A worrying day with a wonderful outcome

I never thought I’d be wearing one of these bands again for a while and yet this is from todays visit to Queens hospital in Burton.

My apologies to all those who have felt that I was a “bit off”, short with them, and not achieving what they thought I should. The truth is that for the past month I haven’t been on top form, and largely because I visited my GP about occasions when I seemed to have a reflux problem He immediately started speaking about the possibility of cancer and wanted to investigate. This has involved my attendance today for a gastroscopy procedure. a most hideous experience, performed by a wonderful team of caring professionals for whom I’ll always have the highest praise.

Consequently its hung over me for a while filling my mind with all sorts of possibilities; I even worked my funeral music out (entrance to Tina Turner, “Steamy windows” and exit to Lindisfarnes “Run for Home”) and Alison was told which funeral firm and who was to lead the service (you can relax again Loraine Mellor).

I many ways the reaction was grossly over the top, as I was given a complete ALL CLEAR; no abnormalities, no tumour, no scarring, nothing. Thankfully and my gratitude to the few who knew about it and prayed for me.

I’d deliberately kept it quiet as I didn’t want sympathy and wanted to continue to be there to try to help people. However, because I’ve always tried to be open and honest about both my good times and my bad times, I felt I need to share this tonight.

Tonight I will go to bed and sleep easier.

Tonight I will go to bed with a greater understanding of the fears of others

Tonight I will go to bed grateful for a God who has held me.

Tonight I will go to bed appreciating once again the NHS, who have supported me magnificently today.

Tonight I will go to bed with a sense of those who have yet to undergo frightening treatments, such as gastroscopy procedures.

And believe me, if anyone produces what looks like a bazooka and tries to tell me its a “small camera” I may be tempted to do the wrong thing……….!

I’ve been thinking this evening about Holy Week, which has also rather been lost because of my thoughts elsewhere, and I’ve dwelt on the loneliness of Jesus, the anxiety of knowing what was to come and the result.

Firstly, the appointment came at a time when Alison had a service in her own church. We discussed it and I felt strongly that she should continue with it as the work of Jesus continues anyway. However that meant that I had to walk to the hospital and, sit in the waiting area on my own and go through it by myself. Jesus, in the Garden of Gethsemane was alone. Was he scared ? the Bible seems to suggest he was. Was he tempted to back out ? Again Scripture says he prayed “let this cup pass from me”. I too felt alone, and if I could’ve got out of it I may well have done, knowing what I was facing.

However I stayed with it because I knew it would give a definite result, and my family deserve nothing less. For me the result was amazing and I praise God for the skill, knowledge and care of the medical profession.

For Jesus the result was resurrection; job done; mission accomplished; victory achieved. We will praise and celebrate on Easter Sunday as if we’ve never praised before because we worship a God who understands our loneliness, our fear and anxiety and throughout it all holds us very dear to himself.

I feel as though I’ve been through my personal Good Friday today, but nothing compared to what God went through for me and for this world. Praise to Him for being prepared to endure the cross for us.

Pascal’s Wager

As most of my readers will know I love going into schools to talk to children, either through the medium of assemblies, or through question and answer sessions. I find the latter very challenging and have spent five sessions over the last two weeks meeting in a local secondary school with youngsters ranging from year 7 (11/12) to year 11 (15/16) and the range of questions has been wonderful rating from “why are you a Christian ?” to the standard “why does God allow suffering ?” This morning I answered questions on abortion, homosexuality, Heaven, Hell, the Just War theory, and the Trinity. BIG STUFF !

However it was a question on Wednesday that has stuck with me and it came from a year 7 pupil (remember that means he’s barely 12 if that) and he asked if I believed in Pascals Wager. This is a philosophical concept put forward as one of three arguments for believing, around starting to believe, in the existence of God. The final one of the three arguments is nicknamed Pascal’s Wager and it includes the justification of theism, pragmatism, infinity.

Blaise Pascal, a French philosopher , mathematician and physicist presented this theory during his life time (1623-1662 and basically it suggests tat humans can bet with their lives that God exists or doesn’t.

I don’t want to get into an argument about the relative merits of Pascals thinking, or even if he is right or wrong, BUT I do want to point out that this was a concept raised by a 12 year old boy. I looked at his teacher and she shook her head and said she didn’t understand what it was all about, so he wasn’t simply repeating his teacher.

And yet the questions I get in church are about “pews or not ?”, “which hymn book ?” “should we communicate by e-mail, letter or handwritten posters ?” “why do we have to pay our assessment ?’

It’s interesting that a 12 year old boy is trying to figure out who God is through philosophical argument whilst supposedly long in the tooth Christians are for more concerned about the mechanics of their Church. People in the world are struggling, suffering, dying and we are too often caught up with “should we have hot cross buns before lent ?” and “should we have colour in the church during lent ?”

Next week is Holy Week, the time when we remember the events between Palm Sunday and its procession into Jerusalem and Good Friday when we remember the crucifixion of Jesus. As Christians our focus should be more spiritual rather than physical. That’s not to fall into the trap of “being so heavenly minded that we’re of no earthly use” but it is to say that the spiritual matters of how we’re going to live out our discipleship of Jesus in Gods world should have a higher priority than they often do.

God calls us to wrestle with the heavenly dimension, study our scriptures, engage with him in prayer and meet him in the ordinary, and to lay to one side the trivialities of “who’s turn it is to wash the chapel tea towel”

As we enter Holy Week are you prepared to walk with Jesus and use this time to get to know him better, for after all if a 12 year old boy is prepared to, shouldn’t we ?