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Pam's blog

Posted: Wed Mar 15, 2017 6:56 am
by Ernest
That is a thought. :thumbs:

In our parish, when we are introduced to a new hymn, there is mention of why we are singing it - and how it links into the theme of the service (and perhaps what Psalm it might be based on). We are talked through the words which might be difficult - so teaching is there. But only once, next time we just sing it.

I've often thought that our Music Director, who has a Master's in Theology and works at church house on Anglican Liturgy would be well placed to talk about hymnody and the background of hymns - perhaps I will suggest it at PCC next week - because it is an important part of our worship.

Pam's blog

Posted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:21 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 15


Psalm 95 talks about singing to the Lord and making a joyful noise. It's quite hard to depict noise in a picture, but I found a photo I took last year of worshippers at the On Fire retreat at High Leigh singing How Great is Our God.

It always used to puzzle me that Heaven promised us lots of singing and praising God, but since I because a Christian I've always found collective worship uplifting and affirming. It seems that singing with other people, especially in harmony, can produce endorphins, hormones which create pleasure, and oxytocin, which can alleviate anxiety and create feelings of trust and bonding and reduce feelings of depression and loneliness.

Maybe it isn't God's presence which makes worship pleasurable, but simply our biology?

Or did God create us to find worship uplifting and rewarding?

Psalm 95
1 O come, let us sing to the Lord;
let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation!
2 Let us come into his presence with thanksgiving;
let us make a joyful noise to him with songs of praise!
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Pam's blog

Posted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 6:20 am
by Ernest
I used to think that I didn't have a singing voice - but since coming to Church, I have come to see it's not necessarily the quality of the voice, but how and what you sing that matters.

I love many hymns and find singing them alongside fellow believers is a joyful experience. And, I have come to see that singing joyfully in praise of God is what he asks for and what we need ourselves. I don't have a theological answer, apart from Jesus telling us to he came to allow us to live life in all of it's fullness.

Pam's blog

Posted: Thu Mar 16, 2017 1:59 pm
by Joyce
Pam, God made our biology, so it's both.

Pam's blog

Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 12:24 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 16


This was the view from the house in St Ives where we spent a week of our holiday last year.
I've been in love with the sea since the first time I saw it, and was brought up among the hills of West Yorkshire, which makes my land-locked life in the flat Coventry landscape hard on my senses.
Both hills and sea offer a sense of the grandeur of creation. The sea hides unexplored depths and creatures which could not survive higher up. The hills meet the sky and provide 'thin places' where heaven meets earth, for those who are sensitive to such concepts.

Psalm 95.3-5

3 For the Lord is a great God,
and a great King above all gods.
4 In his hand are the depths of the earth;
the heights of the mountains are his also.
5 The sea is his, for he made it,
and the dry land, which his hands have formed.
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Pam's blog

Posted: Fri Mar 17, 2017 7:57 am
by Joyce
Pam wrote:
, which makes my land-locked life in the flat Coventry landscape hard on my senses.
Thank you for putting it that way, Pam. It makes sense of an experience of mine many years ago and makes me feel validated.

Pam's blog

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 1:18 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 17


In my first year of secondary school, I sang in the choir's performance of Handel's Messiah. Although I got a bit lost in the alto line of some of the choruses, it was an unforgettable experience. A chorus I remember really well was For We, Like Sheep, for a good part of which we seemed to be singing 'We like sheep, we like sheep'. Which seems to be how God feels about them as well.

If you spend much time around sheep, you can see how much they need shepherding. Being brought up in West Yorkshire, I was used to seeing sheep around when I went for a walk, and had often seen them go astray - if one sheep sets off determinedly enough, plenty of others follow, apparently neither knowing or caring where they're going.

Psalm 95.6-7

6 O come, let us worship and bow down,
let us kneel before the Lord, our Maker!
7 For he is our God,
and we are the people of his pasture,
and the sheep of his hand.

