George Floyd’s Death, Part 2: Confessing the Legacy of Slavery

June 20, 2020

Confessing more widespread sins which are part of the Legacy of Slavery is more complex. Remnants, large and small, of Slavery thinking and behaviour are alive today. The widespread Echo to the death of George Floyd in the lives of protestors and many others testifies to these sharp remnants damaging many people today.

Remnants of slavery thinking are addressed in the Bible in the call to ‘remember you were slaves in Egypt’ so as not to think or behave as slaves nor slave-owners. Old Testament commentators often quote: ‘It was one thing to get the slaves out of Egypt. It was another to get Egypt out of the slaves.’

Fear of The Black Man.

Slaves are valued and selected for the physical stature and prowess. Muscly slaves fetch more money than weedy slaves. Strong slaves survive the horrendous sea journey and degrading plantation conditions. (The sea journey operated as an unnatural, inhuman, selection: only the fittest, strongest, survived.)

Slaves are therefore, in general, physically more powerful than their masters. Slaves are in a life they have not chosen from which they want to escape. Slaves are naturally confined and angry. The Masters are naturally afraid of their slaves.

Although Slavery, as we knew it, has gone, it is clear that Fear of The Black Man has not gone. We see it in the actions of the police towards George Floyd. We hear of it echoed in the experience of many others.

This fear needs to be acknowledged and confessed. People need to own up to harbouring, perpetuating, the fear inherited from the past. People need to seek the help of God and others to have the fear replaced by love. We work on this as God works within us.

Fear leads people to keep a distance. Segregation is a result of fear and perpetuates fear. Segregation persists practically though not legally. Familiarity diminishes fear. Aversion therapy helps people who are deeply afraid, for instance of spiders, slowly and incrementally to become familiar, for instance with spiders. We need positive, organised, initiatives to build more familiarity between black and white people.

The Church can take the lead on building familiarity. In many places white majority churches have neighbouring black majority churches. Fully diverse churches are, sadly, few. Could churches covenant to be in a ‘family,’ cousin, relationship finding ways to come to know each other better? Joint conferences and retreats? Joint social care initiatives? Familiarity is what the Church, the family of Jesus, should be creating.

Fear of The Black Man is only one of many remnants of slavery thinking and behaviour which need to be addressed.

Money.

A big remnant of slavery is the wealth of people and institutions today inherited from slave owners. The profits of Slavery were theft from the slaves. People today are guilty of receiving stolen property. The Financial Legacy of Slavery needs to be addressed.

Confession of inheriting stolen property is not outrageously impractical. Germany has recognised and confessed the wealth stolen from German Jews. This confession was not automatic. For a time German people wanted only to rebuild their nation and forget about the Jews, about that nasty episode in German history. A long and sustained Call to Confession was eventually heeded. Today, all over Germany, especially Western Germany, the country’s Jewish heritage and its demise is publicly noted.

My father and his Jewish family were forced to leave Essen. In 1960 the main Essen Synagogue was turned into a Museum of Industrial Design. All remaining Jewish symbols were removed or covered.

During the 1970s a movement began to acknowledge and uncover more of the detail of the Holocaust and of German Jewish Heritage. From 1986 to 1988 the Essen Synagogue was restored to its original appearance. From 2008 to 2010 the building was further developed as a Jewish Museum and Cultural Centre. Both renovations were fully financed by the Local Authorities. In front of the main Essen Railway Station is a notable fairly recent sculpture memorial to the Jews transported from Essen to concentration camps. The rest of Germany has embarked on similar restoration and memorials.

Germany has made sizeable restitution to the Jews. My father’s family have received compensation and more is expected. Much of this restitution was made in the 1950s when Germany could easily have argued that they could not afford such generosity. Slave-owning countries need to learn from and follow the example of Germany.

Descendants of slave owners need, similarly, need to own up to harbouring, perpetuating, ill-gotten gains. People need to seek the help of God and others to repay or make restitution for what was stolen.

In the UK some people are addressing the Financial Legacy of Slavery. Cambridge University has set up an Advisory Group on Legacies of Enslavement: https://www.v-c.admin.cam.ac.uk/projects/legacies-of-enslavement Jesus College, Cambridge, where I was a student, has set up its own Working Party which has decided on the first step of symbolic restitution: https://www.jesus.cam.ac.uk/articles/legacy-slavery-working-party-recommendations

Where will the financial restitution go? Groups representing descendants of slaves need to decide. I hope that, as with the Jews, some money will go to individual people. I hope too that money will go to programmes addressing the Legacy of Slavery in the attitudes and behaviours of the descendants of slave owners and slaves.

We Christians urge Confession of Sin and Faith in the healing, forgiving, God of Jesus. Both Confession and Faith need to be expressed in action. I consider that the Germans have done plenty to demonstrate serious confession of sin. For me, they are forgiven. The Legacy of Slavery can be addressed and healed. Black Lives can matter more.

Roger Harper

George Floyd’s Death: Confession of Sin

June 12, 2020

The Event

Four police officers arrested and restrained a black American, George Floyd, in Minneapolis. One policeman pushed his knee into George’s neck. Two others sat on George’s chest. The fourth stood and watched and said nothing. George died.

