Sunday, November 25, 2007

Communion

Here am I
Naked before You
Without the make up
To conceal the defects
Without the mask
To cover the flaws
Nothing
To hide

Here am I
Silent before You
No feeble excuses
To explain my failures
No vain boasting
To embellish my achievements
Nothing
To say

Here am I
Laying before You
My dented armour
My battle worn shield
My songs of triumph
My golden crowns
Nothing
To prove

Here am I
Reminded before You
That Your sacrifice
Once for all time
Was always sufficient
To secure my redemption
Nothing
To add

Here I stand
Receiving from You
Transformation
From glory to glory
Expressing Your likeness
Revealing Your image
Everything
Being made new




(c) 2007 Melanie Kerr

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Dear Mr L

Last week I received a series of letters from the tax office. The letters were a summary of my tax contributions made over the last five years. It took a while to work out from the columns of numbers that someone was owed money, though I wasn't sure quite who. It turned that I had been paying more tax than I should have done. After all the complicated sums had been done I was due to receive a substantial cheque to cover the overpayment.

The last time this happened was just before Joe and I were married. I had been working part time, but had been taxed as if I were working full time. The cheque for a few hundred pounds came in handy for paying for wedding expenses.

However, it would seem that the tax office didn't know I got married! All the letters I have received from them about the overpayment have been addressed to Miss M Wilkinson. It is painful to have a cheque on my possession that I cannot cash!

I phoned the tax office to explain the problem. They have updated all my details, but I have to send the cheque back to get another one made out to Mrs M Kerr. I wrote a covering letter this afternoon. My creative juices churned and the following poem was enclosed.

Dear Mr L, it breaks my heart
To hand this back to you
I’m sure you’ve done the proper sums
The money’s what I’m due

The details that you have on me
Are somewhat out of date
Since 1992 I’ve found
That married life is great

My family were convinced I was
To be a spinster aunt
On meeting Joseph Kerr, I said
“Apologies, I can’t.”

We married in October on
A cold but sunny day
My maiden name “Miss Wilkinson”
Was carefully put away

I’m Mrs Kerr, to all I know
I have been for a while
And every time I think of that
You know – it makes me smile!

Dear Mr L, please will you send
Another cheque to me
Just change the name to Mrs Kerr
Ecstatic I will be

The day the bank accepts the cheque
And lets me have the cash
You can be sure that to the shops
I do not plan to dash

A brand new boiler’s on the cards
Before the winter chill
The money you are sending me
Would nicely pay the bill!

Unsure of how to prove to you
That what I’ve said is true
A copy of a household bill
Is on its way to you.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Time to remember

We were on our way to church this morning when, out of the blue, my husband announced that he was heading off to the Roman Catholic Church across the river. He had realised that not only was it Remembrance Sunday, it was also 11th November. Our church tends not to mark dates with particular ceremonies. If it hadn’t been 11th specifically, I suppose my husband might have been content to disappear for a few minutes to observe the two minute silence. So we parted company at the corner of the street – him to head down to the river, me to head down the alley to our usual fellowship.

I can remember one year, Joe and I were on our way to Aberdeen. We were following a programme of fertility treatment with tests and stuff. Aberdeen was the nearest fertility treatment centre and it was a case of dropping everything we were doing and heading off if we got a blue line on a testing kit. One of these trips happened on the 11th November we pulled into a lay-by along the route to observe the two minute silence.

Another year, I think it was a fifth year class, asked if they might observe the two minute silence. They had never been known to remain silent for that long, but seeing as they asked, I agreed, drumming it into their heads that they were not to giggle. They were wonderful, but surprisingly enough, there were a number of pupils who had no idea why they were doing it.

One of the best two minute silences, that wasn’t connected to Remembrance Sunday, but the death of Celtic hero Jimmy Johnston, wasn’t a silence at all. It was a two minute cheer and clap! I really thought that was such a wonderful way of remembering someone’s life. I think part of the reasoning was that the opposition fans might not want to observe a silence.

