Monthly Archives: May 2014

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You don’t have to be perfect to be priceless

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the-card-players

This painting is called “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne. It is the most expensive painting ever sold at over US$259 million. People call it a great painting but most critics notice that the man on the left’s hat doesn’t fit on his head. It’s great but not perfect.

 

4-silk

 

This is the most expensive carpet ever sold. It is a Silk Isfahan Rug and in 2008 it sold for US$ 4,450,000. It has a mistake in it. It is a deliberate mistake (all ‘Persian’ rugs have a deliberate mistake as only Allah can be perfect) but that means it is flawed. It’s great but not perfect.

 

Finding absolute perfection is impossible – nothing is ever perfectly perfect. Just because something ins’t quite perfect does that mean it has no worth?

 

Of course not, the two examples above are some of millions I could have chosen from and, even though they are imperfect, these things are almost beyond price.

 

There is beauty, value and worth in everything and there is beauty, value and worth in everyone as well.  A few years ago (wow, over 15 years ago, now I think about it) I was asked to lead a funeral for a little old lady who had died in a nursing home. The funeral director told me that the only people attending the service would be me, him and a representative from the home and if I wanted to I didn’t have to do a full service and could cut it short, no one would know.

 

I’m a stubborn bugger at times and that dismissal of this lady’s life as not worthy of a full service irritated me immensely. Why should she not have the same send off as everyone else? As it turned out she got a little more than most. I got a the few details the nursing home had about her which included her email address her niece in Germany. I emailed her and told her about the service etc and asked if she knew of  anything I could use in an eulogy. She sent me a few facts and a couple of phone numbers. From there things kind of spiralled.

 

The funeral was set for 3pm on a Thursday and by the time it started there were nearly 200 people there, including representatives of both the German and French Ambassadors as well as representatives of the Queen and the British government. The lady’s name was Helga, she was from Stuttgart and she was twice decorated war hero. Before the Second World War she had been a test pilot for new Messerschmitts and one of the best pilots in German. During the war she had become a pilot ferrying high ranking German officials all over Europe. She crashed landed twice and was shot down once and was awarded an Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (you couldn’t get a higher award for bravery at the time) and we cannot doubt her bravery and self sacrifice. What very few people knew is that she also worked with the resistance in France and helped ferry countless people to safety by flying them mainly into Switzerland but once across the Channel at night in to England.

 

For nearly an hour and a half we had tributes in German and English and French, formal thanks from the French government were read, family members had sent letters as had family members of some of the people she had rescued. Music was played, prayers were offered and we all remembered that a little old lady called Helga had not always been a little old lady but a genuine war hero, an Aunt, a sister and a woman of beauty, value and worth. She was escorted out of the chapel by an honour guard of British soldiers and a lone bugler played The Last Post by her graveside.

 

Oh and by the way she only had three fingers on her left hand, her ring finger and little finger were fused together – she wasn’t perfect but she was priceless. I was honoured to be able to conduct her service.

 

Helga was just one woman, one person among the 7 billion people in our world. One priceless woman among 7 billion priceless people. Each one of those 7 billion has a story, each one has place and each one has value and worth.

 

We may not agree with some of them, we may not like others of them, we will never meet most of them and none of them is perfect but in the eyes of God you, me and each and everyone of them is loved and is absolutely priceless.

 

Thank you Helga for teaching me this.

 


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You don’t have to be perfect to be priceless

 

This painting is called “The Card Players” by Paul Cézanne. It is the most expensive painting ever sold at over US$259 million. People call it a great painting but most critics notice that the man on the left’s hat doesn’t fit on his head. It’s great but not perfect.

 

This is the most expensive carpet ever sold. It is a Silk Isfahan Rug and in 2008 it sold for US$ 4,450,000. It has a mistake in it. It is a deliberate mistake (all ‘Persian’ rugs have a deliberate mistake as only Allah can be perfect) but that means it is flawed. It’s great but not perfect.

 

Finding absolute perfection is impossible – nothing is ever perfectly perfect. Just because something ins’t quite perfect does that mean it has no worth?

 

Of course not, the two examples above are some of millions I could have chosen from and, even though they are imperfect, these things are almost beyond price.

 

There is beauty, value and worth in everything and there is beauty, value and worth in everyone as well.  A few years ago (wow, over 15 years ago, now I think about it) I was asked to lead a funeral for a little old lady who had died in a nursing home. The funeral director told me that the only people attending the service would be me, him and a representative from the home and if I wanted to I didn’t have to do a full service and could cut it short, no one would know.

 

I’m a stubborn bugger at times and that dismissal of this lady’s life as not worthy of a full service irritated me immensely. Why should she not have the same send off as everyone else? As it turned out she got a little more than most. I got a the few details the nursing home had about her which included her email address her niece in Germany. I emailed her and told her about the service etc and asked if she knew of  anything I could use in an eulogy. She sent me a few facts and a couple of phone numbers. From there things kind of spiralled.

 

The funeral was set for 3pm on a Thursday and by the time it started there were nearly 200 people there, including representatives of both the German and French Ambassadors as well as representatives of the Queen and the British government. The lady’s name was Helga, she was from Stuttgart and she was twice decorated war hero. Before the Second World War she had been a test pilot for new Messerschmitts and one of the best pilots in German. During the war she had become a pilot ferrying high ranking German officials all over Europe. She crashed landed twice and was shot down once and was awarded an Iron Cross with Oak Leaves (you couldn’t get a higher award for bravery at the time) and we cannot doubt her bravery and self sacrifice. What very few people knew is that she also worked with the resistance in France and helped ferry countless people to safety by flying them mainly into Switzerland but once across the Channel at night in to England.

