Red, White & Blue. And Wales Too.

Everyone loves flags.  I do, at least.  I especially like historical flags, as they remind us that everything we regard as normal and set in stone is in just as much a state of flux as it ever was.  Even a continent as old as Europe has plenty of states that are less than 20 years old.*

And while I'm pretty happy being British – and would regard myself as a unionist, pretty much – I do regret the lack of recognition Wales has traditionally been offered for their role in our country.  We need to do better at that – and not just patronising guff about Barry John and Tom Jones, for heaven's sake.

So here's a let's-include-Wales-in-the-Union-Flag design that has my blessing:

New uk flag
*Serbia, Croatia, Slovenia, Bosnia, Kosovo, Montenegro, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, Belarus, Ukraine, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Moldova

Pain in the Kingdom

Masking-pain-ruben-flanagan
Sometimes life is just hard – stuff happens (or, more realistically, doesn't happen) and you don't know why, or even if there is a reason for anything ever happening.

And sometimes the 'being hard' stops – sometimes things sort of even out or settle into place, or maybe what you were waiting for finally arrives.

But maybe it doesn't stop.  Maybe it continues.  Maybe it goes from being a phase of your life and becomes life itself.  You want to leave, to go away; to go away from yourself.  Everywhere seems to be the promised land except the spot where you are standing.

For example: Maria has now been struggling with depression for over 5 years
(even writing that down hurts me)

I've had a pretty rotten few years in many ways, but I can't begin to imagine just how hard it's been for her to keep putting one foot in front of the other, let alone attempting to look to the future with hope and faith.

I am so proud of her, and wish there was more I could do to bear her burdens.  I wish I could whisk her away to a place where everything would finally work.

And so we ache and groan, longing to be clothed with our heavenly dwelling… so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by LIFE.

We are waiting.  Waiting for the Kingdom.

Some Pharisees asked Jesus when God's kingdom would come. He answered, "God's kingdom isn't something you can see.  There is no use saying, 'Here it is!' or 'Look! It's over there!'  The Kingdom of God is within you."

Life is not about being hard or being easy, being a success or a failure, being good or bad, being happy or sad.  It probably will include all of those things, at one time or another, but it's not about any of those things.

It's not about what makes me feel nice, or fulfilled, or whatever.  It's not about me, full stop.  Life is fundamentally about being in the Kingdom of God.  And, apparently, the Kingdom of God is within me.


  

Blessed Assurance

One of the recurring issues inherent in this project has been finding tunes that fit the traditional hymn format: ie. verse-and-verse-and-verse.  I have consequently been led down paths of folk and roots more than I had expected, simply because those traditional styles also tend to neglect choruses.

Often I have failed even there, and ended up using snatches of the lyrics to create a chorus (eg. Abide With Me).

But sometimes, as is the case here, the problem is reversed: How can a hymn with a famous (and beloved) chorus/refrain be reframed without it feeling awkward and fake?

This is my story, this is my song;
Praising my Saviour all the day long.

Well, I extended it a bit and all, but I'm pretty pleased with how it worked out.