In other news …

picton

cathedral

I met with my counsellor this morning.

I’ve been seeing her for eight months now and at the end of the session I think we both sensed that the course of therapy is now coming to an end; not because I’m completely free of overwhelming thoughts, but because I’m now well enough to let my rational brain bring a little order back into the craziness whenever things get wild.

Life is good.

I drove into town after the session and parked up in my usual place by St James in the City. I walked up to Saint George’s Hall along Hope Street and smiled because only Liverpool would have a street named “hope” with a cathedral at each end and a statue half way commemorating the historic relationship between the Anglican Bishop Sheppard and the Catholic Bishop Worlock.

It’s along time since I’ve written on this blog  but I did spend the afternoon in the Picton Reading Room with my notebook, as I did last Wednesday, and the outcome was one or two good sentences.

I went to evening prayer at the Anglican Cathedral at the end of the day. The vast interior of the building was running with children, 16 schools from Warrington gathered to perform gospel songs in a concert for their parents. It was much too noisy for evening prayer which had been moved to the Lady Chapel. I was glad to help the verger carry the prayer books down in the lift and just a few of us gathered for the short service underneath the dazling blue of the stain glass window and its brilliant light.

If you have never been to evening prayer I can recommend it as short and consolidatory. It pulls together all the loose ends of the day without making any outrageous promises that it will be unlikely to deliver on.

Evening prayer includes a Psalm, the Magnificat (the song Mary sang when the angel told her she was to have a child) and the Nunc Dimittis (the song Simeon sang when Jesus was presented in the temple). There is the Lord’s Prayer, the Creed and a chapter from both testaments of the bible.

In these days our world is full of words: news media, social media, electronic communications, arguments, controversies and many, many conversations. Church life too: so many views and opinions, so many competing voices and plans.

Rarely do I hear so much scripture in one sitting. Rarely do I hear so much scripture read aloud. And scripture seems at home in the cathedral, with its gathered congregation, those from its own community and us visitors too. The scripture seems somehow bigger here, as if my home and my head were too small to contain its fullness.

This is from the Old Testament reading for today, some trustworthy reassurance after another day of political turmoil and perspective for us in uncertain times:

Your eyes will see the king in his beauty
and view a land that stretches afar…
In your thoughts you will ponder the former terror:
Look on Zion, the city of our festivals;
your eyes will see Jerusalem,
a peaceful abode, a tent that will not be moved;
its stakes will never be pulled up,
nor any of its ropes broken.
There the Lord will be our Mighty One.
It will be like a place of broad rivers and streams.
No galley with oars will ride them,
no mighty ship will sail them. For the Lord is our judge,
the Lord is our lawgiver,
the Lord is our king;
it is he who will save us.

Isaiah 33

 

Through Gates of Splendour

photoI just read that Elizabeth Elliot died yesterday and decided to republish this old post.

There is no other missionary biography that shaped me quite like this. I guess she has now gone to be with Jesus and if she had remaining questions about the things that happened all those years ago she is now at peace.

From a piece original published in February 2013
I came to know God as a young teenager through the pages of missionary biographies: Corrie ten Boom, Brother Andrew, David Wilkinson, Jackie Pullinger, Amy Carmichael, Joni Eareckson Tada, Jim Elliot et al.

In those days RE lessons were scripture based: a story, a picture and some questions to be answered, in full sentences, with all the correct spelling punctuation and grammar. This did not inspire me but I was hungry to read and my dear old RE teacher, who taught in a tumble down ex-science lab, left copies of tracts and Christian paperbacks lying out on the benches at the sides of the room (I think this is now against the law!). We were free to borrow these and I devoured them. I fed myself on tales of courage and devotion, eagerly reading these stories of ordinary men and women with extraordinary calling on their lives. I followed them on their journeys to far off lands, their kindness and generosity to the poor felt like kindnesses to me. I loved the miracles, the healings and the answered prayers. I began to believe as I read. I loved that they found faith in the smallest victories and in the dark dark times too. I had not known that God could speak to men and women in visions and dreams or in plain ordinary ways to bring them hope or show them something that was true and good.

I keep a shelf now, of missionary tales, and encourage my children to read . The story of Jim Elliot remains one of our favourites.

Wherever your missional theology lies, you can not fail to be inspired by the single minded love of God that compelled the 25 year old Elliot to leave the comforts of home, church and family on a mission to reach one of the most impenetrable groups of tribal people in the jungles of South America. Missionary history will never forget the story of Elliot and his team, savagely killed by a remote tribe of Ecuadorian Indians as they attempted to reach out to them with the love of God.

I would like to share this video. In it Elisabeth Eliott and the other widows recall their reactions to the terrible events and how they grew to reconcile what had happened with their belief in a loving God who had good purposes and plans for their lives