Monday, 24 December 2007
We had a really busy family Christmas eve service tonight. Lots of families with very young children, lots of excitement around. I tried hard not to wind them up any more than they already were so that they would go home and go to bed! There were lots of new faces too. One mum told me that her daughter had been at the school end of term service last week and, ever since had been pestering her mum to take her to the Christmas eve service. How wonderful. I'm off to do the midnight service now. I love it too but somehow it doesn't have that air of "anything might happen" that accompanies the early family service. But who knows? Maybe God will surprise us! Have a blessed Christmas.
Sunday, 23 December 2007
Did you offer yourself to God so fast?
Was there no feeling of wanting to think?
No sense of anger, injustice even,
that God could take your body and life so easily?
Did you really understand all that was being said?
All that was being asked?
And would I have been so willing?
Friday, 21 December 2007
This city street in Dublin actually looks better in its reflection where the wintry sky is also visible. I love the way the clean lines of the buildings become a bit wobbly in the reflected image. Does that happen with people do you think? When we try to mirror others, can we go that bit further, taking good examples and portraying them even better? And blur the sharp edges? Even the colours look better reflected in the water, more vibrant somehow.
What an aspiration - to take something fine and make it even better.
Thursday, 20 December 2007
Some sanity was restored yesterday as children brought us the Nativity story in Whoops a Daisy Angel . Who could fail to be cheered by their enthusiasm and excitement and by the simplicity of their message. God sent love to our imperfect world. Whatever our plight, that is a reason to find hope and to know that things can be different. Love can still transform our lives and our world.
Thanks to all the children at Glenburn School in Greenock for reminding us so simply of the important things in life.
Monday, 17 December 2007
Saturday, 15 December 2007
Its not just around these parts that pranksters doctor the fountains with soapy solutions. This one in Dublin had been doctored too. It is right next to a four lane road. When we returned later that evening, at rush hour, the road was jammed with peak time traffic assailed by soap suds flying everywhere.
It doesn't take much soap stuff to make a huge difference. We have numerous opportunities everyday to change the world around us using ingredients that last longer than bubbles. In this season of advent we celebrate light entering our world, a light that could not be extinguished. We can reveal that light and spread love around, making all the difference in the world.
Friday, 14 December 2007
Wednesday, 12 December 2007
In Dublin's fair city
Where girls are so pretty
It was really weird to be in a country where folk, ostensibly, speak the same language and yet not understand a word they were saying. Ordering food and drink was hilarious but we managed.
Today, I spent some time reflecting on the language of love, coming to a partial recognition that, in this community, folk express love using a language that's different from the one I am familiar with. Does that make it any less valid? I think not but I need to listen more carefully to the different dialects and not expect everyone to speak my language.
Sunday, 9 December 2007
Tuesday, 4 December 2007
Sunday, 2 December 2007
Wednesday, 28 November 2007
Glimpses of glory.
Those colours are present in all of life but so often we just can't see them.
Our lack of sight doesn't mean they aren't there.
So on the days we can't see, what should we do?
Perhaps all we can do is try to reassure ourselves that the flowers are there, that their colour is just as vibrant but that, for a time, they are veiled by the clouds and that it only needs a breeze to shift those clouds so that we can glimpse the glory again.
Come, Holy Spirit, Come.
Monday, 26 November 2007
This job dictates that space is a precious commodity so its important to make the most of it when it comes and then revel in the memories when it seems a long way off.
Work hard and play hard? Seems like a plan.
Saturday, 24 November 2007
I need the protection of these spines.
Its kinda hostile out there.
I've been attacked too many times.
Better to retreat and starve
than to risk being hurt again.
Can it really be different?
Can things change?
Can people be different?
Or is it too much to hope.
Too much to expect them to emerge from the protection their prickles afford.
And be open.
Open to love.
Open to possibility.
So we'll all just skirt around one another.
Use all our defences.
That way we can't be hurt.
Can't be healed either.
And we'll go nowhere.
But we'll be safe.
As safe as a presbyterian hedgehog.
