Category Archives: radio

Daily thought: borrowing days

This is the final Daily Thought for BBC Radio Solent during Holy Week.

Resurrection Of Jesus


There is an old Scottish and Shetland proverb that the last three days of March are “borrowing days”. These are supposed to be unusually stormy, and March “borrows” them from April in a last-ditch attempt to influence the spring weather, before March winds give way to April showers.

The same story crops up in a Spanish folk-tale: a shepherd promises to give March a lamb if he will reduce the strength of his winds, protecting the flocks. But once March has done so, the shepherd refuses to pay up. In revenge, March borrows three days from April, and produces even fiercer winds to pay back the shepherd for his deceit.

Borrowing and lending always has its consequences, I guess.

Today is Good Friday and I want to mention someone closely involved after the crucifixion of Jesus, an event the Christian Church marks today.

Joseph of Arimathea is described in the Bible as a rich man, a disciple of Jesus and a respected member of the Jewish council. We also know he didn’t support the council’s decision to call for Jesus’s death.

He watched as Jesus was crucified and then Joseph took Jesus’s body and, according to Matthew’s gospel, laid it to rest in a tomb in his own garden.

On Sunday, Christians will celebrate the belief that God raised Jesus from the dead, so Joseph’s act of extraordinary generosity was only needed for a handful of days.

But that doesn’t diminish his gift. After all, who expects a borrowed grave to be returned with grateful thanks – by the occupant?

 

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Daily thought: smoke and mirrors

Day 3 of my week of Daily Thoughts on BBC Radio Solent, for the Julian Clegg Breakfast Show was about the arrest of Jesus.

640px-Jerusalem_Gethsemane_tango7174Gethsemane. By Tango7174 – Own work, GFDL, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=26323542


It seems there’s a special day for just about everything now. Apparently today is worldwide Smoke And Mirrors Day. I kid you not! Every March 29th we are meant to dedicate some time to the art of fraudulent cunning.

The phrase ‘It’s all smoke and mirrors’ refers to the way magicians use distraction to ensure the audience misses what’s really going on. The more complex things are, the more successfully the magician gets away with it.

We are in Holy Week, the decisive week for Christians as we near Good Friday when Jesus was crucified. In the Bible we see that the more Jesus revealed about himself as the Son of God the more those who opposed him accused him of trickery.

In the very last hours before he was arrested and tried, Jesus found a quiet spot to pray. In the Garden of Gethsemane he prayed for his disciples; for those who would believe in him because of his coming death and resurrection and even for what would happen down through the ages when those who followed him told their stories of faith.

Then, when soldiers came to take him away, he was waiting in the open. “Why are you coming mob-handed?” he asked. “I’m not using smoke and mirrors to hide from you. I’m here in plain sight.” And they took him off to be tried for his life.

Tomorrow is Good Friday but, for the moment, I’m going to try some trickery of my own. I’m going to see how quickly I can make a breakfast disappear!

Daily Thought: Blessed is the king …

Today’s Daily Thought on BBC Radio Solent draws a parallel between the events in Alabama 53 years ago and Jerusalem around 2,000 years past.

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Civil Rights Movement Co-Founder Dr. Ralph David Abernathy and his wife Mrs. Juanita Abernathy follow with Dr and Mrs Martin Luther King as the Abernathy children join the front line, leading the Selma to Montgomery march.

It’s exactly 53 years ago today that Dr Martin Luther King led nearly 25,000 people to the steps of the state capital of Montgomery, Alabama, to highlight black grievances. This five-day march had started in Selma and closed a month of civil rights protests.

The BBC report described troops surrounding the capital and army helicopters hovering overhead as Dr King addressed the protesters.

He described the trek as one of the greatest marches in the history of America and said the aim was not to humiliate and defeat white people, but to win friendship and understanding. Dr King tried to present a petition of black grievances, but Governor George Wallace refused to meet the delegation.

During this Holy Week, we mark a parallel event towards the end of Jesus’s ministry on earth. He didn’t march with 25,000 people but entered the capital Jerusalem to cheers and acclamation sitting on a donkey.

The crowd waved palm branches and greeted him as a king and Saviour while Jewish religious leaders watched on in horror.

The scale of Dr King’s support on the Selma march almost certainly hastened his assassination. The crowds in Jerusalem chanting “blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord” definitely spurred on those who were out to have Jesus arrested and tried.

And, despite all the crowds, Jesus soon finds out that the road to the cross is one he has to travel alone.

BBC RADIO SOLENT DAILY THOUGHT: THURSDAY

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Top left: Joy with the Elvis and Roy Orbison guitars on Music Row; top right: the Carter Family and Johnny Cash guitars; bottom: Joy sitting at the Buddy Killen piano statue.

During our sabbatical trip to Nashville, Tennessee, we had a wonderful highlight – thanks to the BBC and the long-distance kindness of strangers.

Nashville is known as Music City, USA, and the home of Country Music. The downtown area is alive with bars and streets areas that simply rock with country. If you’re not a fan when you get there you surely will be when you leave.

