Wednesday, 29 December 2010

Prayer - Serious and Funny

Prayer 4

3 min script

Well I did say I would try and tackle the subject of serious conversation in terms of prayer.  I said last time we talked that prayer, i.e. conversation with God can be seen as fun, not just as… well we what do many people see it as?  A chore? A pressure?  A duty?  What a shame, why isn’t it fun?  Why isn’t it just normal life?

Before I tell you about that serious conversation, let me first tell you a story.  A good friend of mine one day, in a sort of half-serious conversation asked me if I thought that God could or would tell jokes or make fun. I think he was a little unsure of my reaction, but I thought about it for a moment and then I said, ‘Well it seems to me that if God is our designer, and we can enjoy jokes, we have a sense of humour, then I guess God must also have a sense of humour as he invented us that way.’  I sensed he was relieved by my answer because then he said, ‘Would you like to hear a joke that God told me?’  I wasn’t sure what was coming next but I definitely wanted to know.

My friend told me that he was in a church meeting; he was there because he was taking part in the meeting, but he was not enjoying it. He was sitting by himself at the back of the hall and feeling really bored.  He didn’t like it and he didn’t want to be there, and nothing that was being said seemed relevant to life.  He thought to himself, this is so boring I bet God isn’t even here.  Then he started to pray in a light-hearted way, and he said, ‘Father, I don’t like this meeting, it’s boring, it’s irrelevant and I don’t think you are even here.’ My friend said that it seemed God spoke to him and said, ‘Oh no son, you are wrong, I am here, omnipresence has its problem.’  My friend, sitting at the back of the meeting had put his hand over his mouth to stifle a chuckle, and he said he gave better attention to the people that were there in the meeting after that joke.

So onto that serious stuff, I work in a very busy office with lots of busy people, my wife also works with me, or rather we work together.  Sometimes people give me messages for my wife when she is not in the office, and then they will say to me the next day, ‘Did you give your wife the message?’ And I will say, ‘Sorry, I haven’t had a chance to talk with her.’ They often frown at this comment and ask if I actually live with my wife, and if I do, do I actually talk to her.  Well I do live with my wife and I do talk to her, but there is talking and then there is talking. My home, as well as my office is a very busy place, usually we share it with at least four or five other people, so exclusive conversation is not always easy.  Both my wife and I understand this.

Sometimes I will say to my wife, Pauline, ’ we need to talk.’  Of course, I am talking to her in that very sentence, but Pauline understands what I mean when I say ‘we need to talk’ and she will respond by saying, ‘Okay, let’s go out for a coffee and a chat.’  Now that kind of talk is more in-depth, more serious, more constructive.  It is usually a sharing of ideas, perhaps making plans, sometimes trying to solve some knotty problem or difficulties that we or others are facing. We use this exclusive time to air our thoughts and ideas in a more in-depth manner, this talking time goes beyond our surface conversations, they would not work at times like these.

I often take that approach with God; I find it is possible to talk to God in very general terms and to pray for all sorts of things. I like to think of it as the sort of conversation that goes on between friends all the time, and of course good friends don’t need to be talking all the time, that can be frustrating can’t it?  Friends can just be together and not talk; there is even communication in silence.

So my communication approach to Father God is often the same as with my wife, or course we talk all the time at a certain level, but as you can see there are times when I say to her ‘we need to talk.’  And I also do that with Father God, I say ‘God we need to talk, I know you know where I am at, I know we have had conversations, but I need to talk seriously to you and I guess more importantly, I need to listen to you seriously, I need to understand what you want, think and expect from me right now, I need you to help me understand where this situation is going.’  That’s what I call the serious conversation, I guess that’s what we could call serious prayer, but it’s still talking to God and it’s still two-way, and actually sometimes, what God does say to us can be very surprising indeed, and that might throw us, particularly if we have a view on how God works with his friends, but that’s another subject, maybe for next time.

But the great thing about talking to God is he can share in the fun stuff and the serious stuff, we can talk to him on every level, and if we listen, he’ll respond to us in the same way.

W. 979
Editor A Brookes

Does God have a sense of humour? I think so, be good to hear your experiences.
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Sunday, 12 December 2010

Prayer - men in white coats

Prayer 3

Well, as promised, today I’m going to talk about the problem of hearing right when we are praying, and by praying I mean not just saying things to the ceiling, but actual two way conversations with God.  Of course, I don’t overlook the problem these days, especially in the west, of the fact that if you tell people you are talking to God and listening to God, they might rush you off to a place where they put people who are ‘hearing things’.

