Monthly Archives: December 2012

When the Land Itself Burns

Photo copied from http://www.saddleworthnews.com/?p=2626

When I was about 5 during the long drought of 1976 (you can work our my age from that), I have one memory burned into my mind – so to speak.

I was in the car with my Sister, Mum, Nan and Granddad and we were on the way back from a day out.  We were travelling home in the car along a road similar to the one above, and as it was dusk we could see fire on the skyline just like the picture above.  It was both amazing and frightening at the same time, it was far enough away not to be a danger, but near enough and dramatic enough to be unforgettable.

 That year it was drummed into people not to cause a fire anywhere by accident, especially on the peat moors, of which there are many surrounding Chesterfield and in the Peak District.

Why?  In a normal summer it would just cause a fire of heather and other things on the surface.  But this summer things would be different, a moorland fire would set the very ground ablaze, and the fire I remember was one where the peat itself was on fire!

In 1976, it had been a very dry drought (I say that as lately we have seen various droughts where we have had rain at the wrong times of year in the past few years).  It was not just the heather, bracken and other surface plants that were tinder dry, but the peat that made up the moor had dried out.  It was that dry.  A fire on the surface would soon set the peat ablaze which would burn and would then go underground when what was near the surface was exhausted or if it was put out with water, and could resurface somewhere else at another time.  This is why peat fires can be so dangerous!

When you get a peat fire on the moorland the ground itself is on fire, the very land on which you are standing.

This land has blazed in the past with the fire of God, the Wesleyan revival, the Welsh revival, the Hebrides revival to name a few.

But for many years that fire seemed to go underground with the church trying to hold its ground or retreating, rather than it advancing.  The tide is turning, the church is on the advance once again and promises of revival are now being responded to with prayer, intercession, faith and action as more and more people sense God’s timing for this nation.

It is time for this nation to be once again set on fire for God, and for this land to burn for Jesus! Let’s each play our own part!

Lord Jesus, if your fire in me has lessened or gone underground let your Holy Spirit burn brightly again in and through me so we may see you move once again with revival power in this land. Lord, start with me. Amen!

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When Silence Speaks Louder Than Words – The Newtown School Massacre

‘Now when Job’s three friends heard of all these troubles that had come upon him, each of them set out from his home – Eliphaz the Temanite, Bildad the Shuhite, and Zophar the Naamathite.  They met together to go and console and comfort him.  When they saw him from a distance, they did not recognize him, and they raised their voices and wept aloud; they tore their robes and threw dust on their heads.  They sat with him on the ground for seven days and seven nights, and no one spoke a word to him, for they saw that his suffering was very great.’ (Job 2:11-13 NRSV)

What can we say when the unspeakable happens?

It is something that I have come across in my life, as we all have.  Here are a few things that stand out to me, they are the first disasters I recollect happening and all happened in 1988 and 1989 when I was in 6th form, perhaps because on that change from childhood to adulthood you first become aware of tragedies that happen outside of your direct experience.

The Hillsborough Disaster, this happened on the Chesterfield side of Sheffield, only about 10 miles away, and Chesterfield was in shock from this disaster.  We were rather unusually watching this match on TV that afternoon, and I can remember it unfolding before our eyes and the disbelief at what was happening.  The Lockerbie Bombing was also stamped on my mind, as is the Piper Alpha Disaster.

Thinking of what has now happened with the massacre of young children and their teachers at the school in Newtown, it brings to mind the Dunblane school massacre in the UK.

What can I say?  I can say nothing.  Job’s friends got things right first of all, but then messed things up when they opened their mouths.  I can say nothing to ease the pain of those who have lost their little one, only a few years older than my own little boy.  All I can do is to stand alongside them in their grief, as many others are doing around the world.

Let’s stand with them in their grief and loss, standing with them in silence and dignity, and let when the time does come to open our mouths and speak let us words of true comfort and not be like Job’s comforters, the only sensible thing they did was be silent, let that not be said about us.

Heavenly Father, I ask that you would comfort those who have lost their loved ones because of this unimaginable crime and help us all around the world to stand with them in silence acknowledging their pain.  Be close to all the little ones and their teachers who live, and help them to know that they do not need to live in fear, but have a hope and a future. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Since writing this post last night I have read about 10 young girls killed and 2 injured by a landmine in Afghanistan (http://news.sky.com/story/1026343/afghan-landmine-blast-kills-10-young-girls).  We must also not forget that so many children die elsewhere in the world due to war and its after effects, and due to other forms of violence.  Let’s open our eyes and stand with families everywhere affected by mindless violence especially against children, as the pain and hurt it causes is universal.