My collecting of religious books continues to fuel my imagination of days long ago. One of my more recent acquisitions is a Pilgrims Progress edition published in 1915 London by The Religious Tract Society. It has an attractive blue cloth cover with a nicely detailed and somewhat ornate illustration. The wear and tear over the past 100 years is really not that bad. There are some smudges and a few spots on the pages but that just helps confirm the book was actually read, consumed, and maybe used for the purpose it was written.
The most interesting feature of this book is a presentation label placed on the front of the first end page. It reads:
Sunday School 1914
My first search for Shankill Baptist Church sends me to the web page of a church by that exact name located in Belfast Ireland shankillbaptist.com. The community started in 1895 as the industrial revolution was taking hold of the area and there was a great need for evangelizing. Since the book was published in the UK and since everything I search with Shankill appears to be in Belfast, I’m thinking that may be where the book was presented to Agnes Irvine over 100 years ago.
I have since emailed Shankill Baptist in Ireland and await any information that may confirm the book actually originated from their church.
The big day finally arrived for may sky watchers as the first blood moon of 2014 rose in the sky late on Tuesday 4/14/14 and early on Wednesday morning 4/15/14. Pictures tell it best. Click on the picture below to start the slide show.
The first full lunar eclipse and blood moon in 2014.
A night photo of the territory taken with the auto setting and no flash.
As the night progressed the moon gained a reddish hue.
This is a great image with the blue star to the right named Spica.
Cloudy night for lunar eclipse made for an excellent but eerie experience.
And there are even more pictures to share. Just click on the picture to start the show.
Blood Moon 2014 Lunar Eclipse
Big Wide Universe
April blood moon lunar eclipse
Total lunar eclipse early in the process
Blurred blood moon
Fortunately we had a sky that was not completely cloudy here in the Pacific Northwest. For April that’s a blessing. The clouds actually helped add to the drama and helped create some great shots.
The value of light in our world today is most likely a lot less than what it was in ancient Israel, only because we take it for granted. We have lights everywhere you go, except when you get out into the country or the wilderness. The absence of light essentially makes you blind. You can’t see. You feel insecure. You want to see. You are forced to rely on other senses like sound, touch, and smell. Only if you’ve recently experienced a black-out do you have an idea of what life was like before electricity.
Our gospel today presents the two blind men that are healed by Jesus. They both ask to be healed and Jesus asks if they believe He can heal them. Fortunately they have the right answer of “yes” and were healed. These men were in the dark but now they can see. They had faith they could be healed and they were healed. Their faith is now stronger and more genuine than before. Jesus is the light of the world and He gives it freely. Just do what the blind men did. They followed Him and then they asked Him for the healing.
Many cultures and religions understand the importance of light in our spiritual lives and acknowledge it with religious activities. We have the Diwali festival, Hanukkah, and of course Christmas. Do you need some light in your life? Only with light will you really see where you are and truly understand your current position. Advent is an excellent opportunity to let the light of Christ into your life. From a secular perspective we make New Year’s resolutions in January to better ourselves. For Christians we start the New Year with Advent and use the light of Christ to better our spiritual lives.
We are getting closer to the end of our Lenten journey and just like any trip or race, the last few days or miles are the hardest. Preparing for the St. Joseph’s Table took months but the most difficult part was 3 days before the celebration.
Our journey with Jesus toward a new life will become harder before we reach Easter. We will be required to grow in faith if we want to stay on the path to Jerusalem. Remember we are on this journey with other faithful pilgrims who share common struggles and we should not hesitate to encourage one another.
Our readings today offer the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. They refused to compromise their faith and kneel before King Nebuchadnezzar’s false god. As a result they were thrown into a furnace. Our one true God saved them and King Nebuchadnezzar became a believer.
Are you willing to speak the truth even when you might face the furnace?
How has speaking the truth set you free?
In what ways does living your faith keep you free?
The Scott Family along with friends and parishioners from Holy Redeemer, St. Thomas, and other surrounding parishes held a celebration to St. Joseph on Sunday March 17 with about 75 in attendance. Father Mitchell from Holy Redeemer Catholic Parish blessed the table and led prayers. Many food items on the table and at the celebration symbolize religious themes like the miracle of loaves and fishes. All baked goods on the table are made by hand. The tradition of a St. Joseph’s Altar can be traced back to Sicily and was brought to the U.S. by Sicilian immigrants. The feast of St. Joseph is more special this year to the Catholic community with the installation of Pope Francis on March 19. Approximately 50 lbs. of cookies, bread, fruit, and vegetables was donated from the altar to the Share Orchards Inn Shelter as part of the tradition to share with those less fortunate.
Our Gospel today (03/13/13) is Jesus defending his work. He does this by calling God His Father thereby making Himself equal to God. Obviously this did not sit well with the Jews. Jesus speaks of the works of the Father but then says that He too would do great works. He would bring life and make judgement.
Jesus speaks of the dead hearing His voice and coming to life. The word of the Son of God gives spiritual life to dead souls. Our journey during Lent is a time to listen to the word of God and rise up to new life.
Are you willing to put your faith in Jesus and wake up to a new life?
Do you fear the judgement announced by Jesus?
Have you been quiet and listened for God to speak?
Our first reading today from Isaiah is one of hope in a new creation. It speaks of a new Jerusalem where there will be rejoicing and happiness. A transformation or replacement of the old, where there was sadness and trouble, with a life of prosperity and security.
The Gospel addresses true faith and shows us the compassion of Jesus. A royal official approaches Jesus to heal his sick son. Jesus uses this time to state “Unless you people see signs and wonders, you will not believe.” However, it does not seem to faze the official because his next request is for Jesus to follow him before his son dies. Of course it is not required for Jesus to go anywhere for this healing and he tells the official to go and that his son will live. The man does as Jesus says and finds that his son was healed when having the interaction with Jesus. His whole house then believed that Jesus was the Son of God.
There’s nothing like a serious illness or death to make you fall upon your knees and beg God for mercy and compassion. The royal official acted upon the word of Jesus. Are we willing to do the same? Are we listening to His word as we journey to Jerusalem this Lenten season? Have you experienced healing from hearing God’s word this year?