That almost happened to me, one day I was visiting a person in hospital, actually they had been sectioned because they were ‘hearing things’ I’m not sure where from.  I had brought a friend with me to visit the patient; my friend was a doctor, of medicine not psychiatry. We were chatting to the psychiatrist, discussing the prognosis of the patient and my friend happened to mention that he had heard from God.  I was instantly very nervous as I thought the psychiatrist was going to have my friend sectioned as well.  Therein lies the problem, some people are hearing ‘things’ rather than hearing from God.

Let me tell you a story, this is one of the stories in a book I wrote called ‘Hello is that you God’ which is all about hearing from God, and this is how the story goes.  Some years ago I took a crowd of young people to a friend’s church, the group were mainly English young people, most of them were Londoners, born and bred.  The church we were visiting was a Ghanaian community, and in the past when I had spoken there they had run their meetings in their own language, providing me with an interpreter.  Although the church was based in London, and the majority of the members spoke English to a greater or lesser degree, they felt it was easier to run meetings in their first language.  On this occasion, as I was visiting with a group of English speaking youngsters, they decided to run the whole service in English.

It was a long meeting with lots of singing, dancing and preaching, all in English to accommodate the group I had brought along for the experience, and they all seemed to be enjoying themselves.  Towards the end of the meeting I turned to the group I had brought and said, ‘Isn’t it kind of them to run the whole thing in English because we are here.’ Without exception, they all looked at me with a bemused expression, then one of them said, ‘But no-one has said a word of English the whole way through!’

It was now my turn to look bemused, I didn’t know what they were on about, I said, ‘What do you mean, they’re singing in English now!’  ‘No, they’re not, we can’t understand a word.’ They said to me.  As the song went on, I pointed out the words to them, admittedly the words carried a heavy West African accent, but gradually the light of understanding dawned on the faces of my young friends. ‘Wow, you’re right,’ they said, ‘they are singing in English!’  My conclusion was that I had been there many times, and listened to the people sing and speak, and was now easily able to understand the accent and hardly noticed it was there, but for my friends, this was their first time, something entirely new and their understanding was clouded.

It’s interesting that the same kind of phenomena occurs in the Bible, for example when Jesus was baptised and God spoke to him it’s obvious that Jesus heard and understood the words, but for the crowd of onlookers, they just heard a noise, a bit like my friends at the Ghanaian meeting. Then again, in the account of Paul on the Damascus road, he sees a light, falls off a donkey and then hears Jesus saying, ‘Why are you persecuting me?’  Paul clearly hears the words, and his life is turned around, but those with him didn’t hear the words, they said that it thundered.  So it does seem to me that sometimes, perhaps many, many times, God is speaking to us but we don’t hear him, what we hear is thunder, or what we think is our own mind, or worse the effects of the drink or cheese from the night before.

So where do we go from here, well like a young child learning to talk, understanding comes gradually, and takes practice. The same applies to an older child learning a new language, and all its various sounds, it takes practice. Watch a young child experimenting with language, they are practicing, they don’t always get it right, and they don’t always get it wrong, and the practicing doesn’t seem like hard work, it’s fun. And to hear from God will take practice too, and I don’t think talking to God is hard work, it’s often just fun, there will be some serious talks, which may not be so much fun, but perhaps that’s another subject for a talk or discussion.  It would be great to hear your stories and opinions.

Adrian Hawkes
For UCB scripts
W. 865
Editor: A Brookes If you're hearing a voice in your head after talking to God, it may not mean you need the men in white coats...

Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Prayer - monologue

Prayer 2
3 Min Script

 Well hello again, and again I am still thinking about prayer and still wondering about lots of things concerning this subject.  Here is one for starters, why is it that for lots of people, it seems to involve lots and lots of talking?  I guess they think it’s a one way conversation, a monologue rather than a dialogue.
I have travelled quite a lot and seen many things concerning prayer; prayers that are written on paper and then pinned to trees to flutter in the wind, lots of religious people seem to have things like beads to pray with, and perhaps these things are helpful, I don’t know, but it still all seems like one way traffic. Once, when I was abroad, travelling in the back of a taxi, the driver suddenly stopped the car, scribbled something on a piece of paper, jumped out  and put the paper and some money  into a box on the wall.  When he got back into the car I was curious and asked him what that was all about, he smiled and told me it was a prayer.
In another country there was a crowd of people around a big glass box with a statue in it.  I sidled up to one of the people on the edge of the crowd and asked ‘Do you speak English?’ I find that’s always a good way for me to start a conversation. ‘Yes’ they said with a smile. So I asked him what the crowd of people were doing. He told me, ‘we are praying to our god.’ I asked him, ‘Why is your god in a big glass box?’  He smiled benignly and explained ‘You see if the god wasn’t in a box everyone would touch the god and the god would get dirty!’
It seems to me that the gospel, the good news of Jesus Christ, his birth, death and resurrection is all about repairing the broken relationship between us humans and Father God. Now for a relationship to be a real one it does seem to me that there ought to be two-way communication, rather than just one way.  And I know that some people do talk a lot and expect others to just listen, but I really don’t think God is like that.  Jesus said to his followers, ‘I don’t want to call you servants because a servant does not know what the master is going to do, instead,  I call you friends because you do understand, I have told you what the father has told me.’  That’s in John’s gospel, chapter 15 verse 15
Now I don’t think that communications ended with the first followers, those early disciples.  Hey, I am a follower and a disciple of Jesus and maybe you are too.  I want to know what the Father’s business is, don’t you?  Yes I know we have the Bible, but this is a new age and whilst the values don’t change some things do.  For example, I don’t worry too much about falling off a donkey like Paul, but I do worry about crashing my car! So yes, I do want a two way conversation.
So it seems to me that I need not only to talk to God, to pray, but I also need to listen to God to see what he is saying to me.  Let me tell you a little story, I was working with a guy called George Canty and he would sit on a platform in a meeting and often tell me things that were going on in the lives of people sitting in the audience, people he had never met before and neither had I.  I said to him one day, ‘Why does God tell you these things and not me?’ He said, ‘Maybe you’re not listening, maybe you talk too much.’  I remember going home, lying in bed and saying to God (praying that is) ‘God I do want to talk to you, but I also want to hear you, can you talk to me?’
Now I would say God spoke to me, but it wasn’t a voice I heard with my ears, it was more of a perception in my mind, it seemed as though God said to me, ‘Yes I will talk to you, I have always been here and wanted to, but you have been busy talking to me and not listening.’ So I said to God, ‘Okay, if this is you talking to me, and not something I am making up in my head, and it’s not me having a conversation with myself, help me to know that it really is you.’  God said to me, ‘Well now, what does this verse say?’ and he gave me a chapter and verse in a certain book in the bible.

I lay there quite a while thinking and thinking and finally I said to the voice in my head, ‘Actually, I don’t even know how many chapters are in that book, and I certainly don’t know what that verse says even though I have thought and thought.’
The voice in my head said, ‘Well there is that many chapters in that book, and this is what the verse says,’ and the words of a verse ticked through my head, then the voice said, ‘you have a Bible right by your bed on the cabinet, look it up now and see if that really is what the verse says.’  I switched on the light, picked up the Bible and thought, ‘oh dear this is not the version I usually read, so what it says in here will not be in the right language, it won’t in the words that I originally learned, I’ve got this completely wrong, this is just my imagination .’ And then I heard the voice say, ‘Did you think that I didn’t know what version of the Bible was by your bed!’ How embarrassing.  I turned to the verse and it said, word for word, what I had heard in my head.
I know God wants to talk with us, learning to listen is the hard thing and hearing correctly is sometimes even harder, we will talk more about that next time.

Adrian L Hawkes
For UCB 3 min spots
Editor A Brookes
W. 1033
Do you monologue when you talk to God? It can be much more than that....up next

Monday, 22 November 2010

Prayer - Questions


Thinking about Prayer, there is lots of things that puzzle me. Let me ask you some questions.  Why is it that Prayer through the night, all night is better than prayer through the day all day?

Why is it that some people have to shout loud when they pray, Perhaps God is a little deaf, that happens when you get older, though it would surprise me if that has happened to God. Though I have to say that I doubt that he is frightened either so shouting probably doesn’t bother Him.