O that today you would listen to his voice!
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Pam's blog

Posted: Sat Mar 18, 2017 6:58 am
by Ernest
I love the Psalms - and that one particularly.

And that last verse gives insight into the size of the problem that we face. It seems that very few people are listening to his voice. I don;t know how we get out to spread the good news, when we are stretched to our limits. Prayer and hope are the answer. :votive1: :cross:

Pam's blog

Posted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 12:31 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 18


On holiday in Caernavon, I took this picture of David Lloyd George's statue, in full flow as an orator.
Lloyd George was a noted social reformer, both as Chancellor of the Exchequer and Prime Minister. However persuasive his oratory was, he had to change people's hearts and minds to get his ideas heard and acted upon.

Hearing God is a very personal process, but Psalm 95 leaves us in no doubt that he wants to be heard.

Psalm 95.8-11

8 Do not harden your hearts, as at Meribah,
as on the day at Massah in the wilderness,
9 when your ancestors tested me,
and put me to the proof, though they had seen my work.
10 For forty years I loathed that generation
and said, ‘They are a people whose hearts go astray,
and they do not regard my ways.’
11 Therefore in my anger I swore,
‘They shall not enter my rest.’
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Pam's blog

Posted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 1:43 pm
by Joyce
Your posts about sheep recall childhood times when we were taken for the first weekend drives after the winter into the countryside of Staffordshire, Derbyshire or North Wales .
When we were walking, my mother and my aunts would sing, 'All in the April Evening' as soon as we saw 'The sheep with their little lambs' in the fields. I only understood the significance of the words when I was older, but the images and sensations that come to mind when I hear it will never leave me. Impressions made in youth are valuable. Parents, other adult relatives, godparents and teachers carry a big responsibility.

Pam's blog

Posted: Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:32 pm
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 19


I was really impressed by water on our trip to Reykjavik last year. The hot water in the taps was piped up from underground hot springs. On a day trip round the Golden Circle, we saw an amazingly powerful waterfall moving water from a melting glacier, and geysers which regularly shot steam into the air. I was specially impressed by the waterfall, because the landscape around Shipley where I grew up was formed by glaciers. I'd always imagined this to be a rather slow, stately process as the ice gradually melted and revealed Shipley Glen, but now I realised it had been a dynamic process as the landscape had been pummelled by the unstoppable force of water.

John 4.5-29 tells the story of the woman who meets Jesus at the well. He asks her for a drink of water, and talks to her about the living water that he could give her. She replies

‘Sir, you have no bucket, and the well is deep. Where do you get that living water? Are you greater than our ancestor Jacob, who gave us the well, and with his sons and his flocks drank from it?’ Jesus said to her, ‘Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but those who drink of the water that I will give them will never be thirsty. The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life.’ The woman said to him, ‘Sir, give me this water, so that I may never be thirsty or have to keep coming here to draw water.’ (John 4.11-15)

She assumes the water he is talking about will come from a well, perhaps the well where they have met. But living water could be much more powerful than that, sweeping away and reforming the landscape.
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Pam's blog

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 1:11 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 20


When I was ordained, I asked the designer of my ordination stole to include the Greek word pisteuo, meaning I believe or I have faith. Trust in God was a very hard-won thing for me, and I found the Psalms really useful in my faith journey as they express the doubt , fear and despair that I went through at times. I feel I have been lifted out of the desolate pit, described in Psalm 40, many times.

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.

1 I waited patiently for the Lord;
he inclined to me and heard my cry.
2 He drew me up from the desolate pit,
out of the miry bog,
and set my feet upon a rock,
making my steps secure.
3 He put a new song in my mouth,
a song of praise to our God.
Many will see and fear,
and put their trust in the Lord.

4 Happy are those who make
the Lord their trust,
who do not turn to the proud,
to those who go astray after false gods.
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Pam's blog

Posted: Tue Mar 21, 2017 6:58 am
by Ernest
Thanks Pam,

Trust in the Lord is something that I too found difficult at times, particularly the times when he feels absent, probably because I have taken my eye away from him, due to the cares and temptations of the world.

