Author Archives: admin

The Rainbow Connection

A modern look at Noah and the Rainbow

This is taken from a recent sermon about a possible meaning for the story of Noah today.


Genesis 8. 15- 9.17

Mark 4. 1-20

While I was thinking about today’s OT reading about the Flood I remembered a song many years ago on the Muppet Show sung by Kermit the Frog..

The Rainbow Connection..

“Why are there so many songs about rainbows?”

Actually I could only remember two songs about rainbows, Kermit’s song and Judy Garland in the Wizard of Oz “Somewhere over the rainbow”. But the Rainbow Connection is what the Noah Flood story is about.

Quests for evidence of Noah’s Ark

 I was watching a TV program last year about people trying to prove evidence that they had found the final resting place of Noah’s ark and that rock formations were part of the Arks fossilised remains. I must admit that I laughed a little. I laughed because this seemed to me to be misguided attempt to prove the Ark existed. I think it mistakes the nature of the story and how the story may have arisen. The biblical story is similar to other ancient stories in the Middle East, a shared story of terrible disaster and rescue of a hero and his family. I think it is case of taking an old traditional story and reshaping it in the faith of Israel, making it a story about the Just and Good God of Israel and the cosmos.

We also have to see this story in relation to the whole history of the earth and the scientific evidence of cataclysmic events of the earth over millions of years. Several times in earth history there has been mass extinctions of nearly all life on earth followed by the repopulation of new ecosystems with new species and forms of life long before the final advent of the evolution of human beings.

Three Major themes in the Noah narrative

 1.-The cause of the great flood

The story may be compared to the older pagan stories in which the gods are merely irritated by humanity.  In the Noah story it is the sin of humanity that has corrupted the whole of creation. God regrets He even made creation and humanity and wants to start creation all over again. But God also still loves creation and does not want to destroy things utterly and wants some of creation to be spared to start again.


2- The good man who acts as a saviour

God looks for and finds a man and his family who can be the means of saving some of creation. God looks for the man who can be saviour of creation. He finds this in Noah. In this sense Noah is a type of Christ-like figure, a saviour of creation.

We may observe from this the fact too that God still wants people who will care for creation and try and rescue it from human corruption and misuse today.  God wants lovers of creation and not just their own lives.

2. The Divine Promise never to repeat the flood

 And so we come to today’s reading. It is the aftermath of the great flood. After Noah and the creatures have left the ark, able to walk again on dry land. Human beings are given recognition of their authority over things and able to make laws themselves and judge each other. This is a recognition of societies that we indeed make laws for ourselves and the power we seem to have in shaping the world. Of course these powers can be corrupted and often are.

But what I really want to focus on is the great Rainbow Promise. God will never send such a devastation again. But why does God make that promise? Does God expect things to be permanently better? Not so. It is despite the fact that things will still go wrong that God will patiently put up with the evil in the world in order that more people may be born and have a chance to know Him and fulfil His purposes in their lives. St Paul was later to write God waits for the revealing of the Children of God, those who will fulfil the purpose of lovers of God, other people and creation. God’s will is the continued coming to life of those we will live in His purpose and fulfil all the goodness for which they have been created.

Noah’s later failure

We find later that Noah is not so perfect after all and gets drunk on wine that he makes for himself and falls asleep naked in front of his family. It will be one of many occasions in the bible when the hero does great things but then shows he is far from perfect and lets God down. The new start is still followed by failure. The hero is fallible unlike the truest Saviour of all who is not.

In this sense we may see ourselves as people for whom God has shown His patience and His love. God is patient so that we may come to be born and capable of knowing that love and purpose for our lives and for the world. We may know ourselves as both called by God but fallible in many ways.

So we could consider also today Jesus’ parable of the Sower. Christ comes with the gift of God’s Word and purpose and many fail to respond or only partly respond. We may know ourselves to be those who have responded to the Word given to us, but we may allow the weeds of materialism and selfish concern to overpower us and fail to grown as we should.

