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Journey with Jonah: What's More Important?

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Well today brings our journey with this most inept prophet to an end. The image on today's blog is one of Jonah in the Sistine Chapel. with him under the shelter of the short-lived plant and a fish nibbling on his leg... Given his longing for judgement to rain down on Nineveh, I find it interesting that his painting is perched just above Michelangelo's troubling "Last Judgement" that he painted some 30 years after the chapel ceiling, including dear old Jonah.... Was the artist saying something to the princes of the church who at the time it was painted would have entered opposite the Last Judgement and have seen Jonah and this frightening tableaux (which I am told includes images of a few of his opponents in the Vatican within it)? I don't know, and I won't get into this today in Belfast South, but sometimes I think that artists understand Jonah better than preachers... There is perhaps too much of him in many of us...
(Jonah comes in gasping and covered in su…

Journey with Jonah: A Postcard from Nineveh

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I didn't send any postcards on my own holidays this year, but on my return I "found" this postcard waiting for me...  Just incase you can't read it, here's what it says...
Dear all in South Belfast Methodist, Well, made it to Nineveh at last. Don’t know about “Wish you were here,” but I wish I wasn’t.  It’s every bit as bad as its reputation... even worse than Belfast. And it’s huge... I’ve been trekking across it on foot all day (the public transport is non-existent... that’s government cutbacks for you), and I still haven’t got to the city centre.  But I think I’ll set up stall here, and let them have it. See you soon. Should be finished here in forty days. Nineveh should be finished in forty days too. Yours in God’s service, Jonah, son of Amittai.
This morning at the Agape Centre we're going to read the third chapter of Jonah's surreal story and find out how things turned out… as well as what it means for us...
Selah

Truth, Post-Truth, Facts, Opinions and Other Nonsense

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A few months ago I got involved in an online spat with a friend of a facebook friend, breaking my self-imposed etiquette of  not negatively engaging with someone I don't know on someone else's thread... But what had pressed my bells was that she was sharing some fairly awful anti-vax stuff about MMR on a thread read by people who have autistic children. Having worked both with autistic children and their families AND with children and families whose lives have been radically affected by rubella and measles I get a bit hot under the collar about such things, particularly when the people posting such things have no medical or scientific training...
But anyway, the unpleasant dialogue ultimately resulted in me saying something like "I'm going to stop because it's clear I'm not going to change your mind..." To which she replied along the lines of "LOL No! Your not... But then were all entitled to are own opinions." (Smiley face, smiley face.)  At t…

Journey with Jonah: Strange Salvation

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Episode 2 of our Journey with Jonah. (The blurry photo is of the performance of parts 1 & 2 in Dublin in 2004 that started me on the blogging pathway) You really won't believe it! Where had I got to? Oh yes... I told you how I ended up doing the doggy paddle in the middle of the Mediterranean. God had asked me to go to Nineveh and I just happened to take a wrong turning... Ended up heading in the opposite direction... In a boat headed for Tarshish. But God soon caught up with me and whipped up a storm just to grab my attention, and before I knew it the sailors had grabbed me and threw me over the side to keep God quiet. So there I was... Fishfood... Literally, as it happened. Have you ever had the misfortune of listening to fishermen telling you tales of the one that got away? It was this big, they tell you... When you know fine rightly it was this big. Well I've got a story that will top any of their's... Not so much the one that got away as the one that got me... How…

A Psalm for Sunday: Praise to the Lord who Listens...

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This has been a tough week. It began with my birthday but any celebrations were somewhat subdued because I awoke to the news that one of my brothers had been taken in for radical surgery. He then went to ICU where he has been all week. I and all the family are so grateful for the excellent care he has been receiving, from the surgeons, the ICU consultants and nurses, the physios and the whole team.  Our NHS is amazing. The picture was fairly bleak at first, and whilst things are somewhat better now he is still not "out of the woods." But it was interesting that material I had already prepared for worship and other prayers and pieces of scripture that I read, some of which I have posted here, have been remarkably apposite for all that I and the rest of the family have been going through. For various reasons we have been very coy about making any details public and even now I don't want to go into details, but prayers have been and continue to be valued. But again, in prepa…

A Feather on the Breath of God

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Having posted a prayer by St. Teresa of Avila earlier in the week, below is one drawn from another inspiring medieval woman, the German Benedictine, Hildegard of Bingen (1098 – 1179), a veritable renaissance woman, long before the Renaissance. She was an abbess, poet, composer (she even had a hit album recently!), theologian, philosopher and mystic, is considered to be the founder of scientific natural history in Germany, writing influential botanical and medicinal texts, was the author of what is possibly the earliest German liturgical drama and arguably the oldest surviving morality play, and inventor of a constructed language known as Lingua Ignota. She might easily be seen as a patron saint of the modern environmental movement with her strong sense of the wholeness of creation. Given her range of interests she has always intrigued me, especially given that she had a strong sense of how they were all integrated:“Underneath all the texts, all the sacred psalms and canticles, these w…

God Never Changes

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Once a month I meet with a group of friends and colleagues for a midweek lunch and discussion of where things are in the world, particularly this peculiar corner of it. At the close of it we use the mid-day office of the Northumbrian Community. We don't meet over the summer, but on Sunday past 2 friends on either side of the Atlantic posted a prayer that is part of that liturgy, a prayer by Teresa of Avila. Personally, it could not be more timely, for reasons that those who know me well will come to know in due course, but in the midst of an, at times, frightening world, it is appropriate for all of us:
'Let nothing disturb you,
Let nothing afright you,
All things are passing:
God never changes.'
St. Teresa of Avila (1515-1582)