As we journey through these uncertain times, each day Sean will seek to post a thought or reflection, a Bible verse or a prayer.
Friday 26th June 2020
‘Are you a spiritual Westie?’
Back in 1898, Francis Barraud painted a famous picture titled ‘His Master’s Voice’ depicting Nipper (his terrier who had died three years earlier) listening intently to an old Edison Bell phonograph, the fore-runner of the gramophone. This painting became extremely famous as various companies including HMV, RCA, EMI, Victor, and Deutsche Grammophon used the imagery in their own company logos. The beautiful simplicity of the picture is in part because of the emotional connection between the dog and the sound of his master’s voice emanating from the horn, amplifying the recording. Nipper recognises and is drawn to the voice.
At home I have two young dogs, a Golden Retriever called Melville and a Westie called Magnus. Like Nipper depicted listening intently for his master’s voice, Melville is virtually glued to my side. Wherever I go, he follows. He is even very good at recall, eagerly returning when I call out his name. As I write these words, he is curled up under my desk. In contrast Magnus the Westie has a mind of his own. (This is one of the character traits of the breed.) He is very different from Melville. There are times when he completely ignores me, preferring to do his own thing.
John 10: 1-21
“Very truly I tell you Pharisees, anyone who does not enter the sheep pen by the gate, but climbs in by some other way, is a thief and a robber. The one who enters by the gate is the shepherd of the sheep. The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.” Jesus used this figure of speech, but the Pharisees did not understand what he was telling them.
Therefore Jesus said again, “Very truly I tell you, I am the gate for the sheep. All who have come before me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep have not listened to them. I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved. They will come in and go out, and find pasture. The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.
“I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. The hired hand is not the shepherd and does not own the sheep. So when he sees the wolf coming, he abandons the sheep and runs away. Then the wolf attacks the flock and scatters it. The man runs away because he is a hired hand and cares nothing for the sheep.
“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me— just as the Father knows me and I know the Father—and I lay down my life for the sheep. I have other sheep that are not of this sheep pen. I must bring them also. They too will listen to my voice, and there shall be one flock and one shepherd. The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.”
The Jews who heard these words were again divided. Many of them said, “He is demon-possessed and raving mad. Why listen to him?”
But others said, “These are not the sayings of a man possessed by a demon. Can a demon open the eyes of the blind?”
Revelation 3: 19-21
Those whom I love I rebuke and discipline. So be earnest and repent. Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.
To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat down with my Father on his throne. Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”
Listening is an inherent part of the spiritual life. We cannot expect to know God or develop a well-rounded, mature faith unless we are prepared to listen. God will do everything possible to draw us to Himself. He is a master at His craft. Through the words of scripture, coincidences, nudges, major life experiences and personal spiritual experiences, and a hundred-thousand other ways, God is continually calling us. His grace, motivated by the deepest and purest love, will bring us to the very gates of heaven. But we have to take that final step.
Since we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess…. Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16).
I am giving you worship with all my life,
I am giving you obedience with all my power,
I am giving you praise with all my strength,
I am giving you honour with all my speech.
I am giving you love with all my heart,
I am giving you affection with all my sense,
I am giving you my being with all my mind,
I am giving you my soul, O most high and holy God.
Praise to the Father,
Praise to the Son,
Praise to the Spirit,
The Three in One.
adapted from Alexander Carmichael, Carmina Gadelica (1900)
Hold back our words, O God
May we fold them away
And let that silence hold us
The silence behind everything
the great curve
when the noise has gone
May we hold back on filling in the silences
and rather seek them out
where we can expand in their spaces
and not crushed in by the noise
And listen for you
Make ourselves open to what hasn’t yet been said
finalised by words
boxed in with explanation
and grow in the silence
so full of possibility
and the unknown
such is the promise of silence
You, O God
are perhaps silent
but that doesn’t mean you are quiet
may we be alive to your presence
So be it. Amen
(Rev Roddy Hamilton)
The Lord’s prayer
Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
you will be done,
on earth as in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
Forgive us our sins
as we forgive those who sin against us.
Save us from the time of trial
and deliver us from evil.
For the kingdom, the power
and the glory are yours
now and forever.
As you go from here,
may you experience God’s favour,
and rest in the peace that comes
from the One who is, who was,
and who is yet to come;
To him be glory and power,
forever and ever.