The Echo

People all over America, and in the UK and other countries, mostly black people, are outraged and protest. What the police did to George echoed with the experience of thousands of others.

George’s life didn’t matter. What mattered was that he might have knowingly tried to pay in a small store with a counterfeit note. Thousands of people testify that they too have been given the message that their lives do not matter.

The Legacy

George’s death looked like a lynching, not by men in robes and pointed hoods, but by police officers in uniform. The old attitudes and practices of segregation and slavery are shown to be alive and well today. Slavery has left an ongoing Legacy which needs to be addressed.

The Way Forward: Confession of sin

The message of Jesus and His Church has always been that sin needs first to be confessed. God will forgive us when we confess our sin. (1 John 1:9) God needs us to confess our sins, so that He can make a way forward for us. We need people to confess their sins, so that we can make a way forward with them.

Confessing sin means seeing and speaking up about the wrong we have done, the damage we have done to other people. The Greek word translated ‘confess’ means firstly ‘to speak out loud.’ God needs us to speak out our sins. We need others to speak out their sins. Without this, there can be no good way forward.

This post looks at Confessing the sins of George Floyd’s death. The next post will look at Confessing the sins of the Legacy of Slavery.

Confessing the sins of the Event

I hope and pray to hear people in authority taking responsibility for these sins:

Inadequate police training and procedures in Control and Restraint. In the prison where I work, the way the policemen handled George Floyd is instantly recognised as unlawful.

Inadequate police supervision and accountability. In the prison where I work, any officer restraining unlawfully would know they will very probably lose their job, at least. The Minneapolis police officers seemed oblivious to any consequences of their actions to themselves, let alone to George Floyd.

Inadequate encouragement and procedures for countermanding a fellow officer acting unlawfully. In our prison we are told what to do when we witness a fellow member of staff acting in any way against our professional code. Speaking up is hard, but policemen, especially, need to be thoroughly trained in putting the law above other personal considerations.

Other people especially, I hope, the senior police officers and officials involved, may well add more. The US ‘8 Can’t Wait’ Campaign for police reform needs widespread support. https://8cantwait.org/ The US Democrats’ recent Bill steps in the right direction: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-52969375

9 members of Minneapolis City Council have vowed to dismantle the City Police Force: https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2020/jun/08/minneapolis-city-council-police-department-dismantle They could and should have taken action before, for instance firmly implementing the 8 Can’t Wait recommendations. They have implied that they are guilty of not curbing their police. They should say this clearly and stand with the accused police officers as sharing any guilt.

With those in overall responsibility confessing their sins, I hope and pray for the four police officers to confess their sins. The responsibility is not the police officers’ alone. They must not be made to take the rap for the sins of their superiors. But they too have sinned and need to confess. If these police officers can plead guilty in court, following or at least backed up, by their superiors confessing their sins, much healing and peace can come.

National Prayer Against Coronavirus

May 15, 2020

Lying on my back in bed this morning, enjoying my usual Friday, day off, musing and praying with more time. I sensed or saw myself in Jesus, as inside a suit. Friday is my day for praying for my nation, Britain. You may like to join in with all or part of what came to me, or use it to stimulate your own prayer.

Sweeping Angels

‘Abba, Father! Please send angels throughout our land to sweep the virus towards and into people who are immune. Please use the costly immunity we have now to kill off the virus.’

I know many people who have had Covid-19 symptoms and have now recovered. The current evidence is that the immune systems of these people now recognise the virus as an enemy and kill it.

(South Korean microbiologists have identified that the virus which the Chinese had seen in some recovered people is deformed, unable to reproduce, no threat.)

Asking God to help along the natural immunity He has given us felt a positive and realistic prayer.

Tongues and Quiet

Then I prayed, sang, in tongues, something I have neglected recently. (Praying in tongues is simply praying in sounds which feel like they have a life, a flow, of their own.) A happy, smile-making prayer.

The tongues changed into a tune I was given a few years ago, to which I have put words, the chorus of a ‘Come Holy Spirit!’ song. A slow, lilting, tune.

Then I settled into quiet. My head and body enjoyed silence. I half started to pray in tongues again but sensed it better to remain quiet.

Holy Spirit Furrow

After a while, the idea came of drawing a line from the top of Great Britain to the bottom. This fitted in with a dream my fiancée saw earlier this week. I imagined my finger starting at the North coast of Scotland, tracing down the middle of the country. ‘Come, Holy Spirit! Come, Holy Spirit,’ I repeated.

Down on the Channel coast I realised I had gone too quickly and had to start again, more slowly. I have seen enough of Britain to remember much of the land in the middle of our island. I seemed to be making a Holy Spirit furrow.

Arching Rainbows

In Derbyshire, which I know very well, and which has a good claim to be the centre of Britain, rainbows leapt out of the furrow on both sides. Fairly small rainbow arches, which doubled, trebled, multiplied, as they arched East and West. As I continued, rainbows sprouted from the furrow, from the top of Scotland to the bottom of England.

