About RevTechnoHubby

Vicar, Rocket Scientist, Musician, Disciple of Jesus, Husband, Daddy, Mate, Techno-Geek

A little luxury

Sorry my attempt at Lenton devotion went silent.  Revtechnohubby hasn’t been well – better now than I have been for a while having been prayed for but the Church family last Sunday !

Revtechnohubby and Mrs RTH are in Manchester for the New Wine Leadership Conference and this morning we were walking through Manchester when I stopped by two homeless men.  There are more homeless people than I have ever seen before in a city.  It is heartbreaking.  I stopped and gave each of them a full McDonalds complimentary coffee card (you know, the sort where you put the stickers to get your 7th coffee for free).  A very clever 8 year old taught me that if you give someone that instead of a cup of coffee, they can sit in McDonalds in the warm for half an hour whilst they drink their coffee!!!

They were unbelievably grateful and treated my gift as if it were a luxury!

What’s your luxury?  Chocolate, Wine, A Spa Day, your nails done, netflix, sky sports?

The real luxury I saw today was this!


One of the young men was sitting on a pallet in his sleeping bag to keep away from the cold floor.  Luxury!

Only last week there was a report that a charity which had been working with girls in sub-saharan Africa to provide Sanitary products had started working with girls in a school.

But the school wasn’t in South East Asia, or Africa, or South America.  It was in Leeds!

In 2017 wooden pallets and sanitary towels are luxury items.

  

What have we come to?

Father Forgive us, even though we know what we are doing!

 

It starts and ends with light…

So, I’ve deceided what to give up for lent (hopefully by then end of Lent I will have successfuly given up chocolate and sweets, fizzy drinks and about a stone!!!)

But then last night I was wndering what to take up – do I go and get one of the Lent books from my shelf and repeat them (hopefully with more success than previous years) or do I take up something else.

And then an image swam into my mind and I realised what my lenten “taking up” would be.

A picture a day – so here goes!

palm-crosses-on-ash-wednesdayThis picture was taken in 2015 at an Ash Wendesday service near Staithes in North Yorkshire.  We were away for half term aand I went to the Ash Wednesday service.  We were each given, on arrival, a palm cross, and half way through the service we went outside and placed our crosses into the metal bucket, where they were burned to create the ashes used to mark each person’s forehead with a cross – an ancient Christian sumbol of repentance and submission to God on Ash Wednesday.

I had never seen the burning of the crosses to make the ash as part of the service before, depsite having done it myself outside the service for many years.  I found it incredibly moving, and it reminded me of the end of the Lent, when many churches go outside and light a fire from which they light the new Easter (Paschal – pask-al) candles.

Lent began and ended in 2015 with light not darkness.

So it should be – repentance and submission are not events to be marked by darkness, but light.  Sin loves darkness, repentance is all about light!

So this year Lent for me starts with light, not darkness.  The light of Jesus, bringing me back.

Exhausted and Worried

It’s been too long!  I now realise that I need to remember to be looking for what God is saying to me visually.  The grace of a daily reflection whilst I was away seemed to fade, but I now realise that I need to discover the discipline of looking for the signs and symbols of the Kingdom around me.

And as I reflected on this, this image came into my mind – I used it as a background last night at one of our carol services and it spoke to me in a very profound way.

This picture by Gari Melchers is one of my favourites.

Mary is exhausted – she can barely do more than rest her head against Joseph and her arms are limp by her side.

Joseph looks worried – his hands clenched, his face set, looking downwards at his newborn son.

They are alone – just them alone in the room.

It is almost a picture of hopelessness and despair.

Almost!

Where is the light coming from?  Cool moonlight spills through the door, but the warm light comes from the newborn lying in a  feeding trough.  It illuminates Father and Mother, and both of their faces are turned towards.

It feels that this year more than ever, the valley of the shadow of death is rather crowded.  So many people we know are going through difficult times.  So many are exhausted like Mary or worried like Joseph.

As we approach the celebration of the Christ Mass, my prayer is that we too, who sit with Mary and Jospeh, would also see the uncreated light shining through infant eyes and know the hope that comes from Him.

The people walking in darkness have seen a great light!

The sea is His and He made it….

Well, it’s been a while since RevTechnoHubby typed anything on here.  Partly a very busy return from my sauntering around the canals, as my colleague was on her sabbatical and our Curate had taken up a new post before my return.  Partly the chance to reconnect with family properly over the summer holidays. Partly a nasty bug in September which was a close to flu as I’ve been for a while.

