Monthly Archives: September 2016

September 2016 Rector’s Letter

September 2016

“I hate computers!”   I bet you’ve said that more than once.  If not, you either never use computers or you’re a super-expert and can’t understand why any of us have problems.  Towards the end of June, the computer I do ALL my work on started to not ‘wake up’ when I switched it on.  At first, this happened occasionally, then frequently, then before I could take remedial action, permanently.  Disaster!  All the tasks I had to do urgently, including the four-monthly rota of all the services, leading, preaching, reading, praying, etc., were on hold, and the data from the last 10 days when I had last done a ‘back-up’ was all lost.  It felt like bereavement.

I rushed the computer to the local computer hospital shop and it was hooked up to a life-support machine.  The consultant looked grave.  “There’s been a surge in the power-pack and it’s damaged the motherboard.”  “That’s bad?” “It’s had it!” Despairingly, “Oh!”  “The good news is I’ve recovered all the data from the hard drive.”  The hard drive is the computer’s memory, the motherboard more like the processing part of the brain (and the power pack more the heart – it’d had a heart attack leading to a stroke.)  There was the hard drive, hooked up to another processor and screen, so I could see sort-of disembodied memories.

I was sold a refurbished computer which seemed adequate for my actual usage.  The data was downloaded and the programmes loaded, all in all taking a fair bit of work.  The new computer still had different ways of working, so although it had the data, it didn’t behave exactly like before, which meant I was also learning how to work with it, coupled with the need to re-load the programme licences.  10 days after I started using the ‘new’ computer, I went to switch it on and nothing happened except a grinding kind of noise.  Back it went to the computer shop.  The diagnosis was still worse.

The grinding noise was the mechanical failure of the hard drive, meaning the computer could not access the memory, and all the work of the past 10 days was lost.  One of the problems of such catastrophic loss is you don’t even know what you’ve lost until you need it!  As I began this article, I found it included last month’s article (now recovered externally).  I was aghast.  The computer man was apologetic, although it was an unpredictable event.  He called me the next day.  “I’ve managed to fit the hard drive from your old computer into the ‘new’ computer, if that’s any help.”  He’d tried this before without success but now it was working.

I tentatively tried this hybrid; suddenly an old friend appeared, my computer just as it had been, the programmes and shortcuts all where I’d left them some 3 weeks earlier.  I had lost the 10 days of data, but here the computer was as if I’d turned it off 3 weeks ago and now just turned it back on.  It was the memory of the old computer with the brain and heart of a new computer.  I’ve managed to recover a fair bit of the lost data by examining e-mails where I’d sent the document to other people (just as well as since then I’ve suffered an accidental catastrophic deletion of 2,200 e-mails). Mind you, I’m now ‘backing-up’ more frequently – and wondering how this is supposed to encourage us to let computers drive our cars!

I was explaining this to the 8am congregation, and realised that there was a metaphor here. My computer had a completely new body, functioning perfectly, but within was all the essential memories of the old.  As far as the original computer was concerned, it had merely paused and re-awoken, fully active.  Christians are promised in Christ a resurrection similar to his, because of his death and resurrection.  Jesus’ resurrection body was clearly different, yet Jesus was recognisably the same person.  St Paul writes flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God… We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed… in the twinkling of an eye… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” (The Bible 1 Cor 15.50-51, 57) and St Peter writes, calling his body ‘a tent’  as long as I am in this tent… since I know that the putting off of my body will be soon, as our Lord Jesus Christ made clear to me… after my departure you may be able at any time to recall these things. (2 Peter 1.13-15).  As your body ages and malfunctions, it’s good to know that your ‘hard drive’, all that makes you essentially ‘you’, will be re-housed in Christ forever.

Praying that you may find in Jesus Christ, the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13.8) the confidence of an eternity with God and an enabling to live with that assured future

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.

