Monday, 26 January 2015

En route

I love the term en route
Between places
On the way
It carries so much promise
The hint of potential
An aura of mystery and maybe even intrigue
Of course it could describe
the usual morning commute
But even then, there is amazing possibility
Limited only by our imagination
En route
That's where I am today
And every day

Wednesday, 14 January 2015

What is satire?

So, an acceptable response to the terrorism in France is for Charlie Hebdo to publish more offensive cartoons of the Prophet Mohammed? Rather than honouring the dead, that seems to me to dishonour. A more fitting remembrance and tribute might have been to produce an edition filled with the kind of satire that questions the world in which we live, (something this publication has done well in the past) where hate is fuelled by injustice and where the Western world floods news channels with terrorist attacks on the home front while ignoring huge scale massacre in Nigeria. In mounting such an impressive display of unity such as that seen in Paris last week, where world leaders linked arms and marched together, along with millions of others, we overlook the very real contribution of those powers in sowing the seeds of terrorism and in creating and funding regimes in which such evil can thrive.
Satire is not a tool to mock minorities but to challenge the powerful. None of us condones violence and evil on any scale but, sadly, we seem able to make some lives seem more valued than others. 
Je suis Charlie? Not if being Charlie elevates the rights of some above others and ensures that some voices are heard while others continue to be silenced.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Ditching the dream?

The Magi put their considerable wealth and experience
behind their mission to follow the star.
But, when push came to shove,
they weren't too high and mighty
to change their plans
and return by another way.
Having stirred up a hornet's nest
of insecurity and threat,
corruption and evil
in a malevolent power,
their humility saved the life
of the child born to be king.
And their presents
of gold, frankincense and myrrh,
which must have seemed so impractical
quickly took on a whole new meaning
becoming just what the baby God needed.
We may not have their wealth or wisdom
though perhaps we do.
But we too are called
to that moment of Epiphany
and, having offered our gifts,
to be willing to change our course
and be led in a new direction.
And though the road ahead is seldom clear
in the absence of a star
yet it is full of adventure
and mystery
and learning
and growth
ours for the discovering.
An Epiphany for today
and everyday.

Thursday, 1 January 2015

Knowledge or passion?

Matthew 2:1-6
The Visit of the Wise Men
​In the time of King Herod, after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea, wise men from the East came to Jerusalem, asking, “Where is the child who has been born king of the Jews? For we observed his star at its rising, and have come to pay him homage.” When King Herod heard this, he was frightened, and all Jerusalem with him; and calling together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They told him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for so it has been written by the prophet:
‘And you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for from you shall come a ruler
who is to shepherd my people Israel.’ ”

After being interviewed and appointed to my first post in Health Care Chaplaincy, one of the interviewing panel shared with me that the task of the panel that day, having interviewed several candidates, was to make a choice between experience and passion. I did not have the experience that some deemed necessary for the appointment, having newly graduated from Theological studies at University but I was passionate about the role. (It also served me well that I had previously worked as a biomedical scientist in a hospital haematology lab.) In this newly created role it was deemed that fresh vision might serve more effectively than tried and tested methods.
When King Herod wanted to know where the King of the Jews had been born, the Chief Priests and the scribes, who had studied such things, were able to tell him: "In Bethlehem of Judea." Their reading and learning informed their knowledge. While the wise men followed a star.
Following a star, pursuing a dream, leads to rookie mistakes. The wise men tipping off Herod to the presence of a potential rival, so the story goes, led to the Massacre of the Innocents and I, with many others, have often questioned their wisdom. But perhaps there is something to be preferred in making a response based on the warm rush of instinct than on one based on the cold light of knowledge. The Wise Men's passion or the Chief Priest's and Scribe's knowledge - which would you choose? The safety of controlled learning or the risk of being changed by responding to opportunity that is to be found around every corner? Still there are choices to be made, encounters to be discovered - that is the journey of Epiphany.

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Christmas Eve

Matthew 1:18-23
The Birth of Jesus the Messiah
Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet:
“Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,”
which means, “God is with us.”

Are you ready?
asked the checkout operator
as she scanned the last minute gifts we remembered
Are you ready?
A question posed numerous times
in myriad ways
this past few days.
Are you ready?
Our response to that will vary greatly
There is always the fear that we have overlooked something
forgotten something vital
had a senior moment
left things too late.
But the good news of Christmas
For all of us 
Is that it doesn't matter
how ready we are.
God is born.
Emmanuel - God with us
happens over and over again.
Ready or not.
Emmanuel - God with us
comes to those who grieve
to those who worry and fret
to those who feel unprepared
to those who feel calm and ready
to those who are excited
to those who dread
to those who feel that Christmas 
has already been snatched from them
and to those who are waiting to see
what tomorrow brings.
The good news, for all, is
we do not make Christmas 
we do not have to be ready
In every circumstance,
God is born
Emmanuel - God with us.

Tuesday, 23 December 2014

Fathering God

Matthew 1:24
When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife,

These past few months have been the most demanding of my life
the most emotionally draining
I've known the fierceness of love and anger
The depths of despair, the unravelling of joy.
But I'm a man
I'm supposed to be hard
I'm not supposed to be turned to mush
by watching the woman I love suffer
She looks so beautiful carrying my child
And it is my child
I may not have planted the seed that grows within her
But I have watched her body change
I have rubbed her swollen flesh
in the night when she aches
I have felt our baby move and grow
I have felt the kicks and the hiccoughs
And I have felt her pain
as our friends have shunned us
No cosy chats with the other women for Mary
Swapping stories, normalising pregnancy
And no back slapping congratulations for me
Or even leery comments
Just menacing silence
sizzling with reproach
Little do they know, my former so called friends
If they had stuck with me instead of cutting me off
They might, just might, have brought me to my senses
But Mary and I, pushed together in our adversity
Have learned resilience 
And grown together, forced into maturity
It's not just us
We have a little life to care for
And we will prove them wrong
Those who think we'll never manage.
We will show them
That we are the people God calls us to be
Parents for the Son of God.
Liz Crumlish 2014

Monday, 22 December 2014

Piercing truth

Luke 2:34-35
Then Simeon blessed them and said to his mother Mary, “This child is destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel, and to be a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed—and a sword will pierce your own soul too.”

It was a long time in coming
A lifetime and more
But even though he'd waited a lifetime
to greet the Messiah
Simeon could not temper his words
The old prophet could not keep silent 
about what he saw.
This baby, brought to the temple
to fulfil tradition and custom
was recognised by Simeon
as the Messiah on whom he waited.
A Messiah who was destined 
to shake up the institutions 
to challenge a way of life
and to bring searing pain
to the woman who had borne him.
And, having waited so long to greet him.
he could not keep quiet
about the future he saw
in the face of the Son of God.

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