Monday, 12 May 2014

Border Crossing

I've been reflecting on boundaries and borders.  Who crosses them and who is entitled to?  I confess that, with my wife being disabled, one thing we both keep an eye on is those who feel quite able to park in disabled parking spaces even though they might not suffer a disability that would mean they could apply for a Blue Badge.  Supermarkets seem remarkably relaxed about ensuring such spaces are used properly whilst ensuring that someone can reap the profits of automatic number plate recognition technology by fining those who dare to return to the supermarket too quickly!  Oh of course that is money!  I have to be honest and say that time and time again, particularly in schools where there are disabled parking spaces, I see vans parked there (presumably because they are usually slightly bigger and nearer the entrance of the particular establishments.).  Vans are not the only culprits though and drivers of cars dropping off or just wanting to nip in for a moment can be found in fairly frequent supply.  I had just walked back home from a local school the other day, and en route passed the local chemist where there is space for two cars with disabled badges outside.   There I observed a car in the designated disabled space which showed no evidence of needing special parking facilities.  This one had a parking ticket on it though.  Was it wrong of me to smile?  But then there is a whole new topic on traffic wardens and whether the huge number that seem to be around is cost effective or just a way of Councils seeking to drive up income.  Another day perhaps.  Anyway it is clear that for some having designated, clearly marked spaces for disabled drivers or passengers is something that can easily be disregarded.  When should boundaries be observed and when do we have the right to ignore the boundaries?

Boundaries and Borders continued to be the theme of the week when members of my family were seriously inconvenienced and nearly had to rearrange a holiday because the UK Passport Office were, in my personal view, completely ineffective and inefficient.  I will cut a long story short but it involves Passports going missing and birth certificates being lost and an incredibly relaxed attitude to all of that, with the angst and worry of not getting passports in time exacerbated by the way that one cannot access the Passport Office direct.  The numbers given are effectively Call Centres and they leave a message for the Passport Office to ring back (which in this case they did not).  It was only when Oliver Letwin MP got involved that things moved very quickly and all was put right.  Passports have arrived!  Yippee!  Birth certificates of two children still lost.  At least my family will be able to cross the borders they need to for their holiday.  Thank you Oliver Letwin.

The Kingdom of God is interesting in that it has open borders.  All courtesy of the frontiersman Jesus who broke down barriers of sin and death that would keep us out of God's kingdom.  As we face European and local elections in the near future it is fascinating to find that so many political debates tend to focus on how to keep people out.  Praise God that he has opened the way and no border guard can say no when we have a spiritual passport in and through Jesus.  Which borders have you crossed recently?  Where have you tried to keep people out?  Where do we need to welcome people?

Very many thanks to New Community Church in Southampton based in the old Methodist Central Hall.  It was good to share in worship with them last Sunday.  The sermon started off based on Psalm 139:7-12 and Colossians 1:17 with the overall theme of "God is with us".  Main points of the sermon:
God is Everywhere;
God is more evident when God's people gather together;
God is with us in a special way in our worship;
God manifests his presence with us at particular times and through particular experiences;
God's presence is in us.

That is Good News!

Good news indeed and ably supported with various other Bible references.

Why not visit the New Community Church website - http://www.newcommunity.org.uk - or better still, why not visit them in person?

More locally it was good to slip into All Saints Church, Easton, on Sunday evening to share in the service of celebration commemorating 100 years since the foundation stone was laid.  This Civic Service was well supported.  I sometimes think that our society does not really understand the strong and stabilising influence the Church has brought to our society.  Yes we make mistakes in the Church, but the longevity and consistency brings something special in terms of social cohesion.  Why is that?  Because we are founded on a rock - not Portland Rock (although that is a pretty good foundation in this world!).  No, ultimately we are founded on Jesus himself.  And that is as well founded and grounded as you can get!!!!!