Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Beach Burial

Softly and humbly to the Gulf of Arabs

The convoys of dead sailors come;

At night they sway and wander in the waters far under,

But morning rolls them in the foam.

Between the sob and clubbing of the gunfire

Someone, it seems, has time for this,

To pluck them from the shallows and bury them in burrows

And tread the sand upon their nakedness;

And each cross, the driven stake of tidewood,

Bears the last signature of men,

Written with such perplexity, with such bewildered pity,

The words choke as they begin -

'Unknown seaman' - the ghostly pencil

Wavers and fades, the purple drips,

The breath of wet season has washed their inscriptions

As blue as drowned men's lips,

Dead seamen, gone in search of the same landfall,

Whether as enemies they fought,

Or fought with us, or neither; the sand joins them together,

Enlisted on the other front.

(Kenneth Slessor)

Sunday, 12 August 2012

Falling Asleep

Some words of comfort from Spurgeon about death:

Falling Asleep:
Your weekly dose of Spurgeon
The PyroManiacs devote some space each weekend to highlights from the lifetime of works from the Prince of Preachers, Charles Haddon Spurgeon.  The following excerpt is from The Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, volume 46, sermon number 2,659, "Fallen Asleep."
“For a Christian to die, is, according to Scripture, an act of the most natural kind, for it is but to fall asleep.”

The more you think this matter over, the more clearly will it appear to you that there cannot be any pain in death; all pain must be connected with life, it is the living who suffer. In death, we forget all pain. That gentle touch, that divine love-pat that, shall end all pain and sorrow, is, the thing which men usually call death, but which the apostle rightly calls sleep. There is nothing to be dreaded in it; it may be altogether unattended with pain; I believe that, full often, it is so. To fall asleep is a very natural act, and so it is for us to die. A little child has been playing in the field gathering buttercups and daisies all day long; but, at last, tired right out, he drops asleep upon his mother’s lap; what could he do better? So, though we may be unwilling to die, the time will come when we shall have finished our life,—work or play, whichever you may please to call it,—and we shall fall asleep upon the bosom of our God; what better thing could we do? There is a dear old friend of mine, now in heaven; and, when he came to this house, one Sabbath-day, I said to him, “Our old friend So-and-so has gone home.”

The one to whom I spoke was an old man himself, one of our most gracious elders, and he looked at me in a most significant way, and his eyes twinkled as he said, “He could not do better, dear Pastor; he could not do better; and you and I will do the same thing one of these days. We also shall go home!” Our aged friend, as I told you, has himself gone home since that time, and now I may say of him, “He could not have done better.” Why! that is where good children always go at night,—home. If they ran away, where would they go? When our night comes, beloved children of God, you and I also must go home; do we feel at all afraid of such a prospect? If so, surely our love to our Heavenly Father, and to our Elder Brother, and to our home above, must be growing somewhat cold.

Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Four Rules for Preachers

Some wisdom on preaching from Phillip Brooks:

Four Rules for Preachers:
Phillip Brooks—one of the great American preachers of the 19th century—offered this counsel in his Bohlen Lectures on Preaching delivered before the Divinity School of Yale College in January/February 1877:
First, count and rejoice to count yourself the servant of the people to whom you minister. Not in any worn-out figure but in very truth, call yourself and be their servant.
Second, never allow yourself to feel equal to your work. If you ever find that spirit growing on you, be afraid, and instantly attack your hardest piece of work, try to convert your toughest infidel, try to preach on your most exacting theme, to show your self how unequal to it all you are.
Third, be profoundly honest. Never dare to say in the pulpit or in private, through ardent excitement or conformity to what you know you are expected to say, one word which at the moment when you say it, you do not believe. It would cut down the range of what you say, perhaps, but it would endow every word that was left with the force of ten.
And last of all, be vital, be alive, not dead. Do everything that can keep your vitality at its fullest. Even the physical vitality do not dare to disregard. One of the most striking preachers of our country seems to me to have a large part of his power simply in his physique, in the impression of vitality, in the magnetism almost like a material thing, that passes between him and the people who sit before him. Pray for and work for fulness of life above everything; full red blood in the body; full honesty and truth in the mind; and the fulness of a grateful love for the Saviour in your heart. Then, however men set their mark of failure or success upon your ministry, you cannot fail, you must succeed.