Reflections for Easter

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Special times of meditation are common in most traditions over the Easter period, so I have put these reflections for Good Friday, Saturday and Easter Sunday together with the help of several friends, including Sally, Harmony and Elizabeth, who reads the text with me.

We have overlaid two of the tracks so that the words and music flow together. The aim has been to draw us right into the centre of certain aspects of the Easter story and to bring the events of Calvary to life in a fresh way this year.

Three different viewpoints are woven into these simple reflections. There is the Lord Jesus Himself, His disciples watching – and then there is us as we both watch events unfolding and, with the benefit of faith and hindsight, receive the power of His grace.

Part 1 – Good Friday: Reflections at the Cross

The second movement of Torelli’s Etienne concerto provides the music for this track.

Imagine yourself in the sandals of a disciple of Jesus, standing on the bare hill outside Jerusalem, watching as your dearest friend is nailed to a tree. You have long walked with Him, and seen Him set His face like flint to follow His Father’s leading into many dangerous situations – but you never imagined it would end like this Continue reading

Why Salisbury is a wakeup call for our times

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What is coming to me as I ponder the chemical nerve attack in Salisbury, is that this act feels like a wake-up call to the nations, our own in particular. On a rather different level, it is also a reminder call to the Body of Christ.

Clifford Hill said that we should operate with Bible in one hand and newspaper in the other. Further on in this edition we will be focusing on specific issues and details, and presenting a wide range of interesting and informative links to round out our understanding of current events. But it is important first that we see these things in a broader spiritual context. Continue reading

Just one incident can lead to serious consequences

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With the armed forces of so many nations in action over Syrian air-space at the moment, not to mention the regular Turkish strikes against the Kurds (which have been barely reported in the West), we have long been aware how easily events could spiral into a major escalation in the Middle East. We certainly hadn’t thought about Salisbury!

But whilst Russia has long since set about a vigorous rearmament programme, Britain and the West have been lulled into comparative complacency despite Continue reading

Banks of Green Willow

We are releasing this exquisitely moving piece in the aftermath of the atrocity that took place in Salisbury on March 2018 to aid our thoughts and prayers.

The Banks of the Green Willow, by George Butterworth, is one of the most loved pieces derived from folk-music by early twentieth century English composers.

The peaceful opening conjures up impressions of the rolling green swards around Salisbury; but at a certain moment the pastoral idyll is shattered by a deeply agitated ‘strident’ sound – a much more sombre mood that reflects the crisis that has occurred in this normally undramatic cathedral city before continuing on a more lyrical note.

Mike Halliday is the clarinettist and Nicola Gerrard the flautist in this recording we made at The House of The Open Door in 2014.

We have previously released the second part of this music in a Sound Cloud we wrote for those caught up in the swirl of desperate situations: Pounding thoughts and desperate needs.

Into Great Silence

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It is so often out of silence that God speaks. That is true for us in worship and for our personal leading – but also for ‘tuning’ in to what God is saying over much bigger issues.

This is an opportunity to watch a really special film. Unusually it has neither background music nor conventional ‘plot’. Rather, it sensitively provides us with a precious glimpse into the inner life of the most contemplative of all monastic traditions: the Carthusians. As such it demonstrates beautifully that silence is much more than the absence of noise: it is a profound inner stillness and oneness with the Lord.

Into Great Silence is an opportunity to step away from our normal expectation of constant ‘action’ and to draw deeply into the Lord’s presence in ‘great silence’ ourselves.* As it is quite long, you may want to make a note of where you got to and keep coming back to it rather than trying to watch it all at one go.

Shot on location in the Grand Chartreuse in 1984, the young German film director had to wait thirteen years after his initial request to film inside it before permission was granted. There are many things in life we have to wait for and to hold before the Lord before the release comes!

This full length film may not appeal to everyone, but it represents a precious invitation to move beyond fast food to richer fare, as we savour the silence and wait on the Lord to see what He may have to show us through it. As someone wisely put it, “We cannot contain Christ within our words and our theology.”Don’t be deterred by the extremely slow start! This is a time to go slow!

*’Great Silence’ is the term used in monasteries to describe the silence that is held in monasteries every evening from compline onwards.

Review by the Guardian.

