There is a Rosh Hashanah blessing for the Jewish New Year in September that I like to use with my family and any group I am with. You give each person a slice of apple dipped in honey and say ‘May it be the Lord’s will to renew for you a year that is good and sweet’. I told my eleven year old granddaughter that we would be doing this as a blessing from God. She said ‘male or female?’ Interesting question. I said ‘both or neither’.


I have always believed in life beyond this one, in ‘heaven’. It was a theoretical concept that gave hope but no substance. It became more real as I experienced living in the presence of God here and now, and has been fleshed out by reading or listening to accounts of people who have had near death experiences (NDE’s). I am not in a hurry to go, but I am looking forward to it. I am sharing some of the things that have helped or interested me which I have gleaned from others’ stories. This is just my understanding, and is not a comprehensive review. Do follow these accounts and others up yourselves, I will give references at the end.


The life and teachings of Jesus are the basis of Christian faith. But how have we understood them? What about his exhortation to repent as in Mark 1.15 ‘The kingdom of God is near. Repent and believe the good news’. The common understanding of this, as in the Chambers dictionary, is ‘‘to regret, be sorry for, what one has done or left undone and to change from past evil or misconduct.’ However the Greek word is metanoia which means to change or enlarge your mind. This is about seeing something differently, and changing our beliefs. See also Rom 12.2 ‘Be transformed by the renewing of your mind.’ Of course this can lead to sorrow for past actions and to a change in behaviour but it is not the primary meaning.