Why is it that when some people pray they pray so quietly in a whisper, maybe its because someone told them that if you whisper people believe you even if its not true and they hope to catch God out.

Why is it that we close our eyes and bow our heads when we pray, again as you get older that’s a recipe for dropping off.

Why is it that when some people pray they have to scrunch up their face, which they don’t do when they are talking to other people, is there something spiritual about scrunched up faces?

Why is it that when people talk about prayer, and of course fasting they make a big announcement about it, and what is that about anyway are we trying to twist Gods arm and persuade Him to agree with us.  Strange that when Jesus talked about fasting in that odd instant he said “When you fast, do not look somber as the hypocrites do, for they disfigure their faces to show men they are fasting. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.”

I have thought a lot about prayer, when I was a youngster around my late teens I got it into my head that praying was very good, it is, but I went along to our regular weekly church prayer meeting, every Tuesday evening, bit strange really as I was the only one under about 50 years old there. Most times it was very boring, let me be honest, and the strange thing was there was one man who always prayed at 8.40pm every Tuesday evening. It was long, long prayer, and actually I don’t really know what he prayed about, I just remember that there were lots of Fathers, Jesus, God, Lord, Our Lord, Our God, in it and it did seem as though the sentences where joined up by those words rather than and, or but or anyway, and things like that.  The thing I notice was that when he stopped the leader of the meeting would say Amen and the meeting would be over. 

Now I am older I often wonder why I went there every Tuesday, I guess I thought it was the right thing to do.  Perhaps it was.  Taught me other things even if it was not about prayer, things like patience, stick ability and consistence to name a few.
So anyway there are some of my questions about prayer for you to think about, maybe you could email me your questions or tell me of you puzzling things about prayer.

Oh and another thing, why does God need us to pray, he knows what we will say anyway.  Let me tell you a story, I think a strange story that happened to one of my prayers.

I was in a guest house in Wales, when I was woken up, I cant explain quite what I mean by that but it was a bit like God shook me and said to me “get up and pray for your friend and he said his name” Now I was only in touch with this friend spasmodically, I met him some years previously in Italy, but he was Finnish.  So I got out of bed and prayed for him, praying I no not what because I didn’t really know why I was praying.  I suppose I could have stayed in bed and prayed, but it seemed it was serious so I didn’t.  I even kneeled down, bit unusual for me I must confess.  I kept talking to God about my friend and finally felt, O.K. God I reckon you have heard my prayer and answered it whatever the answer is!

By the way this is before emails, mobile phones and text messages, but I did write a letter to my friend and ask him where was he at 3.00am on such and such a date, and what was he doing?  A few weeks later he wrote back and told me, he said “ I was out late at night talking with people about Jesus, finally I was by myself and a man came up to me with a knife and pushed me down a dark ally, I thought it was the end, he was obviously trying to rob me, I was up against a wall with the knife to my throat, when suddenly he dropped the knife and ran away, and I don’t know why there was no one there and now one came to my rescue, why do you ask”.

Well what I really want to ask is God obviously new what the situation was, and he obviously did something about it, but why should I be involved, I guess I was encouraged by the timing and the answered prayer even though I didn’t know what I was praying for or about, but it’s still strange isn’t it.  Maybe it’s because God just loves to involve us in what he is doing.

Adrian Hawkes
W. 943
Prayer 1 for UCB
Editor A Brooks

Calling all God botherers... when we talk to him are we twisting his arm or working with him? Discuss.

Friday, 5 November 2010

Were Are We Now?

Where are we now?

Many people do not understand that spending a heritage is like draining capital; in this case it is cultural capital
Many do not understand that our UK cultural capital has been laid down over many centuries via strong Judeo-Christian emphasis; that does not mean that I believe we have ever been a ‘Christian country’ whatever that means.  But we have inculcated values that help us live, keep us safe, make us  generous and help us to treat each other with respect and dignity.
Each time a bit of the law of the land reverses that cultural capital, or erodes it by practice it makes many things harder for all of us.  In what way you might ask, well in very practical ways, for example:
·         The pressure to keep married if you are married
ILL: as someone said on Radio 4 question time recently, we have dismantled the family and replaced it with the welfare state and it really isn’t working.
·         The pressure to stay sexually healthy
·         The pressure to benefit your children with a stable home and good role models both male and female
·         The pressure to stay financially solvent
·         The pressure to care for the stranger who comes into our country
·         The pressure to work and care for others

