Thursday, 19 April 2018

Baseball

Many years ago I was fortunate to visit Houston, in Texas, on business. Whilst there my hosts took me to the Houston Astrodome to see the Astros play baseball. I cannot say that I understood what was going on, but I enjoyed that evening and the whole atmosphere at the game.

When I got back to England, I wondered why, at the time, we did not play so much baseball in the UK. We play football, (soccer), rugby and cricket but not baseball. A few business friends and I decided to set up a baseball team and perhaps help promote the game round our town.

We advertised our intentions in the newspapers and for a week or so waited for people to come forwards wishing to play the game. We did not receive one reply to our advert.

It was then that we realised that we had not put an address or phone number for people to contact us. So we ran the advert again and got a few volunteers wanting to learn to play baseball.

Sadly, most of them were totally useless. One of them got hit in the head by the ball and ended up in hospital. Another got hit much lower down his body and he too went to hospital. His wife was none too pleased about where he got hurt. All in all our efforts to build up a team of players seemed to be a difficult task ahead. But we persevered. We hired a coach who knew a thing or two about baseball and we trained these youngsters as best we could.

One day, a horse came into my office. He was quite confident as he pulled up a chair and sat there lighting a cigarette. He said that he wanted to join our baseball team and that he could play very well.

I could not believe my eyes. Or ears for that matter. I had a horse in my office wanting to play baseball.

I told him there and then that it was against the rules.

He smiled and said, "No it isn't. Check it out!"

Believe me ... this is true ... honest ... We did check out the rules and there is nothing to say that a horse cannot play baseball. If you don't believe me then check it out yourselves. You'll see I am telling the truth.

As a matter of interest, we also checked the cricket rules too, and there's nothing there about horses either.

Well, as it happened, we had a game scheduled for that very Saturday. So we decided that our horse would be the first one to start the game. He held the bat tightly in his hand, (or hoof), and faced the pitcher. (You see, I know the right term to use for the guy who throws the ball).

Our horse hit the ball so hard that it flew high in the sky at a million miles an hour and I think it landed three or four streets away from where we were playing.

Everyone was totally astounded and flabbergasted at the same time.

The horse just stood still, totally frozen, and did not move a muscle.

"RUN ... RUN ..." I shouted at him, "RUN !!!!"

"Run?" he said, "Run? If I could run I'd be at the Kentucky Derby not in your poxy English town!"

Tuesday, 17 April 2018

Fluffy Bunny

The family was out in London for the day. I looked in the freezer compartment of our fridge. We normally put various pieces of meat in plastic bags and write on them what they are and the number of portions per bag. This makes it easier when wanting to find something quick to cook. Amongst the bags of beef and lamb I found a bag entitled "rabbit - 1 portion".

That's new, I thought. I'll make a rabbit stew. It's a dish based on tomato sauce, potatoes, carrots, parsnips, swedes all boiling together with a piece of meat - this time it was rabbit.

As I supervised my meal cooking the front doorbell rang. I turned the heat low down and went to open the door. It was our neighbour with his wife.

"Have you seen our Fluffy Bunny rabbit?" they asked, "he is white and we think he dug under the fence and got in your garden!"

"Ehm ... no ... I haven't seen him," I said unconvincingly.

"You hesitated just there," said my neighbour, "are you sure you did not see him and think he was a white cat or something?"

"Yes ... yes ... I am sure," I lied truthfully. I hadn't after all seen a white rabbit, or any other colour rabbit for that matter.

"Can we have a look in your garden?" asked my neighbour persistently.

"OK ..." I hesitated again, "I'll let you in by the side gate ..."

I could hardly let them in the house and through the kitchen to the back garden in case they recognised their Fluffy Bunny cooking in my casserole.

They looked in the garden and found nothing.

When they were gone, to be honest, I had totally lost my appetite for Fluffy Bunny and gave the whole meal to our dog Brutus. He'd betray anyone for a good meal, our dog.

When the family returned home I asked about that packet marked rabbit in our freezer.

"Oh ... we got that from the butcher in the High Street a couple of days ago," I was told, "it was a new product he was selling and it was good value. Did you like it?"

"Yes ... certainly ... it was very delicious," I lied unconvincingly again.

