Friday, July 13, 2007

Your earliest memory?

What is your earliest memory? Is it really something you remember, or is it something you have been told about yourself as a child?

I know that on Christmas Day, 1957 I asked my mother what Christmas is all about, because she has told me this. I know that she told me about Jesus' death for us, and that by God's grace I accepted his death in my place, then and there, all those years ago.

But I don't really remember it. I don't think this matters, because the result of being in Christ can be seen through God's subsequent holding on to me for the past almost 50 years.

On Thursday, 5th July, I inadvertently drove through a Give Way sign, and my Toyota Camry was hit by a Toyota Landcruiser, resulting in my car being substantially damaged, but in me having a bruise on my substantial chest [my wife has not yet carried out her threat to buy me a bra, but you get the drift] which you can't see, and a bluey-yellow bruise on my left arm, which is my trophy of my foolishness.

This reminded me of a genuine earliest memory, which is of the only other serious car accident in which I've been involved. There are 600,000 car accidents in Australia every year, of which 200,000 result in injury and about 2 thousand of those who are injured do not survive the experience.

I think the accident which I remember happened when I was about three years old, and involved a collision between our Austin A40 car and a semitrailer. I was seated behind my father, the driver, and had been asleep. I can still remember the sensation of suddenly discovering that I had strange chunks of an unusual lolly in my mouth, which turned out to be bits of glass from the window.

But my earliest memory of hearing the Christian message is of my Aunty Ruth telling me the story of Peter being miraculously released from gaol [please note the spelling and pass it on to any Sydney Morning Herald subeditors you encounter].
She was looking after me, while my mother was out somewhere, I'm guessing, and she told the story dramatically. We were sitting on the floor, and when she came to the part where Peter knocks on the door of the house where the believers are praying for him to be released, she rapped on the floor, or the table nearby, and I nearly jumped out of my skin!

So it was wonderful to be able to visit my Aunty Ruth in Devonport, Tasmania this week and to see that at the age of 97 she can still read the newspaper, understand what she is reading and can still feed herself.

I wanted to share our Christian faith and asked her if she had a favourite bible verse, and she began to recite the names of the books of the Old Testament, but it was ironic that she got through these names and then stopped:

I asked her what the next book was called, but she said she couldn't remember, and so we talked a little about the book of RUTH!

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


Sirach 38:1-15 Honor physicians for their services, for the Lord created them; 2 for their gift of healing comes from the Most High, and they are rewarded by the king. 3 The skill of physicians makes them distinguished, and in the presence of the great they are admired.
4 The Lord created medicines out of the earth, and the sensible will not despise them. 5 Was not water made sweet with a tree in order that its power might be known? 6 And he gave skill to human beings that he might be glorified in his marvelous works. 7 By them the physician heals and takes away pain; 8 the pharmacist makes a mixture from them. God's works will never be finished; and from him health spreads over all the earth.
9 My child, when you are ill, do not delay, but pray to the Lord, and he will heal you. 10 Give up your faults and direct your hands rightly, and cleanse your heart from all sin. 11 Offer a sweet-smelling sacrifice, and a memorial portion of choice flour, and pour oil on your offering, as much as you can afford.
12 Then give the physician his place, for the Lord created him; do not let him leave you, for you need him. 13 There may come a time when recovery lies in the hands of physicians, 14 for they too pray to the Lord that he grant them success in diagnosis and in healing, for the sake of preserving life.
15 He who sins against his Maker, will be defiant toward the physician.
People have looked up to doctors for a long time, as this passage from Ecclesiasticus [or Sirach] reveals.

So I was pretty disturbed today when I heard that some of those would-be bombers in the UK are doctors, and a Brisbane, Australia doctor has also been apprehended in connection with this terrorist plot. Can you imagine a person who is pledged to save life being involved in bombing others?

Then, I read about a great Aussie doctor, RAG Holmes, in This Life, the Sydney Morning Herald obituary column, who was also a great musician.

And then, during my trip home from Penrith, to visit my daughter and my two grandsons, I heard a minister who used to be a doctor [which reminds me of the joke about the plumber who used to be a doctor] talking about how in his former occupation, he was often frustrated that people wouldn't change their behaviour. Now he is a minister, this still bothers him. He said that there is a lot of talk about topical preaching and expository preaching.
He said he would like to introduce a new genre: suppository preaching. Preaching that leads to movement!