Tuesday, 16 December 2014

Why God sends sickness?

Below is one of answers given in the 1549 Prayer Book of the Church of England. After reading it, you'll see why officials (cowardly/unwisely) decided to remove it in later editions of the PB.

First, being assured that “Almighty God is the Lord of life and death, and of all things to them pertaining,” such as “youth, strength, health, age, weakness, and sickness,” the sick person is urged to know “certainly” that “whatsoever your sickness be…it is God’s visitation.” There are, moreover, at least two possible reasons for which God has sent this sickness. It is either a trial of the sick person’s patience, both for the example of others and that the individual’s faith “may be found, in the day of the Lord, laudable, glorious, and honourable, to the increase of glory and endless felicity.” Or it is sent “to correct and amend in you whatsoever doth offend the eyes of your heavenly Father.” If, therefore, the sick person truly repents of his sins, bears the sickness patiently (“trusting in God’s mercy”), renders to God “humble thanks for his fatherly visitation,” and submits himself wholly to God’s will, then his sickness shall turn to his profit, and help him forward in “the right way that leadeth unto everlasting life.”

It's things like that, which make clear why ministers must be *men*.

Friday, 12 December 2014

East or West, home is best

Today is Kenya's independence day. On this day in 1963, the Brits said au revoir and we in turn became a self-governed nation. Lots about that has been good; quite a bit has been bad. However, we've been at it for only 51 years so, not bad considering. Come and see us in 2 or 3 centuries and God willing, it will be mostly good stuff to report, and, everyone will want to come and live there J We're therefore getting ahead of the crowd, and planning our big move back (after being away nearly 20 years) for sometime next year. To get our hearts stirred and the love for Kenya rekindled, we present the National Anthem and a well-known local ditty (translations below both videos)

Kiswahili                                   English

1                                                1

Ee Mungu nguvu yetu               O God of all creation
Ilete baraka kwetu                 Bless this our land and nation
Haki iwe ngao na mlinzi           Justice be our shield and defender
Natukae na undugu                   May we dwell in unity
Amani na uhuru                    Peace and liberty
Raha tupate na ustawi.            Plenty be found within our borders.

2                                                  2

Amkeni ndugu zetu                 Let one and all arise
Tufanye sote bidii                With hearts both strong and true
Nasi tujitoe kwa nguvu            Service be our earnest endeavour
Nchi yetu ya Kenya                 And our homeland of Kenya
Tunayoipenda                      Heritage of splendour
Tuwe tayari kuilinda              Firm may we stand to defend.

3                                                 3

Natujenge taifa letu              Let all with one accord
Ee, ndio wajibu wetu              In common bond united
Kenya istahili heshima            Build this our nation together
Tuungane mikono                   And the glory of Kenya
Pamoja kazini                                    The fruit of our labour
Kila siku tuwe na shukrani        Fill every heart with thanksgiving.

Hello Sir
Hello, Hello sir,
How are you
I am fine

Visitors are welcome,
to our Kenya; don't worry

Kenya is a nice country
Don't worry

A country of wonder
Don't worry

A country of peace
Don't worry

Don't worry
Don't worry
Everybody; don't worry
you're all welcome

don't worry
Don't worry
don't worry ( till end)

Monday, 8 December 2014

What we all dread the most

It is a dreadful truth that the state of having to depend solely on God is what we all dread most…     it is good to Him to force us; but dear me, how hard to feel that it is good at the time.

– C.S. Lewis, Letters to an American Lady (16th December 1955), p. 49

Saturday, 6 December 2014

Raise a glass to Saint Nicholas, the real Santa

While the 4th century pastor who inspired the tradition of Santa Claus did not live in the North Pole or travel by reindeer, he certainly was a model of graciousness, gentleness and Christian charity. Though little is known of Nicholas' childhood, his love and concern for children is recounted in various myths, which have gained him great renown. One legend tells how a citizen of Patara (a region in the Diocese where Nicholas was Bishop) lost his fortune because he could not raise dowries for his 3 young daughters and was going to give them up to prostitution. After hearing this, Nicholas took a small bag of gold and threw it through the window of the man's house. He apparently performed the same gracious deed for the other 2 girls on the succeeding nights. Interestingly, the 3 purses of gold which are sometimes portrayed in paintings of Nicholas are thought to be the origin of the pawnbroker's symbol of 3 gold balls. 