But I think the main reason is that my 90 odd blogs during my sabbatical were a huge gift of grace.  God gave me that time, and that staggering array of images at that time, and in those places.  I had time to be attentive to the voice and prompting of the Holy Spirit, and one of the challenges of returning has been to find that in daily life.

So here I am, with a new pattern for my week that sees Mondays as days to ponder, refresh, renew, read, draw closer into the arms of God and to do so (using a word which I really loathe but can’t find better as I sit) “intentionally”. 

And as I sat today in Sheffield Cathedral, where I was ordained just a shade over 14 years ago, reading a wonderful book about The Song of Songs I was struck again by an image which helped me to explore the wonderful depth of God’s character and nature.  And this is it….

Charlie Cleverly, whose excellent book on The Song of Songs is my reading matter for the next few weeks, writes of a family holiday by the coast, where…

[the family said] how they felt connected’, of how they felt “remade’ or just rested’. Is it that the closeness of nature can do this if you are not used to it? There is a connection to the land and sea that brings re-creation of the soul, and with this comes rest. This happens when we get close to creation, perhaps because behind it we are aware of the Creator. We sense deep down that “the sea is his, for he made it, and his hands formed the dry land’ 

And I reflected on the places that are for me special places of closeness and intimacy with God; The Holy Island of Lindisfarne and  the community at Lee Abbey in North Devon.  And I also reflected on those times when I have been overwhelmed by the beauty of this world, or its pain, and my thoughts have been inexorably drawn towards God – on a beach in Biarritz many years ago, contemplating the pain of a broken relationship; at Cape Point in South Africa, contemplating the vastness and beauty of the ocean; on a beach in Karachi, realising that the next land to the south is covered in Penguins and Ice; on a  beach in Blackpool during a particularly difficult event, with the storm tides lashing the sand.

Coastlines have drawn humans since the beginning of time – there is something about being on the border between this world and something bigger – standing on the edge of the infinite.   A place of sunlight and joy, or of storm and death.

As we stand on the shore, we are reminded of our place standing on the borderlands between this world and God’s kingdom.  On the edges of this world, where God is to be found.  Sometime beautiful and tranquil, other times powerful and stormy, but awesome in both situations.

Where are you today?  Are you in a storm, or sunlight?  Know that on the coast these both can come, but God is there, and the infinite ocean of his love is safe…  And one day, we will venture out to sea, leaving this world, to explore the wonders that lie beyond the far horizon.

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside!!  Especially with Jesus.

I wonder, will there be sandcastles on the other shore?  I hope so.

The stronger floor

Well – today we went to Blackpool with the All Saints Church Trip Club.

The trip has been planned for ages but the weather as we arrived in Blackpool was a bit grim.

Rev Techno Hubby decided to resort to his usual doggerel to produce this…

Oh I do like to be beside the seaside
oh I do like the seaside when it’s wet
oh I do like to stroll along the prom prom prom
with me brolly up and me wellies on

O just let me be beside the seaside
I’ll Be Beside myself with Glee
for the cafe’s nice and warm
as we shelter from the storm
beside the seaside beside the sea.

Actually it wasn’t that bad – by the time we had visited the shrine of St Costa of Latte (Private joke with the Archdeacon of Lewisham and Greenwich – sorry) the weather had brightened up and after a fuss of some Guide Dogs out fundraising (with permission of course) we headed to our destination.  Can you guess where I am?

95a - Looking Down.jpg

Yup 380ft above the prom, prom, prom!

Here!
95b  -Tower

In fact, once you got used to the idea that you weren’t going to plummet to your doom it was quite amazing!

The floor is made of a 4.15 tonne laminated glass floor that itself can hold up to 5 tonnes.

I stood there enjoying the view  and a member of staff came along to wipe the hand prints off the glass wall.  I asked him if he got used to the floor.

“Oh yes” he said.

“In fact, this floor…” – points down into infinity

“…is stronger than that floor!” – points to the “normal” floor where Jacquie is stood!

Suddenly I didn’t want to move off the glass floor I was standing on.

So it is in the life of faith.  We put all of our trust in the things we can see – in what we consider firm and dependable, and we shy away from trusting to the things we cannot see – the hand of God holding us, leading us, guiding us – when the things we cannot see are stronger and more trustworthy than the things we can.

I learned a huge lesson today about trusting God by standing in mid air, 380ft above a Blackpool pavement!

Just because I cannot see something, doesn’t make it less trustworthy – Just because I can see something doens’t make it more trustworthy.

Because this floor – points downwards at the invisible hand of God
Is stronger than that floor – points at floor beneath the chair!

The Beatitudes for Boaters

94a - If you can read this.jpgThis morning was lovely!  Catching up with Church Family, having caught up with my Mum and Dad yesterday.