The Psalmists had a gift for language to express this anguish - and David has a particular guilt to confess and to be forgiven for. These days, causing the death of a partner because you wanted their spouse would attract punishment - but God's forgiveness for David should help us to trust him more, not less.

Where we go wrong perhaps is failing to keep Jesus Central to us - (living in us as Paul writes) and we diminish ourselves when we do that. :votive1:

Pam's blog

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 12:49 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 21


There's an old saying that we have two ears and one mouth because we should listen twice as much as we talk.

When we talk of hearing God, we're often not talking about hearing him directly, but through an inner voice or conviction or sense of God's will. Sometimes God speaks through other people, and sometimes through bible study or the words of a hymn.

I've found gut reactions can speak to me more strongly than anything, and I was intrigued to find out recently that the gut is regarded in some ways as a second 'brain', where our bodies communicate things to us that we might not notice any other way.

Psalm 40 talks of God giving the psalmist 'an open ear'. It can become a habit to tune out sounds we don't want to hear. This reminds us that what God wants most from us is relationship - and the key to a good relationship is listening.

Psalm 40.5-6
5 You have multiplied, O Lord my God,
your wondrous deeds and your thoughts towards us;
none can compare with you.
Were I to proclaim and tell of them,
they would be more than can be counted.
6 Sacrifice and offering you do not desire,
but you have given me an open ear.
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Pam's blog

Posted: Wed Mar 22, 2017 6:44 am
by Ernest
Having Ears to hear was one of Jesus' sayings - often when having spoken some great truth. I am convinced as you appear to be as well, that he speaks into our lives through that quiet voice which comes to us, sometimes when we are quiet, or when perhaps we have an idea out of the blue, which will mean that we feel that we must act on it.

The Holy Spirit inspires us, brings us God's grace and also points us to the right path so often, that I can no longer doubt it.

And that inner voice which some describe as a conscious is one that we are prompted to act on. I will let us know when we're on the right track and will also tell us when we're sinning. It will also guide us to repentance.

You mention a 'gut feeling' as being described as a second brain or voice - and the connection is obvious, when we have a conviction which goes or comes from the Gut, that voice might be more convincing.

I know that on occasion when I have discussed this sort of thing with the sceptical, they've often given me that special look which indicates that they think that I'm away with the fairies, although they might not voice it - I take their sceptism not as a criticism, but as a verification that God is big enough to cope with their doubt or disbelief without my intervention or remonstrating with them.

The Psalmists get it right so often - and I can't doubt their God breathed words.

Pam's blog

Posted: Thu Mar 23, 2017 1:10 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 22


'Declare' is a resonant word that means stating clearly or admitting ownership of something. It's used not only of declaring goods that require duty to be paid at Customs, but of declaring war or independence. A declaration is a strong statement that can't be ignored.

In Psalm 40, the psalmist says he has not hidden God's love and salvation, but has spoken openly of it - declared it, in fact, in a great congregation.

Even if we are not as bold as the psalmist about declaring our faith in words, our actions should speak for us. It's arguable that our actions should speak more loudly than our words - because people are quick to notice if our words and actions don't match.

In the words of the old joke, 'If you were arrested for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?'

Psalm 40.7-10
7 Then I said, ‘Here I am;
in the scroll of the book it is written of me.*
8 I delight to do your will, O my God;
your law is within my heart.’
9 I have told the glad news of deliverance
in the great congregation;
see, I have not restrained my lips,
as you know, O Lord.
10 I have not hidden your saving help within my heart,
I have spoken of your faithfulness and your salvation;
I have not concealed your steadfast love and your faithfulness
from the great congregation.
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Pam's blog

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 12:36 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 23


Psalm 40.11-17

11 Do not, O Lord, withhold
your mercy from me;
let your steadfast love and your faithfulness
keep me safe for ever.

12 For evils have encompassed me
without number;
my iniquities have overtaken me,
until I cannot see;
they are more than the hairs of my head,
and my heart fails me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me;
O Lord, make haste to help me.
14 Let all those be put to shame and confusion
who seek to snatch away my life;
let those be turned back and brought to dishonour
who desire my hurt.
15 Let those be appalled because of their shame
who say to me, ‘Aha, Aha!’

