Monday, 29 October 2012

Would You Let Your Child Attend A Seance?

It's that time of year again, the nights are darker, the temperature cooler, the leaves orangerer......and everyone turns American and goes mad for Pumpkin Pie! Harmless fun? A bit of dressing up and apple bobbing probably never hurt anyone, but a séance aimed at primary school children?!!!

This is what is planned to happen in our town on Wednesday at our local community centre, a quote from our local paper says 

"The community centre will be transformed into a haunted house for Hallowe'en, complete with poltergeists and other-worldly creatures.  The bravest visitors will even get to conjure up spirits at a séance. The haunted house is aimed at primary school children."

Excuse me? Have you taken leave of your senses Mr/Mrs Community organiser person? At what point is it appropriate for 4-11 year olds to be offered the option of taking part in a séance? They may well miss Flopsy bunny who didn't quite make it through last Winter or wish they had just one more chance to tell Great Granny how lovely her kisses were, but no, you do not put on a séance at Hallowe'en for kids!

You may well be thinking, 'it's not real, it's all a load of rubbish anyway, it'll just be special effects to give the kids a spooky night'. That may well be the case and maybe I am unable to review the situation objectively.  As a Christian I believe in a good God and I am aware for me personally to take part in such activities would be wrong and dangerous, for if there is a God, there is surely a Devil, who likes nothing more than for us to believe he does not exist and is harmless.

Our town has been visited by the Devil already this year; back in February when our vicar was murdered. As the details are emerging in the same paper that has advertised the Halloween night, it becomes clearer to me that evil forces are prevalent in the world - even our town. John 8:44 tells us how Satan has been a murderer from the beginning and is the father of lies. Here is a quote from the Gazette about Stephen Farrow who is accused of the murder of our vicar John Suddards and retired teacher Betty Yates. 

"His mother had 'understood there to be something wrong with him as a child'. When he was ten, he set fire to a church altar and stood and watched as it burned.  He was expelled on his first day of school, shot dead a male swan with an air gun and killed other people's pets when they 'did his head in'."

Dr Rogers a consultant forensic psychiatrist says "it was not possible to be sure when Farrow was telling the truth and when he was lying."

Still not convinced the Devil exists? How about the JS case that surely everyone is disgusted with at the moment? 2 Corinthians 11:14 tells us Satan disguises himself as an angel of light! That is almost a perfect description of JS, almost untouchable because of the fear he spread and at the same time a national treasure for his massive contributions to charity and children's entertainment!

So, if anyone in Thornbury is brave enough to take their children to the community centre séance, let's just pray they don't conjure up Jimmy Saville...........

Tuesday, 16 October 2012

Now Then, Now Then, 'Ows About That Then........

"Why now? Why wait till he's dead?" That seems to be what most people are questioning over the JS revelations. (I can't bring myself to say his name). 

Perhaps because when he was alive the few who did come forward and tell of what had happened to them weren't believed, and let's face it, who would believe a young girl in the 70's against a family favourite tv presenter and multi million pound charity campaigner? Very clever.

But now as the belief rises that these girls/boys/ladies were abused, that gives hope and freedom to the others that they can also now release this burden that has been weighing them down for so long. It may not matter to them whether or not they can get justice, it is just important that they know when they speak out they will be believed and the blame can be removed from them.

When a young person is sexually approached by an adult, it leaves them in a state of confusion.        They are convinced they are to blame, somehow it is there fault and leaves them with such embarrassment and shame it makes it almost impossible to tell anyone. Such is the power an abuser has over their victim. And if there is the slightest hint they will not be believed they will not risk that embarrassment and shame of speaking out, and they will carry that intense feeling of guilt inside them until such time as they can speak out. For JS' victims it seems like that time is now

You may be thinking there's no point talking now because he can't be prosecuted, but there is every point. As soon as they are believed they can start to heal and be released from the guilt and shame that has lived with them.

Often abused people are unable to conceive 'love', unable to give it and feel unworthy to receive it; but God loves us, no matter what we may think of ourselves. Whatever we have been through in our past, whatever we may face in our future, nothing can separate us from God's perfect love for us.

Romans 8:38-39 (NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Saturday, 6 October 2012

Coffee Mornings And Sin

When coffee and cake descends into a deep 
discussion on 'human nature and are we born sinful?', I know my friends are keepers!

This is what happened when our conversation about a particularly nasty crime that had happened in our town earlier in the year came up. Is the criminal demon possessed?  Is he mentally insane? Is he just wicked? What goes on to make people commit the most horrific crimes?

Some thoughts raised were 'are we actually born sinful or do we become sinful?' Can we call a one day old baby a sinner? I'm the first to admit I think babies are adorable and of course all my babies were 'perfect' at birth!

In Psalm 51:5 David says "Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me." David goes on to ask God to cleanse him and renew him.  If sin hadn't been in David from birth he wouldn't have gone on to commit adultery and murder. If sin is something that develops within our nature then there wouldn't have been a need for Jesus to die for us, because if we are not born sinful then surely we would have the potential to remain sinless? Thus removing the need for Jesus' sacrifice?

Which led onto 'Jesus was born human, so was he born with the potential to sin?' This is where you head starts to spin a bit and your host who has provided copious amounts of cake and coffee wonders what her morning of idle chit chat is descending into and tries to distract you with the latest John Lewis catalogue, but these questions need answering so on we go.

As a human, yes, Jesus was tempted; but he was also fully God so he was not capable of sin.  But if he couldn't sin, why tempt him if he can't give into it anyway?

Living as Christians we are to try to live as Jesus did, to follow his examples, although he could not and did not give in to temptation of sin, he knew how it felt as a human to suffer and be humiliated and tempted, just as we do.  God being human in the form of Jesus can sympathise with us when we are tempted.  We can be encouraged in our faith knowing that Jesus faced the same temptations as us but did not give into them. Hebrews 4:15 "For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathise with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are - yet was without sin."

I don't know if we really got to the bottom of what makes a man commit such bad offences but it certainly engaged the brain.  We also shared our thoughts, fears, hopes and dreams of what we thought heaven may be like........but that's a whole other post.  More cake anyone?