Thankful for Spring

Early April can be a funny old time of year.

First it's a bit warm, then we're plunged into winter conditions again. Light breezes give way to gales. One day the sun is bright, the next the sky is laden with clouds and those 'spring showers' feel a bit more like winter downpours.

It's like the weather can't make up it's mind what to do.

The daffodils and primroses are around and then disappear. The trees have buds but are not yet green. 

It's like nature is about to surprise us, but we just need to wait a little while longer.

But yet in the midst of all the confusion, there's hope on the horizon.

Spring IS a lovely, optimistic season and I for one, am ready for spring this year and hopeful for a new beginning ... 

Thankful for spring
 

 


Daffodils

Today I'm thinking about Spring and that wonderfully cheerful flower - the daffodil.

Over the past few weeks Jersey has been festooned with the bright yellow trumpet shaped blooms  - in gardens, in fields and on hedgerows. It's been glorious!

I think daffodils have the ability to raise our spirits, make us smile and even get the creative juices flowing.

Daffodils poem april 7Back in April 1802 a poet called William Wordsworth was taking a walk with his sister Dorothy around Glencoyne Bay, Ullswater, in the Lake District, when they came across a "long belt" of daffodils. A couple of years later that memory led to the creation of one of the world's most popular poems ... called 'I Wandered Lonely as a Cloud' or 'Daffodils'.

Years ago I visited Wordsworth's Lake District home in Northwest England - Dove Cottage - and one day I might chat about that as well. It's a place I had always wanted to visit, ever since I read Wordsworth as a teenager, including this fantastic poem. In fact, his sister Dorothy also wrote about seeing the daffodils in all their glory in her Journals ... again another brilliant read, if ever you fancy it.

So today, to mark the birthday of William Wordsworth - born on this day April 7 1770 - I bring you his immortal lines...

I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o'er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.

Continuous as the stars that shine
and twinkle on the Milky Way,
They stretched in never-ending line
along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
tossing their heads in sprightly dance.

The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not be but gay,
in such a jocund company:
I gazed—and gazed—but little thought
what wealth the show to me had brought:

For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.

William Wordsworth


A musical debut

There are some things in life that you think have been around forever. 

Think about things you enjoy -  maybe a cup of tea, or coffee? What about cake? Sandwiches? Spaghetti Bolognaise?

Well, now I'm just talking about things I like ... but you know what I mean?

Recently we've been thinking about Easter and that's been around forever hasn't it? Well no ... there was the first Easter, that day when Jesus was resurrected. That amazing, outstanding day in history.

There was the first time someone picked tea and made a cuppa or the first time someone put two pieces of bread together with something in between to create a sandwich. Most things had a 'first time'. Right?

Ever heard of ABBA?

If not - where have you been?

Growing up, ABBA was one of the soundtracks of my teenage and early adult life. They were massive. I listened to them on the radio, bought the albums, danced the night away to the sounds of AgnethaBjörnBenny and Anni-Frid.

They still are massive! Their award winning music has stood the test of time down the years. They are legends in their own lifetimes across the world and if you've watched the movie or seen the stage show 'Mamma Mia' you'll know the tunes. ABBA just keep going on and on. They've brought so much joy to so many people. How great is that?

But, believe it or not, there was a time when the world was unaware of ABBA.

Abba waterlooAnd, in fact, it was on this day, April 6th, in 1974 that they first appeared on our radar.

If you're not aware, they won the 1974 Eurovision Song Contest, with their song 'Waterloo'. A weirdly wonderful song that just made us all laugh and want to get up and dance and sing along.

When millions tuned in to watch the performance on TV that night, we had no way of knowng that very soon ABBA would become part of all our lives!  Who could have imagined that when the obscure and colourful band from Sweden stepped onto that stage that there would soon be a time when we could hardly think of life without their music?

So - to celebrate - let's wind the clock back to that night in Brighton on the south coast of England, and the beginning of history...

Enjoy!

 


Makes me want to smile!

Today is the start of the Easter season ... yes I know we think Easter was yesterday - and it was. Easter Sunday, the day we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

But actually, it's the start of a Christian season - sometimes also called 'Eastertide' - which runs now for 50 days right through to Pentecost Sunday!

Easter coincides with a beautiful time of year. Spring is a time of such hope, optimism and new life, isn't it?

