Scotland

So we have been almost a week in Scotland. Well North Umberland and the Lakes Region of England as well Scotland. We have stayed in York, Edinburgh, Glasgow, and on the Isle of Mull. We have seen cathedrals, castles, abbeys, and sheep. Lots of sheep. We have seen cows and birds and flowers, and lots of beautiful scenery. And we have done research. We have been researching Ales, and when we ran out of ales, we started researching malt whiskey. (Scotch whisky is also known as the water of life in Scotland.)

We have discovered that Oban Scotch is the best. A little of the islands, and a little of the highlands. We bought some in Oban, and some more at Gretna Green. Gretna Green… Ah Gretna Green. We spent a lot of money at Gretna Green. We found kilts in a family tartan. We found jewelry. We found wool and cashmere. And whiskey — don’t forget the whiskey. Then we went to Grassmere, and spent almost as much again. We are doing Christmas shopping. At least that is the story.

Yesterday and the day before, we stayed on the Isle of Mull. It a beautiful Island. The hotel was right on the water. Our group stayed in two different hotels, so instead of the large coach, we took little mini-buses to the Island of Iona. The road was a narrow track that was only wide enough for one car. There we pullouts so vehicles could pass, either head on or over taking. Rushing down this narrow track in the woods and hills, and screeching to a stop so someone could whizz by, was a little exciting. The scenery was as awesome. We took the long way back for a different and even more incredible scenery.

The Isle of Iona is the site of a ancient monastery and nunnery. The monastery has been converted and is being used for ecumenical religious purposes. The Island has a spirituality to it. After lunch the others went on a guided tour of the Island, but I broke off, took a walk on the beach, and did some meditation. It was really nice. I finished my notes on the OSL conference in a pub by the beach.

In Edinburgh, we saw a castle and a palace. The castle of Edinburgh was the best castle we have seen so far. It was just like Lord of the Rings: reminded me of Minas Tirith. We also went to church in the cathedral of St. Giles. A Presbyterian cathedral: go figure! No pictures permitted on Sunday, however. I think I sneaked a few in anyway.

On Monday, we went to Lindisfarne, aka “the Holy Island”. It also had a castle and a ruined monastery. It also has mead. I almost bought some, but (except for samplers at the winery), it isn’t cheap. It wasn’t bad mead. It was pretty good. I, of course, make mead (with Jon and Sherman), and I think mine is better. Not possitive. I am still not sure I won’t buy some before I leave Britain.

The tide isolates the island. This isolated and may have protected the monks who lived there in the 7th century. There is no bridge and no ferry, so you can only access the island via a causeway when the tide is low. We had a nice walk to the castle, and of course took lots of pictures. We researched ale, and found some good choices.

From York, we saw York Minster cathedral. Minster means cathedral in Anglo Saxon. Very grand. I felt the power more than the sacred, but Barbara could feel the Spirit in York Minster. Then we walked through the Shambles and peered down snickelways. A snickelway is a small windy alley that is only for walking. The Shambles is a crooked street where all the houses lean over the road. There used to be butcher shops here where the shade kept the meat cool. The Shambles is home to the most haunted alley in Britain, or at least that is what the advert claims.

Well that’s my story so far. Soon there will be pictures. Soon. I have to edit down the 1600 plus I have taken to something more manageable. Tonight we have medieval diner in a castle in Ruthin. I, unfortunately did not bring my sword. Perhaps a dagger would be O.K.? :-)

Notes from the Conference, Part 3, Healing in a Broken World

Well it is now over a week since the conference, and I am running out of time to finish these notes. Soon, it will be time to publish some of the hundreds of pictures I have taken. Britain is execptionally beautiful, and our tour is keepiing us very busy. Well, enough of that! Back to the conference.

The second half of the conference focused more on healing and less on “new age.” We covered a bunch of different topics. The focus was healing those who are broken in body or spirit.

Filled with the Spirit.

