Friday, 18 June 2010

Prayers for today that come from Yesterday

I heard this prayer many years ago, but had forgotten it until today when it was used by Rev Dr Pat Took at Momentum, the Assembly of Baptists in Wales.

Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves,
When our dreams have come true
Because we have 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 wider 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 into the future
In strength, courage, hope, and love.

In case you're wondering, it's by Sir Francis Drake.

Thursday, 17 June 2010


Back on the radio sharing some thoughs on fathers' day I wanted to get my favourite father's quotation in there but it didn't really fit.

'A father never stands so tall

than when he bends down to help his child'

but anyway this is what was said.

In case anyone’s forgotten, this Sunday will be Fathers’ Day again, and this year it’s the hundredth anniversary. There’s no need to panic if you haven’t sent a card or bought your present, it’s only Thursday after all.

Of course like the corresponding Mother’s Day, this special anniversary brings mixed emotions into many of our lives. Some people get on well with their dad and they may be looking forward to a cheerful celebration lunch. But this happy picture isn’t true for everyone. There are many ways that the relationship between a father and his child may end up strained or even broken these days, and all the hype around a special day can just make things seem worse. And of course there will be other men who’d love to be a father, but for whatever reason it hasn’t happened for them.

I sometimes wonder if these special days with their over-commercialized sentimentality don’t cause more hassle than they’re worth, but then I am reminded that behind this one anyway lies a century of people expressing their love for dads.

It all began when a young woman called Sonora Smart-Dodd heard a Mother's Day sermon in her local church. Her own mother had died many years before when Sonora was 16 but it was on that Sunday morning that she realised the sacrifices her father must have made to bring up her five brothers and sisters, including a new born baby, all by himself. After church that day she began to think about a way to honour how he and other fathers had so loved their children.

She’d hoped to organise the celebrations to coincide with her dad's birthday, on 5th June, but there wasn’t enough time to get everything ready and so that first Father’s Day took place on the third Sunday of the month in 1910. Since then it’s gone from strength to strength, winning the approval of US presidents and spreading from America right across the world. But it’s only been successful because time and again, sons and daughters want to say ‘I love you’ to their fathers.

I don’t know what bible text the preacher chose to speak about on the day that Sonora had her great idea. No doubt she’d listened to many a minister give a sermon before and her dad had probably done so too, but I suspect it didn’t matter whether the scripture came from Genesis or Revelation or any point in between. Because sometimes the greatest texts are those found in the people who love us come what may. Often the greatest sermons are those expressed in the touch of gentle hands and the power of a reassuring smile. Perhaps they come too in a calm voice of correction.

And maybe no-one does that more

Than our Father who is in heaven

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Character and characters

A church full of character
is not the same
as a church full of characters.

(Just a line from tomorrow's sermon)