It makes me want to smile and laugh out loud.

Last year we got a bunch of flowers for Easter, and this little chap was in the arrangement!

Hope it makes you smile too!

Have a great day!

2014-04-19 15.49.35


Thine be the Glory!

Happy Easter!

What a fantastic day today is!

If you're a Christian, like me, it's the Best Day of the Year. 

Why?

It's because today we celebrate something AMAZING!

Easter he is risenSomething supernatural and surreal, astonishing and astounding  ... as Christians we believe that today Jesus, who was killed two thousands years ago in Jerusalem, came back from the dead. He was 'resurrected'.

If you've been reading my blog these past few days, or if you're into theology, you'll know that this is central to the Christian faith. That we believe in a God who is alive. Jesus proved his divinity by living as a man, dying and then ... well being raised from the dead! Defying death!

And all this to give us all hope that if we believe in him, we may also live eternally, eventually, when we're done living life on earth!

Today we celebrate the life of Jesus and his resurrection - and what better way than to share a great hymn?

It is actually my favourite Easter hymn. Years ago I featured on the TV religious programme BBC Songs of Praise  (recorded in Jersey) and THIS was the song I chose.

It tells the story of Easter so well and it's so optimistic, so positive. It always fills me with joy! 

I hope it does the same for you today!

Happy Easter!

 

 


The Best is Yet to Come!

This day is a strange day.

Between the despair of Good Friday and the exhilaration of Easter Sunday - between the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ - comes 'Holy' Saturday.

It's a day when the original disciples of Jesus, his friends and followers, will have been in despair. Their friend was dead. He had died in the most horrific way and although a couple of them were with him, most had deserted him and even denied knowing him! How awful they must have felt! They would have been ashamed, gutted and afraid.

But after experiencing the Worst Day of their lives, little did they know that on the horizon was the Best Day ever!

It's something I'm sure we can all sympathise with. Many of us will have been through hardships and trials and had days when it feels like the end of the world, or at least our world as we know it.

But today ... let's be encouraged ... whatever is happening in our lives ...

The Best is Yet to Come!

 

Remember this


Written in Red

On Good Friday, as Christians we are remembering how Jesus Christ was crucified on a hill outside of the city of Jerusalem.

It's perhaps the holiest day of the year for Christians, and some people might think that it's strange to call a solemn holy day that commemorates a death a 'good day'.

JOhn 3 16Lots of deep theological and historical and cultural reasons for that, but for me the 'good' is there because actually it comes a few days before the main revelation of Christianity. Which is  ... that Jesus didn't stay dead!

Yes he died, but then he pushed through death, proving that it didn't have to be the end of existence.

By coming back to life he 'conquered' death which means that if we believe in Jesus we also ultimately can push back death. Dying doesn't have to be the end of it all for us. We can be God's person here on earth,  but we may also live eternally in the spirit world after we have shrugged off this mortal coil

It's an astonishing thing! Difficult to comprehend, supernatural, but when embraced, an outrageous concept of optimism and hope.

Christians believe that although Jesus lived as a man for about 33 years, including 30 as a member of a family, a working man, followed by three years as an itinerant preacher, teacher and miracle worker and healer in the place we now know as The Holy Land (modern day Israel) ... he actually was more than a man. He was the Son of God, or God himself in human form.

We Christians do believe that Jesus was the best example of a human being that ever existed and we are encouraged to emulate his compassion, love and life of service. We also believe that his death (and ultimate resurrection on the day we call 'Easter Sunday') not only shows his divinity, but also paves the way for us to embrace eternal life ... if we would only believe in Jesus and follow him.

If you've been reading my blog a bit this week you might have picked up that by the time he reached Jerusalem in the final days of his life - the time we call 'Holy Week' in the church - the religious leaders of the day were determined to get rid of Jesus.

There were rumours that people believed that Jesus - the poor itinerant preacher - was actually the Messiah. This was the person that ancient scripture said would be sent by God to save the people of Israel. Not to mention those claims that Jesus could actually be God in human form, or the Son of God. For the Jewish religious leaders this was blasphemy and Jesus' popularity threatened their control over the population.

Ultimately they wanted rid of him. And by the day we call 'Good Friday' they had had him tried before the local and the Roman authorities and he found himself being beaten, a crown of thorns rammed onto his head (an ironic reference to the fact that some saw him as a 'King') and he had to carry his own cross through the streets of Jerusalem, through the crowds, being mocked and taunted and laughed at!