The Rev. Jack Sheffield from Texas, USA took us back to the roots of the order. Don’t tie yourself up in the brokeness of the church and the world. The world has always been broken. That is why Jesus was sent. That is why we are called. When you see something that needs healing, go, lay your hands on it, and pray to Jesus. He will heal. Do not dialog with those who are lost. Call them to Jesus.

Jack told us the story about how he was at a conference, and there was a little old lady who did not believe. She had never seen a miracle. She told Jack, “You’re exaggerating!” She seemed to think that it is not as simple as ‘have faith, believe, and call on Jesus and he will heal you.’ She did not believe. She said, “Show me a miracle!” Jack said that before the conference was done, she would see a miracle. Then he thought, “Lord what have I done! You need to help me, Lord. Please give us a miracle.” Jack became rather nervous. He fasted. He prayed. For three days he fasted and prayed. Then came the last night. The little lady was staring right at Jack. “I better get my miracle!” Jack prayed to the Lord Jesus to give them a miracle so this woman would believe.

The woman started to feel something in her belly. It was a pain, and it was not hers. She became hot, and filled with the spirit of the Lord. Jack called out to the group, “Who has a pain in their belly? Who needs to be healed.” Someone did have a terrible pain. They had been diagnosedf with GIRD or something. That person went up to the woman, and the woman put her hands on their belly, and that person was healed. And the woman believed. And the people praised and thanked God. The next day, the woman sad, “Well I think I saw a miracle.” Jack just threw up his hands.

The bishop sometimes finds Jack trying. He once asked Jack not to pray about the Spirit for three months. Jack did it, but as the three months were ending, he was filled with the Spirit and he had to preach. As he was preaching, a woman in the audience fell down and died. A doctor who was there pronounced her dead. Jack said, let’s go and pray for her anyway. The ambulance came and took her away, dead at the scene. They threw the blanket over her head and everything. On the way to the hospital, she sat up. Scared the ambulance crew half to death. They found nothing wrong with her. They asked if she would go to the hospital so they could watch her. She said no. “I haven’t had my communion. I want to go back to church.” Image the suprise as she walked in after everyone had seen her pronouced dead and taken away.

Are these stories literally true? I want to believe. God help my unbelief! Dr. Creasy says that if you explain away the miracles in the Bible, you gut the whole story. It loses all meaning and power. If you explain away the miracles in life, you gut life of its meaning and power. So I choose to believe.

After the talk, Jack called us forth to pray for those who needed healing. People prayed. People were filled with the spirit. Many were healed.

Forgiveness and Healing

The next talk was on forgiveness and healing. The Rev. Dr. Tom Brown of England told how he went to Ireland to give a short talk on a day that had been proclained a day of healing and forgiveness. He preached in a large cathedral. No one came. Or not many. They had expected hundreds. They had hoped for thousands. They had about a hundred.

After the talk, a man came up to Tom and asked that if it could be set it up, would Tom Brown come talk at his church? Tom, thinking that this man was have his people call Tom’s people, and maybe they would schedule something in a few weeks, said “Sure.” The man got on his cell phone and started making calls. In five minutes, they were in a car driving to the 10am mass. “Mass?”, Tom thought, “I guess this is a Catholic service, or a very high Anglican one.” Tom usually prepares his talks ahead of time. He had 15 minutes. So he prayed the Lord would give him the words. The Lord told him, “It doesn’t matter what you say, as long as you apologize.”

There were about 2000 people at the mass. The priest introduced Tom, “Well we don’t normally have a talk, but today this Englishman is hear to give a speach.” The priest glared at Tom and sat down. Tom said that he wasn’t a official from the government, nor was he a particularly important person in the church. Just a parish priest. But for all the things his people did to their people, he apologized. It wasn’t their land. The English had no right to take it. And they should not have waited so long to give it back. He was sorry. The congregation went wild: cheering and clapping. Once he had made it through that service, it turned out that there was another in an hour.

