A Skyped voice,
An Apple Message,
An Instagram photo
a good old email,
is no replacement
for eyes meeting,
a tender touch
and a warm hug.
Monthly Archives: August 2013
A Skyped voice,
A while back I wrote about our favourite camping places. There have been times when we didn’t get to a camping place in time and we had to resort to sleeping in the car. Here are our non camping places.
1. In 2003 we arrived at our camping place in the Champagne region of France far too late. The gates were closed and the lights off. So we drove down a country lane and parked close to the grape vines. Trying to sleep in a Skoda Fabia is not an ideal way to spend a night. But at least were in a great part of France!
2. On the same trip we arrived late on the outskirts of Verona after crossing the Appennines in Winter. We stopped in an industrial car-park. Still in the Fabia we tried to sleep, my wife on the back seat and me in the front. I was kept awake by a series of furtive and clandestine exchanges made between trucks. Then a well dressed lady arrived at 2am in a BMW and left in a Mercedes. She returned an hour later and also had me guessing.
3. Previously I mentioned the brilliant camping places in Norway. The truck stop outside Drammen is not one of them. The Volvo S60 was more comfortable than the Fabia but it was still a car. Then again, the continuous heavy rain made the car more preferable to the tent.
4. Coming back from Germany one evening in the pouring rain we parked at a
truck stop just outside Venlo. This is not one of recommendations either.
5. The final overnight stop occurred when we dropped of our daughter in Geneva so she could catch a train to Zurich. We were dead tired as we had already survived a blizzard while driving over the mountains towards Grenoble. That was a harrowing drive with the fog and snow, and quite a few vehicles involved in accidents. We couldn’t stop as there was nowhere, we could see, to leave the road. So finally we arrived at a hotel just outside Geneva without a booking. We were informed that the minimum stay was three nights and the total cost would be well over 600 Euro – and we only wanted to stay one night! I was that tired I couldn’t drive safely any further. So we parked in front of the hotel which was part of a shopping centre and saved 600 Euro.
So just as there are some spectacular places to camp, every now and then, the car has to be the last resort – the very last resort!
As I reported recently, my usual travelling companion is jet setting without me. He reports from Paris that, being summer, the place is overrun with tourists which makes it tough for a little blue muppet. Not only that, the French, who abhor English, make no effort at all to comprehend a little blue muppet. He was pleased however to get to see the world’s largest Mecanno construction. He also wonders if the Poles will be more forthcoming.
This morning I was listening to excerpts from St Matthew’s Passion by Bach. “Kommt ihr Tochter” (Come ye Daughters). It is a glorious piece of music reflecting on the punishment that the innocent Christ received on our behalf. As with all his music, Bach wrote this for the glory of God. But to do something to the glory of God doesn’t mean it has to be spectacular.
Calvin Seerveld, in his little pamphlet “Christian Workers Unite” speaks of his father as a “seller of fish”. Seerveld describes the haggling over price, the dressing, gutting and cleaning of fish, taking the fish scraps to the dump – he describes, what for most of us, would seem a dirty and unsavoury job. He concludes this anecdote:
My brothers and I at work in the dumps, laughing and struggling, happy to be bodily alive there too: it is like a little hallelujah chorus sung by the South Bay Fish Market, the kind of earthly hallelujah, priestly service, angels fain would sing, but God has reserved for the believing man, (let me add: and woman!) the Christian worker.
It made me think that a true test of the “success” of a Christian life is exactly that – Do I live my life to the glory God? This life is not lived out of any sense that we are trying to earn God’s favour, but rather out of the deepest sense that we have understood, what Bach and Calvin Seeveld’s dad did, that the creator of the universe came down to earth and dealt with our sin on the cross and continues to prepare a Kingdom for his children. That is the motive to give all Glory to God and to sing “earthly hallelujahs!”
“… and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears,we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.” 1 John 3:2
are all too truthful
revealing every spot,
scar and blemish,
wrinkle and faded hope.
cover our eyes
because the truth hurts –
aches our unworthiness.
Wincing, we turn away,
to run and hide
the surrounding chaos
will hide us –
make us invisible
from the speculum’s
and enervating scrutiny.
But then …
“I am” came
our haunted image
with his own.
Very recently I asked for readers to respond to a query I had about how people remember church when they were children (https://pieterstok.com/2013/07/13/your-experience-of-church-as-a-child/). I am still keen on hearing your responses.
One thing I didn’t expect (maybe I should have), was the number of private emails I have received from people recalling the abuse they received. This abuse sometimes arose because church authorities deliberately turned away from events in their families and congregation, or was perpetrated by them. This abuse ranged from spiritual and emotional neglect through to the more sordid examples we see in the news on a daily basis
It reminded me that in my years as a pastor I came across too many examples of events that had never been dealt with properly. The “lets sweep it under the carpet” syndrome was all too prevalent. In an effort to protect the church’s reputation we have mired it more deeply in hidden and unconfessed sin and with no real thought for the victims.
Jesus weeps at the sins of His people but the tears must be even greater when these atrocities touch the innocent and vulnerable who are largely made up of women and children.
So far I have seen two main results of this hidden abuse revealed in the emails. Some people turn their back on the church and faith and want nothing to do with either. This is a tragedy of eternal proportions. The other result is those people who, usually through a Christlike mentor or partner, have, at some future occasion, dealt with the abuse and have come out the other side with a stronger faith and a greater awareness of God’s love for them. This is miraculous!
These emails have convinced me that the issue of children in the church is a crucial issue at so many different levels. What do we do to protect them? How do we make them feel that they belong? What is their role in the church and what can we learn from them? These are just some of the questions!
And from you dear readers, I would still love to hear what you have to say.