We need to understand that these values are in the culture, and actually they did not appear from nowhere.
ILL: Recently I was in a government think tank environment and we were asked to come up with ways that OFSTEAD inspectors could judge if a school is working well ‘morally’; OFSTEAD are required to inspect a school on that subject by UK law.  We were told we couldn’t change the law, but we could advise best way forward.  My problem straight away was how do you get a moral base unless you have a moral giver or to put it another way a law giver.  In my group were Muslims, Sikhs, Jews, Hindus, Roman Catholics and some from ACE Christian schools, oh yes and one humanist.  All agreed moral imperatives don’t come from nowhere, all except that is the humanist.  I asked him why is it that Britain is often so generous to other countries who are far away but who are going through natural disasters like earthquakes, or famine or floods.  Why is it the British are actually very good givers, yet there are other nations who are as rich as we are if not richer yet they see no need to help, his response was, ‘well that’s their problem we have ours.’
The humanist argued with all those who expressed any kind of faith saying to me, we are generous because we used to be a colonial power!   Hang on a minute I thought colonialism was, to a great extent, about getting what we could from others, or did I miss something. 

Yes I know it was about trade, and also Christians went along to share the message of good news, but there was a lot of exploitation too. In the end I said to the humanist, I am so glad you disagree with me, (he did on every subject), and he looked puzzled and asked why.  I said well if you agreed with me I would think I must be wrong!

People of a faith may disagree on a lot of things, but they know one thing and that is moral prerogatives do not come from inside mankind; rather it comes from another source.  Each time the culture takes its own supposedly amoral direction, but more often than not, immoral direction then we have squandered a little more of our culture value capital, and in the end we are broke, morally, and that’s worse than having an economic downturn or financial cut backs or being  financially broke.


I worry about those who think there is no strategy to people of the way, or that we do not need one. I am sure we do, but not one that hems us in, or turns us into ‘religious’ people or that becomes humanised, corporate, institutionalised and fixed. We need that Celtic wild goose experience that is God led, and let me tell you He has a strategy. 

 Why do you think that in the early first century people like Paul set their face toward Rome, it was a lot more than the tourist in him, he new that Rome then was influential and he want to influence.  Why does Jesus set His face toward Jerusalem, he is determined to go there, scripture says it was the plan, it was the Fathers strategy for rescue.

So what is our strategy?  It ought to be to influence, to be salt, to be light.  Not to attack, notice Paul starts at the point where people are, he circumcises John Mark, because he believes that he should be so, not because he was willing to go in that direction but to enable others to hear him.  On Mars Hill, he starts where the people are. He says ‘I see you have an alter to the unknown God, I have come to show you him!’  Does he start by quoting scripture at them no; rather he says, ‘your poets have said....’  Our strategy must not be condemnation, but friendship and cooperation without letting go of who we are and what we hold dear.  How many Muslim, Hindu or Sikh friends do you have? You need them. If you haven’t got any then go and find some, understand them, understand their culture, understand their ways, not for false compromise but because scripture says that he that who wins people is wise, very wise.

One of the frightening things that we do is to dehumanise people, we do this by giving humans strange names that make them less than human which then enables us to treat them as other than wonderful beings made in the Image of God. I noted in the Northern Island troubles that Catholics would refer to Protestants as Prods and the Protestants would refer to the Catholics as Papists, both in a sense dehumanising each other so it’s almost as if, when you kill them you are not killing a human being. And also like phrases used in war: ‘body count’  or ‘civilian collateral damage’ for those phrases read ‘dead people’, or worse still mothers, sons,  fathers, daughters; that changes our perception, do not dehumanise people they are people whom God loves.


What will it look like?

Do we know what we are looking for – personally I want to be obedient to the command to ‘seek first the Kingdom of God’ and if we are seeking it we should have some idea what it will look like when we find it.  ‘Our Father which art in Heaven, your Kingdom come your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven. Peace, righteousness, justice, wholeness, let’s find it, Let us be the salt / influence that brings it to earth. Let us be a light that shows the way.  You cannot do that without being involved in the culture, changing it, seeking the Kingdom in it, in the areas that make and mould the culture education, arts and media, politics, business. And you can’t do any of that without getting your hands dirty and being involved and that means touching all the people not just the ones that you perceive are nice enough to become Christians; whatever that means.