We visited the Grand Ole Opry, of course, and we went to the Ryman Auditorium, known as the Mother Church of Country but which actually was built for a revivalist Methodist preacher who hated, among other things, alcohol, low-cut dresses and bicycles. Yes, I know!

Beyond that, we didn’t have much of a clue, so before we flew out I sent a cheeky email to legendary BBC DJ Bob Harris who I knew regularly visited Nashville. While we were in the astonishing Country Music Hall of Fame, a series of texts and emails from Bob’s office resulted in an amazing evening.

The one place we had really wanted to see was the iconic Bluebird Café where songwriters play, often singing in the round. But it’s such an intimate venue and tickets disappear so quickly we couldn’t get in.

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The Bluebird Cafe with Ben and Crissie from The Shires in the centre and Sam Palladio on the left (white shirt).

Suddenly, after being on the outside, we were not just on the inside – we were on the guest list for an evening which included British Country duo The Shires and Sam Palladio, the star of the TV series Nashville. Sam grew up about 10 miles from where we used to live in Cornwall.

It was a glorious evening, made possible by someone who didn’t know us and didn’t need to be generous but chose to. Acts of spontaneous generosity make such a difference. Maybe you can offer somebody your generosity today.

BBC RADIO SOLENT DAILY THOUGHT: WEDNESDAY

I mentioned yesterday that I had the gift of a sabbatical earlier this year. As part of it Joy, my wife, and I took a trip to Nashville, Tennessee.

One reason was to meet a man I had only ever known on social media. Dean (pictured) had for 17 years been a champion of the hymns I write. As the head of worship for the United Methodist Church in the US he had put them on their website and helped get two of them into a church hymnbook.

Version 3Three years ago, I had been due to speak at a hymnwriters’ conference in the US but was unwell and had to cancel so this trip was our first opportunity to finally meet.

He was a generous tour guide, taking us around Nashville in his car and introducing us to his city, even though he was struggling with a heavy cold. Then, on the last day he insisted on taking us to our airport hotel and inviting us to share a family meal to celebrate his father’s 98th birthday.

Although we had never met, there was something precious about being part of the worldwide family of 80 million Methodists while we were in Nashville.

In the Bible, when Jesus sent his disciples out on a mission tour, telling them that wherever they went they should learn to be good guests: to accept the hospitality people offered, eat whatever food was set before them and learn to be comfortable in unusual places.

Dean’s welcome certainly made Nashville a good place to be and made me reflect on how I could be a better host to those I encounter.

BBC Radio Solent Daily Thought: Tuesday

Earlier this year I enjoyed a three-month sabbatical: a break from the pressure of a daily diary with space to think and be a bit more creative.

For a number of years, I have been a published hymn-writer and it’s not always easy to marry writing with the usual work of being a church leader but the sabbatical was a real blessing because those creative juices began to flow again.

I have a picture that I treasure from that time. It’s of a bench in the corner of our garden where I used to sit in the sunshine with my Bible, my songwriting notebook, a commentary on the Psalms and a cup of tea – of course!

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Sometimes, because I had time and space, I sat there for ages and wrote nothing. Sometimes I managed to work out a troublesome rhyme or half a verse. Sometimes I simple fell asleep!! But, because the church had given me the gift of time all of that was OK.

One of the Psalms – possibly the oldest songbook in the world – says: Truly my soul finds rest in God.

I know that not everyone has the luxury of three months’ paid leave and I don’t treat it lightly. However, finding a little soul space in your week is a really valuable discipline for all of us: a moment of rest in a frantic world where we always seem to be hurrying from one thing to the next.

Now I’m back in work I need to remind myself to do the same … now, what’s the next thing in my diary? Oh yes, must rush …

Aberfan documentary wins award

dadThe winners of the 2017 Sandford St Martin Awards were announced during a special ceremony held at Lambeth Palace on 7 June 2017.

 

 

My father-in-law, the Rev Irving Penberthy (left), featured prominently in All Things Considered: Aberfan 50 Year Anniversary the programme which won the prestigious Radio Award for the Religious Programmes Department, BBC Radio Wales.

The citation read:

On the morning of 21st October 1966, in the small mining village of Aberfan, an avalanche of colliery waste slipped down the mountainside, swept through houses, and overwhelmed Pantglas Junior School. It killed 144 people, 116 of them children. In a region familiar with colliery tragedies, the disaster at Aberfan represented a peculiar horror – by its scale, and more by the ages of most of its victims. It ripped the heart from the community, sparked huge controversy, and prompted practical support from around the world. To mark the 50th anniversary week of the disaster, ‘All Things Considered’ reflected on what the event did to the faith of people caught up in it. Some who found their beliefs shaken to the roots became atheists. For others, faith became more firmly rooted and it’s shaped their lives ever since.

It was a joy to work with producer Karen Walker to set up the interview she and presenter the Rev Roy Jenkins conducted with Dad. He had not spoken previously publicly about his work as the Methodist minister in Aberfan and they were very helpful in their approach.

The resulting programme is moving but ultimately hope-filled. You can find it here.