I was thinking about the two minute silence. It is about remembering the sacrifices made by men and women to make the world a safer place. They fought the battles so that I wouldn’t have to.

People argue about the morality of war. Last week, in a discussion about capital punishment, a friend was asked about whether he agreed with the taking of a life. He said that sometimes you have to like in a war time situation. It is not ideal. It is not what anyone wants to do, but sometimes it is unavoidable.

I was thinking about the biggest battle – the one Jesus fought on the cross. He fought the battle against sin and death, and won the victory, so that I would not need to fight that battle myself. I live in the good of his victory. His death and resurrection have secured a relationship with God that I could not otherwise have. He had released into my life the power of the Holy Spirit.

There is nothing wrong with a noisy, praise filled response – the cheering and the clapping – but silence is not to be ignored either!

Monday, November 05, 2007

Sharing our faith

I found this verse in a much longer poem.

"For me 'twas not the truth you taught
To you so clear, to me so dim
But when you came to me you brought
A sense of Him"

(Author unknown)

Pick me!

I was one of those kids at school that never got picked for teams. PE classes would be abject humility when all the players people want on their team have been picked and all that remains are the left-overs. You know that you are not wanted, that you are seen not as an asset but a liability, but the teacher insists that you are chosen! Wearing glasses certainly didn’t help, but being a good six inches smaller than the rest of the class didn’t help either!

That is not to say that I didn’t end up on school teams. We had a house system. I was on the green team – it was named after a forest but the name escapes me. It was competitive – houses had netball teams and hockey teams – both of which I ended up on, not because I was any good at either sport, but because they couldn’t find anyone else to make up the numbers.

I knew they didn’t want me on the team. I very rarely got passed the ball in netball, and if I accidentally ended up with it, I knew I wasn’t allowed to hold it for long! In hockey I was tucked away at the edges of the team – a right wing, or a left wing – somewhere that I could do least damage!

I even remember ending up in a cookery competition, despite having a reputation for not being able to cook. Maybe the person they really wanted on the team was absent that day – but, yet again, they needed someone to make up the numbers. Unfortunately they couldn’t tuck me away in a small space between the fridge and the cooker this time out of harms way. I was required to bake a Victoria sandwich. No amount of butter icing on the top took away from the fact that the sponge had not risen. We lost the competition – but without me, we wouldn’t even have been entered.

No amount of enthusiasm on my part – and despite all my failures – I remained enthusiastic – made up for my obvious lack of ability and skill. But, it was soul destroying – the sound of the groan from the rest of the team when I joined their ranks!

I wonder if there were not a few groans when Jesus introduced Levi, the tax collector to the rest of the disciples. I don’t think anyone of them thought of themselves as great “disciple” material, none of them had any theological training, or “religious” potential – but then, none of them were basically crooks either.

When Peter and Andrew were called to follow Jesus they were promised that they would become fishers of men. When Levi was called it was just “Follow me.” He wasn’t promised anything. When Peter and Andrew were called they left their boats, they didn’t burn them, unlike Elisha who burned his plough and oxen to follow Elijah. If things didn’t pan out, they always had the boat to go back to, and for a short while after the death of Jesus, they did go back. Levi had nothing to go back to. There were plenty of people ready and willing to take up his tax booth. He left, with no promise to claim, and no Plan B if things didn’t work out.

Jesus had strolled along his part of the beach, parked himself within spitting distance of Levi’s tax booth and started teaching the crowds. One wonders what it was Levi overheard that made him not hesitate to follow the call.

There is a part of me that thinks it wasn’t what he heard at all – it was just that Jesus asked him. Jesus wanted him on his team and Levi had never been wanted before - well, not in that sense at least! Jesus is not picking the last team members out of the left-overs. Jesus had his choice of a hundred other men that day – all of them more socially acceptable with nice connections – but he chose Levi. He chose him, not to be another “fisher of men”, or even to be the banker of the group, but simply to be with Him. I think he chose him to show that if Levi, a tax collector and a cheat, can make the grade, there is hope for me too. If Jesus could want someone like Levi simply to be with Him, then maybe he would want me too.