In yet another legend, Nicholas saved several youngsters from certain death when he pulled them from a deep vat of vinegar brine and afterwards, Christians remembered the day by giving one another large crisp pickles.

Whilst the actual truthfulness of such tales has clearly been distorted over the centuries, it is evident from reading about Saint Nicholas that he was a particular champion of the downtrodden, bestowing upon them gifts as token of the grace and mercy of the gospel. One such evidence is Nicholas comment that:
The giver of every good and perfect gift has called upon us to mimic His giving, by grace, through faith, and this not of ourselves.
It is such a view and the inspiring stories associated with such godly men that have been the inspiration for Christians to act as they do not least in their habit of gift giving during the season of Christmas. To all you Christians, raise a glass to Saint Nicholas. To everyone else, enjoy the blessings of Christmas gift-giving on us!

Monday, 24 November 2014

The positives of working somewhere where there’s no Starbucks

Tim Keller says somewhere that his advice for rookie pastors wanting to gain early experience to prepare and equip them for the long term is to consider being a ‘country parson’. In other words, he advises ministers to seek work in churches that are out in the country, in places deep in the sticks, somewhere where there’s no Starbucks. Among the reasons Keller gives for this counterintuitive counsel is that having to work in rural (often small) churches will expose ministers to the full spectrum of ministry tasks and skills (fund-raising, counselling in various settings, visiting and spending time with a vast spectrum of people, speaking in very diverse contexts, training most if not all the lay volunteers, etc, etc) which would tend not to be the case in more urban, often larger churches. Having been in a semi-rural parish for the past 4 years, Keller’s argument resonates with me and in the past few days, another reason has vividly been presented to me. I was recently visiting a parishioner who’s only just started coming to church. At the end of a very cordial visit, I was presented with among other things, the incredibly sized goodies pictured below (The smaller ones are supermarket bought). When was the last time you saw anything like this at your local grocers? Well know ye today that being in a rural parish vastly reduces thy shopping bill and affords thee wholesome goods that make thy taste buds tingle. Also, young pastors should not turn up their noses at such places!


Just look at the leaves alone on that - impressive hey!

Doesn't the tiny shop bought one look terribly anaemic?

Onion soup galore here we come!

Wednesday, 19 November 2014

Why do we go to church?

The funny poem below was published by a vicar back in the 19th century. I am sure that I've been all of these people at one time or other (allowing of course for some modification here and there) but I now pray God that I might be more the last on the list...


Some go to church just for a walk,
Some go to stare and laugh and talk,
Some go there to meet a friend,
Some their idle time to spend,
Some for general observation,
Some for private speculation,
Some to seek or find a lover,
Some a courtship to discover,
Some go there to use their eyes,
And newest fashions criticise,
Some to show their own smart dress,
Some their neighbours to assess;
Some to scan a robe or bonnet,
Some to price the trimming on it,
Some to learn the latest news,
That friends at home they may amuse,
Some to gossip false and true,
Safe within the sheltering pew,
Some go there to please the squire,
Some his daughter to admire,
Some the parson go to fawn,
Some to lounge and some to yawn,
Some to claim the parish doles,
Some for bread and some for coals,
Some because it's thought genteel,
Some to vaunt their pious zeal,
Some to show how sweet they sing,
Some how loud their voices ring,
Some the preacher go to hear,
His style of voice to praise or jeer,
Some their sins to vanish o'er,
Some to sit and doze and nod,
But few to kneel and worship God.

Why do you go to church?