Tuesday, 19 May 2015

Counter Balance

Musing today on how my Facebook news feed is filled with silly statuses.
Probably because I'm involved in the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland.
The silliness is a counter balance to the gamut of emotions raised by GA business.
During the course of the first thirty minutes today I was moved to tears by the beauty of worship being signed for deaf participants, wounded by a condescending and patronising message from a colleague, filled with hope and pride listening to Youth Delegates' contributions and flooded with gratitude, love, and joy at being part of this great, flawed, maddening, respected and influential institution composed of living stones.
No wonder I feel compelled to take refuge in some silliness!
Thanking God for the love, inclusion and potential of the Church of Scotland, living stones for the nation and the world.

Saturday, 9 May 2015


This reflection was written for Spill the Beans before I knew that this would be the Sunday after a General Election in the UK but seems pretty apt for the season.

For what do you hope?
For what do you hope?
Is it some future event?
Something that can be planned, researched, engineered or financed?
Like a cure for cancer?
Or a way of regenerating brain cells destroyed in dementia?
Or marvellous DNA repairs for confused chromosomes?
For what do you hope?
Is it some notion that tomorrow will be better?
That the benefits system will serve those in need?
Or that Food Banks will no longer be necessary?
That no one will sleep rough on our streets but that all will know shelter?
For what do you hope?
Is it for signs of world peace?
The dismantling of refugee camps?
The sharing of clean water?
For what do you hope?
The promise of God
for God’s people everywhere
is to know peace in every situation
because we are loved by the God whose name is love
and who, in Christ has already gathered us up in love.
Now that is something for which to hope.
And a hope that will not disappoint.

Friday, 8 May 2015

Welcome to a brand new day...

As the sun rises on another day in Scotland, the day after a General Election in the UK and 70 years since VE Day celebrations, the landscape looks different. It is as yet unclear what that difference is or how it will play out. But, in a country still struggling to re-define itself post Referendum and with so many claiming, I believe falsely, that to vote SNP is to vote for Nationalism, it is certainly a country in turmoil. While democracy has prevailed and people have exercised their democratic right to change the political hue of government, it is unclear whether that voice of protest will in fact change the things we want to see changed.
Will the hungry be fed without the need for Foodbanks?
Will the benefits system provide the safety net it lacks at present?
Will the "never employed generations" be offered a way to meaning and value?
Will austerity be banished?
Post- Referendum, churches were asked to pray for peace and reconciliation.
I believe that, today, that is perhaps even more crucial as this small nation finds its way to show the rest of the UK - and the world- how to "Walk humbly, act justly and love mercy" (Micah 6:8)
And, in working out how to do that, remember all those whose life's work and honest intentions have been swept aside overnight and who are forced to begin today to reassess their place in the future of Scottish and UK Politics.
When victory was declared in Europe, there was much shaking up and shaking down to be negotiated. Hopes were high. But there were also many wounded souls that required just care and compassion.
Seventy years on, my prayer is that we can find a way through the melee, listening to and for the voices that reach for justice and peace. And, above all that we will love one another through all our differences.

Thursday, 23 April 2015


Being pulled up gently
Like a tender sapling
Disturbing the soil
Shaking it loose
Each tendril
claiming its own space
before being replanted lovingly elsewhere
to bloom and to grow 
knowing the nourishment of good soil
and the nurture
of caring and competent hands.
Being ripped out of the earth
Pulled violently
from a place of deep longing
Broken apart
with no way back
Uprooting comes in many ways
For some an every day occurrence
accepted as a part of existence
For others, a fiercely resisted intrusion
that wreaks havoc
And yet uprooting 
always carries the potential
Of life and growth
however it comes to us. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Relinquishing shepherd hood

Ruth Everhart, teaching on Pilgrimage said: "So much of what we do is about shepherding other people's spiritual experiences." And she asked: "What is it you do to reclaim your spiritual authenticity?"(or something along those lines.)
I began to think, firstly, of some of the physical ways I would attempt to remove myself from being in pastor mode. I have a T shirt I love to wear which bears the question: "Ask me if I care?" That serves to remind me that, at this moment, in this setting I am not the pastor. I am not the one called to be the carer. It is a T shirt for time off.
If physically possible, I head to the beach and can usually find a spot with no other human company. Then it's just me and God. The wind and the waves and the beauty of the scenery conspire to renew my energy and to draw me to something other than my bone crushing weariness. My senses are tantalised. I breathe deeply, deeper than I have for some time and, even though this beach pilgrimage is a fairly regular occurrence, I'm always surprised to discover in it, the presence of God. When I move out of God's way, God materialises, sitting alongside me on the beach, walking next to me at the water's edge, blowing around me, messing my hair and placing the tang of salt on my lips. And in those moments I am reminded that God cares for me too. The God I work hard to reveal to others is revealed to me in those sacred moments. That shift in perspective is surely pilgrimage.

Down the Line

One of our number was delayed yesterday enroute from England to Scotland to participate in a Continuing Education Event by an incident on the Railway Line.
I found it difficult to embark on the Conference until I'd taken some time to reflect on/pray about this:

Sitting on the train
On a journey
Destination determined
Perhaps musing on events before the journey started
Or anticipating what is to come
An announcement is made:
"There's been a fatality on the line."
Inconvenient - to say the least.
Inconvenient for me
delaying my arrival 
Inconvenient for those with whom I am meeting
pushing back the start of a carefully planned programme
Inconvenient for train crews
those on either side of "the blockage"
Inconvenient for those whose task it is to schedule
arrivals and departures
and rolling stock
being in the right place
at the right time.
But much more than inconvenient
for family members
whose loved one has died
and who will never know
why that was the time and place and method chosen.
Much more than inconvenient for a community
saddened and shocked as the news travels through.
Much more than inconvenient for emergency crews
responding to a call
and becoming embroiled in trauma.
Way down the line
the effects roll out 
connections are made
and humanity
knows itself embroiled
in the drama of life
united in fragility
and vulnerability
and in being mortal.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

There's a woman in the pulpit

Every single day, ministry brings incredible challenges and opportunities. It embraces the sublime and the ridiculous. It is a vocation liberally peppered with poignancy, confidences and stories. Many of these stories deserve to be shared. "There's a woman in the pulpit" is a book full of such stories contributed by clergy women who are members of RevGalBlogPals, a supportive network for women serving, seeking or discerning a call to ministry. These are stories laced with sadness and joy, with honesty,,openness and a great deal of humour.
RevGalBlogPals started in 2005 as a handful of women clergy reached out to one another through their blogs offering prayerful and practical support. The community has grown exponentially as word spread and, as well as daily blog posts, the community now also supports a Facebook Group of almost 3000 members, where posts are moderated to ensure that a safe and supportive space is maintained, along with Twitter and Tumblr accounts. Honesty,humility and humour underpin much of the work undertaken as RevGals and pals support each other through life and ministry. Rev Martha Spong is the Director of RevGals and editor of the book. RevGalBlogPals demonstrates how virtual community can be real. There's a Woman in the Pulpit is testimony to that.

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