You can find the full text of the September Herald here

2016-09-04T16:24:51+00:00September 4th, 2016|

August 2016 Rector’s Letter

August 2016

“Ahhwoahahh”   James emitted a cry of frustration. He had discovered the ‘joy’ of crawling.  Setting his sight on a desired object, he lowered his head, moved his hands and feet furiously, then stopped and looked up; his desired object was further away!  He lowered his head, activated his hands and feet, stopped and looked up; his desired object was still further away.  He repeated this again, and when he realised he was travelling away from the object, he let out a howl of anguish and frustration.  You can feel some sympathy for him, I guess.  Since then, he has made steady progress, crawling rapidly in the direction of his desire and now on the brink of walking.

Diane and I went on holiday with Tom & Jen, Euan & Zach.  The boys had wonderful adventures exploring the river outside our cottage, Tom managed two cycle rides, Jen chose her birthday present, the weather was wonderful – all in all, we had a superb holiday – but it didn’t yield the expected magazine article!  Life just continued with joy and fun; no funny little stories, insights or anecdotes to share in the Herald.  Well, maybe apart from the incident at Portpatrick… which has nothing to do with the boys or the family at all…

Portpatrick is a lovely little Scottish port 8 miles below Stranraer.  We arrived for a picnic, and as we strolled round the port, we watched an ocean-going yacht prepare to leave the harbour.  As they began to leave, they nearly hit a small boat, and reversed back into the harbour; they set off again, pulling to the port (left) as they left.  Just outside the inner harbour, the yacht ran aground.  By the time we had finished our picnic, the ebbing tide left the yacht heeling to the left, revealing the deep water channel to the right in which other deep draught vessels happily entered and left the port, the channel the yacht had missed.  We walked up to Dunskey Castle (not a lot left!) and back, by which time the yacht had heeled right over; small boys had waded out to the yacht and were expressing their views about the hapless crew’s ability.  The crew were trying to use their weight to stop the yacht from dipping so far the incoming tide would flood the vessel.  We had to leave before we saw the end of the drama, although the lack of news on the web suggests there was a happy outcome.

The crew had confidently steered their vessel, but had missed their way and so run aground. Every port has marine charts which show the depth of water at high and low tides, the (marked) safe passage.  The crew either didn’t know how to read the chart, or didn’t bother checking it, or just didn’t bother with a chart.  Travelling with confidence without direction is guaranteed to end in disaster.  Jesus promised us a heavenly home: “In my Father’s house are many rooms… I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also.  And you know the way to where I am going.” (The Bible, John 14.2-4)  Thomas wisely asked for a ‘road map’, and Jesus replied:I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.” (John 14.6)  Jesus promises safe passage and clear destination, and the clearest of road maps.

However, as James demonstrated all too well, knowing where you want to go and having a clear road map also requires traction in the right direction.  Many of us have experienced the frustration where we have decided to live a good life and to stop some recurrent habit which is damaging to us and those around us (The Bible calls this sin): we mark where we want to go, put our head down, and put all our effort into it, but when we lift up our heads, our destination and objective seem still further away.  The harder we try, the further away we seem to be.  St Paul found exactly this problem: I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. (Romans 7.18-19) – a sort of James’ crawling in our inner being and life, travelling backwards, away from our objective.

The good news is that St Paul also reveals the answer to this universal dilemma:  Jesus saves us by his death, taking our place, so by faith in him, we are delivered safely to our destination (Jesus was pointing to the same truth in John 14.1-6).  St Paul declares: For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 5.23)  What we earn through our sin is death, separation from God, and the harder we try to live a right and moral life it seems we travel backwards.  The problem is we start the wrong way round.  We think we have to earn God’s approval, but in fact we start with His approval by trusting Jesus; with the free gift of eternal life assured, it is time to start living the renewed life in the power of His Spirit as a response to the gift, not to earn it

Praying that you may find in Christ Jesus the free gift of eternal life and so live it out today.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.