An Old Hymn

Lying still, smiling at all the rainbows across the island, some now weaving North and South as well, the tune of an old hymn came. Originally ‘Judge eternal, throned in splendour’ I enjoy singing a slightly different version, inspired by rainbows. (Ask YouTube to play you the tune.)

God Eternal, throned on angels,
Dad of dads and King of kings,
with your living light of blessing
purge this land of bitter things;
solace all its wide dominion
with the healing of your wings.

Still the weary folk are pining
for the hour that brings release,
and the city’s empty  business
waits and hopes for fuller streets,
and the homesteads and the woodlands
plead in silence for their peace.

Crown, O God, your own endeavour;
cleave our darkness with your sword;
feed the faithless and the hungry
with the richness of your word;
cleanse the body of this nation
through the glory of the Lord.

(Henry Scott Holland alt Roger Harper)

‘Judge eternal throned in splendour’ conveys a stern, immovable, God. Jesus and the Bible convey a Father God, ‘seated on the cherubim / angels’ who are creatures of movement. The judges of the Book of Judges in the Bible are not remote, impassionate deliverers of verdicts, but involved, proactive, deliverers of people from their enemies. So is the eternal Father God of Jesus.

A New Song

Yesterday my fiancée sent me this link to a new song: https://youtu.be/payjb4n9aS0

I had not listened to it before. Marvelling at the connection, I sang along:

Where are You when the wildfire is taking ground?
Where are You when the wind comes and knocks us down?
Where are You when the waters rise and it looks like we’re gonna drown?
Where are You now? Where are You now?

Where are You in the questions, the in-between?
And where are You in the waiting and the unseen?
Where are You in the aftermath surrounded by debris?
Where are You now? Where are You now?

Right in the middle of it, right in the middle of it
That’s where You’ll be found
Right in the middle of it, deep in the center of it
That’s where You are now
You’ll be right in the middle
You’ll be right in the middle

You are there on the front lines and the retreat
You are there in the chaos and in the peace
You are there in the victory and You hold us in defeat
That’s where You are are, that’s where You are

Sure in the storm, fixed in the flood
Oh You will never run

That’s who You are, there through it all
Our God is here with us

(Kalley Heiligenthal)

A Modern Classic Song

What a feast of prayer! I thought Jesus said to stay with the silence, the ‘Come Holy Spirit’ chorus, for there might be more.

Sunshine. Bright golden sunshine all over Great Britain.

I sang again. A late 20th Century church favourite, slightly altered:

Shine, Jesus, shine
Fill this land with the Father’s glory
Blaze, Spirit, blaze
Fight in us with fire
Flow, river, flow
Flood the nations with grace and mercy
Send forth your word
Lord, and let there be light

(Graham Kendrick alt Roger Harper)

Since the virus came, we have had more than our usual amount of sunshine. Covid-19 cannot survive in direct sunlight. We want, we ask for, more sunshine and less virus, please! We ask for more fire in our immune systems. And let there be light!

Over the next couple of weeks, the next month. I think we will see the difference.

Roger Harper

Praying against Coronavirus – Really?

April 14, 2020

Do you think praying will cure people?

Christians believe that the healing Spirit, the Holy Spirit, who flowed in Jesus is now flowing through his people, the Church. We have to ask specifically for the healing Holy Spirit to flow to a person in need. Sometimes people then report having received peace or healing. This does not happen all the time. It is always worth asking.

12 years ago I went down with a bout of flu. The doctor told me that the infection was a virus so antibiotics  would not help. He said that most people are ill for a couple of weeks and then recover.

I asked my church boss, the Archdeacon, to come and pray for me. (I knew he travelled often past the end of my street.) My wife let him in. He stood at the door to my room and asked if he could pray for me from there. I agreed. He said a little prayer and left soon. Two days later I was well again and have not had flu since.

So you think there will be miraculous recoveries?

The most common answer to Christian prayer is to give us a sense of Jesus close to us, bringing us comfort, encouragement and strength in our fight for health. Comfort and peace when we ache. Encouragement to carry on the fight against the virus or other malady. Real strength in our hearts, minds and bodies. We will probably need to keep fighting, with Jesus fighting with us.

One Christian found this was true for her: https://www.premierchristianity.com/Blog/From-death-to-life-How-God-delivered-me-from-coronavirus

A Church Leader in Northern Ireland, for whom people were praying, also recovered: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-52092833

A few people may recover more miraculously but they will be the exception.

Do we need to ask someone to pray with us?

In the Letter of James, Chapter 5, we read ‘14 Are any among you sick? They should call for the elders of the church and have them pray over them, anointing them with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 The prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise them up;’

Asking someone to pray for us is an expression of our faith. James remembered that all who came to Jesus were healed. Those who did not come to Jesus were probably not healed. For healing there had to be both the flow of the Holy Spirit and close human contact. Christian healing today is the same. We need to ask the Holy Spirit to flow and to establish human contact, as close as possible. In a pandemic, we will probably not lay on hands or even be in the same room. Telephone contact may be the closest possible.