I bought this T-Shirt the very first time we holidayed on the In-Laws first Narrowboat, from a shop in Lllangollen.  It works very well with my Dog Collar and made the point this morning as I took up the reigns at All Saints again.

At the end of the service we went outside and stood amongst the wild flowers and prayed and then I prayed the blessing.  It was a wonderful, joy filled morning, with a lovely ending together.

Still more work today – a wedding rehearsal and an evening service in one of our Partnership parishes (My colleague is now on Sabbatical and our Curate has moved and is soon to be a curate no more so it’s just me for nearly three months.  I’ll need a break after that!)

So my images today?  Well I’ll start with this one…

94b - Beatitudes.jpg

I was pondering what I’d learned from my time away that I could share in Church today and was inspired to write “The Beatitudes for Boaters!”  So here they are.
94 - passing boats.jpg

Blessed are those who pass on tickover, for they shall not spill the tea

In other words, think about those around you – don’t let your hurry hurt them.  Take time to care and don’t let selfishness blind you.

94 - need a wee.jpg
Blessed are those who find an Elsan point when the cartridges are full,
for they shall be relieved

Rubbish builds up, in our hearts as much as our casettes and tanks.  Take every opportunity to deal with the rubbish whilst you can. (For more information about loos on boats see Poo Bags and a Cross)

94 - Arnco.jpg
Blessed are those who find armco,  for their boat shall be easily moored

The metal pilings are a godsend on some streaches of River/Canal (particularly the Kennet and Avon!).  Look out for things God has given you.  They are there to help.  Look around and you will see them!

 

94 - cill.jpgBlessed are those who take note of the cill,   for their boat shall never sink

The Cill (sill) is like a doorstep at the top end of a lock.  It is invisible going downhill until the water level drops.  If you let the back of the boat catch it will do this!  There are warnings on EVERY lock  If you don’t pay attention to warning signs, things will go badly wrong.

IMAG0976

Blessed are those who have bird seed,   for they shall never be short of a friend

Always be ready to offer hospitality; tea, lunch, even a cream tea in Goring Lock. (See May the Fourth be with you)

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Blessed are those who can tie knots,   for their boat will not drift away

It it really important to learn some key skills before rushing into something. The same is true with faith.  We need to work on our skills and abilities so that we are ready when Jesus calls.
It is too late to learn knots on a windy day!

94 - help

Blessed are those who help at locks,   for they are more precious than Gold

As Eliza Doolittle sang – Don’t talk of Love – Show me! Helping someone says more about love than a thousand words.  If you want to show someone the love of Jesus then offer to help them.  Volunteer lock keepers are fab and yes that is Caen Hill!

94 - gongoozlers

Blessed are the Gongoozlers,
but more blessed are those who do   more than stand and watch

Being a disciple is NOT a spectator sport.  There are too many Gongoozlers in our Churches – don’t be one – especially the sort who don’t cheer when you get things right but jeer when things go wrong!! Don’t just be a spectator!

94 - saying hello

Blessed are those who are friendly,  they are a blessing to all they meet

Smiles are infectious.  Think about what your face looks like and be a blessing to everyone you meet.  There are parts of the country where smiles are harder to get.  Try anyway!

94 - Wickham.jpg

Blessed are the passing cyclists who help with the swing bridges,
for their children will be blessed

This lovely family taught their children that helping others is fun.  We need to teach our children and our grandchildren the Be-attitudes!

So those were my Beatitudes for Boaters – and these are His, which are, unsurprisingly, much better!94 - beatiutdes.jpeg

Setting Sail

So – I was wondering how today would feel.  The answer? Deliciously strange.  Last night I couldn’t, for a moment, remember which cupboard the glasses were in!  This morning I still thought I was on the boat when I woke up.  Three very freidnly cats persuaded me otherwise!

We started the mammoth job of unpacking from a three month journey and as part of that headed up to Church to grab a couple of things before tomorrow.

This was the sight that greeted me!

Our Wildflower Labyrinth has gone from potential to explosion.  And all without me having done a thing (but huge thanks to Mick and David and Peter who did!)

So,  My blog title has changed, but I think I might change it back – for I have not reached harbour.  I am, as I said before, just setting out.

And my picture today is just that…

Cubie, Alex, 1911-1995; Fishing Boat 'BA22' Leaving Girvan Harbour

Cubie, Alex; Fishing Boat ‘BA22’ Leaving Girvan Harbour; South Ayrshire Council;

A fishing boat setting out, jsut as I am setting out again with the great Fisher of People.  Nets mended, tank filled, and now off on the journey.  Still, A Vicar Afloat!