Then there was a yet another service across town. Before that one, Tom said, “Do you mind if I take a few minutes and make some notes.” “We have waited over 800 years for this apology; a few minutes more won’t make any difference.” They got to the point in the service, and Tom said his apology. There was dead silence. Everything was still. The priest’s mike must have been on, because you could hear him, saying to himself, “What do I do? What should I do?” Then the priest came over to Tom and whispered, “What do I do?” Tom said, “Your the celebrant priest; you can do anything you like.” Tom says, “Then he completely undid me. He got down on his knees in front of me, and said, ‘I apologize for all the bombs and the IRA and the killings.”

People and lands remember the deep hurts. Forgiveness is needed to heal. One must be humble, and accept God’s healing and his guidance.

Our Broken Children: Bleeding as a Rite of Passage

Our last speaker talked of the work she does at Holyrood House. This is a residential care facility for troubled, abused, and self destructive teens and adults. She talked of the stress young people are under these days, and how they seek to relieve the stress with cutting and other self destructive behavior. This is not a new phenomena. People from many cultures in different times have cut or scarred themselves as they enter adulthood. She showed pictures of people decorated with scars, tatoos, and ornaments. Young people starve themselves and purge, as well as cut, tattoo, or pierce themselves to become individuals.

The people who come to Holyrood House are often from abusive homes. They have no control in their lives and so hurt themselves to give them some small sense of control. They choose when and how to hurt themselves. They are in control. Or so they think. At Holyrood, they find enough safety that they are able to examine the painful and hurting areas of their lives, alone or with a counselor. “They are safe enough to be unsafe,” said one young man who stayed there.

Many of the OSL found this talk very difficult. The frank discussion of these young people’s pain, and the way they act it out, was terrible to hear. I, personally felt physically ill, and I had to leave for a while. Also, the order was exposed to a horrible reality, but we were not given any tools to address the situation. Reactions included anger, disgust, and frustration. Many felt that this talk was not appropriate or helpful.

I am glad we heard the talk. The first step to solving a problem is to acknowledge and understand it. Also, we learned that this is not a new problem, and will not likely go away. Further, if we had such a reaction simply hearing about people with this problem, imagine if we were to actually be confronted by a young man or woman looking for help. If we became appalled and revolted when face to face with a person in pain, I think our reaction would only cause more harm. They need understanding, love, hope, professional care, and the power of prayer.

In Closing

John Scott again addressed us in closing. I barely remember what was said now, but I believe he charged us to go forth, healing and addressing the hurts we have discussed during the conference. Again, there was prayer and song. The final closing ceremony include a eucharist and an induction of new members. Then we said goodbye to the new friends we had made who had come from Europe, Australia, the UK, and elsewhere in North American. And we began our tour of Britain: England, Scotland, and Wales. Two more weeks in Britain. Pam and I are very excited.

Notes from the Conference, Part 2, Healing in the Bible

The 3rd International Conference of the Order of Saint Luke ended yesterday, but I still want to record my thoughts on the second half. As time goes by, memory becomes dim, but here goes.

Bible Study

I only attended bible study on the first day. It was good, even though it was a little slow. Rev. Canon Roy Lawrence presented some very points, and some great stories, and better still, he summarized it all in his notes. So on the second day, I picked up the notes, and went to work on my own bible study. The third day, I went for a while, but got bored, So again, I did my own prayer and study. Here is what I kept from his talks and notes and my study.

The Bible as a Whole: a Single Literary Work

The bible is a single literary work, even though it is written in different languages, over many centuries, and then handled down through editors and redactors. Bill Creasey1 says this almost once a lesson, and Canon Lawrence emphasized it with a slightly different spin. Canon Lawrence described the Bible with an introduction and conclusion, and five major sections, healing being a major theme. The introduction or “prolog” to the Bible is Gen chapters 1-11. The conclusion or “epilog” is Revelations chapters 4-22. The history of God’s people is found in Gen 12 through Esther. There are five books of special topics: Job, Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Songs. Then there are the prohets, both minor and major: Isaiah through Malachi. The story of Jesus is told in the Gospels (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and in Acts. Letters to the church are the last section: Romans through Revelations 3.