We can also pray ourselves, as part of praying ‘Give us today our daily bread.’ If we need healing today, we ask for it. Best to pray for ourselves and to ask others to pray for us.

Note that the sick person is to call. Church Ministers will endeavour to call on the sick, but this should be in response to Church Members asking. If every Christian called like this, instead of expecting that someone had missed them, or waiting for someone to offer to pray with them, Church life would be much simpler.

What about faith?

Our faith is expressed mostly in our asking. Jesus instructed ‘So I say to you, Ask, and it will be given to you; search, and you will find; knock, and the door will be opened for you.’ (Luke 11:9) Jesus did not say ‘Trust God and you will receive.’ Paul wrote ‘Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.’ (Philippians 4:6) Paul did not write ‘Put your trust in God, leave your concerns, including your health concerns, with Jesus.’ Paul echoed Jesus ‘Let your requests be made known to God.’ Ask. Have enough faith to ask seriously.

Don’t we need faith to move mountains?

No! When the disciples asked Jesus to increase the size of their faith, He told them all they needed was the tiniest faith. Jesus was telling them not even to think about the size of their faith. They needed to go ahead assuming that the little faith they had was enough. (Luke 17:5,6) If you have faith to ask, including to ask other people to pray for you, and to go on asking, you have enough faith.

How long do we go on asking?

As long as we need to. It is possible to pray once and then give up quickly when no response seems to come. Better to keep presenting our request to God (Luke 11:5-9, Luke 18:1-8)

At some time we may sense inside ourselves that our prayer has been heard, that the person will be all right. We can then pray less or stop praying. This is a gift of faith from the Holy Spirit within us.

What about declaring in faith that the person is healed?

Jesus told us to ask more than to declare. James wrote that the prayer of faith, not the declaration of faith, will heal the sick person. Better to put faith into humble, fervent, asking, with some thanksgiving that we have a Father in Heaven who is always ready to hear our requests.

Aren’t we setting ourselves up for disappointment at times?

Yes. We know indeed that not all prayer is answered as we want and not everyone will recover from coronavirus. If we want to be shielded from disappointment, it is best not to ask for healing at all. Yet Jesus told us very clearly and strongly to ask. The more we ask, the more Jesus is able to do. My experience, and the experience of many Christians, is that prayer always makes a difference for good, sometimes not the exact good we had hoped for.

What about when people are close to dying?

Doctors, especially nowadays, recognise that a time comes when it is no longer beneficial to keep trying to heal someone, but to help them have peace as they let go of life. Christians have recognised this for a long time. A time comes when we pray for the light and peace of Paradise – Heaven,  the presence of Jesus the Shepherd going through death with us. Recognising when to make this change is not easy. Mostly we, like doctors, are guided by the sick person themselves or their next of kin.

Are we to rely on prayer alone?

No. We seek healing in every way we can. We call the doctor or go to see them. We take pills and we pray. We take good hygiene precautions and we pray for protection and healing. Really!

How to pray? 

See https://rogerharper.wordpress.com/2020/03/29/praying-against-coronavirus/

 

Coronavirus: Not Judgement.Blessing to come.

April 10, 2020

Rainbow1

The rainbows in the windows of UK houses convey hope: ‘After a storm comes a rainbow.’ After the virus comes a fresh start.

Rainbow3 (2)

 

The rainbow in the Bible conveys assurance that God will never judge people by killing or injuring many. God may well think of or feel like wiping people out but He has told us He won’t. Genesis 8: ‘The Lord said in his heart, ‘I will never again curse the ground because of humankind, for the inclination of the human heart is evil from youth; nor will I ever again destroy every living creature as I have done. 22 As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, summer and winter, day and night, shall not cease.”

Covid 19 is not God’s judgement. The God of Jesus and the Bible does not work like that.

Jesus said disasters would continue to happen but the end, the judgement, would not be in them. Matthew 24: ‘You will hear of wars and rumours of wars; see that you are not alarmed; for this must take place, but the end is not yet. For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes in various places: all this is but the beginning of the birth pangs.’ We are not to think of any natural nor human disaster as ‘the end,’ ie as the judgement.

God has appointed a judge for all humankind – Jesus. Acts 17: ‘God has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead.’ The judgement of Jesus is God’s judgement. God has no other judgement than through Jesus. God does not judge people through plagues or any other widespread disaster, He judges people, He will judge people, through Jesus.

People are too quick to blame others

We humans are too fond of judging others. Jesus warned of the consequences: ‘Do not judge, so that you may not be judged.’ (Matthew 7:1)

Who was responsible for Covid 19? The Chinese? The American military? The fossil fuel burners? Who sinned? The wrong question.

Jesus disciples also asked the wrong question: ‘As Jesus walked along, he saw a man blind from birth. His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?’ Jesus answered, ‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned; he was born blind so that God’s works might be revealed in him.’ (John 9)

No one person’s sin, no group of people’s sin, caused the natural disaster of blindness. Jesus does not want us trying to find someone to blame. The disciples assumed that God works judgement on people, because of their sin. Their only question was ‘Whose sin?’ Instead Jesus told the disciples to observe what happened as a lesson in how God works. ‘You need revelation of God’s works. What happens to this man will show you how God works.’

