Monday, 30 November 2009

Indulgent Reflection

Sitting in the dark
enjoying the tree lights
blinking their reflection in the window.
Somehow the reflection is prettier
than the real thing.
Softer and more intriguing
attractive in a transient sort of way.
easier to absorb.
Not at all how advent should be:
a season to engage the senses
to confront
to challenge
to cajole
A season that draws us in
to action and reaction
a season
that screams to us
from the darkness
Wake up!
Get ready!
Reflect if you must.
but let your reflecting
change you and the world around you.
I come
not to make the darkness cosy
but to pierce that darkness
with excruciating light.
So let your reflecting
lead you to action
that blazes a trail
through all the dark places
and lights up the path for
the Light of the world

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Liturgical tree

This morning, we made a start on our Jesse tree - hanging some symbols depicting Jesus' ancestors. (With an impromptu rendition of Father Abraham when his pic appeared) As we did that, we considered our place in that lineage.
We're also planning to use the tree as a tree of remembrance for our quiet Christmas service - for those bereaved - in a couple of weeks.
The decorative sanctuary tree will appear next week but it's great to have a liturgical tree as well this year that we can use as we reflect our way through advent.

Here at last!

A reflection for the beginning of a new year in the church:

Watch for this: The time is coming'—God's Decree—'when I will keep the promise I made to the families of Israel and Judah. When that time comes, I will make a fresh and true shoot sprout from the David-Tree. He will run this country honestly and fairly. He will set things right.
Jeremiah 33: 14,15 (The Message)

Our every day is full of promises. From the promise of the washing machine repair company guaranteeing a quick fix to the politician promising justice coupled with tax cuts. (How can the two possibly go together?) And then there are the promises we make ourselves – to eat less, to exercise more, to spend more time with family. Promises, it seems, are for breaking or at the very least, compromising.
The Christian season of Advent breaks free of this pattern and brings the refreshment of promise fulfilled. We anticipate the coming of that shoot from the David-tree, the one who will bring honesty and fairness. We see in the birth of Jesus signs of something different. Signs of something that goes against the grain, runs contrary to that to which we have grown accustomed. We look for God’s son to set things right. And we are not disappointed.
Advent 1

Wednesday, 25 November 2009

Longing for light

Following a very peaceful time of Taize worship this evening, we set up a few things for Advent - the advent wreath and our liturgical tree. I began to get quite excited about the prospect of a new church year beginning. One of the Taize chants is:

Within our darkest night, you kindle the fire that never dies away, never dies away

Right now I'm longing for the light and for the hope that Advent brings. And I really need the warmth of that fire!

Sunday, 22 November 2009

There is a God!

Woohoo!! Sense has finally prevailed and John and Edward have been kicked out of the X factor. Entertaining they might have been. Singers they certainly were not - in my humble opinion. LOL

Saturday, 21 November 2009

Nativity Pig

Check out this wonderful antidote to swine flu.

Friday, 20 November 2009

A good talk ruined!

Our Children in Need Assembly today at one of the local primary schools focussed on role models. However the children totally confounded me by choosing the head teacher as their preferred role model over the school jannie. What's that about? They totally messed up my talk and further swelled the already inflated ego of the headie. It's a true saying: Never work with children or animals.:)

Thursday, 19 November 2009

Seizing the day

I've been trying to set aside some time to prepare a few reflections for advent. Not being disciplined enough to just blank off time in the diary I'd almost given up on it. Today, however, I found myself with a whole 90 minutes free, so I decided to make a start. Within an hour, I had managed to write a reflection for each week in advent. It would have been easy to find something else to do and postpone the creative bit until conditions were better and more conducive to writing but, it turned out that the time was right however unlikely it seemed. Sometimes it's good to seize the opportunity and make the most of what we have. And it's even better when it pays off.

Monday, 16 November 2009

Alt worship!

In a 20th birthday celebration for a church this weekend, I was asked to celebrate communion in this party atmosphere. It called for loads of flexibility and creativity. The "great prayer of thanksgiving" was replaced by a loop of images of the past 20 years, accompanied by The Kinks song Days. I had no idea that the two guys I asked to help pass round bread and wine had just turned up with friends - there they were behaving like solid church elders! I decided to bring a wee element of Presbyterianism by getting folk to sing a Gloria - in three parts. That was really a goose bump producing experience. The wonder of communion that can be celebrated in so many ways in so many places. Thanks be to God.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Church - but not as we know it

Over on the sermon blog, I was reflecting on the texts for this week. We're being exhorted to provoke one another to love. Nik, rightly called me out on my murky Star Wars past, where the "not as we know it" phrase originates for me. Tonight I'm asking myself - Why is it that "church" so often disappoints. I think it's because our expectations are so much higher so, when folk let us down, when support is not what it might be and when love is not evident, it hurts all the more. And so many of us experience church as being a place of hurt simply because our expectations are so different to what we encounter.
What then? Should we lower our expectations?
Absolutely not!
It's important that we never lower that bar and persist, yes, even through hurt, until we are part of that church that is not as we know it. Provoking one another to love is certainly a good place to start.

Thursday, 12 November 2009

Avoiding capture

Elusive, flirtatious
always just out of reach
pausing for a moment
only to fly away
and avoid capture
yet when all is said and done
would I want it any other way?
neat packages are not my style
it's more fun to struggle
more enticing to have to reach
and, even then, never quite grasp
that's the challenge of truth
and the excitement of faith.

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Guy Fawkes

I had forgotten what a peculiarly British thing Guy Fawkes night is. Last night was the first dry night since the 5th, so we had a mini firework display in the garden. There is something magical about wrapping up warmly and braving the outdoors on a clear autumn night. The fireworks were just a good excuse.
We didn't burn an effigy last night, probably because it would have been too difficult to decide on which of the many political contenders our "guy" would depict.

Thursday, 5 November 2009

The "Fraternal"

A colleague asked my opinion on minister's fraternals. Since student days I have been involved in a number of different fraternals and, unfortunately, my experience hasn't been great. Maybe my expectations are unrealistic but I haven't found these groups terribly supportive. It may well be a gender thing but I'd like to feel that the fraternal is a place for ministers to let their guard down, share some vulnerability. A safe space. I have formal monthly supervision, so it's not that I'm looking for that kind of support but it would be valuable to have some kind of fellowship and supportive network. As a presbytery chaplain I used to organise ministers' retreats and the ambience created in those allowed for more honest sharing but it would be good to share in something locally more regularly. In spite of all this, I will continue to support the fraternal. My optimism that it can be quite different drives me to stay with it and, hopefully ring subtle, slow change. I'd love to hear how others experience these networks.

Monday, 2 November 2009

Preparing for advent

It's cold and dark and stormy outside. But, liturgically, this time of year offers loads of excitement and light filled opportunities. Throughout November we remember and celebrate our saints - some by building bonfires!
Tomorrow, our worship team is getting together to prepare for advent, another waiting time, filled with possibility, not least for encounters with a God of surprises. Much to some folks' annoyance, I like to savour advent and resist the temptation to rush into Christmas. Advent has its' own music and words and Spirit:
Pregnant with potential
is the season of signs
when hopes and dreams and miracles
invade our everyday
and what is truly wonderful
is the opening of our eyes and ears
and minds and hearts
to see God, born in our midst.

Sunday, 1 November 2009

All the saints

Did a wee transformation on our Hallowe'en butler today to illustrate that, in God's eyes, no one is beyond redemption. Giving thanks for all the saints who have gone before us but rejoicing too that our God calls us saints and equips us to be saints, sharing light and love with all around us.

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