyed through weddings, birthdays, days out, family gatherings, holidays, activities, first days at school, anniversaries and christenings. A rich set of blessings.

Sometimes we can get so encased in the now and so focussed on the things that surround our now. But as we looked through those pictures it wasn’t the “things” that we looked at it was the people that we were drawn to. We looked at the babies and the young children and remembered the times that we had spent together, times that pass all to quickly.

The blessing of the pictures is that they took us out of our now and caused us to remember.

(I tend not to put pictures of the family on this blog, for various reasons, but each of the images I do post is a memory of a time and a place, but most importantly of the people)

Please make me one of these: Universal read count

Crossthwaite ViewsI see information in many streams, email, IM, twitter, RSS reader, etc. Unfortunately my brain isn’t good enough to remember everything that I have already read so I regularly find myself going to the same piece of information more than once.

Within each stream I’m unlikely to go back more than once because I get visual indicators that I have already read it. The main problem is between streams. That’s not to say, though, that people won’t send me the same piece of information more than once in the same stream.

I’d quite like a service that handled the read status for me, across all of the streams.

I should get a visual indicator that a link in twitter points to the same content as the blog post in my RSS reader, and they should both show anything that I have already consumed from a browser. Oh, and while I’m at it, it needs to do that across any one of the devices that I’m likely to use, and it needs to handle shortened urls.

My RSS Reader (FeedDemon) does a reasonably good job of keeping the read count in-synch across devices, but nothing between streams.

What I am looking for is to be able to mark parts of the Internet as “read”.

I’d also like this status consolidation capability to be searchable, especially by date. I am reasonably good at remembering when I read something, but not so great at remembering where I read it.

I’m sure there are a load more functional requirements that I would surface if I had time to think about it, but for now, this will do.

Has anyone done anything like this?