The man born blind was healed by Jesus. Seeing the healing, the disciples should have learned that God’s works are healing, blessing, works, not judging works. ‘For He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the righteous and on the unrighteous.’ (Matthew 5:45) This echoes the promise of the rainbow in Genesis, the promise of the continual blessing of the days and the seasons. Rain and sunshine will continue to come from the heavens for God is continually, unfailingly, kind.

Rainbow4

Blame the devil

For our struggle is not against enemies of blood and flesh, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)

If God is against Covid 19, who is behind it? The devil. Our world, our planet, are too much influenced by the devil. The fact that Covid 19 cannot survive in direct sunlight seems a metaphor for it being a work of darkness. The devil has more tricks up his sleeve than we realise.

The devil tries to make people afraid, to make us blame God, to stop us from reaching out in love. If we think God sent Covid 19 so we move away from Him or move away from people suffering, we are duped by the devil.

Let us look for the healing blessing of God, through Jesus.

Our current natural disaster does not come from God. God wants people healed. All that we are doing to heal and protect people is done with God’s support.

We look for healing, blessing, through human scientific knowledge, human care, skilled and unskilled, as inspired by the Spirit of Jesus, the Holy Spirit, who leads us into all truth, including the truth of how to deal with Covid 19.

Rainbow8

We look for healing, blessing, through connecting people with the healing Holy Spirit, as Jesus did with the blind man. We pray, we ask, for healing in the name of Jesus. We do not presume too much, we do not make exaggerated claims nor declarations. Neither do we limit our praying to comfort and peace instead of actual healing.

We pray against Covid 19 as a work of the devil. ‘Abba Father! Your will is for healing – make it happen. Pour heavenly rain, shine heavenly light, on earth to kill the virus. Send angels with healing bread to strengthen the immune systems of those battling Covid 19. Yes we have sinned and have not always been as forgiving and merciful as You. Lead us to love like You. Deliver us from this evil!’

Rainbow7

When healing comes, God’s fingerprint will be half hidden

When the man born blind was healed, plenty of people did not see Jesus, nor His God, as behind the healing. Jesus did not insist on having all the credit. The man himself was healed by Jesus before he knew Jesus. He could have walked on without returning to find out who had healed him.

Perhaps the most obvious thing about God is that He does not make Himself obvious. Life gives us evidence for design and creation; life also gives us evidence for chance and cruelty. Some evidence points to a creator God, but not enough to be overwhelming. Life gives us evidence of random tragedy, destructive storms out of nowhere. Life gives us evidence of remarkable recovery, life becoming unexpectedly enjoyable. Some evidence points to a healing God, but not enough to be overwhelming.

As we ask, the rain and the sunshine from heaven will become healing rainbows over and on and in people and streets and towns and nations. The rainbows will replace the virus. As I have prayed, I think the time will come, sooner than most people think, when the antibodies in people will become stronger than Covid 19 and the virus will, fairly suddenly, be in serious retreat.

Rainbow6

Some of us will see evidence of God and His Son Jesus in the retreat of Covid 19. Others will not. Some people will want to connect more with the God of Jesus, others will not. Jesus will not insist on having all the credit. That’s life!

Praying Against Coronavirus

March 29, 2020

‘I can see my wife, I can see God with her.’

‘How is God showing Himself with Jasmin?’

‘An angel with her. I can see 2 wings stretched out, covering her and the children.’

AngelProtect

We thanked the Holy Spirit for showing the angel and asked for more. He said he could see a bright light, along with the angel, with his family. We told the virus to leave them alone, for them to be safe in the light and under the angel’s wings. ‘Make it happen God! So be it!’

This prisoner, Mark, then gave permission for me to write about our prayer together, changing the names, to help other people praying for their family and friends.

Mark had talked with Jasmin the night before. She cried on the phone, saying how hard it was to be at home all the time with 5 children, not knowing if they would find the food they need. He wanted to pray for them all.

I asked him what we were asking God for, and suggested pictures of the Holy Spirit coming to keep his family safe and healthy – a shower of water washing through them, a light shining on them, Jesus’ hand on their shoulder. He chose the light.

Prayer Tip 1: Think how you are asking God, the Holy Spirit, to come. Find a picture for your prayer.

The best picture is the one which seems best to you or to the person you are praying for. You may need to spend some time thinking over what picture would be best. Or an idea might come quickly. One Christian teacher has written of praying for angels with flame-throwers. The flame does not harm people but does destroy the virus. Any picture is good. Jesus said to people ‘What do you want me to do for you?’ ‘Ask whatever you want’ He asks the same today, so tell Him clearly.

Prayer Tip 2: Ask the Holy Spirit to come. Ask for the picture.

‘Come Holy Spirit!’ I began. ‘Come as the light shining on Jasmin and the children.’ Add whatever words you want, words of thanksgiving for the people, of detail about what you are asking the light etc. to do. Make sure you do invite the Holy Spirit, Jesus’ Spirit, and you ask specifically for the picture you have chosen.