Newcastle on Tyne 22nd October 2010
Adrian Blog
Editor A. Brookes
W .1264

Thursday, 4 November 2010

Did British culture just drop out of the sky? And as it changes dramatically is that a coincidence too? coming soon to

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Each time I think I will move on to the next Blog someone post a new comment GREAT

Friday, 29 October 2010

I was going to update my Blog and on face book but so many have commented that have left there a little longer

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

Church and Structures

To structure or not to structure, that is the question.

The people I mix with have got somewhat bored with, and no longer wish to think about or discuss church structure.  That’s rather a shame as I believe it’s important and perhaps seminal to the current time and the cultural collapse.

If pressed into a debate they say that it doesn’t matter what form of ecclesiology the ‘local’ church takes as long as we love God. The problem I have with this train of thought, the sentiment of which I understand, is that tradition and form often has a huge molding effect on our thinking and thus our actions. And as we know, wrong thinking leads to wrong actions, and wrong principals to wrong values.

There are also those who constantly plead for a return to New Testament church practice, as if we know precisely how it was organised, and even if we did, are we going to avoid development and live in the past?  A problem with this debate is that they don’t distinguish donkeys from Daimlers  or a slave based structure from a democratic society.  They also seem to overlook the problems experienced by the early church and its practices, much of the New Testament was written to correct such practices and problems.

As I often say to theology students, beavering away on their degrees, with ambitions to take up positions overseeing a local community following their graduation.  ‘Hmmm… not quite sure your ideas would work out too smoothly in a church in ancient Corinth; I don’t think I would want to be a leader sorting out those crazy values.’  But idealistic students do tend to have this rosy view of what church life is like, and have very black and white answers on how to deal ‘theologically correctly’ with problems.

So we have this rejection of structure, and as I have stated above, I do have sympathy for this point of view when I see what some ‘structured churches’ are like, or what I would call organised religion, but I don’t believe it’s the structure that is at fault. As human beings we need structure and regularity in our lives even if it is only to remember a basic requirement like cleaning our teeth each day.

If you look at history in general and church history in particular you can see how it ebbs and flows, there will come a time of refreshment,  increased knowledge of God, a renewing of horizontal and vertical relationships but then gradually man takes over and it solidifies, stultifies, settles and secularises. This says more about our sinful nature that seeks money, power and sex, than about the structure.  Ultimately we can even end up allowing God’s power to corrupt us so that we rule and lord it over people, bringing them under our control rather than into God’s love and freedom.  Eventually the organisation or denomination takes on a life of its own, often far removed from Godly values.  Power rules and people ask the legitimate question ‘is this how a simple follower of Jesus would act?’

We need to remember the foundational building block which is, Jesus said, ‘I will build my church.’  Perhaps we think that as he has gone away that we should now take up the baton, and when we do that, what a mess we make. This is because we confuse the ‘church’ with the ‘kingdom’. God told us to seek the kingdom and he will build the church. The church is not the kingdom and the kingdom is not the church. The church should be seeking the kingdom, which is so much bigger than the church.  We get sidetracked building the church, when actually we should be seeking the kingdom.

The challenge therefore is to be kingdom-minded; here are a couple of quotations which you may find helpful as you take up this challenge;

“The church gets into trouble whenever it thinks it is in the church business rather than the Kingdom business.  In the church business, people are concerned with church activities, religious behavior and spiritual things.  In the Kingdom business, people are concerned with Kingdom activities, all human behavior and everything God has made, visible and invisible.  Church people think about how to get people into the church, kingdom people think about how to get the kingdom into the world. 
Church people worry that the world might change the church, Kingdom people work to see the church change the world!” Howard Snyder.

“The Kingdom is a dynamic greater than the church. If you pursue the church you won’t find the Kingdom, but if you pursue the Kingdom you will find the church.”  Simon Markham.

Adrian Hawkes
For Adrian's Blog
W. 860
Editor A. Brookes

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Next on is Church and structures

Monday, 4 October 2010

Just for fun my POPE stories are on the Blog

At the end of the Pope's visit to the UK here are my Pope stories - just for fun

 At the end of the Pope’s visit I present to you my Pope stories…..

I have lots of stories about my wife, her antics are a mine of interest and humour, let me share a couple with you. 