Thursday, 22 November 2007
I'm still on the tack of wanting to start from someplace else. Its occupying my mind at the moment and creeping up in all sorts of ways. How can I unravel this journey so far and survive the road.
Today I spent time with a friend who has just been presented with an exciting new challenge and opportunity. Before she can launch herself in she has some tough decisions to make and some really difficult things to do. But, for her, that's OK. For her, its all just part and parcel of moving on.
How I wish I could have been as focussed and as clear of vision as she is instead of being seduced by the sense of calling. Its not that that's not important but it is a bit like love and presents a few blind spots. And now, having accepted the unacceptable for so long its difficult to find an exit. I convince myself that underpinning everything, there's still the overwhelming sense of call. But now I need to ask - Is that enough? And it feels really weird to even question that.
What I have learned, however, is that I cannot deny how it feels. I just have to sit with it for the time being and see if a way through becomes visible or if there's an alternative waiting just around the corner. I don't think that's defeatist - just pragmatic.
Wednesday, 21 November 2007
So, is it completely random or is there something much more purposeful and creative? Either way, it is fascinating.
Its not exactly barefoot sand walking weather in this part of the world right now but pondering mysteries is always in season.
Tuesday, 20 November 2007
Monday, 19 November 2007
Tuesday, 13 November 2007
Finished a 10 week course tonight looking at Philip Yancey's What's so amazing about grace? This book made an impact on me some years ago and its been great to study it along with other folk. There was much lively discussion and the local coffee shop, Cafe Melo was a great place to host the book club. The extravagance of grace is amazing. If only we could practice it more what a different place our world would be.
Planning a break from the book club for now, perhaps returning in the new year with Living the Questions. What will we do with Tuesday nights until then?
Monday, 12 November 2007
But the beauty is - If I can create time and space just now to get things ready, I can enjoy advent and feel a bit more ready when Christmas rolls around.
I'm tired of just wanting to fall asleep over Christmas dinner, tired of feeling that I'm too busy to do exciting things with the children in those weeks leading up and then finding its too late. This year I so want it to be different. So, a couple of weeks glued to the desk, with little interludes of imaginative walking, where I can release some creativity - that's what's in store. If I can achieve that, my hope and prayer is that advent will return to being simple, contemplative, spirit -filled and nourishing. And, what's more, this year there will be time for all those things I always promise to make space for - pampering massage, family outings and movies, nights in cosied up. Just do it!
Sunday, 11 November 2007
Today was a day for remembering the horror and the pity of war.
Our village war memorial sits in a beautiful setting, right out on the point, on the shores of the Firth of Clyde. After morning worship, where we had a job shoe horning all our youth organisations into the church, we processed along the main street and out to the point to do some more remembering. On a calm and peaceful sunny morning, war seemed far removed from our shores. And perhaps that's just one of the difficulties. Today, we wage war on other soils, far from home. It is other communities that are decimated, other civilians that are casualties of our aggression.
Even more important then that today we remember and try and change the future rather than repeat history.
Saturday, 10 November 2007
Not quite sure where I read these words but they have been haunting me this past wee while.
When we're involved in lots of energy sapping stuff, it does seem pretty impossible. But, given the chance to indulge in things that captivate the imagination, things that re-energise rather than drain, that's a different story.
For me, just now, that's the creative elements of worship. They take loads of time and energy to put together, but they nurture my soul like few other things in my full week. What is that telling me?
Friday, 9 November 2007
Pounding majestic power
Sweeping away obstacles
Dragging debris in its path
Rendering the efforts of mere humans worthless
Putting on a display of real might
Who will stand against it?
Try to change its course ?
Only the foolish
Or the tired of living
Such purity and splendour
Is to be revered for its beauty
Admired from a safe distance
It is useless to fight it
Better to contemplate and be at one with it
Part of all that it stirs,
Carried along by its energy.
Calmed by its fury
Knowing in the bubbling, seething melee
The still small voice.