Prayer Tip 3: Wait and watch to see what comes. Welcome whatever comes.

After making our request, Mark and I sat quietly, waiting. For a short while we stopped praying and relaxed, Mark’s eyes closed. Mark seemed very relaxed, focused. I asked if he was aware of anything, or nothing particular. He said he could see God with Jasmin. We welcomed that and asked for more.

What comes, whether we are praying on our own or with someone else, may be a sense of peace or a warmth or a tingle or a picture or anything.

It may be what we have asked for or different.

All is to be welcomed, in trust. ‘Wow, thank you Jesus! More, Holy Spirit, please, more.’ Take time to welcome.

  • Welcome peace by relaxing: breathe or sigh deeply.
  • Welcome light by being still, sunbathing, telling the pores of your skin to open up.
  • Welcome warmth or tingling by asking the Holy Spirit to flow further.
  • Welcome pictures by looking more, opening the eyes of your heart more, seeing what else comes.

HSDoveLight

If you are praying with someone else, welcome whatever comes to you. ‘My sense is of the Holy Spirit coming as a blanket…’ etc. If you feel prompted to pray in tongues / sounds do so. You may need simply to explain that you are praying in sounds rather than words.

As you are aware of the Holy Spirit flowing, tell the virus to go. ‘Virus, unclean influence, you are in the wrong place. Give up the fight and let yourself be carried away to the rubbish bin of Jesus. In the name of Jesus, be gone!’ Keep welcoming the Holy Spirit for He is the deliverer.

Carry on as long as seems good, as long as there is a flow of the Holy Spirit, or until you have a sense of faith that your prayer has been heard.

Leon was open, when asked, to prayer for his ex-partner Patience and their daughter. Patience seemed to be recovering from coronavirus but he had heard that it sometimes comes back. He chose Jesus’ hand on their brow. We asked for that, I prayed in tongues and told the virus to go.

‘If that doesn’t work…’ he began to say brightly. ‘You’ll want your money back,’ I quipped. ‘No, no. The opposite. I have hope now. I could see her with Jesus’ hand on her brow and something dissipating around her. Little bits of something disintegrated, moving away from her.’

‘Yes! So be it God!’

HandsPraying

 

Out of the EU: Demise of GB.

January 31, 2020

‘This is not the country I thought I was living in.’ Grief for my country caused by the December election and campaign. My feelings and thoughts echoed by others. Our split with Europe will lead to the demise of Great Britain.

Great Britain honoured the Commands of Jesus Too often lip-service, yet respect from many and a foundation of our nation. ‘Love your neighbour as you love yourself’ has been British as much as Christian or Jewish. No longer. We refuse to love our European neighbours as we love ourselves. We choose proud isolation instead. Brigadier Stephen Goodall, speaking on this week’s Led By Donkeys video, tells of his sadness at the end of ‘comradeship’ with Europe. https://www.facebook.com/ledbydonkeys/videos/530084601196043/  Comrades love their neighbours as they love themselves.

Great Britain honoured the Ten Commands. ‘Do not bear false witness’ has been British as much as Christian or Jewish. No longer. Leaders who are known to have lied, and are lying, are elected because they fan the demonic fire of proud isolation.

Great Britain was a Union of England and Wales with Scotland. A Union of political reality and of hearts and minds. Together we have created much. No longer. Too many of the English have chosen to ignore their Scots neighbours. The Union of hearts and minds has been dumped. The political Union will follow. ‘This is certainly the end of Union with Scotland,’ said our Chapel Volunteer Team Leader on the Sunday after the election. ‘Maybe it’s for the best, maybe the Union has outlived its purpose,’ he said. His voice was grim.

Great Britain was a tolerant nation. We gave places in our nation to people from many other nations. Not often warmly welcoming, we were not hostile to immigrants. We allowed them to benefit from our ways and took on some of their ways. This openness is a hallmark of prosperous, creative, countries. No longer. Too many English people have believed that we have too many immigrants. Many wise immigrants will now leave our sinking ship. We will all be poorer in every way.

Great Britain was a manufacturing nation. No longer. The demise of manufacturing on this island has been long and slow. Only European and other foreign companies have invested in current manufacturing. These companies need Great Britain to have good trade deals with Europe and the rest of the world, trade deals which our Government will not be able to negotiate in isolation. The irony is that many people in the Midlands and North of England thought they were voting for a return to manufacturing. They were woefully misguided.

Great Britain was a First Rate nation. In the Empire days, Great Britain was The Top Dog Nation. Since the Empire, we have tried to be, more humbly, one of the First Rate nations, having to compromise with other nations. This has grated on the old sense that we should be Top Dog still and too many people have voted against the compromise. Now we are, or will soon be, very Second Rate.

Great Britain will have to find a new place among the second rate nations. We will have to learn to adjust to being poodle rather than top dog. May the fall that follows our pride bring us to our senses. https://rogerharper.wordpress.com/2019/01/05/painting-brexit-peter-howson/ May our new position in the world enable us eventually to learn afresh to love our neighbours as we love ourselves.