However, although we are fallible and often unfruitful and mistaken in what we do we are still loved. Despite our failure we and are still called to be the means by which others may find that love too.

We may be good or bad in how we are but God patiently keeps calling. God keeps waiting for our willing response, giving us new opportunities to make amends and grow as He would have us be.

But what about “The Rainbow Connection”?

 Whenever we see a rainbow we just accept it as a natural event when rain and sunshine are present at the same time.  We don’t think about the rainbow as special creation by God for humanity to see. Rainbows will have occurred billions of years before human beings walked the earth.

But the writer of Genesis however would still want us to look at the rainbow and see it as a reminder God’s faithful and patient love.

A love that endues despite evil and corruption affecting the world each day

A love from God that continually waits for His Children to find Him and know Him and love Him

A love that waits for us to grown into what we are intended to be and does not give up on us.








Let us recall that despite the evils of the world God is patient


We recall also our own individual past, where we have excelled and we have failed.


He comes again to summon us in His Word to a new and renewed life-

(Hymn quote “Will you come and follow me..”)




Adoration of the Trinity

I composed this for a local church magazine

Loving the Divine Nature

(Inspired from some of the writings of John Duns Scotus on the nature of God as Trinity)

 The highest praise and purpose of our life is to love Thee above all other things.

For Thou art to be loved, as it is written “God is to be loved” and “Thou shall love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart and strength”

For Thou Uncreated Being, before this mighty Cosmos came to exist billions of years ago, did exist as the Most Perfect and the highest Good.

From Thee Most Original, from Thy Most Divine Essence and nature and Being, did produce two most wonderful and everlasting Products;

The First, Thy Word, to Him Thou art as a Father and Mother and to Thee the Word is Thy Son, who comes to take on our flesh and live among us, and thus to show us the way to Thy Self and Thy Glory, and to show us all Good.

To the Second, breathed from Thy Essence, is Thy Spirit and from Thee it is Most Holy, who comes to live inside us, to inspire our thoughts with most heavenly and most noble attitudes and life.

And we are to love Thee in Thy Three-fold nature with the uttermost love that we can give, because Thou in Thy Essence cannot be surpassed, and there can never be anything better we can ever know or possess.

And when we love Thee in above all things, we are drawn to Thee along with all others who most truly love Thee, and in loving Thy Essence and Nature we find unity with all the same who love Thee.

Then it is fulfilled that we love Thee with our whole being and our neighbours in Thy Love, like ourselves.

Then in this loving we may show Thee to the world.





The Glory of Difference


Different birds and different people

In November 2014 my wife and I decided on an autumn break in Madeira. It is situated just under 400 kilometres (250 miles) North West of the Canary Islands. Its origin as volcanic Island at the top of a massive volcano that rises about 6 km (20,000 ft) from the floor of the Atlantic Ocean, on the Tore underwater mountain range over 5 million years ago, continuing until about 700,000 years ago.

Being partly isolated from mainland Africa species that make up the regular breeding birds have in part become distinct sub species of some common mainland birds and migrants. There are a few species on Madeira that have become isolated for so long that that they are now separate and “endemic” species only found on Madeira.

It is part of evolution in action with an isolated population that has lost contact with others and so adapts in its own unique way to the environment and so and isolated gene pool may become slightly but distinctly different to the former race to which it belonged. For those species that become “endemic” to a small region of the earth then there is a sense of seeing something unique, only to be seen in that place which can be a source of wonder. Unfortunately it also makes them vulnerable to extinction if something goes wrong with the habitat.

The relative isolation of Madeira means that is does not have a huge list of regular species but it is the endemics and sub-species that are of the greatest interest to birdwatchers. (I am also told that the Island has many exotic and endemic plants as well).  On my target list of “wanted to see” included the endemics Trocas Pigeon, Plain Swift, Madeira Firecrest, Berthelot’s Pipit and the subspecies of Kestrel, Common Buzzard, Chaffinch. We ended up seeing all of them, as well as some other accidental migrants and more recent arrivals from Africa.