Story one  - Who is he

Some years ago I had a friend, let’s call him Scott (not his real name), he was South African.  When we were in South Africa we stayed at his home and consequently got to know him well.  He even used to lend me his car so that we could explore the country.  Some years later my rather famous friend was appointed as a special representative to the Vatican, speaking on behalf of his religious denomination.

As Scott was attending many meetings in Rome on behalf of his denomination it became very newsworthy, and one day, on the front cover of an international magazine, a photograph was published of Scott with the man who was Pope at the time; inside was a large spread all about the work he was doing.

My wife and I and a group of friends were in central London and we walked past a newsagents; the window display was of this same magazine, along with the photograph of Scott and the Pope.  Pauline scrutinised the picture, then turned to our friends to say, ‘We know him, that’s our friend Scott, but who is that man with him, the one in the funny dress?’

Story two  Ignorance is bliss

A couple of years ago my wife kindly treated me to a trip to Rome as part of my birthday celebrations.  If you a doing the sights in Rome, you must, or course, visit the tiny nearby country called ‘Vatican City’ which, as it happens, is the smallest country in the world. We wandered around taking in the sights and sounds and inspected the Swiss Guard.  Pauline noticed that there was a meeting of some kind taking place in the chapel.

She was keen to go in, I was not, but as she had treated me to this trip I thought it best to tag along.  It was obviously some sort of celebratory mass, not that I understand much about Catholic ecclesiology. There was a crowd of people at the front of the chapel and we watched as a procession of men moved down the isle, one of them had on a very large pointed had.  Pauline asked ‘Is that the Pope?’ ‘No,’ I replied, ‘but he might be one day; I think he’s an archbishop judging by the special hat.’

We found a couple of empty seats and sat down.  Pauline then decided that if they were doing communion then she was going to join in at the front.  I told her, ‘it’s for Catholics’, but she was having none of it, saying ‘I follow Jesus so I’m sure I must be included.’ She headed off to the front.  I sat tight.

There was a large multi-national crowd at the front, the man in the big hat was moving along the rows of people with a container of wafers, which he was placing on outstretched tongues.  As he placed each one he said, ‘bless you my child’.  Pauline wanted to return the favour, so she put her hand on him in order that she could bless him back. In a trice, the plain clothes security squad was at his side, to protect him from perceived danger.

Once the members of the crowd had received communion they began returning to their seats, whereupon I found that Catholic love and grace does not extend to someone who has pinched their seat, I was swiftly ejected from my perch, and was made to feel I had committed a heinous crime.  I managed to squeeze in at the end of the row just as Pauline returned.  The procession now weaved it’s way out of the chapel and Pauline noticed that the man in the big hat was waving at her (or so she thought, he was, in fact, pronouncing a blessing on the assembled crowd) and she began waving back frantically at her new found friend.

I perceived rapid, shadowy movements out of the corner of my eye, so I put my hand in the small of her back, began propelling her to the exit and hissed, ‘It’s time to leave, NOW!” before it’s too late and the plain clothes security squad arrested you as a trouble-maker.

Adrian Hawkes
For Blog Spot
w. 750
Editor A. Brookes

Tuesday, 14 September 2010

This is just for fun - GETTING YOUR HAIR DONE

Getting your hair done

Black people in my church community, well to be more specific, the black girls, tell me that I need to understand that getting their hair done is:

·         Expensive

·         Takes a very long time to do

For years I took this on board as fact and sympathised with the money they shelled out and the hours they spent sitting in the hairdressers.  One morning I woke up and thought, ‘today I’m going test this fact out, I’m going to take my white man’s hair to a black hairdressers.’

Lunch time came around and I left the office and headed to the local black hair salon.  Now I must confess that it was a ladies salon, but that did not seem to bother the hair stylist when I popped my head round the door and asked, ‘can you fit me in for a hair cut?’ ‘Yes darling, come in and take a seat,’ was the willing reply. 

It was 1pm

I was ushered to a seat by the basin and my hair was washed quite quickly, then, with a towel wrapped round my head I was offered tea; then cake and other goodies appeared and after quite some time I was placed in a chair in front of the stylist who began to scrutinise my hair.  She pulled it this way, and then that way, and then back to how it had been, and then it started all over again.  All the while chatting away and telling me the local news, the music soothed me, and the cutting and styling went on.  And on and on.  And on.  Eventually it was done, and done very well I must admit.  The cost was not that high considering all the food and drink and time spent based on an hourly rate.  Being of the male species I’m not sure I want to spend so much time on getting my hair done, I gave her a generous tip and went on my way.

