Saturday 11 February 2017

The  best things in life are invisible

Apocalypse Now

How do we understand the Book of Revelation?

REVELATION is book that is possibly the most daunting in the bible. For many of us it is a book that is opened, glanced at and then closed to be attempted another time. It's difficulty of understanding compounded by its highly symbolic numbers and fantastic images of a reality that none of us could possibly have any experience of. A book that tests the creative imagination and the intellect to the limit.

The Reverend David Marshall took on the challenge of explaining the book of Revelation to a large group of various qualified Christian people assembled for a full one day workshop. A workshop that by virtue of time could only be a glimpse of the total understanding of Revelation.

This was hosted by the ever energetic John and Joy Errey in their recently completed excellent learning and hospitality house extension area. 

The workshop contained three separate parts of explanation of Revelation.

The first part (Revelation 1:1-8) was titled "Opening the door". It related to the characteristics of Apocalyptic literature, Old Testament Apocalyptic passages and how to interpret them. Finally the utilising of the five important things that help us to understand Revelation. 

The Reverend David very bravely encouraged us to consider questions and discuss as best we could this starting session.

This opening session very much characterised the methodology of the complete day. Reverend David encouraging us all to be involved. It was effective to a lesser and greater degree. This depending on what aspect was being actively discussed. It's complexity and its difficulty of understanding.

We then stopped for a short and very necessary break. 

Revelation is really not an easy subject area. It asks us to confront our own mortality and conduct. To consider the magnificence of what could, for some of us come next.

Thus to session two. This was entitled "Peeking inside" and related to Revelation 4/5. Especially the situation and words of the first and second songs. These are songs of worship and adoration.

By the end of session two we were ready for a lunch. John Errey now has us all so well disciplined that the workroom was rapidly transformed into a restaurant with a buffet. This happened without great direction, swiftly and very efficiently.

Whilst we had been sitting and struggling with understanding Revelation. Our kitchen team had worked very hard producing a four course meal including cheese. Something truly amazing considering the large group of people assembled. All of us need to thank them for their labours in our combined interest. It was truly a magnificent effort and was totally unseen by us.

The afternoon session was entitled "Entering in" and related to 

Revelation 20 1-6. It involved also chapters 7-19. It included a discussion on the position and interpretation of the "Four Horsement". Also the first, second and third "angles".

It went on to an explanation of the three different interpretations of the meaning and timing Of Revelation. Premillennialism, Postmillennialism and Amillenialism.

These three areas are really worthy of researching on the Internet with the usual reservations on what you read. You must come to your own conclusion on what you believe in regarding the actual happening of Revelation.

The conclusion was the question, "what do we do now?"

The Reverend David explained that this was really an entry into the book of Revelation. It being conducted in a style that involved his audience group. He used a light and not heavily dry academic style that was easily understood and appreciated. 

This is not an easy subject to understand and assimilate. It certainly is not an easy subject to teach. The Reverend David tried very hard to help us appreciate the wonder that is the Book of Revelation. Not an easy task at all. Especially when dealing with a mixed group of people with a variety of biblical knowledge. 

He explained that the book of Revelation was "designed to bring comfort and encouragement to persecuted Christians. That it appeals to the imagination".  Also that Christians were gravely persecuted when St John the Divine originally wrote this book. Indeed almost two millennium after the death of Christ, Christians are still persecuted and tested in many parts of the world because of their belief.

Hopefully his introduction of the book of Revelation will serve to encourage us all too read and endeavour to understand what is our spiritual future. To not simply glance and perhaps open later.

Reverend David is quite prepared to pass on his notes and the key to the significance of the numbers and the symbolism. He needs to be contacted directly for this information. He also recommended the book "Revelations for everyone", written by Tom Wright and published by SBCK. The book is available on Amazon.

His final two thoughts:-

That we should "pray for a role in the scheme of things".

That we too should also remember even if we forget everything else.  In all  our difficulties and travails, "the Lamb is still on the throne and God is in control".

Well done Reverend David. You took on an undertaking that was difficult in the extreme. As you said. You could not cover it all in one day. But, you gave it a very good try.


Reverend David Marshall

Ken Callum-Hale

Food and Fellowship
Saturday 10 February 2018

Then, too, I shall be a convincing Christian only when the world sees me no more. Nothing you can see has real value.’

                                  Ignatius (Archbishop of Antioch) Letter to the Romans

This short statement summarises the driving force behind Ignatius’ fervent goal to die a martyr (ultimately achieved courtesy of the Roman government and two obliging lions) – to give up life / human form and become ‘invisible’ in order to be identified as a credible Christian.

It was also the jumping-off point for a recent Saturday workshop entitled ‘The Best Things in Life are Invisible’, facilitated brilliantly by Robert Warren (Rector of Christ Church in Clermont Ferrand) and hosted by Joy & John Errey at their Pallanne home.

In the first break-out session, teams identified ‘invisible’ personal attitudes / attributes which make an individual’s life satisfying. The lists included kindness, generosity, honesty, compassion, dignity, empathy, etc.

The second session addressed the question of what ‘visible’ manifestations of your presence in the world have become less important in your life. Given the two key demographic attributes of the attendees, being in the autumn of their life and being retired, the results were not surprising. There was less emphasis in success broadly defined (achievement in career goals, accumulation of material items), less concern about peer recognition and a relaxation in the material world-driven personal benchmarks which governed behaviour in earlier years. For most the big change was the benefit of time which enabled more focus on the Gospel message and a reduction in, for want of a better word, the ‘stress’ associated with earlier ‘visible’ priorities.

But the key reality is that things aren’t black and white.  Invisible attributes & attitudes can be made visible when manifested by the individual and when recognized by others. Ignatius was made ‘invisible’ when eaten by the lions and the act of his martyrdom made him a more convincing Christian according to the logic he laid out before his death. But dying a martyr’s death, this sacrifice, made him a more convincing Christian in the eyes of others in the early Christian Church.

By the same token, what ‘invisible’ attributes / attitudes identified above cannot become ‘visible’? As Christians, we are instructed, and pray, to live more Christ-like lives. By manifesting and living the ‘invisible’ virtues described above, we make them ‘visible’ and recognizable to others, a necessary first step in fulfilling our evangelical responsibility. 


                                                                                                                                                                            John Maher


The Reverend Robert Warren 5th from the right

The weekend continued with a celebration of the Eucharist at Hères church led by the Reverend Robert Warren followed by lunch at the home of John and Kathy Elliot

Cick here for photos