This is the script for this morning’s Pause for Thought on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme:
Yesterday I went to a church near Huddersfield to dedicate a new font. Not, I hasten to add, a fancy new printing typeface, but the place where Christians are baptised in water into the life of the church.
The point about a font – in this case a stone bowl resting on wood and glass – is that it has to contain water. This one had only had a dry run, and when we put water into it, it dripped straight through the bottom onto the floor. The plug didn’t fit, apparently.
But, it did offer a vivid image of the people who will be baptised in it. If the font leaks, then so do we. Something we can’t hide from this week – Holy Week – as Christians walk with Jesus and his…
And there was darkness over the face of the deep… And there was darkness over the whole land until the ninth hour..
Light is sometimes seen by planners as an incidental and in our world we manage darkness. Not a huge amount of thought or care is given to those who work in artificial light all day.I think you’ll know the low ceiling offices with no natural light or the clinic rooms in the centre of a building where staff have burrowed . Modern architects have begun to see the wellbeing benefits of natural light , but old buildings abound and the worker consumes the electricity whether day or night. Remember the tube drivers, miners,divers,submarine sailors…. I am a natural daylight lover. I like to see the sun. I like daylight. Artificial light is not a preferred option. Overhead sun is a good medicine with sensitive protection. We are creatures drawn to light.
Overhead sun.. Can't quite photograph with no shadow
So today Europe shall be reminded of what losing the sun in daytime is like and we are prodded into thankfulness for our amazing universe.We can remember our striving for shining light on our lives.We can be thankful for the light of the world.Then as sun is resurrected out of shadow we can echo
Eight weeks in Uganda definitely showed the kindness, gentleness and hospitality of strangers. The reliability of the acquaintances and the sacrificial nature of those called family in faith.
Home now and the graciousness of those who stayed here is very apparent. The greetings of family, friends and colleagues are very special and very warming. To be loved is so very special and heightened, at times of return, to levels that are theoretically known but too often cringed away from.What is it with so much of our culture that encourages shrivelled displays of emotions ? A false modesty that hides the free expression of love,joy,hope, faith and even,happiness. A type of pride dressed up as carefully managed humility but leaking drops of falsehood and pretence saying that we are above the need for such deep comfort. Is this the politeness we crave? Why does the loud boast slide away to to be managed? Who is responsible for envy? and who for the vanity of the blogger? Are some legitimate joys and gifts kicked into that muddled puddle of false humility ?
But I need to share the period of grace of a returnee. There is so much blesssing with gestures of kindness, cooking, household stuff and meal sharing. I am blessed by indulgent listeners and kindness of colleagues, gifts and flowers, cards and patience. I want to share these generous times. There are so many acts of confident kindness. It is a sadness that English labels this as ‘spoiling’. Humankind has been given a gift of community and programmed to love our neighbour as ourselves. We so often see the severely fractured behaviours of humans reported,even applauded or dangled at us for sick amusement.
So I shall tell the story of having treats and having things done for me, for being allowed gently back to the full flow of work. I tell it as a joyful time of re entry, a time of people being kind and generous, a time for those who obey Jesus’ words to love our neighbour as ourselves and I’m happy to be that neighbour whether in Uganda or UK.We can all show fractured behaviour, not one of us without wrongdoing, but it is very very special to open our eyes, mind and heart and to see that love of Jesus mirrored by so many of.his forgiven followers around and about.There is so much more story to tell about that and so much more to this greater period of grace. We have freedom to open our eyes hearts and minds to the forgiveness and love of Jesus. Truly a period of grace to enjoy.
I am home now and shall be blogging a few thoughts in the next day or two .
In the meantime , would you consider a donation to help the centre in Uganda house its students in a more comfortable dormitory . Read the need here . Thank you . Any amount will be gratefully appreciated . https://www.youcaring.com/tuition-fundraiser/new-dormitory-for-school-children-/322669
1. Food. Enough versus Too much. 2. Eating. At mealtimes v Snack snacking 3.Food. Fresh v Factory 4.Eating. Never on the move v Eat as you can 5.Size. Trim v (quick survey of 30) 35% Fat 6.Ethnic diversity. Limited v Everyone 7.Books. Expensive v very affordable 8.Water for washing. Pouring cool v Piped hot or cold. 9.Temperture 34 degrees v 1 degree 10.Dust. DUST v Dysoned.( excluding my shoes) 10.Service. Very welcoming v Friendly
The walk home in the heat and dust has become routine .All sorts of once strange things are familiar .The herd of cattle with their enormous horns tended by the young guys.The jack fruit stall ,the rubbish, goats hens and piglets .
Wait,the tiny piglets are now independent and the goat has now kids.The toddler is coming fowards down the stairs and the papya are ripe .The optimism of the dusty trees has been rewarded by rain .The leaves are greener and the blossoms are out. But most poignant of all is the departure of the swallows three days ago.On their way, heading over the huge desert to Europe .The flowers are blooming there too and it’s time to follow and greet the spring. Thank you,all my new friends and acquaintances and your beautiful country Time has gone and the refrain for the small children’s “see you” is silenced today out of a sad respect for departure ./em>
Uganda has a great deal to offer the world and my wish is that the world would listen to the Ugandan melodies. Melodies of culture, courtesy,medicine, courage.Generosity, patience (but not fast enough) hope,love and faith. And the rarer irritants that go deep deep deep, metamorphose to training tools and transform.
The church of England offers training for lay ministry and time for reflection outside the usual.Uganda is a few thousand miles outside the usual but I owe huge thanks to my mentors of vision whose gaze reaches beyond a diocese in order to help the diocese. A reader in the church doesn’t just read and the Christian gospel is not geographically bound.
The church I am attached to knows how to praise, it knows how to suffer and it knows how to fight with the gentleness of Christ. It is hard to know each tiny drop that makes the flood, but each plays it’s part. It is humbling and empowering
to visit the papyrus reed churches,the church meeting under a tree and the new churches starting.
And the opportunity is great to meet and talk with all the variety of humankind that is offered. From being given the pulpit on International Women’s Day, to the counselling of children,from the pulpit on Ugandan TV to helping the sick children and their parents privilege is too small a word.
So sharing belief is a great unifier of values and desires, direction and understanding. Ugandan fellow followers of Christ teaching me and shining as bright stars with his love in this world.