 Although previous travels to parts of India and led me to see “endemics” and unique subspecies in various regions it was on Madeira with is much smaller and compact geography that the sense of uniqueness struck me the most. I also had cause to consider that little piece of theology by Duns Scotus that God has created a world of great difference of form and being, stemming from the Being of God. It is a differentiation that is loved in all its variety and uniqueness. God loves all the difference and it is all part of God’s glory.

From the  such differentiation in nature we may turn to the differentiation between people, in their race and culture, and despite the fears often raised by this it also something to be loved and embraced as God does. God loves the uniqueness of each person and things that exists and if we are the Children of God, they are ours to love as well. This is something to be remembered when there is often fears about “immigration”. We must always look beyond race and culture in thinking about worth, and see people in their unique individuality, which linked with their origins is not confined by it. They are to be loved, as God loves their individuality in which they have been shaped.


Too Immaculate?

Scotus and The Immaculate Conception and Birth of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

(Recently revisited, August 2018)

Although developing an interest and sympathy for the theology and philosophy of John Duns Scotus there are issues on which I cannot completely agree with him. One point of argument is the status that he gives to Mary the mother of Jesus as having been conceived by “Immaculate Conception” without taint of sin and preserved from sin thereafter.

It is clear that Scotus’ view on Mary is very much linked to his view of the Primacy Of Christ (also in Bonaventure) that God’s original intention for the Incarnation was for God’s glory to be made present in Christ quite apart from the necessity of human salvation. It is because of this special-ness in bringing forth the Christ that there is the special-ness of the preparation of Mary to help that event take place. As Mary bears the Christ she has a special role in that divinely ordained event and is chosen for it. For Scotus this choice and will involves the special grace of preserving her from the taint of Original Sin.

It’s at this point that I step into my Protestant shoes because I think it is making unwarranted assumptions for which there is no canonical scriptural warrant. I also think it detracts too much from the possibility of God becoming human through an ordinary and fallible human being in need of salvation as much as anyone else. I would prefer an ordinary Mary, a potentially sinful Mary, through whom God reveals His radical grace to all humanity, including her. A Mary who gets things wrong and fails, even sometimes failing to believe in her son and his vocation.

It may be true that she finds favour with God because of God’s love for her and all humanity. Perhaps Scotus wants us to think that God’s radical love is given to her prior to her birth, to Justify and bless and specially sanctify her beforehand, because of what God would do later in her and in Christ.

But Scotus’ argument seems to go onto imply that following that special grace of status given to her she is also preserved from committing all other actual sins in her life. A prior graced status of being acceptable in God’s sight is one thing but I still believe in an ordinary Jewish girl, like all other potentially sinners as the womb of Christ, not a superwoman and paragon of virtue incapable of sin. I may grant some degree of thinking she may have been specially led by the Holy Spirit, intentionally more responsive than most of us. But still not sure of her complete freedom from sin and sinfulness, at least in her earthly life.




God’s Will and Predestination

Sometime ago I was reading something related to Duns Scotus by Richard Cross that introduced me to Scotus’ views on the predestination of certain persons to salvation and not others. It sent me back to certain biblical texts and from there to a whole history of interpretations of such texts, as well as reading for myself a translation of what Duns Scotus had written on the subject.

It would seem that for some such as Scotus (and alter Calvin) there is a predestination to salvation that is purely from God’s almighty Will that none can or should question. God as God can do whatever He likes and who are we to question that choice? But for others such as Bonaventure the will of God also includes some prior knowledge by God of how persons might respond to the gospel invitation to faith.