16 But may all who seek you
rejoice and be glad in you;
may those who love your salvation
say continually, ‘Great is the Lord!’

17 As for me, I am poor and needy,
but the Lord takes thought for me.
You are my help and my deliverer;
do not delay, O my God.
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Harriet Tubman: she followed the voice of God

Pam's blog

Posted: Fri Mar 24, 2017 7:04 am
by Ernest
The sentiments of someone who knows that they sin, but imploring God's help.

The picture is powerful, particularly the darkness in it - where is the light of the world? :votive2:

Pam's blog

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 1:47 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 26


John Chapter 9 verses 1-41 tell the story of Jesus healing a blind man. The Pharisees hear of the healing and conduct rigorous enquiries into what happened. In the face of the man's firm belief that God healed him through Jesus, they offer no other explanation, so they simply drive him away.

People often criticise the idea of God healing people on the grounds of unfairness - why should God heal one person, and not another? There's also a sense in the Pharisees' behaviour of healing being a privilege than only the spiritually advanced should receive, answering the man's statement of faith with a dismissal of his spiritual status:

"They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out." (John 9.34)

The man who is healed isn't shocked or surprised to be healed by Jesus. To him, it stands to reason that someone who is in a close relationship with God should want to heal him, and be able to heal him. To him, God is a God who heals. His faith is simple, and doesn't get in the way of God's action.

John 9.30-34

The man answered, “Here is an astonishing thing! You do not know where he comes from, and yet he opened my eyes. We know that God does not listen to sinners, but he does listen to one who worships him and obeys his will. 32Never since the world began has it been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, he could do nothing.” They answered him, “You were born entirely in sins, and are you trying to teach us?” And they drove him out.

The whole story can be found here.
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(Picture from JESUS MAFA - Jesus heals the man born blind. JESUS MAFA is a response to the New Testament readings from the Lectionary by a Christian community in Cameroon, Africa. See: and

Pam's blog

Posted: Mon Mar 27, 2017 9:10 am
by Ernest
I am not blind, but my eyesight is gradually worsening. I thank God for the Optometrists and others who keep me able to drive and read, despite increasing impact of Cataracts on my vision. My younger sister, recently deceased, lost her vision in her fifties, due to Wet Macular degeneration. There was and is no miracle cure, just treatment to stave off the worst effects.

Several people in our parish are registered blind due to the same affliction. One is our former organist, who misses being able to play regularly, It isn't the loss of keyboard skills, that troubles him, just not being able to read the music he used to play, particularly worship music. He compensates in most other aspects of his life and at 92, is incredibly active and fit - and is able to live alone, without any great difficulty, The only vision that he has is being able to tell light and darkness. His ability to recognise others via their voice and mannerisms is remarkable.

The one telling feature of his life is his firm faith and activism for God with others. He is able to tell in narrative of the work that God has done in his life. Through the experience of Navy service in WW2 to his meeting and marriage of 60 years with Jean and their children, and his working life with the old, NatWest Bank as a senior manager.

Blindness is depicted as a handicap, but other senses can assist in living a life, still dedicated to a full life, lived in abundance. Very different from the dependency of the blind man in the Gospel story.

Pam's blog

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 12:10 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 27


This is a bit of a cheat - it's pictures with sounds. Whenever I think of praise, I think of birdsong, and that most beautiful (in my opinion) bird singer, the black bird.

