Thursday, 19 July 2012


So, on my way to the airport... train to Gatwick, standing on Luton Station waiting for train. Every 2 minutes the announcement comes 'If you are travelling with luggage, please use the lifts provided. If you are using the stairs, please hold the handrail'. Repeated three times followed by a two minute break. Then 'If you are travelling with luggage, please use the lifts provided. If you are using the stairs, please hold the handrail'. Over and over again... just about to find a way of disconnecting the speaker when behold, a new message! 'Staff on this station are here to help. Verbal or physical abuse of staff will not be tolerated'. Great, they only stop assuming I'm stupid or incompetent in order to assume I'm angry or violent. Which by this point is closer to the truth than I'd like!!

Still, made it to the airport. 'No photography, no liquids, no passengers....', 'If you are not at the gate in the next 2 minutes your bags will be removed and you will not be allowed to fly.', 'Very last and final call for passenger Smith. You are now holding up the on-time departure of your flight, you will be shot'

I may have misheard the detail of the last two announcements....


Finally, on the plane. 'Listen to the safety demonstration' (it's a BA flight and they haven't invented TV screens yet, so it's a live performance). 'Fasten your seatbelt', 'SIT down sir...'.  After usual Gatslow delays, flight finally in air where this is being typed... food flung at us... 'Quality snack' may contain traces of nuts. It is nuts. In every sense of the words.

We are inundated in everyday life with these kind of messages. Words that imply our stupidity, our tendency towards rage, our inability to think for ourselves. Add to that the snide remarks, the less than encouraging comments, the implied criticism, the guilt trips and emotional blackmail from Facebook posts or advertising campaigns.. We are swimming in a sea of negativity and if we are not careful it permeates our soul and becomes reality.

We need to be listening carefully to the great announcer – the one who declares truth. We are valued, precious, loved, protected. Significant children of the most high God. We are eternal, competent, empowered, delightful, co-heirs with Jesus. This is the truth we need to use to filter out the other voices. From railway announcers to the enemy of our souls, we need to take every thought they plant and hold it to the light of the truth. We need to allow the Spirit to take that which is subliminal – the incessant nagging of detractors; spouses, children, colleagues maybe, and bring the curses that have been unwittingly spoken into the light. We need to take them to Christ, we need to pray cleansing from them and a breaking of their power. And we need to replace them with God's holy, life giving truth.

In the meantime I have been instructed to sit back and enjoy the flight. It seems unlikely.

Sunday, 1 July 2012

Gooseberry Fool

I have two gooseberry bushes on my allotment.  In the Spring, I managed to cover one with left over netting, but ran out for the second one. They are both the same variety of gooseberry, planted in the same soil, next to one another.  The one with the netting has a bit of support, some wire and a couple of sticks. But those are the only differences.

Today we went to see whether there was any fruit worth picking. As we approached we could see the uncovered one. Didn’t look hopeful. Not much fruit and what there was, was very small.

Then we lifted the netting from the covered one. We couldn’t believe our eyes. Huge fruit and laden branches sagging under the weight of the fruit. Yay! Gooseberry crumble for the next year!

What an extraordinary difference a bit of support and protection had made.  Made us think... how much more fruitful would we be if we had a bit of support and some good protection?

Support to stop us dragging in the wet ground, to stop us rotting in the mud. Support to hold our heads up to the sun rather than staring at the floor. Protection from the birds that nibble incessantly at the forming fruit, from the flies and ants chomping through the leaves. Protection from the vicious nettles... (I managed to sit on a clump whilst picking the fruit. Ouch – didn’t think it appropriate to rub it with a dock leaf...)

But amazing how often we wander through life, independently oblivious to how much of life and faith is getting sapped, choked or eaten. We’re so busy, sometimes with ‘ministry’ that we never stop to be accountable, to be supported. We rarely pray for our protection as a daily necessity.

One of the things we’ve found in c2b (our ‘beacon’ group) is the joy of mutual support and the transformation praying for protection makes. We've spent time looking at the armour of God, discovering the reality of 'living under the shadow of his wing'. Like Ruth, we're learning to ask the one who loves us 'extend the border of your garment. Cover me.'

Final thought, gooseberry bushes can’t pick themselves up and move, but we can. Maybe we used to be sheltered under God’s wing, under the netting of his protection. Maybe some of us have walked out of the centre of his calling, out of the netting.  Quick, get back under before the ants or birds get to you.

And watch where you sit down.