Tuesday, 26 May 2009

Stockholm and Baltic blessings

I have just come back from a wonderful vacation in Stockholm, on the Viking Ferry to Abo/Turku Finland via Mariehamn, Aland. I love the trip through the Ska"rgarden - the many, many islands between Sweden and Finland. I really enjoyed the long days and very cool nights. Stockholm is a very beautiful city surrounded by water. To get the most out of a visit it is well worth going on a boat ride. I recommend the Stockholm Card so that the main sites can be seen at a very reasonable cost. Gamla Stan, the old city area, has immense charm and character.
I arrived on Ascension Day (Kristihimmelfa"rdsdag) when Christians remember and celebrate the ascension of Jesus, as described by Dr Luke in the book of the Acts of the Apostles (chapter 1: 6-11). Four excellent singers were practising in the ancient church.

I went as a footpassenger on the Viking Ferry to Aland and then on to Abo/Turku. I remember seeing Ingmar Bergman's Sommaren med Monika and thinking how lovely is the Swedish skargarden in Summer on warm and long Summer days.

When I arrived in Finland I stayed for one night in Abo and then drove a rental car on the Route 8 from Abo to Ha"rkmeri, about 220 kilometres north. It is very peaceful there and much better in May without the gnats (myggorna). Watching the setting sun over the sea near Kristinestad, after 11 p.m. local time, in the distant north was awesome. Such a beautiful and uplifting site. No photograph can capture the glory of that moment. I have added some photographs. I hope that folk will enjoy and rejoice in the beauty of God's creation. Hallelujah!

Saturday, 2 May 2009

The Great Escape - good news

The Great Escape is a great movie. I loved it as a kid and thought that Steve McQueen was super cool as " the cooler king". There are some memorable scenes in the film.

My uncle was a prisoner of war, but his experiences, after being captured by the Japanese forces in Singapore, were dreadful. He was an army captain who spent time on "the rail of death" in Thailand. Richard did escape from the Japanese soldiers who forced him to work very hard on this railway line. At one time he was "missing, presumed dead". He did survive several ordeals, including re-capture and insanitary conditions, worse than German POW camps. When he returned to England in 1945 he weighed about six stone. This weight may be desired by 5'9" female fashion models, but not by British army officers.

The Bridge Over the River Kwai , starring my favourite actor of all time (the late Sir Alec Guinness), has always struck some deep chords. For some people Thailand is a paradise and place of enchantment. It has very beautiful scenery and many magnificent tourist destinations.
For my uncle is was hell on earth. A living hell where captured soldiers fought over a dead man's toothbrush.

Hell? Does it exist?

Yes, there is a place in Norway called Hell.

But is there a hell that is mentioned in the Bible? Gehenna, a place refuse rather than refuge?
Yes, it does exist, but not as some torture chamber or place where Bosch's paintings or the Chapman brothers' models are enacted or brought to life/death.

Hell is a place of regret and eternal sadness. Regret and sadness for sins commited and opportunities missed. A place of weeping and wailing with gnashing of teeth. Weeping for the deeds done that can never be forgiven or forgotten, and wailing for grief so consuming that it can never be removed. There is gnashing of teeth through the sheer frustration of knowing what foolishness has been carried out and it cannot be put right. There is absolutely no hope in hell.
What darkness and despair!

The Good News, the Gospel, proclaims that Jesus delivers us from the claims and catastrophy of hell. Hallelujah! What a Saviour! What a deliverer!

How shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation?

The Great Escape has been offered to sinners. Now that's really good news!


River Stour