 

Roger Harper

Barcelona: 3 of Gaudi’s Best

August 10, 2019

Barcelona is worth a special visit to see the great buildings designed by Antoni Gaudi, especially the most wonderful church in the world, the Sagrada Familia.

1 The Palau Guell

https://www.palauguell.cat/en 

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Good to begin with this comparatively early Palace. Owned by the local government, tickets cost less than to other buildings.

 

Gaudi’s genius for combining practical use and delightful, unique, design is evident everywhere. In contrast to his later buildings, here he delights in straight lines and squares.

Gaudi made every detail beautifully individual, lovingly crafted. Expense was irrelevant to Eusebi Guell for whom the Palace was home and grand reception space. Ironic that Guell made his fortune through industrial mass production.

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The central shaft is spacious, colourful and intricate. Worth experiencing when the organ is playing and the lights are changing.

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The roof is fun.

2 The Casa Battlo

https://www.casabatllo.es/en/  

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The House In The Sea. The front is like looking into an aquarium, with bubbles rising up the wall. The official guide disappointingly calls these ‘discs.’ When inside, enjoy waving from the balcony to the crowds below.

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At the top is a great fish fin and a cross – signpost. The official guide seems to think the fin is not notable enough in itself and describes it as part of a dragon. An inexplicable nod to Salvador Dali, maybe also jumping on the teen fantasy vogue? Dragons are land creatures not comfortable next to crosses. Fish are at home in the sea, and Gaudi wanted to give the feeling of people alongside them, throughout the building.

 

Here curves and swirls are celebrated, enjoyed.

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The central shaft is carefully coloured to give an even, underwater impression.

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The roof space is the inside of a great fish

3 The Sagrada Familia

https://sagradafamilia.org/en/home

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A church inside out and back to front and glorious.

 The statues which are normally inside a church are here on the outside. Great tableaux of Jesus’ birth, Jesus’ death and Jesus’ impact, or glory. The last façade is yet to be finished.

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The people we see are modelled on local Barcelona residents. The sculptor who continued the work after Gaudi’s death in 1926 continued this tradition. He was Japanese and his angel models were children at the Barcelona Japanese School.

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Jesus is born on top of a large pole – his Jewish family tree written with the names of his ancestors, as recorded by Matthew the Gospel writer.

 

Jesus dies having been brutally whipped.

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At Jesus’ Last Supper, Judas the Betrayer takes bread from Jesus but does not eat it. He tries to feed it to a dog. A unique touch which I have not seen nor heard of elsewhere.

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Jesus’ tomb is found empty by women, with an angel announcing that he is alive in a new, resurrection, way. This scene is tucked away at the top of the Passion side of the church, hard to see.

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Stepping inside is being immersed in colour and life after all black and white. New life in a new forest. Resurrection space.

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Gaudi took over the foundations, already laid, of a traditional church, facing East, towards Jerusalem, the place of Jesus’ death and resurrection. We look to the cross and glimpse the resurrection beyond. On these foundations, Gaudi built a church facing West, away from Jerusalem, with the new light of dawn-resurrection filling the building. We look at everything in the light of resurrection.

 

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Gaudi said that he was working directly for God, the Father. His building is a home for Christians who know they are the Holy Family, calling them to enjoy their new life, ready to welcome more and more brothers and sisters.

Roger Harper

 

Back from the Brink. Let’s Think.

April 24, 2019

We have months before the next Brexit deadline. Let’s step back and think about our relationship with Europe and with the rest of the world. Let’s think about the bigger picture of Britain in the world.

 We have a majority, in Parliament at least, against leaving the EU with no deal. A majority for arranging some kind of relationship with the EU. A majority knowing that our future is in cooperation, partnerships, with other nations. A majority against proud independence, the idolatry of sovereign isolation. A majority against ‘We must stand entirely on our own two feet.’

Where, then, do we place our two feet? Let’s think about one foot in Europe, and one foot in the Commonwealth.

Britain takes part in the European Athletics Championship and the Commonwealth Games. Many Britons have personal ties with Europe, through friendship from study or holidays, through marriage. More Britons have personal ties with the Commonwealth through marriage or migration. Many British companies are now owned by European companies. Significant British companies are also owned by Commonwealth companies – British Steel, Jaguar Land Rover, Bombardier trains etc.

British geography means that we are close, though not fully connected, to Europe, while able to connect with countries across the seas. British history has been shaped by Europe and by our former Empire, now Commonwealth. Britain is the small, odd-shaped, connecting piece between Europe and the Commonwealth.

Let’s think about how much we want seriously to be part of both Europe and the Commonwealth, in line with our geography and history.

Let’s think about one foot in Europe and one foot in the Commonwealth as a vision for Britain in the world.

A strong majority vision is most important. How this vision is expressed in practice would then need to be worked out creatively with our potential partners. We have learnt the hard lesson of trying to agree on detail (backstop, customs union etc.) without a strong majority vision. Now we need to start again to find a common vision.