And my prayer? Often attributed to Sir Francis Drake but almost certainly not his work.  Still.  It is a great prayer….

Disturb us, Lord, when
We are too pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we dreamed too little,
When we arrived safely
Because we sailed too close to the shore.

Disturb us, Lord, when
with the abundance of things we possess
We have lost our thirst
For the waters of life;
Having fallen in love with life,
We have ceased to dream of eternity
And in our efforts to build a new earth,
We have allowed our vision
Of the new Heaven to dim.

Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly,
To venture on wilder seas
Where storms will show Your mastery;
Where losing sight of land,
We shall find the stars.

We ask you to push back
The horizons of our hopes;
And to push back the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

This we ask in the name of our Captain,
Who is Jesus Christ.

Amen

And remember,  on a Narrowboat, when you sail too close to the shore, you often run aground!

Going Back

Day Total (car): 253 miles, no locks, A long Time!!!
Final Total: 536.25 miles, 462 locks
Home

Today was a busy day, technically yesterday as its gone midnight, but I needed to share this.

NB Essence has been handed back to her rightful owners and we headed to collect the Smart Car from Newbury and then head home.

But the journey home felt like the unravelling of my adventure.

From Bath, back to Newbury.   A detour via Didcot and Abingdon on the River Thames to avoid traffic, then Oxford, past Banbury, and within minutes the locks in Warwick, past Leamington and then Coventry itself. Finally onto the M1 (which I sped past at 4mph several decades ago on my way south.)

I kept spotting the canal and remembering the different parts of my journey.

Was it unravelling?

92b - unravelling

Actually, No!  The further back I went the more I felt as if I was reliving the journey.  The journey home was part of the journey.  My experiences and revelations do not stay on NB Essence, they were already waiting for my journey home, so that they could be remembered- called to mind – recalled from the hard drive – and so they have become a part of who I am, not just fading memories.

92a - Coming Home

And as I write I am reminded of another journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus on the eve of that first Easter day, when two disciples met Jesus on the road but didn’t recognise Him.

And suddenly I am wondering if Jesus was lurking on the road waiting for them to come past, smiling to himself as he knew what was to come.  And as they walked and talked and then finally he broke bread, they remembered and recognised Him, and returned to Jerusalem full of joy.

I think now that I too met Jesus on the way tonight, and though I didn’t know it we remembered my adventure together, and so I return with joy – full again of all of my travels, excited by His company, with stories to tell and ready for the gift of the Holy Spirit for the next part of this adventure.

92c - -the-road-to-emmaus-daniel-bonnell

Journey’s End

Day Total (cleaning): 2 miles, no locks, didn’t time it
Final Total: 536.25 miles, 462 locks
Journey’s End

81a - Journey's End.jpg

So this is it.

90 days….  536.25 miles….    462 locks….   248 hours 57 minutes….  3.99 lmph.

And this is where my journey will end tomorrow when I return NB Essence to her rightful skipper and her trusty driver!  I am expectedly sad as I write this… It has been quite an adventure.

It seems a lifetime ago that I navigated the Stoke locks on my own with ice on the canal; ages ago that we reached the last (and first) lock of the Grand Union Canal; a long time ago that I rested in Leamington after a stunning week hurtling up the Grand Union with Darren at my side; months ago that we spent time with my cousin in Banbury; weeks ago that I celebrated my birthday on the River Thames; and three weeks in Newbury felt like forever (in a good way).  And now it ends.

But it doesn’t.

It doesn’t end.

C.S. Lewis wrote the incredible Chronicles of Narnia – the adventures of a small group of children who discover routes into that wonderful world and meet Aslan – the Lion who rules that land.  At the end of the last book Narnia is coming to an end and all the faithful people and creatures are brought into “Aslan’s Country” and they run “further up and further in” to meet, finally, with Aslan himself, in a garden, with a tree.

81b - Aslan.jpg

The children had come to Narnia in what seemed to be a railway collision, but thought no more about it, and when they were there they found their mother and father there too, and once they have reached the very centre of Aslan’s country the great Lion turns to them and says…

Then Aslan turned to them and said:

“You do not yet look so happy as I mean you to be.”

Lucy said, “We’re so afraid of being sent away, Aslan. And you have sent us back into our own world so often.”

“No fear of that,” said Aslan. “Have you not guessed?”

Their hearts leaped and a wild hope rose within them.

“There was a real railway accident,” said Aslan softly. “Your father and mother and all of you are—as you used to call it in the Shadow-Lands—dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning.”