It was 5pm.

Now, when the girls say, we are black and our hair takes time and money.  I reply, ‘You can’t kid me, I know all about your hairdressers!’

Adrian Hawkes
For Adrian’s Blog
W. 375
Editor: A. Brookes
Just for fun - on hair

Wednesday, 8 September 2010

A Strange Story

Strange story

Some years ago I was invited to speak at a church meeting.  My theme was ‘getting involved’, Pauline was with me and she also spoke along similar lines, emphasising the need for people who call themselves Christian to ‘get their hands dirty’ and care for God’s world.  James 1:27 (NIV) tells us, ‘religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and keep oneself from being polluted by the world.’  I spoke about the shortage of foster carers in England and Wales, another 10,000 are needed.  The people in this community responded in a positive way, and quite a few became foster carers and adoptive parents.  10 years on it’s encouraging to see the fine results that those people have achieved.

I got to know one couple very well, and when I went to visit them I was struck by how small their house was compared to how large was their willingness to get involved. I said, ‘you need more room!’  We sat down and looked through their finances, and they said they couldn’t afford a bigger house.  I am an eternal optimist when it comes to such things and so I said, ‘I think you can, but that’s just my optimism, let me send you a financial advisor to see if he agrees with me.’  They agreed and my financial advisor went to see them and came to the same conclusion as me, he even arranged a mortgage for them.  All that was needed now was to find the right house and sell their small house.  Eventually they found a house and when we saw it we were staggered by the size and the extensive land that surrounded it.  The price was a stretch for their finances, but after we had prayed together it seemed that this was the right place and would help this couple to achieve all that was in their heart.

Offers were made and accepted, their small home sold quickly and we were just getting ready for celebrations when there was a twist in the tail.  I received a tearful phone call from the couple telling me that their house was sold, the contract signed, moving in date arranged, but the large house they wanted to buy was no longer available, the seller had called them to say he was removing it from the market.  Instead of celebrations, commiserations; instead a large house, homelessness.  No wonder there were tears and prayer requests.

The next few months were very tough, the couple and their permanent lodger moved in with a relative who had a house almost as small as the one they had sold, they were living a nightmare and didn’t know what to do next.  Then one day the wife did something very weird and even to this day she has no idea why she did it. 
Her husband cycled to work every day, and she strapped a large sack of salt to the back of the bike, her husband assumed that it was to help him to keep fit, as he was having to push those peddles very hard to propel himself and  the huge sack of salt. (It was impressed on me how enormous the sack was).  At the time she said she had read in the bible somewhere that people who are followers of Jesus should be salt in his world.  A rather mumbo-jumbo interpretation of that concept, but because things were so difficult and stressful at the time, the husband decided to humour his wife and kept on cycling every day, with the sack of salt in tow. 

The months went by and then I received another phone call, the wife told me she thought she had heard God speak to her, she thought he told her to take the sack of salt that her husband had been towing around on his bike, go to the house that they had wanted to buy and pour the salt all around the house (outside the property boundaries of course!).  To avoid people thinking she was a ‘nutter’ she and her husband drove to the house at around 1:00 am and quickly poured the salt out as they thought God had said they should.  The next morning they received a phone call from the owner of the house saying he had decided to put the house back on the market and were they still interested, if they were they could have it at the price they originally agreed.  With joy in her voice she told me, ‘He wanted it to happen quickly, we signed the same day and we are moving in.”

I told you it was a strange story, how can anyone explain that!  I went to the house warming celebrations, and over the years joyfully watched their many adopted children growing up in a warm, loving and nurturing environment. This story remains a mystery to me, I don’t begin to understand the ramifications, I only know that sometimes when we are a ‘follower of the way’ God asks us to do strange things, and we do well to obey his instructions.  I don’t think that gives us an excuse to be weird and off-the-wall, I think perhaps there are enough people around who are like that without you and me joining them.  But the moral of the story is how good and pleasant it is when a follower of God is obedient to His request.

Adrian L Hawkes
For Adrian2526 Blog:
Editor: A. Brookes