The first time I went on any kind of church gathering, it was a Diocesan conference. I was rather overawed by being in the presence of so many clergy. One morning, a Bishop led morning prayers, and I wasn't sure what to do with my face. What if someone saw me with an inappropriate expression?

As I struggled to work out how to behave, the sound of a blackbird's song filled the chapel from outside - uninhibited, perfect, and a reminder of God's generosity in creation.

Whenever I hear a blackbird now, I'm reminded that the Lord is here - his Spirit is with us.

Psalm 146

1 Praise the Lord! Praise the Lord, O my soul!

2 I will praise the Lord as long as I live; I will sing praises to my God all my life long.

3 Do not put your trust in princes, in mortals, in whom there is no help.

4 When their breath departs, they return to the earth; on that very day their plans perish.

5 Happy are those whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord their God,

Pam's blog

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 7:30 am
by Ernest
Thanks for the reminder of how God has blessed us with his creation. This week, I have been following Morning Prayer from the Church of Ireland. And the Gospel Canticle this morning was as follows:

1 Bless the Lord all created things:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

2 Bless the Lord you heavens:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

3 Bless the Lord you angels of the Lord:
bless the Lord all you his hosts.

4 Bless the Lord you waters above the heavens:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

5 Bless the Lord sun and moon:
bless the Lord you stars of heaven.

6 Bless the Lord all rain and dew:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

7 Bless the Lord all winds that blow:
bless the Lord you fire and heat.

8 Bless the Lord scorching wind and bitter cold:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

9 Bless the Lord dews and falling snows:
bless the Lord you nights and days.

10 Bless the Lord light and darkness:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

11 Bless the Lord frost and cold:
bless the Lord you ice and snow.

12 Bless the Lord lightnings and clouds:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

13 O let the earth bless the Lord;
bless the Lord you mountains and hills.

14 Bless the Lord all that grows in the ground:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

15 Bless the Lord you springs:
bless the Lord you seas and rivers.

16 Bless the Lord you whales and all that swim in the waters:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

17 Bless the Lord all birds of the air:
bless the Lord you beasts and cattle.

18 Bless the Lord all men on the earth:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

19 O people of God bless the Lord:
bless the Lord you priests of the Lord.

20 Bless the Lord you servants of the Lord:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

21 Bless the Lord all men of upright spirit:
bless the Lord you that are holy and humble in heart.

22 Bless the Father the Son and the Holy Spirit:
sing his praise and exalt him for ever.

What a great way to praise God first thing. :)

Pam's blog

Posted: Tue Mar 28, 2017 8:54 am
by Caroline
At a previous house we had a blackbird who used to sit on the top of the hedge in front of the kitchen window and sing his heart out whenever it rained. I always felt he was an excellent example!

Pam's blog

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 1:05 am
by Pam
Lent Pictures Day 29


Psalm 130 talks about crying out to God in prayer, and waiting for an answer in trust that it will be favourable.

The saying 'There are no atheists in foxholes' refers to the phenomenon that, in extreme circumstances, many of us will ask a God we don't generally believe in for help. A lot of people who aren't very sure about God do believe in the power of prayer. The idea that there is 'Something/someone out there' still clings on in culture that, by and large, has rejected a belief in religion or God.

The psalm talks about praying through the night. Night time can be very lonely if you are worried about someone, or something - the idea that God could be listening can be a great comfort.

Psalm 130
A Song of Ascents.

1 Out of the depths I cry to you, O Lord.
2 Lord, hear my voice!
Let your ears be attentive
to the voice of my supplications!
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Pam's blog

Posted: Thu Mar 30, 2017 6:23 am
by Ernest
This Psalm was one that I was familiar with in my Catholic Youth.
We called it the De Profundis. It was prayed particularly in Masses for the dead and during the Passion of our Lord in Holy Week.

I note that Oscar Wild wrote a strong letter with the title while imprisoned. ... scar-wilde

The Catholic version is here: