Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Fueling our Passion

Sophie in front of the enclosure
Last weekend, Sue and I hired a car and were joined by Sophie for a wonderful exploration of the south of England. Among the many experiences I found myself reflecting on the things that fuel our passion.  As some of you know I have been reflecting this year on what fuels our passion for God and God's mission.  This connects with my study.  I am exploring how we engage with the Bible and how God uses that to bring growth.  A key indicator of that growth is passion for God - loving God and loving others.

Visiting Salisbury Cathedral had the surprise benefit of being able to view the best quality of four surviving copies of Magna Carta (1215AD).  This was the beginnings of the rule of Law, giving people freedom under the law and the protection of individuals from exploitation and abuse of power by rulers.  You could see the passion for the law in Sophie's eyes as she saw this foundation document in legal history.  Amnesty International were cleverly involved in sponsoring this exhibition put together for the 800th anniversary of its signing - seeking to communicate their passion for justice to others.  Passion seems to be fueled by engaging with significant heritage items associated with that issue.
The document was housed in a special enclosure inside the tent you see in the photograph, and one can't take photographs of the actual document, but you can see in my photo of a print below the delicate, precise lettering that achieved 3,600 words on one sheet of parchment.  Perhaps this is an example of passionate use of a goose quill? Having praised the scribe, we did learn from the passionate curator that some textual variants did occur as the document was copied by hand and by it being read aloud for the scribe to copy.  We could see a phrase correction in one copy.  "Opps! it should have said..."

I have enlarged some of the print below so you can see the beautiful Latin lettering more easily.

Baptistry at Salisbury Cathedral

Salisbury cathedral also had a most artistic baptistry.  I know some folks at East Taieri have been doing some work on the heating system for our baptistry.  Thanks guys! I thought you might like to see this version, although I suspect it is only used for sprinkling, rather than immersion baptisms.  I understand it took some work to ensure it was level for the mirror water surface and water to flow out all four overflow points equally.

Going back in time a little further, we visited the site of the Battle of Hastings (1066AD).  Among other things we learned that King Harold II (the last of the Anglo-Saxon kings of England) was himself a rather passionate man, which may have been part of his downfall.  When William (the Conqueror) led the Norman invasion of England, Harold could have taken his time, allowing William to march his army to Harold in London, stretching the already difficult Norman supply lines.  However, in his urgency to deal to William, Harold marched his army to Hastings and launched into battle before all his troops had arrived and rested.  The events of the battle of Hastings are recorded on a magnificent tapestry housed at Bayeux (in Normandy - near the D Day landings), preserved for over nine centuries.  It shows two other types of passion fueling.  One of William's leaders, Bishop Odo, is shown "comforting" the troops (i.e. urging them on into battle with a large club).  This is often used to argue that the Holy Spirit as our "comforter" in John 14 of the KJV of the Bible has the role of urging us on in the spiritual battle.  Certainly Bishop Odo fired up the troops.  The next scene on the tapestry shows William lifting his helmet so his troops could see his face in order to dispel a rumour that William had been killed.  Seeing him alive inspired the troops onward.

In Hastings itself, we saw two other examples of passion.  The fisherman have huts on the beach from which they sell their catch.  Many of the huts display photos or representations of the fishermen giving the simple huts character and ownership.  The also made various claims to having the best fish around.

Similarly, for that most English of treats, cream tea.  This is tea served with freshly baked scones, clotted cream and jam.  Again, we saw many establishments claiming to serve the best cream tea in England.  Their claims had to be assessed of course.  While this was primarily marketing, it highlights for me the way that excellence and ownership are important for passionate service.

Cream tea in Hastings

Until next time,  Martin.

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