16 November 2008

Moggerhanger Park - Together!

People came to Moggerhanger Park on 16th November from all around the area including St Neots, Royston, Bedford, Milton Keynes, and Wellingborough.

Some came early with children and walked in the park, now passing from late autumn towards early winter. Moggerhanger Park in the springOthers arrived as darkness fell. We all gathered in the Park's 'Garden Room' and chatted together, old friends greeting one another, and some meeting for the first time. The children chatted, played, coloured, and ran about as children do. How quickly and naturally they get to know one another with almost none of the guardedness of the adults!

Jim's sandwiches were marvellous, described as 'lovely', 'really great food', and 'top sandwiches!' by some of those who tried them. Tea and coffee was welcome as it was a crisply cool day.

We quickly discovered that we'd done some things well, others not so well. If we meet again one thing we'll be sure to do is put up signs showing visitors where to go. Moggerhanger Park is a large site and has several roadways, the permanent signs needed some temporary supplements - especially as some of us arrived in the dark.

Some of those with young children left early, those that remained sat in a large circle and we had a delightful and encouraging time of sharing, praise, and prayer. People were not shy and there was plenty of variety including pictures, prayer for healing, singing, and prophecy. As we had hoped and expected, Jesus was right there at the heart of all we did and said.

Everyone who added contact details to the clipboard also noted that they would like to meet again in future. There was a general feeling that we'll all benefit from keeping in touch informally from time to time.

Fomalhaut b

What, you may ask, is 'Fomalhaut b'? If you are interested in astronomy you will already know. Fomalhaut bFomalhaut b is a planet circling one of our Sun's nearest neighbour stars.

Fomalhaut b has been imaged twice by the Hubble Space Telescope, once in 2004 and again in 2006. This is important because it's the first time a planet outside our own Solar System has been seen to have moved in its orbit around its central star.

This is extraordinary news indeed. It's the same scale of forward step as Galileo seeing craters on the Moon for the first time, or discovering the rings of Saturn, Halley predicting the return of his eponymous comet, or the Apollo 11 Moon landing in 1969.

Why is it so important? It's a milestone because astronomers have long assumed that other stars have planets. In recent years the presence of such planets has been indirectly detected, but this is the first time we can claim to have seen the light reflected by an exoplanet. You may not have realised it, but you have just lived through a truly historic moment.

The difficulty of making these images is difficult to grasp. Look at the picture again (you can click the image to see the full-size version).

The star - In the middle of the full image (but near the upper left in the article's thumbnail picture) is a small white circle. This is not part of the image, it was added later, but it marks the position of the star (Fomalhaut). In reality the star would be far smaller, just the tiniest speck, it's shown much larger to make it easy to see.

The obscuring disk - if the Hubble telescope had just been pointed at the star, the overpowering brightness would have flooded the image with light so that nothing but glare would be visible.

To see details really close to the star, it's essential to block the direct starlight. This was done by moving an obscuring disk in front of the star, and this is seen in the image as the irregular black area around the central white dot.

The halo of diffracted light - Outside the black zone, some starlight is still diffracted into the surrounding area. This is the circular zone that looks like the iris of an eye, close inspection of the large version of the image reveals that it's made up of lines of light radiating out from the position of the star. This not a real, distant object, it's created by subtle interactions between the starlight and the structure of the telecope.

The debris disk - The oval shape (clearly visible only in the full-size version) is a band of dust, gas, and orbiting rock and ice particles. It's part of a disk of material which is in the process of condensing into planets. Fomalhaut is a young star and is still developing a planetary system.

The planet - Just inside the inner edge of the dusty band is where astronomers thought there might be a planet, and sure enough when they looked they found one! This is a gas giant, probably much like Jupiter though something like twice as large, and it is so bright that many astronomers suspect it must have a ring similar to Saturn's (but larger).

The real clincher is that the planet appears in two Hubble photos of Fomalhaut, taken two years apart. It has moved, as expected, in its orbit around the star.

For more information see

14 November 2008

Release it and let it fly

Have you ever held a wild bird in your hands? It's an extraordinary experience, the soft warmth of the feathers, the bright, shiny eyes, A blackbirdthe quivering of life held captive and quietly biding its time until it can be free again.

Some people keep birds as pets - budgies, parakeets, canaries, or finches. My first wife and I had three budgies over the years and it was a great way to get to know their individual personalities and foibles as well as the more general awesomeness of minutely patterned feathers and the miracle of flight.

