Curry in a Hurry

Last Saturday (19 August) our house group organised a ‘Curry in a Hurry’ event, to raise funds in support of two charities working with the persecuted church and Syrian refugees – ‘Release International’ and ‘Operation Mobilisation’.

There were two sessions with a first sitting at 5.30pm and the second sitting at 6.30pm. All together 80+ people turned up for the meal, they had a choice of three different curries with ‘poppadums’ and ‘nan’ bread, all washed down with a fruit drink, followed by a chocolate ice cream. The food was excellent, very tasty, and well prepared and received, and there was even an offer of extras! Both organisations distributed literature and we were able to see some of the work first hand on the screen. Those who attended gave generously to the work and the evening raised £2300 for the heart-breaking plight of refugees and persecuted Christians caught up in the middle-east crisis.

 

A Small Glimpse at a Huge Problem

In Syria alone 11 million people have been displaced and 4.5 million have fled for safety to the surrounding countries – the task is huge! The world statistics are even more staggering and are at their highest level ever! According to UNHCR ‘an unprecedented 65.6 million people around the world have been forced from home. Among them are nearly 22.5 million refugees, over half of whom are under the age of 18.

There are also 10 million stateless people who have been denied a nationality and access to basic rights such as education, healthcare, employment and freedom of movement.’

 

Open Doors Watch says, ‘50 Millions of Christians around the world now live their lives against varying levels of discrimination, discovery, violence and arrest.’

 

Did we make a difference?

So what difference did our ‘Curry in a Hurry’ efforts make in the face of such overwhelming suffering? Humanly speaking it would seem not a lot, but as individuals, whilst it seems impossible to change the world, we can change the world for one person, one family or one community. And when you read the Release and OM literature you start to meet people just like you and me, whose lives have been ripped apart by these terrible events, and you weep and empathise with them in their distress, and realise yes we can, by the Grace of God, help some of the poor and suffering find peace and rest.

 

How can we continue to make a difference?

  • If you are a Christian PRAY – So many people testify to the fact that they felt truly helped to keep going on and cope in their dire situation, because others were praying
  • We can give what we can, for  ‘every little helps’ – remember the story of the widow’s mite? Perhaps you could try a fund raising event?
  • If we have the proper credentials, training, skills, and stamina, we could become personally involved
  • We can write to our political leaders

 

All this against a background of ‘superpowers’ still vying for world supremacy, whilst supplying munitions and weapons in a seemingly never ending arms race. And in the USA and Europe we see the rise of the ugly face of right wing fanaticism, which so many young men and women gave their lives to defeat in the last world war. I’m reminded of a hymn we sing in Church:

 

Great is the darkness that covers the earth

Oppression injustice and pain

Nations are slipping in hopeless despair

Though many have come in Your name

Watching while sanity dies

Touched by the madness and lies

Come Lord Jesus

 

May now your church rise, this glorious gospel proclaim

In every nation salvation will come

To those who believe on your name,

help us bring light to the world

That we might speed your return

Come Lord Jesus

I’m sure RELEASE or OM would be delighted to hear from you!

Garden Update – end of July ’17

The garden and greenhouse always bring me pleasure and helps keep my old bones moving! Of course there is the constant need to keep vigilant against the threat of slugs and greenfly, and the fast growing weeds!

The sweet peas, which I grew in the greenhouse over the winter have been outstanding this year, with a proliferation of multicoloured and beautifully scented flowers. They are well past their best now, but other plants are now taking their place, coleus, begonia, geraniums, cornflower, night scented stock and hydrangea cuttings from last year, which are flowering well.

The tomatoes have been not too bad and we have been harvesting some now for the past few weeks, and we have had enough to share with others. They should keep us going until the end of summer, all being well. Strawberries grown in a bag in the greenhouse have done fairly well and the apple tree looks as if it will provide enough for Muriel to make her apple and bramble jelly in September, and also to stew and store in the freezer.

The heather is looking good and we look forward to it flowering in a few weeks time.

The last few days have been wet and blustery so everything looks a bit ‘droochit’ this morning but here are a few pics taken  between the rain showers!

 

It seemed a crazy idea, but it turned out to be a fantastic morning!

Last week we spent a few days through in Pittenweem, a fishing village in the ‘Royal Kingdom of Fife’ in Scotland.

It’s very near to mid-summer here in Scotland, and I took the notion to rise early to watch the sunrise. The idea may have been sparked by the fact that some of my friends were on a mission to Tanzania, and were planning a few days holiday on the east coast of Africa, prior to returning home. When we lived in Africa and spent holidays at the east coast I often rose around 6am to watch the sunrise over the Indian Ocean, which was always spectacular, but that, was many moons ago!

 

I suggested to my wife that we could go to St Andrews together to watch the sunrise, but when she heard that sunrise was at 4.47am, she quickly gave me a look that said ‘are you kidding’? That may have finished the matter, but before going to bed I checked the weather forecast and it was saying the following day was going to be ‘blue skies from morning to night’ which is not a regular feature of the weather here. Still I went to bed with no firm intention, but my mind had obviously set an alarm in my head, as I woke at 3am feeling fresh and ready to go! So I ‘quietly’ (still managed to wake the wife!) slipped out of bed, got dressed and took the 30 minute drive over the hill to St Andrews.

