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Sunday, 3 January 2016

Past Life - Present Mission (2.1)

Interspersed among the Chapters of 'Past Life - Present Mission' were personal reflections and stories from the research period. These are the reflections/stories from Chapter 1:

Weathered wood

On my personal Celtic Pilgrimage of Discovery I was, at one point, on a beach in South Uist, one of the Western Isles, way out in the Atlantic Ocean. It was low tide. There was a great sense of the Presence of God. A sense of a massive God whose Presence provided the wonderful world that I was perceiving and responding to. At the water's edge I saw a little wooden object, a piece of weathered wood that looked like a dolphin. As I picked it up and considered it – there, at low tide, left by the mighty Atlantic - I felt it was a symbol of a mighty God who has limitless power and resources. A God who works in our lives to get rid of the rubbish and the unnecessary baggage, rather like this piece of weathered wood where all the soft wood had rotted away leaving only the hardwood and a unique shape. So, the God whose presence could be felt in our lives sends us, or allows us, to go through deep waters that we might become like this piece of weathered hardwood. Some time later a member of St Edmund’s Tysley had a major operation, which we knew was serious. Her husband suggested a particular time for me to visit in hospital. I felt at such a loss to know how to respond and, in the end, took this little symbol of God's presence, His love and His way of working in our lives and gave it to this lady, explaining how and where I got it. From that point on it remained with her until the Lord took her to be with him. On at least one occasion whilst she was in hospital she told her doctors what this object symbolised for her. Her funeral occurred part way through the ‘Woven Cord’ programme and was a moment at which members of St Edmund’s realised that, as with Celtic Christians, they were open to the reality and nearness of death and the presence of the spiritual world in a way that was not apparent in the surrounding community.

Spiritual Visions

From the beginning of January 1996, for a period of at least eight to ten weeks I received a series of visionary experiences, some of which reached a climax before a PCC Away Day. For the previous 40 years since I became an adult, I had had a few visionary experiences, six to eight at the most, so they were very occasional. I would describe them as being able to enter into the spiritual dimension that surrounded a current situation. In the past and again now, they involved descriptive awareness about the people in the vision, and their actions. The majority related developmentally to where I was ‘at’, including a limited prophetic discernment about my future.

Three days before the PCC Away Day I awoke late into the night and the matter of the Away Day came strongly to mind. I was aware of God’s Presence and being in the spiritual dimension. I then had visionary pictures of five people who would be attending the Away Day. Each picture was clear and the sense or meaning of the vision was definite. In addition the sense was somehow impressed upon me that the Lord wanted to look at our pattern of relationships as His people at St. Edmund’s.

At the afternoon session of the Away Day, I shared generally about the visionary experience. After discussion, everyone agreed that if ‘they’ were one of the five, they would be willing for the vision to be openly shared. This then took place, and it was a deeply moving experience. It was experiential in terms of the awareness of God’s Presence walking amongst His people. This led immediately into a service of Holy Communion. It was clear that one central action of the Lord in this matter was to put His hand on our relationships, our need to change in specific ways and to be able to receive spiritual gifts from Him. Inevitably, any spiritual challenge about relationships and what we are deep within, can make us feel vulnerable but what the Lord was offering through the pain was precious and was linked to our potential.


Dave Bainbridge & David Fitzgerald - Life Journey.

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