I wax lyrical about the tidal surges pounding Britain today and find, in them, a living reminder of the Spirit, surging its path through our lives with such energy that surrender seems the best course.
Wednesday, 7 November 2007
Tuesday, 6 November 2007
Saturday, 3 November 2007
Just returned from a fireworks party in honour of Guy Fawkes,
Friday, 2 November 2007
Just as we can't escape the shadows cast by the low sun on an autumn day, neither can we outrun the past that has shaped us. But we can move on. And as the sun sets to rise again on a brand new day, so we can leave the shadows behind and emerge into the light.
Thursday, 1 November 2007
Tuesday, 30 October 2007
Monday, 29 October 2007
Sunday, 28 October 2007
Oblivious to cold, enjoying the ocean lapping at her feet.
Can we ever regain that sense of abandonment?
That confidence that life won't overwhelm us.
That sense of playfulness that makes us tear off our shoes and socks and feel sand between our toes - simply because we can.
All of that - and more - is ours for the taking.
If we will only stop being adult, stop carrying the weight of the world on our shoulders.
Let go, live, love and laugh.
Then life becomes a joy instead of the chore that we have made it.
And the whole world becomes an adventure to reach into.
Friday, 26 October 2007
prompting a journey of discovery.
Each journey begins with one little step
and a heartbeat of courage.
Dare we risk the unknown?
Dare we abandon the safe and familiar?
If we knew the answers,
we could make an informed choice - to pass through the gate or not.
But then we'd lose the sense of mystery,
the notion of possibility and a whole lot else besides.
To get from here to there
involves an element of abandonment,
of giving up one thing to reach for the other.
So will we put one foot in front of the other
to reach the gate,
open it and pass through
or will we remain trapped and frozen
in the comfort and safety that we know.
There are lots of reasons to remain on this side of the gate
and even more to take a running leap at it
the other side.
Wednesday, 24 October 2007
Monday, 22 October 2007
Saturday, 13 October 2007
Wednesday, 10 October 2007
Sunday, 7 October 2007
Inverkip Power Station is one of the biggest white elephants of its time. It never reached its full capacity because, by the time construction was completed, the cost of oil was too prohbitive to make it a viable proposition. It was useful, briefly, during the coal miners strike in the 80s but has spent most of its career mothballed. However, it continues to prove a useful landmark for navigation purposes.
I wonder how often we find ourselves diverted from the path we set out on, but manage to prove ourselves useful in a completely different way.
One of my favourite sayings is: You are never a complete failure. You can always serve as a bad example. Each of us has a value well beyond our own calculation and a purpose we can only dream of.
Friday, 5 October 2007
Looking at the big picture is important. Often, I'm caught up in the clouds. Or sometimes, but not often enough, basking in the blue skies. At times I'm surrounded by people. Other times, in splendid isolation. From the top of a steep climb its not easy to see the bottom. And in the gold of autumn its easy to forget the green of summer. Its good to stand apart for a while and just survey the landscape. Trying to gain a different measure, a new perspective. Something more healthy than the glimpse from the thick of things. It doesn't make the slog any easier but it does give it more meaning and its easier to understand the place that I'm at when I can look around and see where it all fits. And holding it all together? Is love. Love in the gaps. Love in the graft. Love in the raw. Love providing the links and the spaces. Love encircling the whole. Never too much love. I just pray for enough.
Wednesday, 3 October 2007
After a day of meetings my brain is weary. So many words to-ing and fro-ing. My throat is parched because lots of the words were mine. Perhaps it would be better to drown in the sea of apathy that seems to be the alternative to trying to motivate. It would certainly be less exhausting.
"Mortal man, can these bones come back to life?"
I often feel like Ezekiel in the valley of the dry bones, knowing that the breath of life is not mine to give. But God breathed into those bones, brought them to life - and what life. What keeps me from drowning is the hope that God will breathe into our situation and create the kind of havoc that only God's spirit can wreak. Then we'll be able to see signs of new life, not just the starkness of death.