 

I arrived 5 minutes before sunrise, discovered the streets of this busy town deserted and drove to the beach just in time. It was a beautiful morning, the sea was as calm as a millpond, and as the sun arose all the seagulls and other birds burst into a chorus. I had forgotten how beautiful a spectacle this was, the sight and sound of the sea, the smell of the seaweed and the call of the birds and the rising sun reflecting on the water, all combined to touch my heart and soul, and I found myself involuntarily raising a prayer of thanksgiving to the awesome God of creation. I remembered the opening verses of John’s Gospel which speak about Jesus and say, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.’

 

It was one of these special moments that many people experience on life’s journey!

 

As a bonus I found it funny to drive around St Andrews, park in all the tourist spots to take pictures, with no other cars around, and no one to bother me, which must be a ‘first’ for St Andrews. Mind you I did see a few other souls here and there enjoying the glorious experience.

 

As I reflected on the morning I thought, why don’t I do this more often, but I haven’t shared that with Muriel yet 🙂 Later on I thought on a Psalm that speaks of the sunrise and on a sermon I preached on it some years ago – Psalm 19 – take a look!

Sunrise St Andrews

A NATION IN SOMBRE MOOD

It’s difficult to escape a very sombre national mood’, Queen Elizabeth II said yesterday, during her birthday celebration. In that statement she verbalised the feelings of so many as they consider recent national events.

In the past I have found that in the busyness of life it is too easy for us to watch a disaster being reported in a news bulletin, shake our head in anger or disbelief, and then soon the news moves on, and we too move on with our planned schedule. ‘Life must go on’, we say. This week I ‘pulled’ a muscle in my back, so all my plans were put ‘on hold’. This meant I had more time to watch, and listen to the recent tragedies that have unfolded in the UK, and then reflect on them and the uncertainties of life.

Twenty two victims, so many of them young people, killed in the attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, and another eight at the London Westminster Bridge attack, with large numbers injured in both tragedies. Then with countless others I watched with horror and disbelief the speed with which fire devoured the Grenfell Tower in London, and felt in my heart the pain, as so many stories were told of those who escaped and those who were lost. For all who survived, their lives will be changed forever, not to mention grieving families, colleagues and friends. Our thoughts and prayers are for them.

You certainly don’t know what tomorrow holds! I thought of people looking forward to a night out at a music concert with friends, of others on holiday, celebrating, and sight-seeing on the streets of London, and other families going to bed as usual, no doubt thinking and planning for the morning and the future … then for all of them the unthinkable happens, for some in a moment, for others after an agonising wait, and they are gone from us!

I see one newspaper is calling for a day of mourning, which is maybe not a bad idea for the nation to stop and reflect and to come together in this time of grief. It’s a long-time since I remember such division and bitter recrimination within UK society. It seems the country is divided, and we all have someone to blame for the chaos and anxiety…. Government austerity, Government foreign policy, the EU, Immigration, The Brexit referendum, Scotland’s Indyref2, or whatever else annoys you.

Thinking on these things gives us a reality check. Have we got our priorities all wrong? Are we so taken up by our own self-interest? It was good to see communities coming together and a new neighbourliness making a comeback. I was reminded time and again of ‘The Good Samaritan’ story that Jesus told.

And of course these events remind us that none of us know when we too will be called to meet our Maker. The last few months have been sombre for us as a family, as we have laid to rest my brother, and shortly after that, his son who died suddenly, and tomorrow in Australia my nephew and family say farewell to the gentle and kind Les, one who was a loving wife, mother and friend, she will be sadly missed by many.

As a follower of Jesus Christ I am reminded of how often Jesus warns us not to spend all our time thinking about this life, but to make preparation for the next. He speaks about ‘laying up treasure in heaven’, and about a rich farmer who was planning early retirement to live off his wealth, only to hear God say ‘’You fool, this night your soul will be required of you, then who will these things belong to?’ Many of us have insurance policies to cover us against material loss and damage, but what cover do you have if you lose your soul? This is what Jesus is asking. He invites us to come to Him, for the forgiveness of our sin, and for new life through his saving work on the cross. Someone has put it like this. Salvation and Safety are found in three words spoken in a prayer: ‘SORRY’ for my sin; PLEASE cleanse and forgive me; THANK YOU Jesus for giving your life for me. I now give my life to you.

You see, the amazing Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; and whoever lives by believing in me will never die.’

 I love a hymn we sing often in Church, which says:

In Christ alone my hope is found, He is my light, my strength, my song

This Cornerstone, this solid ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm

What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease

My Comforter, my All in All, Here in the love of Christ I stand.

 

In Christ alone, who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe

This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save

‘Till on that cross as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied

For every sin on Him was laid, Here in the death of Christ I live.

 

 There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain

Then bursting forth in glorious Day, Up from the grave He rose again

And as He stands in victory, Sin’s curse has lost its grip on me

For I am His and He is mine, Bought with the precious blood of Christ.