Let’s think about the blessing of the European Union – peace and mutual prosperity through economic cooperation and wider fellowship. The original aim was no more war. Unity was not the aim in itself. Now that peace through economic cooperation has been established in Europe, how can this peace be spread more widely, beyond Europe? Can Britain have an important role in enabling this spread of peace and mutual prosperity, making use of our Commonwealth ties?

Let’s think and talk with our Commonwealth partners. Let’s admit that we should have talked to them long ago. Let’s be humble in asking for their preferred relationship with Britain, and between Britain and Europe. The best interests of the Indian company Tata will also be the best interests of British Steel and Jaguar Land Rover. Let’s meet as equals to find a good vision for our futures.

Let’s think about possible partnership with other ‘one foot in Europe’ nations, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey? Let’s talk with them about how much they might share the vision. Would Turkey, another ex-imperial power, see advantages in having one foot in Europe and one foot in the Moslem ‘Commonwealth’? Would The EU see benefits in such organic connections between Europe and the world?

Many British people have an instinctive, island, sense that we are not as fully part of Europe as Belgium or the Czech Republic. Many British people feel closer to Australia, India, Canada, Pakistan. Many British people feel bereft at the prospect of leaving the European Union. Let’s think about a ‘new’ vision which can appeal to all these people, based on the peculiar geography and history of Great Britain

 Let’s think about, not with, our feet!

 Roger Harper

Painting Brexit – Peter Howson

January 5, 2019

‘It becomes more and more plain that this country is heading to fall off a cliff,’ said my friend Mark shortly before Christmas. Peter Howson, renowned Scottish painter, depicts this drive to the cliff edge:

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This is the first of five large canvases painted in 2018, recently shown at the Flowers Gallery in Hoxton, East London.

The woman being pushed to the cliff by the burly ‘patriots’ is Britannia. As a naturalised Scot, Peter H understands that, not only will Brexit seriously damage our economy, but it will break up the United Kingdom. The Scots will be determined to again be part of Europe.

Proud independence is driving us to the fall off the cliff. False history says ‘We saved ourselves (and the world) then (Second World War). We stood alone and it was Our Finest Hour. We can, we must do it again. We must stand alone, free from the Bureaucrats of Brussels.’ True history says ‘We needed our Allies, our Empire / Commonwealth partners. We needed the Russians to soak up most of the Nazi aggression. We needed the Americans to fund us and then support us. We appeared to stand alone for a while when the sea protected us. Then the world saved us. We must stand together or we sink.’

Proud independence finds it easier to blame the Bureaucrats of Brussels than to recognise our own mistakes. We have become lazy and rushed away from the foundations of Christian morality on which our community life was based. We have sought Fun and a Good Laugh above all else. We have served Mammon, prioritised servicing the rich through the City of London. The damage to our nation has been self-inflicted. We need to be saved not from the Bureaucrats of Brussels, but from our own sins.

What after the cliff-fall of Brexit? Peter H’s next paintings of 2018 were scenes of Britain fallen into a hellish existence:

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Here is the grim essence of the reality of Britain degraded by, hungover by, our sins, our bridge to fellowship across the sea demolished.

Peter H’s faith asserts that, even in this mess, Britain is not abandoned by Jesus. Jesus, and His Cross, remain with us, mostly ignored, with some curious attention. Was it the Patriots’ Union Jack which killed Jesus, or replaced Jesus?

What after the degradation? Peter H continued to paint. Later in 2018 came ‘Anak.’

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This man is the leading Patriot. His Union Jack drape has gone. The substantial bridge over the water has been demolished, a good time ago. He is not rushing on his feet; his legs seem useless now. But he knows he is down and he is looking up for help. The sky is beautifully mottled with touches of hopeful colour. He is like an addict coming to his senses and seeking the help of a higher power.

In the 12 Step programme devised by Christians which has become the basis of Alcoholics Anonymous and other programmes for addicts, the Third Step is ‘Make a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understand Him’

In 2001 Peter H painted ‘The Third Step:’

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In 2018 Peter H painted The Patriot Brit, post Brexit, taking the Third Step.

The First Step is to recognise that we are powerless over our addiction, and that our lives have become unmanageable. The Patriot Brit has, eventually, recognised his addiction to proud independence, Fun, and Mammon. The Second Step is to come to believe that a power greater than ourselves can restore us to sanity. The Patriot Brit has come to believe or begun to believe. Now Peter H paints him turning his will over to the care of God. This is the foundation of a different, better, more whole, more holy, life.

Peter H also paints a different Patriot Brit taking the Third Step amidst the general degradation:

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After the Brexit cliff-fall, is a wallowing degradation. The colours of the Union Jack have separated. After the degradation is a turning to God. Peter H sees and shows this to come. Salvation in the end? Will we finally, as a nation, turn our will over to God?

Can all this be avoided? Robbie Williams sang: ‘We know we’re falling from grace, and we’re praying it’s not too late…’

Roger Harper

PS You can buy Peter Howson’s large canvases for £180,000 each. Or a Limited Edition Print of the Archangel Michael for £400. Highly recommended. See https://peterhowson.co.uk/shop/prints/archangel-michael/

PPS The Archangel Michael prints seem to be no longer available on Peter’s site. Worth looking out for them still…