And as He spoke He no longer looked to them like a lion; but the things that began to happen after that were so great and beautiful that I cannot write them. And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was only the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story, which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better than the one before.

from The Last Battle by C. S. Lewis

Aslan is the way Jesus appears to the children in the stories – and the allegory of the stories is unashamed and unequivocal.  Those who follow Aslan/Jesus will have a story that never ends – where every chapter is better than the one before.

And if that great story is also the story written for me, then I am not at the end of the book, nor even the end of the title page.  There is much more “further up and further in” for me to explore with Jesus, and the companions he has given me for the journey.

This is not an end, but another beginning.

To borrow a metaphor from C. S. Lewis’ great friend and fellow author J. R. R. Tolkein it is a time to return to the peaceful glades of Hobbiton and find that I have grown – that the journey has changed me, as it changed the rather plump and overly comfortable Bilbo Baggins in “The Hobbit”.

This verse is one I have often used at times of change and new adventure – this version comes from the lips of Bilbo Baggins’ nephew, Frodo.

The Road goes ever on and on
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say!

from The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein

81c - The road.jpg

And I do not walk this road alone….

I walk it with my beloved Jacquie, whose hard work and sacrifice made this sabbatical possible.

I walk it with Joshua and Joel, the two amazing young men we have been given to nurture and encourage.

I walk it with my wider family, who eagerly await my return.

I walk it with my Church Family, whom I have missed more than I could have imagined.

And I walk it with Jesus, who is my companion on the journey, the reason for the journey, and its ultimate destination.

Green pastures are before me,
Which yet I not have seen.
Bright skies will shine with glory,
Where threatening clouds have been.
My hope I cannot measure.
My path to life is free.
My Saviour has my treasure,
And He will walk with me.

from the hymn “In Heavenly Love Abiding” by Anna L. Waring

Journey’s End?

Heavens No!

The journey has barely begun!

One Day More

Day Total (so far): 20 feet, clean teeth, kettle on
Overall Total: 534.25 miles, 462 locks

As I woke this morning a song was ringing through my mind, and I knew today of all days would have two blogs.

The song?

This song marks the end of Act 1 of Les Miserables, which we saw (a lifetime ago it seems) during the Easter holidays in London.  It is one of my favourite songs in Les Mis (and I have several!)  It marks the point at which all the story strands come together ready for the confrontation at the barricades the following day.  Each group in the cast sings a different set of lyrics and a different tune each expressing how they are feeling about the oncoming storm and just before the end of the act they ALL sing their piece at the same time.  It is a musical masterpiece.

Valjean – the Hero – imprisoned for stealing bread to save his nephew and redeemed by a gracious Bishop sings…

One day more!
Another day, another destiny.
This never-ending road to Calvary;
These men who seem to know my crime
Will surely come a second time.
One day more!

The newly met lovers Marius and Cosette sing…

Tomorrow you’ll be worlds away
And yet with you, my world has started!
Will we ever meet again?

Eponine (Epp-o-neen) , a young lady who loves Marius in vain sings…

One more day all on my own.
One more day with him not caring.
What a life I might have known.
But he never saw me there!

Enjolras (En-yole-ras) – the leader of the student revolutionaries sings…

One more day before the storm!
At the barricades of freedom.
When our ranks begin to form
Will you take your place with me?

[ALL]
The time is now, the day is here

The police inspector Javert (Sha-fair) – a man of impeccable, pharisaical righteousness but not a gram of grace is intending to join the students as an undercover spy – and sings…

One day more to revolution,
We will nip it in the bud!
We’ll be ready for these schoolboys,
They will wet themselves with blood!

And the hideous Thenardiers (tay-nard-ee-ays) – a rather unsavoury couple renowned for scavenging, especially after battles or fights, sing…

Watch ’em run amuck,
Catch ’em as they fall,
Never know your luck
When there’s a free for all,
Here’s a little ‘dip’
There a little ‘touch’
Most of them are goners
So they won’t miss much!

And as the music rises with all the characters overlapping…

80a - one day more.jpg

Suddenly there is a moment of clarity as first Valjean and then the whole cast sing together…

[VALJEAN]
Tomorrow we’ll be far away,
Tomorrow is the judgement day

[ALL]
Tomorrow we’ll discover
What our God in Heaven has in store!
One more dawn
One more day
One day more!

I have tears in my eyes as I hear those words in my head.  It would be a worthy song to end the whole show, yet it is only the end of the first act.  It is a most incredible climax and yet the story goes on.

Now perhaps you see why this song is in my mind today.

One day more!

Tomorrow we’ll be far away!!!

Tomorrow we’ll discover what our God in heaven has in store….

One more dawn….

One more day…..

One Day More!

<Curtain>

And what will Act 2 hold?