You can find the full text of the August Herald here

2016-09-04T16:18:34+00:00September 4th, 2016|

July 2016 Rector’s Letter

July 2016

“It’s just died – what am I going to do?”   Diane woke to find her smart phone had a blank screen.  It had ‘frozen’ the day before, but seemed to be working again, but in the morning it seemed lifeless.  Diane tried plugging in the phone – it has once or twice suffered from a (very) low battery.  This time, there was no resurrection, no sign of life.  We discovered that our Barclay Bank cover was active even though we’d not updated the change of phone; for £50, the phone would be repaired or replaced.  Diane moved as as swiftly as Post Office opening times allowed, and the phone, duly wrapped, was sent by registered post to the phone hospital.  Each day Diane’s phone was away, she missed it more and more.  Ringing her friend Pauline to go for a walk, texting her daughter, smiling at the photograph of her distant grandson, being available for her nearby grandson and daughter in law – all of it came grinding to a halt.

In desperation, she seized my phone and sent a most confusing set of texts: “I have no phone, its being repaired” “I’ve take over Dad’s old phone” Me: “It’s not my ‘old’ phone – and at least it works! And its temporary. And its still MINE!” Diane “We’re sharing it”  Woven in and out of these texts, one son understood Diane now owned my phone and enquired whether she was taking my number or keeping her own, one got confused with a landline phone which we had offered and had gone to Emma, so now thought Diane’s phone had gone to Emma, while another conversation observed that it wasn’t Euan this time (he’d managed to kill two phones previously including accidentally poring squash over Diane’s phone)  As the days wore on, Diane really missed the instant accessibility of her phone.

The irony of this is that a short while ago, she was notorious for not having her phone switched on.  When you tried to contact her, you just got the voicemail.  E-mails were accessed months after they had been sent.  Diane would ring for a lift, leave a message on your voicemail and then switch the phone off immediately, so when you rang back, you only got her voicemail.  When I made this observation, the children all agreed it was a regular event; Diane countered by observing when she discussed this with her teacher colleagues, they all agreed that it was just sensible ‘to save your battery’ – apparently the younger teachers were laughing and shaking their heads!  When Diane wanted ‘not your old cast off, but my own NEW i-phone’ the deal was that she learnt to use it fully and it replaced the family landline (which is why there was a spare landline phone for Emma!)  Diane fully rose to the challenge, and slowly, the i-phone became a daily extension of her personality and communication. And now it was dead.  Its availability was now taken for granted, and now it was intensely missed.

A text was sent to my phone; Diane’s phone was fixed and returning.  The package was eagerly awaited, opened immediately on arrival, and the cherished phone activated and used.  “What a relief to get it back.” Diane smiled.  A sentiment I shared – What a relief to get my phone back!

Billy Graham’s daughter, Anne, was being interviewed on the Early Show by Jane Clayson, regarding the terrorist attack ‘911’ the attack by hijacked planes on 11th September 2001. She was asked, “How could God let something like this happen?” She said, “I believe that God is deeply saddened by this, just as we are. But, for years we’ve been telling God to get out of our schools, to get out of our government and to get out of our lives. And being the gentleman that He is, I believe that He has calmly backed out. How can we expect God to give us His blessing and His protection if we demand that He leave us alone?”  (See more at http://inspire21.com/stories/christianstories/tellinggodtogetout)

In the Bible’s Old Testament, the people of Israel in the time of ‘Judges’ get into a cycle: they get invaded by cruel surrounding nations and are oppressed, they cry out to God, he raises a leader and rescues them, they praise God, take him for granted, turn their backs on him, get invaded, cry out… Taking God for granted, turning our backs on Him, or even deciding He’s not there all belong together:

“The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  They are corrupt, doing abominable iniquity; there is none who does good. God looks down from heaven on the children of man to see if there are any who understand,  who seek after God. They have all fallen away; together they have become corrupt(The Bible, Psalm 53.1-3).

Praying that you may find in the constant love of God in Christ a joy and a challenge to refresh every day and renew every morning.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.

You can find the full text of the July Herald here

2016-09-04T16:11:03+00:00September 4th, 2016|

June 2016 Rector’s Letter

June 2016

“I would like to make jam.” Ben was eating jam on toast and as his looked up to speak, his face had a cheerful smear and a big grin. Ben was to lose Mummy, Grandma and Nanny for the weekend as they attended the Ladies’ Capernwray weekend – and Daddy had forgotten to ‘close’ the weekend, so was called to referee a football match in Stockport.  Nathanael was coming to stay for the weekend for the extra pair of hands.  On Saturday, he was taking James to an enthusiastic Mum-and-two-daughters baby admiring, sorry, sitting team, leaving Ben and me to spend Saturday together.  What were we going to do together?  We discussed the options over Ben’s pre-tea – when you’re 5 and call in at Grandma’s after school, you often need a little pick-me-up before proper tea which was jam and toast by preference today – and jam making was mentioned.  Ben registered his approval.  I countered, “Last time ‘we’ made jam, you spent the whole time in front of the TV; are you actually going to make it?”  “I would like to make jam.” Ben positively affirmed, and so the die was cast.

On the Saturday, Ben remained focussed and interested.  I’ve made jam with the grandchildren several times, and they know strict rules apply to prevent burning, summed up by “You must do what Granddad says or we just stop – everything is very hot, and I don’t want you getting burnt.”  Auntie Natalie had lent a jam bucket, so we weighed out the ingredients and doubled the normal quantity of raspberries (picked by Grandma) and jam sugar.  We watched the raspberries defrost as they warmed, stirred in the sugar, Ben later added the knob of butter and watched it dissolve so we could gently bring it to a rolling boil.  We had put our saucers in the freezer, and now tested the setting properties with a teaspoon dropped on the saucer – with the inevitable licking clean assistance by Ben – and before too long, we were ready to fill the jars, which were warming in the oven.

At every stage, Ben’s enthusiasm to play a full part led him to come perilously close to breaking Granddad’s rule, trying to run ahead.  Pouring the jam through the jam funnel into the hot jars is a particularly testing time.  I was keen to let Ben play a full part, but as he stood there on the stool, encased in my full sized apron, he dipped the ladle a little too fast and poured the jam over the work surface as well as into the jar.  Granddad had to stop several times to wipe clean jars and retrieve hot jam lava flows.  When the jars were filled and capped (creating a vacuum as they cool) Ben finished licking duties and retired to the TV, leaving Granddad to clear the sticky mess he had created by not following Granddad’s rules closely – but no burns.

We typed in Ben’s name, printed the labels, and Ben stuck them on the sixteen jars we had made, keen now to tell Mummy.  We stacked them up carefully, Ben took a picture and sent it via my phone to Mummy with the words “All my own work.  Love you Mummy.”  If you ask Ben, he made the jam: Granddad may get a walk-on part.  The jam is labelled ‘Ben’s raspberry jam’.  Ben worked out who was going to get the jars, mediated eventually by Granddad’s assertion of ultimate ownership, and carried off several jars – we’re down to six now.  Ben claimed full ownership until we thought about who grew and picked the raspberries, who provided the sugar, the heating, the guidance… for a brief moment, he realised the gift to him in his jam-making.

Rules to keep us safe from unperceived dangers, the consequences of rushing ahead and breaking the rules, the underlying love and protection in giving the rules, the joy of working together in partnership and seeing the finished work, even though it would have been easier and cleaner and quicker to do the task alone, leaving the mess to be cleared up, the quickly forgotten help in asserting ‘I did this’, and the realisation of ultimate ownership.  Are we talking about Ben and Granddad – or God and us?

“God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good.” (The Bible, Genesis 1.31).  The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.  And the Lord God commanded the man, saying “You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.” (Genesis 2.15-17)

Praying that you may find in Christ Jesus the right partnership with our loving Heavenly Father.

Your servant in the Lord Jesus Christ,

Simon Cox.

You can find the full text of the June Herald here

2016-09-04T16:07:53+00:00September 4th, 2016|

JACARANDA CAFE

Jacaranda Tree

JACARANDA CAFE

IN THE STABLE

10.30 to 1.30 Thursday @ All Hallows

Serving specialty tea and coffee with light refreshments

Proceeds to Testimony Faith Homes, Kenya.

All welcome

2016-09-04T15:59:55+00:00September 4th, 2016|