I confess I am uncomfortable with any idea of predestination by God if it is simply from an unquestionable and potentially arbitrary Will, especially if the divine Will is from the character of love. I am more sure that any such choice of God for any person’s destiny also relates to some divine knowledge of the person and how they may respond to God’s invitation to come and find salvation. Anything else seems too arbitrary and God’s will is not arbitrary but is based upon the essential loving character in the nature of God.  Any choice of God for or against a person’s destiny to salvation must be according to God’s love and actual knowledge of the person, as well as their known freedom to turn away from what is offered in hope.

Whatever happened to the sharing society?

It seems ironic that the first few chapters of Acts and indeed the teachings of Jesus did not influence subsequent “Christian” societies to create much more egalitarian societies. How is it that the “Christian” West, supposedly influenced by Christian faith and ethics, has become the origin and home of “free market capitalism”? How can a Christian society be an unequal one? Where is the sense of sharing and desire for economic equality within communities and between communities?

Perhaps the recorded sayings in the gospels, in the letter of James and in Acts were recorded because after the events it was not happenning, the church was unequal and failing to be what Christ intended. After the church became part of the empire of Constantine pagan and not Christian values prevailed more than truely Christian ones.

The lives of St Francis and others stand testimony to a revolt against material selfishness and aquisition of wealth but they were then and remain a minority strand of living in Christian history down to the present. The poverty and simplicity of Francis has been called an “Evangelical” (good news) counsel, along with enshrining an obedience to the words of  Jesus about wealth and possessions in the gospels. The sharing is part of the kingdom of God and the reign of the Christ. The kingdom is not just some happy ending after death, as” saved” souls in heaven. Its about also a dawning reality of new relationships for the believer with his and her neighbours in the present.

Perhaps we cannot expect secular society to adopt economic equality as a goal but surely “Christian” politicians should care more about reducing differences and divisions of income?  Surely Christian politicans should preach shaing values and not competitive ones, Interestingly Communism and Socialism, hated by some Christians , have more in common with the values and sharing expressed by Jesus and in Acts.

Sometimes it seems that “Christian” politics cares more about unborn babies in the womb rather than for the conditions into which they may be born and have to live out their lives, often in poverty alongside some -one elses mansions.

The Francisan tradition still stands testimony to the more radical sharing of things in common and decent life for everyone. The more we have inherited and earn the more we must consider that we give away and share with our neighbours, and seek more the alleviation of need alongside anything we may possess. Perhaps we should ask our Christian politicians if they care about that. But at least we should attempt to live it ourselves.

Evils done to Jesus

On Good Friday when we see the image of the Crucified Jesus nailed hands and feet to the cross we meet with every evil done to another. Every aspect of human evils nails Jesus to the cross

His wipped and scourged body from the lashings of the Roman soldiers and their cruel mockery of a crown of thorns upon his head, with blood oozing from his head where the thorns dig into his scalp.

Jesus will never experience all of the evils that people do to each other, but let for us those nails and thorns and the barbarity of what is done be to us the sign of very evil and depravity of human nature that still resorts to barbarism and treats others with indifference and cruellty.

Let those nails and thorns depict for us the rape and abuse of women, the degradation of women’s lives as sex slaves and toys for men’s lust.

Let those nails and thorns be to us the ill and starving children in poverty because of the unjust systems of finance and ecomomics.

Let those nails and thorns depict for us the evil minds of the ideological murderers who put innocents to death for the cause of their foul ideologies.

Let those nails and thorns depict for us those who today will be leaving desolate cities, towns and villages made so by tribal conflicts and ethnic violence.

Let those nails and thorns also be for us the great heaps of indifference and excuses not to be involved in making better the lives of those blighted by such things.

Yet hear also the amazing response to those who inflicted the nails and crown upon Him

“Father, forgive them. They know not what they do”



Holy Week

The most terrible week

As we recall that most basic Christian doctrine, that the Everlasting Word, sent my the Father, the origin of all, is present in the man Jesus of Nazareth, so this week that is called “Holy” is for The Word that most terrible experience of human degradation and of what wayward and backward humanity does to others.  

