the parable of the creativity

Today I have been creative. Well, I think I have been creative. I have put together combinations of letters to form words that I believe make some sort of sense when I put them together. I have put images with words to illustrate them.

I have sent some of the creativity to other people for them to use, adapt, change or delete. And some of it has been prepared for later consumption and I hope that they will be helpful there too.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERABut after launching this creativity out into the world I am no longer able to control it. I have to wave goodbye and watch it leave home. I can’t control how it is received. I can’t demand that people look at it or read it a particular way. I can’t make people like it. I run the risk of being misunderstood, misrepresented and having my creativity misappropriated.

Perhaps the best way would be if I could somehow be present when people read the words and see the images and then I could explain to them what I meant and help them to understand. But that’s not possible. Is it?

Perhaps there is a parable here?

In the beginning was the Creativity…

Be blessed, be a blessing

on loan

20150106_085811 (2)This is a book stand which my Dad made for me a number of years ago. I wanted a table top stand for my Bible so I could have it open in front of me while I was working. It fulfils that purpose brilliantly.

In my previous role as a Minister in a local church I took the stand into the church and used it during Communion services to elevate my Bible and books to make it easier to read them and also to make more space on the table for the bread and wine. It lived in the church for the six and a half years I was there. When it came to me collecting my personal belongings when I left I remembered this stand and went to collect it. As I stood at the table, ready to pick it up, I found myself in something of a quandary.

It was my stand, it was made for me, it was made by my Dad. I had every right to take it back, it had only been available to the church while I was their Minister. But it had been in use in the church for six and a half years. It was useful. It wasn’t something I had felt the need to use in my study for those years. And if I took it, would lots of people in the church wonder who had taken their bible stand, since they would not have known where it came from (it just appeared one week without any announcement or fanfare)?

In the end, as you will have surmised, I decided that I wanted to take it with me. I decided that while it had been more useful while I was Minister at the church to use it for Communion services it would now be more useful to me in my study elevating my Bible so I could refer to it while preparing – the original purpose for which it was made, and the personal dimension of who made it for me was important to me. But as I was taking it with me I could not help but feel a bit selfish.

As I sit in my study now, with the view in the photo above in front of me, I reflect not only on my bible stand but more widely on questions of permanence. Six and a half years is a long time (2373 days) and it is easy to see how some people would have regarded the bible stand as a permanent fixture. They would have got used to it. They would have got used to using it. But it was only on loan. How often do we think that the things we have, the things we do, the people around us and even our very life are permanent? They will always be there. Perhaps that is why we mourn their loss so deeply when they are no longer there – stolen, destroyed, broken, worn out, moved away or even dead. What we had thought to be permanent has been revealed as temporary.

So is anything in your life permanent? This is not meant to be depressing. Because there is permanence to which we can anchor our temporary life. God’s eternal nature is a permanent fixture that transcends time and space. The Bible tells us that in the opening lines: ‘in the beginning, God…’ presupposes God’s existence before the time/space continuum in which we exist began. To ask ‘who created God’ is to make him temporary and temporal. It is to confine him to our time/space continuum in which we are able to discern prior causes and only experience things in a linear way (time only moves in one direction, despite what the Doctor may tell us about it being wibbly wobbly timey wimey stuff). God is beyond time, but is also within time so that we can experience him like a boat being tossed around on a stormy sea yet tied safely to a mooring buoy fixed to the sea bed.

But the Christmas narrative also reminds us that God is not just an anchor, he has made it possible for us to be with him beyond time when our temporary temporal existence ceases.

Hark the herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!
Peace on earth and mercy mild
God and sinners reconciled”
Joyful, all ye nations rise
Join the triumph of the skies
With the angelic host proclaim:
“Christ is born in Bethlehem”
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Christ by highest heav’n adored
Christ the everlasting Lord!
Late in time behold Him come
Offspring of a Virgin’s womb
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see
Hail the incarnate Deity
Pleased as man with man to dwell
Jesus, our Emmanuel
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

Hail the heav’n-born Prince of Peace!
Hail the Son of Righteousness!
Light and life to all He brings
Ris’n with healing in His wings
Mild He lays His glory by
Born that man no more may die
Born to raise the sons of earth
Born to give them second birth
Hark! The herald angels sing
“Glory to the newborn King!”

If God is that time-transcending permanence and invites us to share in it, what difference does that make to the way we view the stuff and people that are part of temporary temporal existence, and what difference does it make to our desire that other people might experience that too? Our life may be on loan, but we don’t have to be alone. Ever. Forever.

Be blessed, be a blessing

the even older joke I almost included in this week’s sermon

child drawingA little girl was drawing. Her dad came up and tried to work out what it was she was drawing, but he couldn’t find anything familiar in the series of swirls, shapes and squiggles.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“I’m drawing a picture, daddy” was the factually accurate response.

“What are you drawing a picture of?” asked the day, incorrectly ending his question with a preposition.

“I’m drawing a picture of God, daddy,” came the innocent reply.

“But, darling, nobody knows what God looks like,” said dad.

[altogether now with the punchline]

The girl didn’t look up from her masterpiece and said, “They will when I have finished, daddy.”

I decided against retelling that joke in the sermon on Sunday morning because it is so familiar. If you are there you can work out the moment when it would have been included. It would have led into this point – if you want to know what God looks like (not physically but in character), we do know. We have the perfect description in the Bible’s accounts of Jesus of Nazareth: that’s what the incarnation is all about after all!

Be blessed, be a blessing