The story of Jesus' final hours and his death on that cross at a place called Calvary outside the Jerusalem city walls is documented in the New Testament of the Bible, including in the book of Matthew and Chapters 26 and 27 ,  if you have time to do so, please do read that account today.

It was a horrible death, bloody and brutal, designed not just to punish the person being nailed to a cross of wood and left to hang until they died, but also to warn those watching that THIS is what was in store for them if they, too, dared to defy authority.

There are many songs associated with this day, some very traditional. But this one and this particular version by the Gaither Vocal Band, always stirs my heart as on Good Friday I once again think about what Jesus did two thousand years ago, and what he's still doing for me today.

No pictures on this video. Maybe just close your eyes and listen to the words.

And be blessed!

*this song now on my You Tube channel 


A Prayer for Our World

Today, as we move towards the end of Holy Week ... and Good Friday tomorrow ... I'm just taking time out for a bit of reflection.

And I'm helped by a great prayer which reminds me of the need to let go of past hurts and to build a world of peace and hope, regardless of our race, faith and who we are.

Thanks to Rabbi Harold S Kushner for his wisdom.

Hope you love it as much as I do.

A prayer for the the world Rabbi Harold S. Kushner

 


Spy Wednesday

Today is Wednesday ... but not just any old Wednesday.

Some call today 'Holy Wednesday', others know it as 'Spy Wednesday'.  

But why? SPy Wednesday

Well, as you may know by now, this is Holy Week - or Passion Week. It's the time  Christians remember the final days of Jesus Christ on earth. From the crowds cheering him into Jerusalem on what we call 'Palm Sunday', to his trial and hideous death on a cross outside the city, in the company of criminals. 

But in between there are significant moments. We remember that in the last week of Jesus' life, he turfed out traders from the holy temple, he preached and taught, he spent time with his followers and friends. He was arrested and tried in a kangaroo court.

And somewhere in the middle, he was betrayed by one of his friends and followers, a man called Judas Iscariot.

Judas was one of the original 12 friends and followers, the disciples of Jesus. Hand picked by Jesus to share his ministry and learn from him, and eventually be there to continue the work and the mission when Jesus was no longer around. Judas had been with Jesus for three years.

So why did he turn against him?

Remember a few days ago I was saying that among the people who followed Jesus were those who hoped that he would be not just a teacher and preacher or even a miracle worker, but that he would become a focal figure in a revolution against the Romans and the Jewish religious establishment? Well, it's thought that Judas might have been among those who hoped his 'Rabbi', his spiritual leader, would be more than just a healer and an itinerant preacher.

But as Judas lived and worked with Jesus, he maybe began to realise that this gentle, charismatic personality didn't want or seek political power. He wasn't about that. He was about love and compassion and bringing people to God. His message was about community, and people being kind and helping each other out. He was about caring for the sick and the poor and the isolated. Jesus was about loving the unloved. Not about power and status, or money and possessions.

This must have frustrated Judas no end. Seeing the crowds around Jesus, he must have had hopes that it would become more. He disagreed with Jesus' generosity, and as the one in the group that looked after the money he was the man who criticised Jesus when he allowed a woman called Mary to pour a bottle of expensive perfume over him. This 'anointing' was a sign of love, but also a symbolic gesture that seemed to foretell the sacrifice that Jesus would make in giving up his life. But all Judas could see was the waste of money.

It must have been common knowledge among the followers of Jesus that he was putting himself in danger by going to Jerusalem. Jesus had narked off the religious authorities, the Pharisees and the Sanhedrin, and they were looking for a way to arrest him. But the sacred Jewish festival of Passover was approaching and they wouldn't want to arrest him in public, especially as Jesus was so popular with ordinary people. They risked a riot.

So they decided to get him while he was pretty much undefended.

Jesus and his followers, as Jews, would be preparing to observe the Passover. The festival begins with a meal - the Seder  - which is a ritual observation on the eve of Passover. This particular meal taken by Jesus and his friend has become known as The Last Supper. Then Jesus and some of the disciples went to the Garden of Gethsemane - on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem - where Jesus wanted to pray. He knew what was coming and he needed that time apart to prepare himself.

