Hello everyone! It is a glorious sunny day today, even with some spring warmth in the air. It has been lovely to get out into the garden yesterday and Thursday to chop down some of the dead wood. I feel very virtuous and also enthused as it already looks a lot neater now; the garden bin is full and ready to empty tomorrow morning.
This morning I was pleased to be able to take my friend to church, as she felt well enough to come. May seemed in good form and we both found Ken Dransfield this morning’s preacher very interesting and inspired. He had come with Daniel Sudron, a young man in our chapel, who took a lead in worship with Ken. Ken was welcomed to the pulpit but I would have liked Daniel to have been welcomed as well, as it is a miracle that he is back with us completely well and back to his old self. We all had a shock when we heard that Daniel had been found unconscious at the bottom of the swimming pool and fortunately brought quickly to the surface. Daniel was a strong swimmer, who used to swim regularly 100 lengths of the swimming pool, and at the age of 26 was in the prime of health. Life guards acted quickly to get help and he was soon in hospital on life support, although he had briefly regained consciousness when he had been brought out of the pool. He was gravely ill and soon developed pneumonia, but he has made a full recovery, for which we thank God. He seemed to have a greater peace when he was leading worship this morning, as his life hung in balance for a few days, and then it was a slow period of recovery, as he rebuilt his strength. He and his parents felt particularly upheld by our prayers.
Ken is excellent when he talks to the children, as he is a retired headmaster and they all feel at ease with him. He asked for the children to come up into the pulpit to help him and most of them joined him there. He told them to close their eyes and imagine that there were trees in the congregation not people, but they found that hard to do. We were asked to move into the aisle and be trees through which the children could follow Daniel to a suitable spot to build a house. The children themselves put their hands together as though they were building a house. He then suggested that they had now settled into their homes and had got chickens, who scratched in the dust to find food, keeping a wary eye out for any predators. They ran to ground to hide when they spotted a couple of eagles, who were in fact building a nest. Within weeks the eggs had hatched and the eaglets began to grow and thrive. One day one of the young eaglets ventured out of the nest and fell as he did not know how to fly and landed with the chickens. Seeing an eaglet with the chickens caused quite a stir amongst the villagers, so they bought him extra food, so he thrived and was quite happy being a chicken! However the novelty wore off and soon the eaglet had to forage for his food just like the chickens and he was hungry. One day one of the other eaglets came flying back to his nest and spotted his brother scratching an existence with the chickens, and asked him what he was doing down there. With his encouragement the eaglet began to flap his wings and slowly speeded up until he too was flying. He had not realised he was an eagle and that he could fly. Ken encouraged the children not to remain as chickens but to find themselves. I am not sure whether they understood his message, but they loved taking part in the action. Perhaps he could have said that when we come to know and learn about Jesus, we are no longer like chickens scrabbling a living in the dust, but that with Jesus, as our friend and helper, we can learn to ‘fly’ and really live life to the full.
His sermon was on the subject of ‘Faith’ and he had been looking at books available at our church to help him explore that subject, but he was struck by the book, ‘The God Delusion’ by Richard Dawkins being there. Of course the premise of the book is apparently that God does not exist and even Jesus probably did not exist. Ken felt as I do that not to believe in the existence of God, and to believe that all the variety of creation just started with one cell after the big bang, requires a greater faith! I am amazed that such wonder, beauty and variety, and love could have just come about by chance. However I do see God as the origin of life and creation, but I accept the theory of evolution as well, as there is also evidence of the survival of the fittest, which means that some species, which do not thrive die out, allowing other species to succeed. I also realise that I cannot prove why I believe; I just know that when I took the leap of faith to take Jesus into my life, I know that he did. Now I want to live my life with Jesus, as his love has accepted and forgiven me; my beloved has shown me that accepting love and helped me to understand how much God really does love me.
We cannot make someone else have faith or come to faith, but we can pray for them that their eyes may be opened and that they might meet with Jesus. When I became a Christian it was suddenly as though the veil had been removed from my eyes and I understood; I realised what I had been singing when singing Christmas carols in a way I had not understood before. I would love everyone to realise how much God loves us because of who we are, and feel that unconditional acceptance and forgiveness he gives us, as then they would just not be able to help responding and learning to love and serve God. This is the day that the Lord has made and I rejoice and am glad in it.