Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Some graces (some suitable for children)

Graces should always be short (especially if the food is hot and going cold or if the people are hungry and crotchety) and they should mention the food!

The most basic and frequently used form of grace in our house is:

Father God, we thank you for this breakfast / lunch / dinner. Amen.

The Dallington school grace is:

For food to share
and those who prepare it
for health to enjoy it
and friends to share it
we thank our Lord. Amen.

Please feel free to correct / add:

Other graces include:

May the Blessed One bless us. Amen.

Lord, bless this food to our bodies and our lives to your service. Amen.

For what we are about to recieve, may the Lord make us truly thankful. Amen.

For Weetabix, cereal and toast, praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.

Come and dine,” the Master calleth, “Come and dine”;
You may feast at Jesus’ table all the time;
He Who fed the multitude, turned the water into wine,
To the hungry calleth now, “Come and dine.”

 To the tune of Superman:
Thank you, Lord, for giving us food x2
For daily bread, the things you've said,
Thank you, Lord, for giving us food.
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Jesus.
Thank you, Lord, for giving us food.

Thank you for the world so sweet,
Thank you for the food we eat.
Thank you for the birds that sing,
Thank you God for everything.

Something about the cabbage and the rice that are very very nice?

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Moses & Christ

God's chosen man, the Rescuer and Mediator is waery and fainting on a hill with a man on either side of him, with his arms raised up and spread out with a piece of wood between them. By staying there in that position he wins a victory on behalf of God's people and their enemies are defeated. That's Jesus on the cross and Moses in Exodus 17:8-16, right? I wonder if there's some good Christian art out there that reflects that interpretation? And maybe someone would like to look up The Classical Christian Commentary on Exodus for me, please?

Both Moses and Christ bear the rod of God's judgement.

James Jordan argues that Moses the Prophet Mediator is flanked by Aaron the Priest and Hur the King. This, of course, points us to Jesus, the Mediator, the prophet, priest and king.

The Cherubim likewise carry God on their wings. The priests have to carry the ark.

The stone represents the world, mountain of God, altar. This is the place of sacrifice.

Moses holds up his hands until sunset. According to Gen 1 the sun governs the day. This is the Day of the Lord, the Lord’s Day. The Sun of Righteousness arises like a bridegroom bursting forth and defeats his enemies.We live in the gospel day of the Lord in which God is defeating his enemies and putting all things under Christ through his people depending on Christ.

Dawkins & Down's

In a way I am sorry to write about Professor Richard Dawkins again. I understand from those who are qualified to comment that some of his early work in biology was very remarkable. Unfortunately, Professor Dawkins now seems to speak out on subjects such as Scripture and theology with which he has only a passing acquaintance, and not a friendly one. I fully accept that he may not represent atheism at its best. In fact, I know he is something of an embarrassment to some unbelievers.

Nevertheless, Professor Dawkins’ recent comments on abortion seem to me so lamentable, dangerous and revealing that they necessitate a response. Via that nuanced tool of debate, Twitter, Professor Dawkins said that it would be immoral not to abort a foetus with Down’s Syndrome. He claimed it would be cruel and wrong to let such a person live.

Now, of course, that is a dreadful insult to those with Down’s and their loved ones. It seems to me that the obvious joy on the faces of many of those with Down’s syndrome and of their families is sufficient to refute Professor Dawkins’ nasty argument.

And this is the thin end of the wedge. If abortion is thought to be morally necessary it is a short step to make it legally compulsory and state mandated eugenics will be imposed. After all, the government can’t allow people to go round inflicting innocent suffering on others, can it? Those with Down’s and their families need to be saved from themselves, the argument would seem to go.

But, though his ideas are wrong and poisonous, Professor Dawkins is worth listening to because he has the merit of (sometimes) elements of clear thinking and consistency. A case could be made for Professor Dawkins’ views if we lived in a universe with no God, if expediency or utilitarianism were all that mattered. In our hearts none of us want to live in such a world, it seems to me. In fact, we know such a world would not be possible. If God did not exist, we would have to invent him.

Which brings me to the fundamental inconsistency in Professor Dawkins’ argument. And he himself admits this. In Professor Dawkins’ world there can be no such thing, strictly speaking, as an immoral act. There is no God. There is no right or wrong. There are only preferences and what might seem to work for most of us most of the time. We might just try to make the best of this blind, random and uncaring world of accident. But who is to say what the best is? Why should I want, say, my own happiness or the happiness of the greatest number? In an atheistic cosmos, there is no way of saying that I should like your preferences for “goodness” over my preferences for the torture of innocent babies, for example, because there is no “should”. There is no objective standard. It is open season for whatever I can get away with if there is no divine law-giver and judge.