 

For nearly an hour and a half we had tributes in German and English and French, formal thanks from the French government were read, family members had sent letters as had family members of some of the people she had rescued. Music was played, prayers were offered and we all remembered that a little old lady called Helga had not always been a little old lady but a genuine war hero, an Aunt, a sister and a woman of beauty, value and worth. She was escorted out of the chapel by an honour guard of British soldiers and a lone bugler played The Last Post by her graveside.

 

Oh and by the way she only had three fingers on her left hand, her ring finger and little finger were fused together – she wasn’t perfect but she was priceless. I was honoured to be able to conduct her service.

 

Helga was just one woman, one person among the 7 billion people in our world. One priceless woman among 7 billion priceless people. Each one of those 7 billion has a story, each one has place and each one has value and worth.

 

We may not agree with some of them, we may not like others of them, we will never meet most of them and none of them is perfect but in the eyes of God you, me and each and everyone of them is loved and is absolutely priceless.

 

Thank you Helga for teaching me this.

 


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Intolerance will not be tolerated

 

Intolerance will not be tolerated

 

 

 

We have a sign that you cannot miss as you walk into the pulpit to preach, it’s by a chap called David Hayward (http://nakedpastor.com/) and it reads –

 

all-means-all-550x550

 

“All means all.”

 

If you cannot agree with that ideal then we don’t think you should preach in our church. If you wish to pick and choose to whom you preach or if you wish to limit the scope and the Grace of the Gospel to those who YOU think should hear it then we don’t want to hear what you have to say, we probably wouldn’t agree with you anyway. We try not to be intolerant, we honestly try but we are intolerant of the intolerant.

 

You see, intolerance is not very present in the New Testament (expect for intolerance for the religious bigots of the day, and there were quite a few of them). All those who seem excluded at the outset of the story are the very ones who are welcomed in by the end. Jews and non-Jews join together to form the Church; Women and men become leaders and workers in the Church. Did I mention the orphans, widows, lepers, sinners, publicans, tax collectors and various other ‘undesirables’ who are welcomed? The ones who we (the Church of today in one form or another) usually exclude are the very ones who are sought out by Jesus and then by the Apostles and welcomed in, not in a ‘token gesture, look we welcome lepers” sort of way but right into the very heart of the church, into leadership positions and other important roles.

 

As an example of this look at the first gentile (non Jewish) convert to the early Church – a nameless man usually called by the flattering title of – the Ethiopian Eunuch (see Acts chapter 8). Everything seemed to be against his admittance to the Church and yet he is the one to whom the Holy Spirit sends one of the Apostles, a man called Phillip. Nadia Bolz-Weber (in her brilliant book “Pastrix”) puts it far better than I could: “The first gentile convert to Christianity is a foreigner, who is also a person of color and a sexual minority? If only the guy were also “differently abled” and gluten intolerant.”

 

In every way this man should be excluded and yet he is the first non-jewish person welcomed into the church. What does that tell us about how things should be within the church? – it screams out to me that intolerance should not be tolerated, that everyone is welcome and we shouldn’t try and choose who is and isn’t welcome, that’s God’s role. All we can do is open the doors and welcome in all who comes – whoever they maybe.

 

 


  • 0

Intolerance will not be tolerated

 

Intolerance will not be tolerated

 

 

 

We have a sign that you cannot miss as you walk into the pulpit to preach, it’s by a chap called David Hayward (http://nakedpastor.com/) and it reads –

 

“All means all.”

 

If you cannot agree with that ideal then we don’t think you should preach in our church. If you wish to pick and choose to whom you preach or if you wish to limit the scope and the Grace of the Gospel to those who YOU think should hear it then we don’t want to hear what you have to say, we probably wouldn’t agree with you anyway. We try not to be intolerant, we honestly try but we are intolerant of the intolerant.

 

You see, intolerance is not very present in the New Testament (expect for intolerance for the religious bigots of the day, and there were quite a few of them). All those who seem excluded at the outset of the story are the very ones who are welcomed in by the end. Jews and non-Jews join together to form the Church; Women and men become leaders and workers in the Church. Did I mention the orphans, widows, lepers, sinners, publicans, tax collectors and various other ‘undesirables’ who are welcomed? The ones who we (the Church of today in one form or another) usually exclude are the very ones who are sought out by Jesus and then by the Apostles and welcomed in, not in a ‘token gesture, look we welcome lepers” sort of way but right into the very heart of the church, into leadership positions and other important roles.

 

As an example of this look at the first gentile (non Jewish) convert to the early Church – a nameless man usually called by the flattering title of – the Ethiopian Eunuch (see Acts chapter 8). Everything seemed to be against his admittance to the Church and yet he is the one to whom the Holy Spirit sends one of the Apostles, a man called Phillip. Nadia Bolz-Weber (in her brilliant book “Pastrix”) puts it far better than I could: “The first gentile convert to Christianity is a foreigner, who is also a person of color and a sexual minority? If only the guy were also “differently abled” and gluten intolerant.”

 

In every way this man should be excluded and yet he is the first non-jewish person welcomed into the church. What does that tell us about how things should be within the church? – it screams out to me that intolerance should not be tolerated, that everyone is welcome and we shouldn’t try and choose who is and isn’t welcome, that’s God’s role. All we can do is open the doors and welcome in all who comes – whoever they maybe.

 


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3:00 pm 2019 St. David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
2019 St. David’s Day Gymanfa Ganu
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A wonderful afternoon of traditional hymns and music held at St. Michael’s U.C. on the corner of Collins and Russell Streets. Features the Blue Ribbon winner from the 2018 National Eisteddfod of Wales, Andrew P.