Wednesday, 30 May 2018

One Way

June 2018

A few of my words from  the funeral of my mother-in-law, Daphne Murnane, who died on 29th April having lived for the last 4½ years in Holme and then Burton.

“What happens when I die?”  Google street-view can tell you what it would be like to walk down a street on the other side of the world but who can tell you what it will be like to travel the very short distance from life to death?

Try answering this question first:  “What happened when Jesus died?”  On that night, after a last meal with his disciples, Jesus told them not to be troubled; he was going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for them.  Do we imagine Jesus like a ghostly hotel-keeper cleaning the rooms and making the beds in his heavenly Father’s house?  That’s not what Jesus means.  He does not get a place ready by what he does after death but by the way that he dies.

God’s Son will die in the place of others, taking on himself the punishment that they deserve for their hard-hearted stubbornness towards him and his Father and all the foolishness and wickedness that flows from that.  Going first to the cross, he will open the way to his Father for others.  Jesus doesn’t show them the way or tell them about the way.  The way to the Father is not a map or a set of directions, but a person.  Jesus says, “I am the way … no-one comes to the Father except through me.”

To move the Space Shuttle between different NASA sites they strapped it to the top of a 747.  If you want to go to the place where Jesus has gone then you need to be strapped to him: depending on his cross for your rescue, living with him as your boss. 

On the morning of Daphne’s operation she was reading Psalm 31 where David cries out, “Into your hands I commit my spirit; redeem me, O LORD.”  Years later Jesus spoke those same words from the cross.  And they were in Daphne’s mind in the last week of her life because without arrogance she could say with confidence, “Where Jesus has gone, I – by his grace and kindness – will surely follow.”


Graham Burrows

Tuesday, 1 May 2018

The deep song of the universe

May 2018

In the last few weeks I’ve heard some great live singing: from a huge youth choir singing 8 parts a cappella, to the power of Les Misérables, to the singing of choir and congregation at our own Good Friday service.  Why is it that singing can be so enjoyable and powerful?

Singing is a glorification of speech, like the icing on the cake or the elegant clothes of the bride and groom.  We can just say words, or we can lift our voices and sing!

Singing speaks to us of the awe-inspiring creative power of the God who made the universe.  We enjoy good singing because our minds are built to appreciate his mind. 

Singing is an expression of our solidarity with others.  It’s no accident that the word ‘harmony’ describes a close relationship with other people and a pleasing relationship between notes.  It can’t be a good sign that, despite all the renewed interest in choirs, we generally don’t sing together in our culture.  It was recently suggested that song sheets could be handed out at Manchester United matches because today’s fans don’t sing!

Singing is also given to us so that we can speak to God.  As the Christian faith took root in our nation we began to build glorious church buildings and to fill them with wonderful music in praise of God.  Christians have always been known for their singing.  Do people from other religions sing?  Do atheists sing together?  (Genuine questions – do let me know the answer!)  Are you getting good at singing?  Are you learning to praise God with your voice? 

The Bible tells us that the destiny of the human race is to be a people who sing.  A vast crowd, people from every nation, supplemented by a great myriad of heaven’s creatures, all singing together the deep song of the universe, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honour and glory and power, for ever and ever!" (Revelation 5:13).  You do want to be part of that, don’t you?


Graham Burrows