Thankfully, one rarely meets a consistent atheist. I theory this is impossible because without God there is no basis for logic or reason – there are just chemical reactions in my brain, and I know they are not very trustworthy. But in practice it is a mercy that atheists are inconsistent. I dare say in many ways Professor Dawkins lives a good life, but this is parasitic on the Christian faith. Thank God that he and his fellow atheists live out something of our creed rather than everything of their own. Professor Dawkins’ Tweet shows us an atheistic future and none of us wants to go there. We rejoice that such a world is a fantasy land of make-believe and that the future belongs to God. May his kingdom come on earth as it is in heaven. In such a world every person would be loved selflessly and self-sacrificially. And yes, one day all sickness and disability will be irradiated by God’s divine power. But in the meantime, those with Down’s syndrome are to be treasured as a wonderful and special gift from God. They especially show us God’s grace and his power made perfect in weakness.      

Saturday, August 23, 2014


 to join growing gospel church family TN21 9QJ

lovely Sussex villages & countryside

30 min drive to beach, Eastbourne & Tunbridge Wells

Railway Station <20 -="" drive="" etc.="" hastings="" line.="" london="" min="" p="">

Call the Rector, Marc on 07812 054820.

(Everyone else very welcome too of course!)

Monday, August 11, 2014

Assisted dying

I've tried to say something about assisted dying for our September parish magazine. What follows probably involves various forms of plagiarism from the BBC website, from Christian Concern and Giles Fraser and maybe one or two other places.

Lord Falconer’s Assisted Dying Bill had its Second Reading on 18th July and is due to move into the Committee Stage. The Bill would allow doctors to prescribe lethal drugs to terminally ill mentally competent adults who are judged to have a settled wish to die, if they are thought to have less than six months to live. Two independent doctors would be required to agree that the patient had made an informed decision.

Former Archbishop of Canterbury, Lord Carey said he had changed his mind about the issue and now believed that belief in assisted dying was "quite compatible" with being a Christian. "When suffering is so great, when some patients already know that they are at the end of life, make repeated pleas to die, it seems a denial of the loving compassion that is the hallmark of Christianity to refuse to allow them to fulfil their clearly stated request," he said.

It seems to me that there are all sorts of practical reasons for resisting this proposed legislation. For example, it is hard to say how it might affect the relationship between doctor and patient.

Can doctors really be sure that someone has less than six months to live? Baroness Finlay, a professor of palliative medicine and former President of the Royal Society of Medicine, who cared for dying patients as part of her work for more than 25 years, said: "Let us take a prognosis of six months: there is no accurate test at all. Even a best guess is so surrounded with inaccuracy that the only honest answer to the question, “How long have I got?”, is to say, “I honestly can’t tell”. Even of those thought to be likely to die within 48 hours, about 4% improve and some even go home."

One can imagine the elderly not wanting to be a burden to their family and feeling under pressure to end it all. Of course they are unlikely to tell their relatives that they’ve decided they want to die to spare their loved ones’ feelings since to say so would hurt their loved ones’ feelings! The bill therefore adds to the isolation of those who might already feel alone. The dying can often be exhausted and confused, hardly the best state in which to make a life or death decision. With care sometimes very expensive and the possibility of people making money out of assisted suicide, financial motives might impinge. We might fear what the next step might be if campaigners are able to achieve this change in the law, even if this particular Bill is said to come with safeguards and although we are told it will apply in only a very small number of cases.

And more significantly, I would suggest that from a Christian perspective there are reasons to be against assisted dying, and indeed against suicide in general. The basic assumption of human autonomy – that I have the right to end my life if I want to – is not a Biblical one. Christians believe that God is the giver of life and have traditionally held that it is wrong to deliberately end one’s life. The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. The ending of life is his prerogative. God made us and we belong to him. We are not our own – our lives don’t belong to us as if we should end them when we please.   

In the Bible death is repeatedly seen as an enemy. Although Jesus has defeated death for all who will put their trust in Him, and, we might say, He has tamed death so that it need not be feared, the Christian does not embrace death as a friend. All human life has value and dignity. There are worse things even than terrible suffering. The only “good death” is not necessarily a pain free one. Sadly pain is an inevitable part of life in this fallen world. It is only beyond the grave that God will wipe away every tear from his people’s eyes.   

If Christians are to oppose assisted dying, of course they need to be at the forefront of providing care for the terminally ill, as they often are through the hospice movement and in other ways. Christians believe that special love for the vulnerable and helpless reflects something of the gracious heart of God towards us all. The beautiful selfless sacrificial love which carers often show points us to the dying love of Christ for a helpless world. The Christian may hope for a relatively pain-free death, but above all he pins his hope on Jesus, who is with us as we face our end and who through his resurrection offers us eternal life.