Sunday, 26 August 2018

The wine notes

I'm quoting direct from the bottle's label here (the bottle being of new Zealand Sauvignon Blanc); 'this wine is approachable and food friendly with a beautiful expression of crisp lime and ripe passionfruit. Enjoy with seafood and white meats'.

Which is quite restrained, considering the number of fruit and other notes which experienced 'noses' detect and extol on other wine labels I have read. Most of the stuff they detect passes me by; I am an inexperienced glugger; you may read into that 'I know what I like'. Those rarified labels  are witness to another plane of experience I am not party to.

I wonder if we can express what we see in the wine in the chalice at Holy Communion in the same analytical and yet poetic way as those who write the notes on  the wine bottles? Do I detect notes of suffering, patience, sweaty pain? It's certainly a beautiful, and at the same time appalling, expression of love of God to man, of hate of man to God. Goes well with other likeminded folk who enjoy this wine; goes well with bread to make a feast like no other; refreshing aftertaste, grace notes of assured love.

Inexperienced tasters welcome. Me included. Might try and write a better label, though.    

Saturday, 18 August 2018

A year on

A year ago this past week we moved into what is still to us, the 'new' house/ 'new' community/ 'new' church/ new neighbours/ new surroundings. And the rest.....
It has taken time to settle, to learn the ropes, to feel we belong. We still have 'L' plates on in so many areas - it doesn't seem like second nature to know this, that and the other. Yet.
All this may come, and it's devoutly to be wished that it is so. Meanwhile, we not exactly blunder on, certainly not stumble about in darkness, but often have pause to think, 'now, what's the way forward?'

My experience of faith is like that; just when I think I have it sussed, I find that I'm in new territory, and have no, or few, landmarks to guide me. Old certainties drop away, and new ones have not yet formed (only in their turn to fall by the wayside).  I could retreat into safe formulas, ways of thinking and doing, but am conscious of the onward, upward call of Christ, who calls us to follow, not knowing, as the disciples did not, where it all might lead, where it all might end.

Adventurous spirits, sign on here.

Saturday, 11 August 2018

A wedding

I conducted a wedding yesterday- the first since I retired. So I was nervous, on a number of fronts; would I get it right, would I remember everything, or would it go wrong and then the day would be less than wonderful for the equally nervous groom and bride.

Part of the nerves on everybody's part is the seriousness of the occasion. OK, surrounded by joy and happiness- yes! But my remembrance of every wedding rehearsal I've taken- and most couples seem to want one- is that when it comes to the marriage vows, as I say them to give an illustration of how it will be on the big day, the mood changes, and it comes home how serious this is.

Commitment of any sort is serious stuff. But a marriage- the deepest commitment any of us can make- throws into relief just what's at stake. To have and to hold, from this day forward, in sickness and in health, for richer for poorer...…….Big Stuff, capital B, capital S.

Christians in some sense are wedded to God. Baptism is a sort of wedding; after it, I'm tied to God, because it's a choice I made, gladly and freely. And God is bound to me. Each day is a fight for me to forsake all others, and remain true to God. It makes me nervous, and could overwhelm me, were it not for grace. Upon grace, upon grace, upon grace. For which, thanks be to God, the far more faithful partner in this enterprise.

Saturday, 4 August 2018

something deep

I'm a big fan of 'Long Lost Family' although it doesn't get me blubbing and reaching for a hankie to wipe my eyes. (If Mary watches it with me, she's in for both -blubbing and a hankie, I mean). But I find it fascinating the connection that suddenly comes when after decades, close blood relatives who in some cases never knew the other existed, find a bond, a closeness. Sometimes this peters out, as has been shown on the 'LLF Revisited' programmes, which play catch-up with the original reunion a couple of years on; but more often this initial bond  marks the start of a new and close relationship, a hole that has been filled, an ache satisfied, a question answered.

What strikes me most is the sense of 'I have found you/I have been found', 'I have not forgotten you/I am not forgotten', 'Welcome/ I am welcome'. It makes real to me Jesus' story of the prodigal son, and all that took place as the father ran to meet his foolish long-lost son; all that remorse the lad brought as he comes back to the dad who had never given up hope, never given up looking for him.

It makes it real; I see it before my eyes on tv as long-lost folk are re-united. I am brought into a precious, holy moment, and one that speaks to me of the welcome I have received from God, the deep conviction I have that I am not forgotten, I have significance, in this infinite universe, I am welcome in this world. And of the relationship, always renewed, as I come back after wandering away. What kinder words are there in all the world than 'Welcome home'?