Tuesday, February 15, 2005


Sunday morning I got up on time and I thought I was doing pretty well until my sister Julie said "You look very tired" just as we sat down in church. Those dark circles under your eyes will give you away every time.

It was good to see Rob (or minister R1 as we now call him) getting out of his car as we arrived. He is looking a little fragile still after his hip operation and gets about on two sticks. I know he is wanting to get back to work as soon as possible, but that time hasn't quite arrived.

In the meantime R2 was preaching at the morning service. His sermon was titled "This is God Calling" which led to an amusing bit in the children's talk when he was asking the boys and girls how God might speak to them. At that moment (obviously planned in advance) his mobile phone rang – "For a moment, I thought it might be... never mind."

The sermon looked at 1 Samuel 3, the famous story that tells how Samuel is woken repeatedly by a voice calling him during the night. Finally he realises that it is God speaking to him, and he replies "Speak Lord, your servant is listening."

That's something that we aren't that good at: we speak up when we want something, but how good are we at listening to what God is trying to tell us? Too often his voice is drowned out by the background noise around us, the hubbub of modern life.

But we do have an advantage over Samuel . We know we have a go-between who can put us in touch with God – "He who has seen me has seen the Father," said Jesus.

A word that's very much in vogue in the present day is "commitment". Everybody talks about it, in and out of churches. A generation or two back, it would more likely have been "surrender" people were using. Being committed to God is one thing, but surrendering yourself to Him has a different emphasis for your life.

Then there's the question of serving God. Samuel had to tell Eli bad news about the status of his family, who were certainly not true representatives of their faith. From then on, Samuel would go on to preach the word of God, impressing his contemporaries with his genuine loyalty to the Lord. This was no vague mystical experience: Samuel came as God's spokesman.

We may not be called to be a king-maker like Samuel was, but we are all called to serve God is our everyday surroundings.

Don't just hear the Word of God, listen to it. It could be a call to a deeper relationship with him, a new level of surrender. There may be a new area of service opening up.

It's a call to life, but it's also a call to be linked to Jesus Christ and his suffering. Following Jesus is not necessarily the way to an easier life – don't believe anybody who tells you that it is.

He knows us. How well do we know him?

Watching Songs of Praise on Sunday television is often a bit of a surprise. We're never sure from one week to another exactly what sort of show it will be – a lavish concert from some major metropolis or a tour of some quaint byway.

Well, this one took me by surprise. We faded in on Su Pollard standing under a signpost marking the distance to all sorts of exotic destinations before she exclaimed "Welcome to Cleethorpes!"

Cleethorpes? One of those English destinations that are most often heard about as punchlines in old jokes – "First prize is a week in Cleethorpes. Second prize is two weeks in Cleethorpes" – and the locals know it.

However it looks quite a nice little spot, and the beach isn't as awful as some British beaches. If I was in the area, I could imagine paying a visit to it (once anyway).

The music struck an odd note at times – it's not uncommon to hear hymns that are unfamiliar or that have been re-arranged, but I have never thought of "Walking on sunshine" as an inspirational song.

We certainly weren't expecting a scene in which Star Trek actor Patrick Stewart was re-united with an old school mate. It was interesting to see that in the old photographs Stewart was the only one wearing a hat – was he already balding then?

Passing a stall outside the supermarket, I noticed they had a special deal on caps with your name lettered across the front. So I thought why not get one with the name of my favourite website on it?

I wrote down the name and they said come back in ten minutes.

I did and they presented me with a black cap with large gold letters spelling out DAIRY-X.COM

"Er, yes, very nice," I said. "There's just one problem.....That's Diary not Dairy..."

Screensound Australia's radio programme Theatre of the Mind has been running some old episodes of the Australian version of Superman starring Leonard Teale. I found it a bit odd listening to these because I originally heard them when I was a 10-year-old schoolboy.

The sense of deja vu is eerie. I remember listening with intense concentration, meaning I remember some of the shows reasonably well even after all these years. They don't stand up too badly.

Indeed they stand up better than some of the television programmes I watched around the same time. Seeing some of those again, the reaction is usually "Egads, how could I have sat through this?"

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