But Judas had already gone. He'd been with the religious leaders, accepted thirty pieces of silver as a payment for betraying Jesus. After midnight, Judas arrived in the Garden accompanied by armed officers and other men provided by the religious leaders. Judas, as a signal of which person to arrest, gave Jesus a kiss. Jesus is arrested, turned over to the Roman authorities, tired, and within days is killed - crucified.

And, realising the ill he had done, Judas hanged himself. Perhaps he didn't realise the priests wanted Jesus dead. Regretting his part in the arrest of Jesus, he tried to return the money but the religious leaders refused to take it. Judas threw the money into the temple and hanged himself.

So today on this 'Spy Wednesday' we remember Judas and his part in Jesus' story. But that word 'spy' is so interesting.

These days we think of spies as secret agents, and Judas was certainly no James Bond. Not a glamorous personality at all.

But the word 'spy' means more  - it can also mean 'plant', 'snooper', 'fifth columnist', someone who is in a group but whose motives are to undermine the group. That could describe Judas. A spy in the camp. And the word 'spy' can also mean 'ambush' and 'ensnare' which is certainly what happened in the Garden of Gethsemane. 

Down the centuries, theologians and philosophers have discussed Judas' part in the events that led to the arrest and crucifixion of Jesus Christ, and Judas' motives. Greed? A love of money? A lust for power? Some sort of twisted theology? Some have even concluded that it was somehow in 'the Plan' - there are references in the Bible that Jesus knew one of his closest friends would betray him. That's hard to even think about. 

Judas has gone down in history as a pariah, an outcast, a devil.

But the question that always comes to my mind when I think about him is this ... am I so perfect?

Have I always been true to my faith, represented Jesus, been the person he might want me to be ... a person like him - loving, caring, compassionate, truth-seeking? Someone who thinks of others before themselves? And have I always stood up for my faith? Always stood up for Jesus? Have I never denied him, even by my silence when I needed to speak up? 

It's a hard one to face but on this 'Spy Wednesday', halfway through Holy Week, halfway to the crucifixion of Jesus and ahead of Easter ... it's a question I need to keep asking myself.

 

 


First Step

Today I'm feeling rather wrung out. 

After an emotional week, saying goodbye to a full time job, and friends and colleagues,  moving into a new adventure, not really knowing what that adventure will hold, it's suddenly hit me like a sledgehammer on the top of my head!

After a few weeks of changing circumstances at work which left me in turmoil and having to quickly make life-altering decisions, the pressure to reach a conclusion was immense. But it needed to be done. 

And once the decision was made, I was determined to focus on all the work that I needed to complete, all the handovers, all the goodbyes not just to colleagues but to the hundreds of people I worked with closely as a Communities Journalist on a BBC local radio station. I had to deal with disappointment and shock from some, and there was much explaining to do. But I was overwhelmed by the encouragement and support in my ultimate decision from friends, family and acquaintances across the world. 

All the emails and telephone conversations. So many hours sat at the computer, into the early hours. 

And then - suddenly - it's over. All is quiet. No more rushing around. In my case, no demands for Zoom meetings, no projects to produce and edit for broadcast. No people to call. Nothing to plan for radio programmes for the future. Just ... nothing!

It hits you. There's nothing!

Yesterday - the start of a working week with no full time work - I was in a daze, and today I'm exhausted.

Sometimes life and change is like that, isn't it? You somehow manage to crash on day-to-day despite the mayhem that might be all around. You hardly have time to breathe with all the 'busyness' of what is happening, you don't have a moment to really take in the significance of what is actually going on. 

And then - suddenly - it's over.

Today is one of those days for me.

It's Holy Week - the week running up to Easter - so I'm trying to take time out just to rest and reflect on all that means in terms of my faith, and my life, and how that shapes who I am and my future.

But so much has happened in the past few weeks that has meant so much change, so quickly. I can't muster the energy right now to make any plans, and I'm trying not to get my head in a spin about what will come.  As a person of faith, I'm praying about the future, but at the moment not asking for anything, just trusting for guidance in the future.

The journey into the new adventure has not yet started. But it will. Once I am rested in my body and mind and spirit. It will.

Then I came across this quote which says it all for me today.

It's encouraged me to believe that once I'm ready to take the first step into the new adventure ... I will have the faith, and courage and the energy to place my foot on the first step of that new staircase in my life.

 

 

Faith staircase