Friday, May 18, 2012

Why, Lord?

Europe is facing financial meltdown - banks are facing ruin, governments are in fear of a new anti-austerity mood among voters - yet sometimes these major news stories can seem so remote.  When pain or illness or relationship breakdown happen all these 'macro' scenarios pale into insignificance.  As a pastor, and someone who has been around the block a bit when it comes to suffering, I find my heart strangely moved by the needs of people passing through such personal tragedy.  Someone that Diane and I love very dearly has been plunged into serious ill-health in a matter of weeks and is fading before our eyes.  Christians that we care for are passing through the most difficult and challenging trials.  Why?

There was a moment on the cross when Jesus asked 'why?'.  Some call it 'the cry of dereliction' but I prefer to name it 'the cry of faith'.  At first look it might seem strange that the Son of God would shout ''my God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'  After all, did he not know his Old Testament theory?  Had he not warned his followers that he must go to Jerusalem and be put to death?  Yet in the sweltering heat of overwhelming pain and sorrow Jesus asked the 'why?' question.  I am glad that he did for it comforts me today, and I hope it will encourage you too.  You are not alone.  You are in good company.

You see, the 'why' question acknowledges that there must be something deeper going on.  I am not just a collection of nerve endings and cells - and neither are you.  Asking the 'why?' question sets us apart from much of creation and enobles the human spirit.  In the case of Jesus the words that he cried out were taken from a Psalm of honest lament - an outpouring of pain in all its stark horror.  Like Jesus we may not get our answers here and now, or in any kind of easy crib-sheet theology, but we can draw strength from the Christ of the cross and go on for one more set of 24 hours.  It may be Friday - but thank God Sunday's coming!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Married Bliss for the Gaudions

Last Friday our only son Matthew and his bride Sarah were married in Hughenden Valley Parish church near High Wycombe in the UK.  It was a great day and thankfully the weather was cold but not wet.  It was a real family occasion with lots of love and laughter, not to mention great food and much joy - as you can probably see in our faces!

Of course, it is not the wedding that is important but the marriage, so we continue to pray that God will bless their lives together in Jersey.  ‘Marriage may be made in heaven but the maintenance work needs to be done on earth’.  During the address at the church I offered the happy couple three keys to successful marriage – 1. Good foundations 2. Quality time together and 3. Effective communication.  Perhaps those of us who are married should try to use those golden keys a little more often.

When so many marriages are struggling today and the pressure upon couples is so great, we need to be conscious of the place of the wider family in offering support.  We may be separated by distance but communication is much simpler now, so love finds a way.  In churches too there must be meaningful support for marrieds and singles as they negotiate the troubled surface of today's cultural sea.  For now, though, we are still basking in the after-glow of a great day together.  I am so thankful that I was spared to be able to live to see the day of Matthew's wedding - something I genuinely thought unlikely - and in the event it did not disappoint.  Thank you Lord!