But a wild bird held in the hand and then released to freedom, that is something altogether different.

First catch a bird - This is no easy task! Nor would I encourage anyone to try to catch a wild bird, it is certain to cause distress and perhaps injury. But several times I've had to catch a bird that's been accidentally trapped in a building. I've found that a quiet approach is best, confining the bird in a corner and cupping my hands around it gently and slowly has always worked in the end.

I remember this happening at Long Ashton Research Station (now long gone). I worked there from 1970 until 1998, there was an upstairs corridor bridging two of the main buildings and I found a frightened male blackbird trapped there when I came in to work one Saturday - there was nobody else around. The corridor had glass sides and doors at either end that were usually kept closed. The bird flew up and down the corridor and then backed into a corner where I was able to catch him quite easily.

Release - I carried the warm, passive bundle downstairs and out to the main entrance. I set him down on the concrete steps just outside the lobby, he looked around for a moment, spread his wings, and flew away squawking madly. What a joy to see him go, free again at last!

Even more delightful was the immediate appearance of a hen blackbird, evidently his mate. I have no idea how long the sleek, black male had been trapped, but she had hung around waiting for his return. And now, here he was, none the worse for his ordeal.

Freedom for the Church - There's a reason for relating this story just now. Just this morning I read a post by Prayeramedic on The Irony of Actuality. He writes,

I've been reading some more Kierkegaard -- very deep stuff, but profound (when I can make sense of it).

After showing that he has indeed made very good sense of Kierkegaard's words he quotes from another post entitled Uncontrollable. In it, Daniel writes,

Lately, we've been remarking on just how many different people we keep coming across, different spheres of where God is stirring things up, challenging his people to question the status quo, and ask Him once again how it is that He wants us to live as His disciples. What is so remarkable is that the more we scan the horizon, the more we begin to glimpse the scope and the massive scale of this response to the Spirit's prompting. One of the key characteristics of this shift, is that there is a growing understanding that the Kingdom is not run by a chain of command, no hierarchy, and that in fact there never was. As that reality is grasped, it is almost like seeing the ocean for the first time. No one owns it. No one controls it. No one person, and no one group, can claim to even to be able to monitor and record all that is happening amongst those who belong to Christ around the world.

We see people awakening to the idea that they do not in fact need to meet in special, religiously-oriented buildings, but can in fact meet anywhere, be it a coffee shop, park, beach, or home.

Trapped in a corridor - I was reminded of the blackbird. Like the bird, the Church has been trapped in a corridor. In the Church's case it's a corridor consisting of rules and regulations, power struggles, structures, organisations, and doctrines.

Just as the bird can see out, but not get out, so many in the Church have seen outside the box and have wanted to find the way out. But we can't get out on our own initiative, we need outside help. We need the Holy Spirit to steer us, we need the Shepherd to call us on, we need to be rescued and released.

Just in our day, it seems, people are catching a new vision of what it means to be a believer and follower of Christ. It doesn't mean sitting in a pew once a week, it does mean getting out into the world and living transformed lives in which friends, family, colleagues, and strangers alike can begin to see, not us, but Christ in us.

We are being lifted up by the gentle hands of Grace and deposited on the outside of this structure that has trapped us for so long. Now we are free to fly! Sometimes we need to be 'backed into a corner' like the blackbird before we can be lifted and removed from the place where we've been trapped.

Go on, stretch those wings, take a great leap into the air and fly. You have the freedom to do it, right now.

Begin to live - Let's be clear, it's quite possible for us to fly free - yet immediately start work on building a new structure! That's not what we are called to do. Yahshua told us, 'I AM the Way, the Truth, and the Life'. He is the Way so we need to be guided by him and follow the course he has set. He is the Truth so we are to believe all that he says about himself and about the Father and about our place and role in this world. And he is the Life so we are to live his life here in the world, not our own life.

Living our own lives is what got us into this mess in the first place. But now we can fly free and truly be his people in this place.

13 November 2008

Little Paxton - planning for Moggerhanger

Very brief notes only for this meeting.

We travelled over to Moggerhanger Park to make some final decisions about the planned celebration on 16th. The main decision was whether to use a room in the main house or to use the 'Garden Room'. We quickly agreed that the 'Garden Room' was ideal with plenty of space and a mix of tables and chairs at one end and an open area with rearrangeable seating at the other.