Tuesday, 2 October 2007
Sunday, 30 September 2007
In hiddenness there is at least hope. Hope that all is not revealed. Hope that there are better things to come. Hope that, in the present, doesn't provide a lot of comfort but that at least offers a glimmer of light in the darkness that seems to stretch into infinity. What we see and what we know simply isn't enough. There has to be some recompense for pain and for suffering, some lightening of the load that many have to bear.
But the revelation will have to be pretty spectacular to make the present justifiable. Those who cry in anguish now will need some hefty inducement to balance the scales. Sometimes the promise for the future seems just too obscure to make a difference to the hellishness of the present. So we can't see the whole picture but will that whole picture ever be enough?
Saturday, 29 September 2007
A group of us from church popped over to Paris for lunch midweek. I know its not very Carbon friendly, but the attraction of a cheap flight and the opportunity of a whole day in Paris was too much to resist.
By 10:30 we were enjoying breakfast at Port Maillot, we had lunch at Montmartre among the artists and then dinner on the Champs Elysees before heading back to Beauvais for the flight home.
What a difference a day makes!
I feel as if the whole of the week before and after the trip was spent making up for lost time but it was well worth it. Its great to live in an age where such things are possible and to have the means to just go for it. God forbid that we should ever take such luxury - and sheer decadence - for granted. But just every now and again its good to sin big style!!!
Thursday, 27 September 2007
A new store opened in the village today. Inverkip is a village with an ever expanding population and few facilities so a new super market is a welcome addition - especially a new Sainsbury's. I felt I could have spent the whole day hanging around the store, catching up with the parish. There were so many people coming and going and the sunshine contributed to brightened spirits.
I was reminded how lucky I am to serve in such a defined community where life very much revolves around church, school and pub - and now, our local supermarket.
Tuesday, 25 September 2007
Church without walls next summer at the National Gathering will be exploring All you can't leave behind. What are the things that you wouldn't or couldn't ditch? What really matters? I'm looking forward, I think, to working out the essentials of "church" for me. I suspect that it doesn't even resemble anything I call "church" at the moment. I'm happy to discard loads, but what will it be replaced by? I'll keep you posted!
Monday, 24 September 2007
There's supposed to be a path round the back of our house. But the ground keeps slipping and encroaching. It looks very green just now but through the summer it was, firstly purple, with beautiful irises and then orange with montbretia. Beautiful - but not the path its supposed to be.
How many attractive things turn up in the wrong place? Does it mean they can't be appreciated just because they're out of context? Inconvenience makes beauty all the more poignant. Life's too short and too fraught for us not to appreciate beauty wherever it shows itself.
We need to address the path situation at some point but, for now, we will enjoy the wild.
Sunday, 23 September 2007
This giant toadstool has been growing in our jungle of a garden. In the sunshine today, I thought I could see Christ's face on the fungus. So have I been watching too much sci fi or reading too much weird and wonderful material? Or can you see it too?
Last week, I read of someone finding Christ's face on a frozen lemon slice.
So - do we create Christ in our image? Is that why his face pops up in all sorts of bizarre places on all sorts of innate objects. Have we given him one of those faces that we see everywhere? Is it an optical illusion?
Its an interesting thought - the image we have super imposed on Christ. How good would it be if Christ did appear everywhere, evidenced by us human beings loving and serving each other, just as Jesus did? Christ incarnate - wherever I am, wherever you are.
Saturday, 22 September 2007
Wednesday, 19 September 2007
Today, I have been on a course about discernment and navigating transition. Lots of stimulating stuff. But, sometimes, when I return to the nitty gritty and often pettiness of the parish, I seriously wonder what its all about. And I want to find another starting point.
Grey and grumpy
Fixed and immovable
Could be so different.
Could be a marker, pointing the way to the light.
Demonstrating faith and solidity, not just hardness stuck fast.
Could be a point from which to leap, landing in the squishy, soft heather.
Could even be a place to rest the weary soul before tramping on over unknown ground.
Catching the last rays of light before its time to move on.
Its time, its time, its time, but I wouldn't start from here.