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Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 18 April 2021

A couple of at-first-glance unconnected episodes in The Life of Lance have served to validate (at least anecdotally) my long-held theology of Grace, undeserved divine favour. Dog-carers among you will be familiar with the first. Leisa, our visiting niece and I went to Magnetic Island for the day on Friday last week. We promised Yannie as we left that we wouldn’t be very long. That was a well-meaning fib. Of course we were out all day, leaving her alone, and she’s not very well right now, an old dog who needs reassuring company. But when we came home, did she sulk and make us feel guilty for our day-long neglect? Not a bit of it, she cavorted all around the place, licking and loving any human in tongue-reach, saying with her body language, “Don’t worry about how I’ve been, I’m just happy to see you now, and I want to demonstrate unconditional, no mention of the past, love.” The second is more difficult to wrap our doctrinal minds around, but I think is related to the first. Someone on s

Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 11 April 2021

You’ve probably read or seen news about a possible side effect of Astra Zeneca’s COVID vaccine. As is often the case, the benefits of the vaccine outweigh its risks. For example, like many of you, I take low dose aspirin daily. It can cause stomach bleeding, and without an offsetting Nexium each day, it would cause ulcers. Its proven efficacy in helping to prevent stroke and arteriosclerosis outweighs those risks. But aspirin is still probably implicated in my episodes of indigestion, or as it is sometimes called, “heartburn”. Funny word. It sort-of crops up in scripture, but not in the same context, in Luke’s (ch24) account of the encounter between a couple of disciples and the risen Jesus on the Emmaus Road. “Did not our hearts burn within us … ?” And all good Methodists will be familiar with John Wesley’s experience at Aldersgate Chapel as he listened to the preacher expounding Luther’s introduction to Romans:     “My heart was strangely warmed”. As to the first, what always strikes

Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 28 March 2021

 I have a couple of problems with praying in a group or congregation (more than a couple, but these will do for the time being). Until I had a cochlear implant, I couldn’t hear if anyone else had started, or if they’d finished. So I opened my eyes, looked around, but even then I’d sometimes pray over someone who had started at the same time. And my dodgy balance means that I can’t close my eyes while I’m standing up, so I have to pray with my eyes open. We’re all agreed that praying is a  *good thing* . We should do it, and follow a bible reading plan, at least daily. But it’s not so easy, is it. The pace of modern life, family responsibilities, disillusion after apparently unanswered prayer, our own emotional state, all sorts of things get in the way, and all we can say is “This is too hard for me today, Lord, I can’t pray”.  Or this is too hard for me all week, all year. You know what? That’s a prayer. “This is too hard for me, Lord” is a prayer. And if you think about it, it’s a psa

Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 21 March 2021

  I’m settling some old business with Her Britannic Majesty’s government across the seas (ie I’m trying to get some of my own money out of them). Incredibly, well into the 21 st   Century, the correspondence has to take place by snail mail. They needed a signature. I signed. Some weeks later, one has to allow for unfavourable winds along the mailboat’s passage, one of Sir Humphrey’s minions advised that the signature didn’t match that in their records. I pointed out that the recorded signature was signed more than 50 years ago, and that everyone’s signature, certainly mine, changes over time. Further, nobody requires an analogue signature from me nowadays, they want a PIN or a digital signature. I’ll keep you posted on this engrossing matter. It isn’t only an analogue signature that I don’t scribble any longer, I rarely write anything with a pen or pencil, everything is typed on some i-device or other. But when I did write “the old-fashioned way”, my preferred tool was a fountain pen.

Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch newsletter 14 March 2021

I have never smoked cigarettes – well, the usual drag behind school bike sheds before being almost sick, and never trying them again. I used to have a cigar or two each year, to mark my or a friend’s birthday. It’s probably been twenty five years since I indulged in that Havana decadence. But I did enjoy smoking a pipe. Not so much smoking it, although I’ll come to that in a sec, but holding the lovely smooth bowl, savouring the exhaled cherry or whatever hint had been added to the tobacco, picking an aromatic pipe tobacco, wielding the stem as a pointer in pub discussions, playing with the tamp and pipe cleaners. If you’re familiar with an English pub, you’ll be able to imagine the scene. I even had a Donegal Tweed jacket, still do, it doesn’t fit now 🥲  Leisa will tell you that I spent more time playing with my pipes (English briars, Falcons, Meerschaums, an eclectic collection) than smoking. She would be right (she’s always right) because I never mastered the art of keeping them al

Ramble for Kirwan Uniting Church Keeping in Touch pew sheet 21 February 2021

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Perhaps the only people who don’t know about my current pash on air fryers, are the Martians whom NASA’s Perseverance rover is looking for. If any Martians intercept Keeping in Touch, and wonder what an air fryer is, it’s a sort of egg-looking thing, the size of a large food mixer, which whirls hot air around food in a basket to cook it. And crisp it. And make it yummy. But I digress. I’ve wanted one for a couple of years, but sensible Leisa said 1 We haven’t got room on the kitchen bench, and 2 It doesn’t do anything which an oven can’t do. So far as (2) is concerned, frozen chips, and frozen battered fish and chips, didn’t change her mind. But wait: a pork roast came out exactly right, with crackling to die for. As did salmon fillets with asparagus. No conventional oven competes. This morning, cheese and ham toasties beat anything which a sandwich press could produce. As for (1), we find intermittent room on the kitchen bench, so long as I hide the device in the ballroom between cook

Rambling for Kirwan Uniting Church Keep in Touch newsletter 31 January 2021

I’m not a very healthy eater, Leisa’s best efforts to reform me notwithstanding. Let me give you an example. You probably like apples as those crunchy, juicy round things you buy at Lamberts. While I like them as cider or, better still, Calvados. I am fond of  bananas, mind you.  As is Wendy Cope . But to get back to apples. My favourite form of apple is Apple, our house is teeming with them, a couple of iMacs, couple of iPads, couple of iPhones, an Apple TV, and assorted accessories. Bible compilers, in the Old Testament specifically, speak of “The apple of” (God’s usually) “eye.” Nowadays, in English, the phrase refers to someone or something which one cherishes above all others. We have Shakespeare to thank for this evolution of meaning. In Midsummer Night’s Dream, a fairy drops juice distilled from a flower which has been hit by Cupid’s arrow, into a sleeping young man’s eye, saying “Flower of this purple dye, / Hit with Cupid's archery, / Sink in apple of his eye”. Shakespear