We retired to Jim's office and spent the rest of the evening chatting and in prayer.

11 November 2008

Great Doddington - Madeleine McCann and David Beckham

Tonight it was Rachael's turn to bring something to the table, and the evening turned into a discussion about family, both worldly and spiritual, loss, grief, hope, and the Lord's healing.

We thought about Madeleine McCann again, and prayed for her and her family in their continuing search for their beautiful daughter. Beacons of lightJody prayed that Father pour our His holy spirit upon Madeleine and her family, that they may continue to receive the blessing of hope, and she received a word that although we do not know the future, nevertheless He does, and that He continues to be very close to Madeleine at all times and holds her in His heart. We were reminded that all things work to His purpose, however impossible that may seem to us at the time. We prayed for Kate and Gerry McCann, that they might be gently guided to a place of acceptance, and for them and ourselves, that we might recognise Him as He really is, in the ordinary, everyday things in life.

We read aloud and discussed a prayer for Madeleine, single lines taken from different parts of the bible, strung together like a beautiful necklace with a distinct meaning for her, a love letter from her Father in heaven. This included the lines 'my dear child, I knew you even before you were born' (Jeremiah 1:4-5), 'my plan for you future has always been filled with hope' (Jeremiah 29: 11), and 'when you are broken hearted I am close to you' (Psalm 34: 18).

Peter prayed that we can be beacons of light, and that we might be strengthened to carry His word beyond ourselves. This led Jody to pray that we be enabled to leave everything worldly behind, and do the things that He speaks of, and be in the places He want us to be. We thanked Him for reminding us that He always loves us.

Rachael shared a picture. She was walking slowly down a beautiful winding flight of stairs. At the bottom were some French doors, fully opened, and a gentle breeze moving the voile curtain at each side. She walked out into a beautiful garden, where everything was perfect, with wonderful flowers of fabulous colours and scents, melodic birdsong, a peaceful and tranquil place that gave her rest and healing. This is His garden, where we can visit at any time, just by thinking of Him. He will transport us to a place of calm filled with His love when we call upon Him for help.

Jody also saw a picture, of an angel fish swimming in really dark water. There was a chemical phosphorescence in it's scales, which meant that even when a very tiny ray of light hit it, it shone and lit up. Jody described a feather like fin on the fish, green, blue and red, iridescent, which glowed in the darkness. God is saying that He is the fin that propels us forward, even when it is dark He knows the way, even when the water is really black, He is still very colourful and is able to move us around in the world for His purpose.

Rachael read some short extracts from David Beckham's autobiography. David is not a Christian, as far as we know, but nevertheless some of the things he has written about in his book about family, lit up with a meaning beyond his own. For example, where he says that until he loved his own children, he never really realised how much his mum and dad loved him. As parents ourselves, with the birth of a new baby, we have all experienced anew the realisation that this special joy must be a reflection of how much our heavenly Father loves us. In knowing how deeply we feel for our own child, we get some inkling of His attachment to us.

David describes the birth of his second son, when he had expected, having experienced it once before, to be ready for the emotions it brought. But then says 'that's not how it was for me at all. ...the feelings of excitement and happiness, of pride and awe, just flooded through me with all the same intensity they had three years before.....it took my breath away....I could feel my heart grow to make room for the new life'. It seemed amazing to us that our Father in heaven feels something like this when one of us is reborn. That each one of us is special to Him, that He has enough room in His heart for all of us to thrive and grow in the spirit.

06 November 2008

Eaton Ford - Searching and forgiveness

Brief notes only were kept for this meeting.

We considered Psalm 130, and especially verse 4 which speaks of forgiveness. Then we thought about John 6:16-69.

The people searched really hard for Yahshua, they looked everywhere. Verse 26 shows that they were looking because they'd been fed whereas what they really needed was to believe in Christ (verse 29). They were looking for proof, edible proof! (verse 31).

In verse 60 we see that this is a hard teaching. If Jesus is the sacrifice for sin then the Temple and the priests and the Law are superfluous. Everything changes!

It's a very hard and unpalatable teaching - throw away everything you think you know and start again!

Copyright

Creative Commons Licence

© 2002-2017, Chris J Jefferies

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License. A link to the relevant article on this site is sufficient attribution. If you print the material please include the URL. Thanks! Click through photos for larger versions. Images from Wikimedia Commons will then display the original copyright information.
Real Time Web Analytics