Tuesday, 31 May 2016

The Orb and the Cross

June 2016

During the Coronation on 2nd June 1953, and before Her Majesty was presented with anything else, she was given a Bible with these words, “We present you with this Book, the most valuable thing that this world affords.”  Knowing that the other items that were then presented form part of the Crown Jewels and are kept behind two-inch-thick bullet-proof glass, that was quite a statement.

For the Sunday before the Coronation, churches throughout England had been issued, at the Queen’s command, with prayers to use including this: “O God, who hast set forth in thy Holy Scriptures the only Rule by which Christians may live and Princes reign: Grant that our Queen Elizabeth, being devoutly mindful of thy Law and Gospel, may ever find therein revealed true wisdom, the royal Law, and the lively Oracles of God.”

Later this month we will vote to either remain in the EU or to leave but whether you look to Brussels or Westminster you won’t find many political leaders today who believe that true wisdom for ruling is found in the Bible.  Our rulers have cut themselves loose from that historical mooring and are adrift on the sea of secular humanism.  If you are concerned about that then remember that the Bible does not encourage cynicism but tells us instead to pray “for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.” (1 Timothy 2:2)   Alternatively, if you are expecting that this country will be saved by our politicians, either by the guardians of a European state or by the pioneers of a newly-independent Britain, then I believe you are going to be disappointed.  Neither set of leaders wants to recognise where true power lies, nor do they know where to look for deliverance.

Our Queen knows, for in Westminster Abbey in 1953 she was handed a beautiful gold sphere six inches in diameter with a jewelled cross mounted on the top.   The Archbishop presented it with these words, “Receive this Orb set under the Cross, and remember that the whole world is subject to the Power and Empire of Christ our Redeemer.”

The Queen does remember; her words and actions make that clear.  Will you pray with me that our political leaders, wherever they are based, will remember too?


Graham Burrows

Tuesday, 3 May 2016

Plot Twist

May 2016

Do you enjoy a story with a plot twist, a tale where the solidly reliable character suddenly (and shockingly) turns out to be working for the enemy, or so it seems, until eventually you discover that they've been set up by the other solid reliable character?  It can be deeply unsettling to enter into a world like this where nothing is certain and no-one can be trusted but such a story will probably keep our interest right to the last chapter or scene.

Jesus also tells stories with plot twists.  There is a man who knows how to run a profitable business and who has future-proofed his enterprise by covering every angle, or has he?  In another of his stories there is the young waster who is on his way to well-deserved ruin while his diligent brother is on course for taking over the family farm.  What could possibly go wrong? 

But Jesus does not tell this kind of story just to give the thrill of riding a scary roller-coaster through a contorted plot.  He wants people to be shocked now by the way his stories end so that they won’t end up being shocked later by the way that their own life-story ends.  And for those who are full of despair as they look at the trajectory of their own life-story Jesus wants them to see that they are not beyond the reach of the most surprising ending ever.

I’d like to invite you to come and join with a few others for an informal any-question-goes look at some of Jesus’ plot twisters.  ‘Tales of the Unexpected’ will meet on four Wednesday evenings (4th and 18th May, 1st and 15th June) at the Vicarage in Burton.  There is no charge.  You don’t need to bring anything.  I will not make any assumptions about what you know or believe.  There will be time to ask questions if you want to.  And if you've already missed the first evening you can join us for the second.

You may think you’re an unlikely candidate for such a group but why not introduce into your life a plot twist of your own?  If you’re interested please get in touch with me.


Graham Burrows