In Memory of all deceased and bereaved persons throughout the world who have been so tragically affected by Islamist terrorism this year. I pray this and the previous post will encourage visitors to this site to take their life and after-life more seriously, thereby accepting the free gift of life everlasting through Jesus Christ:
Sunday 29th November marked the beginning of Advent; a period of excitement preparing to celebrate Jesus Christ’s birth in ancient Bethlehem, Judea – the First Advent. But in fact there’s more! The focus on the first Sunday of Advent is upon His promised return, the Second Advent. So it is also a time of waiting expectantly. I’m pleasantly surprised that the emphasis in secular Wikipedia’s Advent entry isn’t upon Jesus’ birth, but upon His return.
As stated in a recent post, events are increasingly aligning with the anticipated fulfilment of several ancient biblical prophecies of the Day of the Lord. Commensurate therefore, this means the return of Jesus must also be rapidly approaching.
Many Moons Ago…
a messenger was sent on a mission to a village nestled where hills would have met had a river not burst between them. Here was the only crossing, a toll bridge, as this strong river wended its way eastwards between low hills, wooded on the north and arable on the south side, down the narrow valley and towards the country’s capital fifty miles downstream.
It was the sixth month of the final year, of the penultimate decade, of the last century, of the second millennium since the birth of Jesus Christ and the messenger bore an invitation to all who would welcome him.
Peter, a dark-haired young man, knocked upon my front door and asked if anyone would like to hear the world-renowned evangelist Billy Graham in Earls Court, London. We’d be conveyed by coach from our house! The fare from west of Reading? Nada, entirely free!
I turned down the offer but my almost-teenage son piped up that he’d like to go because a classmate had told him about it. So I said I’d take him.
Were it my choice, however, I most definitely would not have accepted. Experience had made me extremely wary of churchgoers. But never did I suspect my personal life hung on that moment.
Why the problem?
I was brought up in the Catholic Church yet attended non-secular state schools with their Anglican ethos. Back in the 1950s this was a sensitive issue. In those days many more attended church of one sort or another than today. Religious beliefs are a minor concern now, even though attendance at faith schools is prized for educational purposes.
Note well, I did not receive the required, proper Catholic education. What was gained was merely through church attendance – which doesn’t do anything when the services are in a dead, foreign language!
Sunday Mass involved a lot of liturgical Latin. So when English was spoken, this boy was able to comprehend a little from frequent snippets from the Gospels. I recall pondering how awesome it would have been to witness everything Jesus said and did.
Fifty years ago the hypocritical conflict between denominations was the reason I turned to ‘New Age’ ideals. In view of what Christian priests said and did then, how could what they preached be true? Jesus commanded his followers to “love one another”. However, from my personal experience, as well as the historical facts, churches did not!
Also, they weren’t performing miraculous works similar to those Jesus did, as he said they would. So, churches were failing on both counts to live up to their founder’s commands. Although I was only a boy it was patently obvious that they missed the mark. Also, I strongly suspected they’d probably lost a lot of what Jesus had taught too.
So in my late teens I went looking for truth elsewhere and practised yoga, meditation and Eastern religions long before that became popular through the famous Beatles and their maharishi. In seeking deeper instruction and practical abilities I joined an ancient, mystical brotherhood. Thus, I gained direct knowledge of ‘higher’ esoteric teachings, including a belief in reincarnation and karma as well as experiencing invisibility and nirvana, the ecstatic state sought by Buddhists.
All this was before such New Age concepts became as popular and widespread as they became in the Hippy era. Twenty-odd years later I’d find myself attending an evangelical meeting! Utterly unbelievable!
So in those days I regarded most clergy as outmoded. Their preaching couldn’t compare with what I’d discovered in the New Age. So, you could imagine my astonishment upon finding myself agreeing with everything Billy Graham preached! I was flummoxed!
Afterwards, as a follow-up, those who’d been on the trip were invited to an informal meeting at a local church. They explained we could have introductory teaching and discussion at home and I agreed to be on-hand for my son, but I wasn’t interested. Peter, as a youth worker, was assigned to help him but, in practice, he ended up discussing the material with me.
So, what went wrong?
The evening of Wednesday 14th September 1989, is Peter’s third visit to chat through a script about Christianity entitled Life. I hadn’t yet divulged my firm opinions to him, but this time he goes too far!
This session is on ‘Yoga, Eastern Religions and The Occult’ – all of which I knew about and been involved in since before Peter had been born!
Peter shows a diagram of two cliff-like objects facing one another. One represents heaven and the other, earth, with a large deep gap separating them from one another. Over this Peter then places an overlay depicting a large + sign over the gap. The horizontal ends of the + touch each object, thereby bridging heaven and earth. He explains that the cross of Christ is the bridge between both realms.
He then says the only way to God is through Jesus Christ. This statement implies my ideas are incorrect. Without giving the game away I gently question him on this. But he insists there are not many paths leading to the same supreme mind, or God.
What’s to be done with a young man half my age who unwittingly points out the error of my ways?
I think, “He doesn’t know what he’s talking about. How can he, who’s not done anything I know far more about…just how can he tell me it’s wrong? He’s wasting my time!”
Peter’s ideas are not only mistaken but also intolerant. Before the end of the evening I’ve had enough!
So I bring our discussion to an early close, politely bid him farewell and excuse myself from any future meeting. As ever, Peter is most gracious about it – he smiles politely and goes on his way.
But little did I know that I may not make it through the night!