As long as they don't ask Brutus for his opinion.

Sunday, 15 April 2018

Giving Up

It happens to all of us I suppose at one time or another.

We try to achieve something, but the more we try the more we fail. We try again and again and we fail one more time. We’re so tired of trying to achieve our goal that we feel like giving up.

It is said that on His way to Calvary Jesus fell to the ground three times. It is not Biblical of course, but we can assume that He must have stumbled or fallen at least once.

He was exhausted. He had been beaten, mocked, spat upon and tortured. His disciples had run away in fear, one of whom even denied Him three times, He must have been totally exhausted carrying His Cross up that hill.

That's enough to make anybody give up.

Jesus could have stayed there on the ground and died on the spot. But He got up. Three times, He got up and continued His journey to a cruel and very painful death.

He did it for us. He did it because His Father asked Him to.

Let that be our inspiration to try once again when we feel like giving up.

Friday, 13 April 2018

The Painter,


Once upon a time there was an unscrupulous painter who was very interested in making extra money if he could. He often thinned down his paint with turpentine to make it go a bit further. Sadly, he got away with this for some time.

One day Father Ignatius decided to paint the outside of the Parish Hall white. He asked for several quotations and this painter’s was the lowest price quoted. As the priest was short of funds the painter in question got the job.

So he set about erecting the scaffolding and setting up the planks, and buying the paint and, yes, I am sorry to say, thinning it down with turpentine.

As the painter was up on the scaffolding, painting away, the job nearly completed, there was suddenly a horrendous clap of thunder, the sky opened, and the rain poured down washing the thinned paint from all over the Parish Hall walls, and knocking the painter clear off the scaffold to land on the lawn among the gravestones, surrounded by tell-tale puddles of the thinned and useless paint.

The painter realised that this was a judgement from above …

He got on his knees and cried:

“Oh God … oh God … help me … what should I do?”

And just then a thunderous voice replied:

“Repaint !!! Repaint !!! And thin no more !!!”

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Wednesday, 11 April 2018

The Haunted House




Monday, 9 April 2018

No Stranger At The Door


“ … and there we were both standing at the doorway of the Church,” said Father Ignatius, “and then he asked me if I could spare a cup of coffee. I didn’t think he drank coffee. What do you think he drank anyway?”

“St Peter?” asked Father Donald.

“Yes … St Peter,” repeated Father Ignatius, “what do you think he drank? Surely not coffee. It hadn’t been discovered then! When he was alive on earth.”

“Oh … boiled fish water, I shouldn’t wonder,” laughed Father Donald, “must have tasted really horrible I should think!”

“And then …” continued Father Ignatius after a short pause, “and then, as if by magic, we were here in my office. I was sitting at my desk, like now, and he sat in the very armchair where you’re sitting in!”

Father Donald looked around him in the armchair and said nothing. Father Ignatius continued.

“St Peter sat just where you’re sitting Donald. He looked just like we’ve seen him portrayed in the movies. Tall guy and well set. With a beard and wearing a brown tunic … and sandals. I remember distinctly the sandals. Big man, he was … I wouldn’t wish to be on the wrong side of an argument with him. He was here in this office.

“He asked what I thought of him.

“I mumbled the usual things we’ve been taught in seminary … Loyal follower of Christ, leader of the Disciples, Head of the Church … That sort of thing!

“He smiled and picked up a biscuit … he preferred the chocolate covered ones and commented that they tasted different to the ones he was used to in them days … That’s exactly what he said … in them days!”

Father Donald raised an eyebrow and smiled, whilst Father Ignatius went on.

“Then he asked me to be honest. Not repeat what I’d been taught. What did I really think of him?”

Father Donald smiled once more and said nothing.

“Well …” Father Ignatius went on, “I hesitated of course … it’s quite a shock seeing St Peter face to face and being asked such a direct question.

“I said that some theologians consider him to be a bit irresolute of character … Tends to speak first, sometimes acts quickly, yet … a bit hesitant when the chips are down!”

“Wow …” said Father Donald, “did he hit you for saying that? He has a bit of a temper our St Peter you know.”

