Posts Tagged ‘witness’

Building A Nation

Posted: 30 January 2017 in Haiti
Tags: , ,

hcbh-radiologyEveryone likes a party.  And Hospital Convention Baptist d’Haiti (HCBH) has just had one, 10 years old.  Sure – not as old as Barts in London (founded 1123).  But a milestone for the crippled who can now walk, or the mothers laughing at the crib, instead of crying at the grave.  I work to help the Hospital management, and I wish them well at this special  time.

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How do we express God’s special expedition that is Christmas for a new babe (not a relative)generation? Something that captures the less-is-more to the point of complete self offering.  In a way that makes sense to the 21st century. Often we trot out the familiar words that are closer to James Stewart (“It’s a Wonderful Life”) or Charles Dickens (“A Christmas carol”), than the original vision.

This poem (below), used in Benjamin Britten’s “A Ceremony of Carols”, expresses the bizarre ironies of God-coming-in-might as a baby, in terms of a renaissance army with all it’s force. The poet made the contrasts so vivid, striking. Read on:

Poem: New Heaven, New War

This little babe, so few days old,
Is come to rifle Satan’s fold;
All hell doth at his presence quake.
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jackolantern_1513762c

At the front door, we cried out “trick-or-treat”, then uttered ghoul like shrieks and wails.  Our hosts for this party we were attending opened the door, and then were confused.  They saw I and my wife doing this “ironically”.  But also were confronted by a gaggle of kids doing this for real, who had opportunistically come up behind us.

“Ironic” yes.  But “for real”?  Well perhaps not.  No one does Halloween for real.  Do they.  It’s (more…)

Ranulph Fiennes Launches Winter Antarctic Crossing Expedition

Ranulph Fiennes in Antarctica

“Although I have this faith, it isn’t enough to fight crotch rot.” Really?  That’s what ace explorer, Sir Ranulph Fiennes, said at the recent Cheltenham Literary Festival.  Should we be disappointed?  Crotch Rot, and other manifestations of Ringworm are not hazards that I face at work, but it is in his line of business.  And he says that faith is a key factor in his success as an explorer, and explorers in general.  In extreme circumstances, such as when he fell into a crevasse, religion (more…)

Good Friday in Trafalgar Square. The crowds were there. The photographers were there, creeping about and blocking our views. “Ooooooooooh, it’s a miracle – I want that picture!” “Aaaaaargh, a man being nailed alive to a piece of timber – better still. Better pic. More colour!” No worries – Mary of Nazareth won’t be giving evidence at the Levenson Enquiry.

The camera men, the crowds, all added to a sense of … reality. I was struck how vivid the whole Holy Week story is. It has real drama. It tells not only a divine story but also a very human one too. Atheists, agnostics and believers can all get something from it, if they so wish.

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Something for free? Two Saturdays ago we were giving things away. In the morning, there was little interest. In the afternoon there was a clamour for more. The reason was not the time, nor the people, but in the gift.

Two Saturdays ago it was World Book Day (see http://www.worldbookday.com/). We were one of the 20,000 participants, signing up for a book giveaway last autumn.  We had selected Mohsin Hamid’s “The Reluctant Fundamentalist” and had 48 copies to give away; to our neighbours, to the Bromley Ecumenical Singers where Bill is a first Bass, to church members, to colleagues at work. That Saturday there was a concert, and at the afternoon rehearsal I offered 20 copies to choir and orchestra members. I expected to have 10 copies left after an hour. But in less than 5 minutes – all were gone. Woosh. Perhaps it is explicable. Choir and orchestra members are usually serious readers, often retired and on lower incomes. So an offer to 60 people of 20 copies of a brand new copy of a modern but accessible novel could be expected to go, and go fast.

And the other gift? That very morning we went on our own knocking on doors in our parish. It is part of the church’s efforts at low key evangelism, just letting the community know what’s on offer at their doorstep, with a leaflet and a few words. Of the 84 dwellings we visited, we got no response from 67.  (more…)