Sure in the history of Israel, has the Word known abandonment and betrayal by His people, as spoken aloud through the prophets. But in the Man Jesus, this experience of betrayal and abandonment is at its uttermost, and the Everlasting Word knows in human experience more acutely than ever before our sinfulness and failure to be the Intended Being we should possess.

On the Sunday they will rejoice and lay down their palm branches at His feet, in expectation of some mistaken political revolution, and nationalistic expectations, even in the hope of some violence from Him to commit in their desired cause.

He will go into their temple and upset the corruption of the greedy money changers and swindlers of the poor offering animals for sacrifice. He will preach in the vain hope of changed hearts for the priestly elite and warn of terrible things to come if they do not change. Yet His Words fall on deaf self serving ears.

And so in the days that come He will experience betrayal by one of his own and others of his inner shall desert Him for fear of their own lives. He shall know loneliness and fear in the Garden.

He will be placed like many a good prisoner of conscience in front of a corrupt court who have already decided that He must die to serve their interests. Their religious conscience corrupted by their own false ideals and power over the lives of others.

He shall be brought before a self serving foreign civil authority unwilling to withstand the trouble of releasing an innocent man, when faced with the religious mob that wants His blood.

He will be beaten and made fun of by the prison guards, who taunt Him, because He is not one of their own, just some trouble maker to be made and example of. So He will be the  beaten and bruised and tortured prisoner of conscience with no justice done for Him, but misused against Him.

Then they shall put Him to death in one of most barbaric and torturous means of punishment ever devised to serve political power and control.

See then in all these things their barbarity and that of so many other forms of self serving corruption, still known in this modern world.

But as you see that Blessed Word made Flesh experience these things ask yourself, where am I in this story? And what is ma part what He experiences this most terrible week?

Becoming Franciscan

My knowledge of the Anglican Third Order of the Society of St Francis stretches back to my youth. My church had several members of a local group of the Third Order and I attended a few meetings but it never seemed to me at that time that I wanted to join in. Sure, I was attracted to somethings I learned about St Francis of Assisi, not least his renunciation of wealth and joyous devotion to Jesus Christ and wanting others to know that salvation that he had found.

There was also my love of creation as found in my bird watching and sense of wonder and joy I often felt when viewing the natural world, which I was told was also found in the life of Francis. Then as I later came to study the Old Testament prophets and their denunciations of inequalities in society this prophetic message seemed to make me see the inequalities of the world around me and therefore the graced need of more sharing in society and less accumulation of things to please myself. So too Jesus seeming demands to love people rather than things to possess.

I had become a Reader (Lay Minister) in the church, and therefore often preaching. But if I was to preach to whom was I to be accountable for my own spiritual growth? How would I be accountable for my own life of prayer and what I was intending to preach to others? I needed some kind of spiritual direction and accountability to some-one. I had a few people in my church who were helpful spiritual friends, including those Third Order members.

Early on in my Reader ministry I had a period of questioning of my vocation and what I thought Christ was asking of me and I attended a series of workshops called “Seeking the Way”. Did God want me to give my full time job and train for full time ministry?

 The course  was lead interestingly by a Franciscan Brother of the First Order. It was partly an analysis of myself with the tools of the Myers Briggs Personality profile. It helped me to affirm my duel role as a Reader and my normal full time work.

And so it was a few years later that I attended an additional Myers Briggs Spirituality workshop, looking at different aspects of the life of prayer that seem most suitable to one’s MB Personality Profile. What came out of it? Franciscan, Franciscan, Franciscan! That was it. I had no excuses any longer and I made enquires about joining the Society of St Francis as Third Order member and was professed about 3  years later (that was about 10 years ago).

The principles and aims of the Third Order ungird by spiritual walk with Christ and through it I have a spiritual counsellor and other spiritual friends with who I share my commitment to the Franciscan way, and to who I feel accountable for my life of ministry and my working and home life to.

Take a look at the page Third Order. Even if not an Anglican or Catholic I hope the Principles and Aims can also be yours as a way of following Jesus Christ.