Awards

  • Special Jury Prize at the 2006 Sundance Festival.
  • European Film Awards 2006, Documentary – Prix Arte
  • Bavarian Film Award best documentary film on Friday, 13. January 2006
  • Film Award of the German Association of Film Critics, best documentary film, 2006
  • Film Award of the German Film Critics, best documentary film, 2006
  • Film Award German Camera, best camera in a documentary film, 2006
  • Jury Film Award for the best documentary film in the international festival contest of São Paulo / Rio de Janeiro
  • International Ennio Flaiano Award of Pescara in Italy for best camera and best film

From Wikipedia.

Praying for The Netherlands

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I looked for the one my heart loves. (Song 3:1) May this be the joy and discovery of many Dutch people!

God of the great and the small, at this time when we are concerned for such very major issues amongst the nations,
we are praying for Your power to burst forth in one of Your smaller countries.

You love to bring life where there is no life; and just as you have reclaimed so much of Holland from below the sea level,
we are asking You to bless these polder lands with seedtime and harvest in the spiritual world.
Make this a place where Jesus is known and Your word is welcome.

Let the Waal (the Rhine), the Maas (The Meuse) and the Scheldt be rivers that bring great blessing rather than being the source of great fear of inundation.

And likewise, Jesus, we ask to You to protect this land and the Dutch people from the weighty flood of wayward ways, beliefs and attitudes; for whilst extreme liberalism on the one hand has swept many far out to sea on currents not of You,
stagnant deadweight traditions have kept many more immured in the past.

We are asking You now Lord Jesus, that You inspire a new trajectory that takes people far from their own self-interests and right into the expression of Your creative love.

Redirect the steps of many to encounter the God of living destiny. Raise up many means and ways by which young and old alike shall come into the fullness of both Your Word and Your Spirit.

Find fresh ways to shape inspire and gather up the Dutch anew in You, so that whether they are finding life cosy or challenging, You may have a people for Your own possession.

In this land of artists and musicians let people recognise the Lord Jesus as the greatest artist of all.

From cradle to grave,
in centres of learning;
in churches and town halls,
in streets and along canals,
may the wind of Your Spirit blow through the land, set windmill sails turning in the heart and make them fit for planting.

You work around and through and despite people’s choices; You know the things in the Dutch psyche that have caused the hearts of many to stray far from You, the living God.

Sift out that purely man-made region that limits Your freedom to work so that many may catch the flow of your living Spirit.

Raise up shepherds after Your own heart,
and give many the eyes to glimpse Your majesty, and the determination not to be deterred from running after You.

Let them chart brave new courses for You, as so many Dutch people have done through the centuries.

Thank You for all who have looked to You and known You as Lord of the rhythms of their life:
Raise up now those who will be outstanding pioneers for You.

In Jesus name and for His sake, Amen.

Pray for Holland

Join with others in praying for the Netherlands at this Prayercast website, where you can also read a few brief paragraphs about the long history of tolerance and acceptance that Dutch culture is renowned for – but where Christians are becoming increasingly afraid of speaking out in case they are regarded as being ‘intolerant’.

Pray that by whatever means the Lord chooses faith will flow freely and joyously in the Netherlands – and with a greater freedom and passion than ever before. It appears that many of the most dynamic expressions of faith today are to be found primarily amongst immigrant churches – especially Indonesian, Antillean, Ghanaian, and Chinese.

God still has much He intends to do in and through the Dutch people!

See also Operationworld.org

Reaching out to the IETSIST generation

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God made the nations so they would seek him, perhaps even reach out to him and find him. In fact, God isn’t far away from any of us. (Acts 17:27 CEB Other versions say, ‘feel after Him’, or even ‘grope for Him and find Him’).

Last week I had the joy and privilege of staying for a few days in a friend’s flat in Haarlem while they were away. It was the perfect, secluded place to write and pray and to explore a town I had not been to before. With a population of around 160,000, Haarlem is almost joined with Amsterdam in one of the most densely populated metropolis in Europe. It is a place blessed with a network of lovely canals, and many fine medieval buildings. Continue reading

Hygge: a huge blessing but in its own way a huge challenge to faith

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You are sure to have heard of the Danish concept of ‘hygge’ – it was the second most sought after new word in 2016! The Dutch have their own equivalent: gezelligheid, which means ‘cosy and sociable.’ I was certainly both hygge and gezelligheid in my friend’s flat in Haarlem; it was a perfect place to spend time deep in the Lord’s presence and gaining insights for a variety of writing projects, – as well as for venturing out from some exploring.

The fundamental ambiguity of hygge – the flip side of it if you like – is that it risks blurring boundaries and making us “lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God’ (2 Tim. 3:4).  Continue reading