“No … he remained calm,” replied Father Ignatius, “He said ‘I don’t care about what theologians think … what do they know? I’m asking for your opinion Ignatius!’ He called me Ignatius … so he knew full well who I was. Then he asked me if I had any more of those brown covered biscuits.

“I gave him the whole packet of chocolate biscuits which somehow I had here in my desk; and then I said that I sympathized with his predicament and how he’d been portrayed by some theologians. He was and I’m sure he still is very loyal to Christ. He spoke first because of his confidence and beliefs in our Lord.

“He hesitated a little when he jumped into the lake and tried to walk on water. But anyone would have done that … Jesus had asked him to come to Him … so at least he did show real Faith by jumping into the water … but his Faith faltered … understandable really!

“And that’s when St Peter sat a little forward in the armchair and calmly said to me … ‘Quite the diplomat aren’t you Ignatius?’ I remember distinctly those words … and they were not said in a complimentary way either. He asked me to go on … what did I really and honestly think of him.

“So I swallowed hard Donald … I knew what he wanted me to say but I was too scared to say it. He nodded gently to encourage me …

“And very quietly I mumbled that he had denied Christ three times …

“He looked me straight in the eye and all gentleness seemed to have gone from his face. He waved his hand gently at me, still holding a half-eaten chocolate biscuit, as if to reprimand me … you know, as we do with our finger when we point at a little child, and then he said, ‘After over two thousand years you people still hold that against me! And you call yourselves forgiving Christians … The Lord Himself forgave me with His knowledgeable look full of love and pity for me. But you Christians still bring this matter up …

“And it’s the same with Thomas … Whenever I meet him he says that the only thing that people remember about him is his doubting, and they can’t relate anything else he did after that.

“Well let me tell you something clever Ignatius that you are’ … That’s what St Peter called me, Donald. ‘Clever Ignatius that you are'.

“Let me tell you something … Have you ever considered what would have happened if I did not deny our Lord? I would have most probably been taken by the crowd and hung from the nearest tree …

“They were horrible they were … and angry and wild. Those same people who pretended to love Him, whom He had healed and taught over the years suddenly became very wild. They became angry, almost feral … And of course I was scared. They were probably scared too, you know. They had to act this way because acting any differently would have resulted in them being hanged too!

“And by denying Christ, the Son of our God, I unwittingly set in course the chain of events which followed. Jesus knew exactly why I had to deny Him at the time of His capture.

“After His Resurrection, when He appeared to us on the shore of the lake as we were fishing; it was the third time Jesus appeared to us after He was raised from death … We had just eaten together, and Jesus asked me three times if I loved Him. And every time I said yes He asked me to take care of His lambs and His sheep!’ ”

After a short silence Father Donald asked “What happened then Ignatius? When St Peter told you that?”

Father Ignatius replied.

“Well, he finished eating his biscuit and then he asked me whether I thought I had done a good job of looking after Our Lord’s lambs and sheep …

“Before I could answer … I just woke up!”

“That’s quite a dream …” said Father Donald, “and quite a message from St Peter.

“Christ knew precisely why Peter had to be spared at the time of His capture … in order to lead the Disciples and the Church!”

Sunday, 8 April 2018

Thomas' Legacy

I visited some friends the other day. It was a warm evening so we sat in the garden chatting. Moments later they both went into the house to prepare some refreshments and left me in the garden alone.

I sat admiring the view when suddenly out of the bushes came a fox. He moved around for a few seconds then hid again.

When my friend came out I told him about the fox. “Can’t be a fox” he said, “we live too far into town for a fox to come here …”

I said nothing and continued our conversation. Minutes later out came the fox again for a short while.

My friend shouted to his wife still in the house “We’ve got a fox in the back garden!”

Her exact reply was “Can’t be a fox, we live too far into town for a fox to come here!”

He called her a doubting Thomas and laughed it off.

Later that evening I thought about Thomas the disciple. What a service he did for Christianity without realizing it. By doubting Christ’s resurrection Jesus appeared again, and this time Thomas saw Him. The whole event was witnessed by the other disciples and recorded for us to read years later.

Had Thomas not doubted, we would have lost a valuable piece of evidence of Christ’s resurrection.

Jesus said to him, "Do you believe because you see me? How happy are those who believe without seeing me!" John 20:29.
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