In this study we focused on the subject of healing. God as our creater is also our healer. Every time we sin, that is we try to be God, God acts to heal us. The history of God’s people, Israel, is of Israel falling into sin, and God acting each time to save.2 The final act of healing is perfected in the gift and sacrifice of his Son Jesus, as described in the gospels, and foretold by the prophets.3 Jesus came is Israel preaching and healing.4 Notice it is always preaching and healing, not just preaching. Also Jesus always goes right to the heart of the matter, and heals the real hurt, not just the physical symptoms.5 His healing includes caring for his followers, when they have no food, when they need money for taxes, or when they do something stupid like cutting off the ear of the temple guard.6

A Worm’s Eye View

After looking at the Bible from a bird’s eye view, we looked at the Bible from the “worm’s eye view”. That is, we discussed, concentrating on and meditating on, a small bible passage: sometimes as long as a chapter, sometimes just a few verses. Take a few verses, read them. Pray over them. Wait in the silence for God to speak. Take some time with the verses, at least 10-15 minutes. Then do it again the next day. Same verses. Then the next, for about a week. The first couple of days, you may not hear anything, but by the end of the week perhaps God will fill these verses with new meaning.

Healing in the Book of Luke

The second day of bible study with Canon Lawrence, we focused on the healing ministry of Jesus, as described in the book of Luke, most especially Luke 8-10. I have just studied Luke with Bill Creasey. And then I did Luke again with Katie as part of confirmation preparation. So I skipped the class. But I am sure they talked about healing, and driving out demons, and praying and resting in between. The Order of Saint Luke studies the book of Luke in detail as part of preparation for induction. I am not a member of OSL, but I support Pam in her ministry.

The Last Words of Jesus

The last day, we focused on the seven last sayings of Jesus on the cross.7 The first three focused on others, those around him. In the first, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing,” Jesus absolves those who killed him. In the second, “I tell you the truth, today you will be with me in paradise,” Jesus gives the robber love and hope. In the third, Jesus “said to his mother, ‘Dear woman, here is your son,’ and to the disciple, ‘Here is your mother,'” and thus he provides for his mother.

The central fourth statement, “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me!” certainly references the psalm, but more importantly expresses Jesus’ feeling of abandonment as the Father is separated from the Son for perhaps the only time in eternity. Jesus must bear the burden of sin alone since an infinitely holy God is antithetical to sin.8

The last three statements focus on concluding the sacrifice. After “I am thirsty”, Jesus drinks vinegar, and thus he concludes the passover ritual with the 4th drink of wine. “It is finished” speaks of his work on earth, and “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit,” speaks of where his is going.

Footnotes:

  1. I am a student of, and Pam is a graduate of, Logos Ministries, The Bible Plain and Simple. The seven year course taught by Dr. Bill Creasy takes the student verse by verse through the entire bible.
  2. Examples include God’s pardon of the people when they made a golden calf (Ex 32:14), God’s gift of water even when the people grumbled against him (Ex 17:3-7), God’s gift of meat when the grumbled and the curse of the same (Num 11:18). Later examples include the defeat and then victory against Ai when Israel sinned, but then repented (Josh 7-8), and David’s sin against the LORD, his repentance, punishment, and forgiveness (2Sam 12)
  3. See Heb 5:8-10
  4. See Matthew 4:23 and Luke 6:19
  5. When Jesus forgives the paralytic (Matt 9:2-6) instead of just healing him. When Jesus heals the blind beggar instead of just giving him money (Luke 18:35).
  6. See Luke 22:50 and John 18:10
  7. The seven last sayings of Jesus