 

No guilt in life, no fear in death, This is the power of Christ in me

From life’s first cry to final breath, Jesus commands my destiny

No power of hell, no scheme of man, Can ever pluck me from His hand

Till He returns or calls me home, Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand.

 

So whatever is happening in your life at this time, my prayer is that you may know God’s inner peace, and the assurance of Christ’s presence as you commit your life to Him.

 

Matthew

Photography and Video, Then and Now!

I’ve been interested in photography since I was a teenager back in the 50’s. My first camera was a 35mm Voigtlander Vito 2a. It was a very compact wee camera with an excellent lens, and with it I produced a countless number of Kodak 35mm slides (transparencies). Later for my 21st birthday I  was  given the Aldis 303 projector, which is still in working order today after all these years! These items brought the family endless pleasure.

Now I use the Nikon P520 digital camera with its amazing 48x wide optical zoom lens, having tired of carrying bags with heavy cameras and lenses during the 35mm era. If you click on my Flickr page opposite you will see some of the results.

I was also once the proud owner of a super 8 cine camera with telephoto lens, and a Sanyo super 8 projector, which I also still have.    I smile now when I think of the number of three minute films we would shoot when on holiday or in our travels, and the time spent splicing them together when they came back after processing. The results I have to confess were less than spectacular. Thankfully technology has moved on at a remarkable pace.

Now I use the Sony HDR-CX625 Handicam with its 60x zoom steady/shot lens, and it also has the facility to plug in a microphone, which is a big plus when filming people in my ‘Extraordinary Stories from Ordinary People’ series!

I was fascinated a year or so ago to hear people talking about ‘green screen technology’, so after reading up about it I invested in a basic kit of screens, lights and stands, all for less than £100. The first time I got this to work on my computer I confess I was smiling from ear to ear, as for me this was a huge ‘wow’ factor. I still love the fun of putting a background of my choice onto my films! (see Julie’s film below) I’m using iMovie to do this.

I frequently upload my films to You Tube, mostly travel films and also films recording peoples stories as they speak about their encounters with God.  Here is a  link, you may like to take a look :

A Taste of Iceland and the Faroes

Julie McAddock – Encounter with God

https://youtu.be/h9JbieOq

 

 

My Garden and Greenhouse 2

The problem at this time of year, is that the greenhouse is full but the weather is still a bit cold, especially at nights, for putting plants out! Anyway, last week I took the plunge and put out some flowers in a sheltered part of the border! Today I put six more trays in the cold frame as I see the weather is getting a little milder, with a minimum 10 degrees C forecast for tonight.

My Coleus seeds are coming along nicely (one of my favourite plants for tubs) and the tomatoes seem to be growing well. I still have my 40 watt heater on at nights, but I notice two of the plants have curled leaves! I never seem to be able to avoid this! I thought is was due to over watering so have been trying to be careful, but perhaps that’s not the problem. Any advice on how to stop this would be appreciated.

We’ve already collected a handful of strawberries from the bag in the greenhouse, and have enjoyed a couple of lettuce. Now that I’ve got some space I’ll try and get some peppers and cucumber planted.

I wish all my fellow amateur  gardeners a good growing season.

 

Poetry that moves the heart!

I have always admired those who have a gift for writing poetry, and particEwanularly enjoy reading what friends have written. This past week has been a time for reflection following the sudden death of our nephew Ewan, and two poems and one hymn have particularly touched me. The first poem was written by a friend of Ewan who came with her husband from N. Ireland to live in the North East corner of Scotland. Ewan was a quiet man, but this poem written for his fiftieth birthday gives insight into his love for God and his love for others.

To Ewan

We came across the Irish sea, And up the road we drove

To a little place beside the coast,  To our exciting new abode.

We thought they spoke our lingo, But we got an awful fright

The “mannies”, “wivies”, “quines”, What was it all about?

There were “coos” and “chuckies”, And lots of “kens”,

How confusing it all was “ The back of ….” – what did that mean?

We were nearly up the walls! We settled down as well we might,

But lonely times we had, No family, friends, the first few weeks

We felt a little sad.

Then one night the doorbell rang, And this little man appeared

We thought he wanted lodgings, 

But there was no bed and breakfast here.

We told him it was now a home, And nearly sent him away

Then suddenly we recognised him, From the church, across the bay.

He came in for a cup of tea, And what a chat we had

He offered us his friendship, For which we were so glad.

You now are such a good, old friend, 

And we owe you many thanks

For all the love and care you showed, All the help and sound advice.

And now that you’re hitting fifty, We wish you all the best

For many years of joy ahead

God bless you Ewan – You Are the Best!

Winnie and Stephen

Then there was this poem from my friend Terri Kneipp in Vermont USA, which resonated with me, and co-incided with a visit of our lively great-grand children. It speaks about the beauty of life, yesterday, today and tomorrow.

Life is Beautiful

Yesterday…the smell of beignets was wafting through the air

A jazz band was playing in the courtyard Continue reading “Poetry that moves the heart!”