Friday, 24 December 2010

Christmas Eve Watchnight


Come away in
shake the snow off your boots
coorie up close
to see what's afoot.
There's a happening here
this night of the year
and everyone's welcome
to share
Away on the hillside
and here in the town
whether busy or weary
sit yoursel' down
God calls you to worship
both friend and stranger
to pay homage again
to the babe in the manger
Everyone's welcome
whoever you are
on this holiest of nights
follow the star
as it leads you to find
the most precious gift given
God's love for all 
true gift of heaven





Wednesday, 22 December 2010

Quiet Christmas Service


We lit our candles
thinking of loved ones
who aren't with us this Christmas
Some have died
some are far away
some are lost
some are estranged
we only know they are not here
and we miss them.
We lit our candles
taking some time
out of the bustle of the season
to remember those we love.
We lit our candles
and placed them on the cross
remembering Mary
whose heart was pierced with sorrow
even as she cradled her newborn son.
We lit our candles,
the flames flickered
their reflection comforting,
spreading light
through our darkness.
We lit our candles
and it was good to share with others,
to remember that we are not alone
in our loss
to remember
the love that came down
at Christmas.
We lit our candles
and somehow
our loved ones
seemed close
and hope was ignited again
as we remembered
that love never dies.
And the light that came into the world
can never be put out.

Tuesday, 21 December 2010

Longest night and Lunar eclipse

Lunar eclipse 21st December 2010

The full moon hid from the sun
playing peek a boo with the earth
while commuters fought their way to work
through snow and ice and fog
oblivious to the cosmic show.
A show that heralded the start of the day
of the longest night.
A day begun with such a fanfare
deserves to be feted and prized
made special, worthy of note.
For as we while away
those interminable hours of darkness,
 we take comfort in the knowledge
that this is a turning point 
at the end of the year.
A change in direction
Now light begins to triumph again
squeezing out the darkness
edging its way in
bit by comforting bit
fuzzing the edges
softening the hard lines
easing out the cold
making room once more for hope.
The earth continues to turn
life moves on at a pace
But even the brief contemplation
of re-alignment
shows that change is possible
And as the world hurls on towards Christmas
we are reminded
that love will come again
that the Lord of the Longest night
is the Lord of the Lunar eclipse
God with us.
This Christmas-tide
the babe in the manger
needs little encouragement
to come and
dwell in us
warming us
soothing the darkness
bringing the light of hope
eclipsing our lives
with love.


Monday, 20 December 2010

Hurrying to Bethlehem

Fred Craddock said: "Everybody is already having Christmas except the church". That reminded me a bit of the description of Narnia as a place where it is always winter but never Christmas.
People, even in the church, do get impatient with Advent - and want us to move on to celebrate Christmas. Advent hymns are not as well loved as Christmas Carols. And yet, if we do not wait and wonder, can we ever be prepared to welcome the gift of God's son? Even by observing Advent, is our preparation ever enough?
The wife of a colleague was laughing today as she confessed that, by the time Christmas comes, they will both be miserable, worn out with all their Advent efforts. I know that feeling of slumping over Christmas dinner (and, yes, I know how fortunate it is to have that luxury in such an unjust world). I would plead for at least another week of preparation. But then, I'd probably use that up too. Can we ever be ready? Does it matter? God comes. God is with us. Contemplative or frazzled, rested or exhausted. God is accustomed to surprising us and has survived much worse than our lack of readiness. Those powerful themes of advent, Light, hope, love, peace are themes that need time to be absorbed and retold. Christmas comes, God is with us. All in God's time.

Saturday, 18 December 2010

Holiday Fun

Accommodating change

How silently, how silently, the wondrous gift is given.
Watching the snow fall brought to mind these Christmas carol words.
And struck a cord.
Who knows what we will awake to in the morning?
Will the snow be thick - or have melted away?
Will our plans have to change or can we work around it?
Falling snow seems to create a hush.
It is mesmerising.
While the earth slept, Jesus was born - and nothing would ever be the same again.
People awoke to find a changed world.
But we soon accommodated his birth, sanitised it and got on with life.
Will we do the same this Christmas?

Friday, 17 December 2010

Crowns and palaces


Kings in purple curtains
with crowns from last years crackers
Proud kings, shy kings,
loud and quiet kings
with packages wrapped
in velvet or shiny paper
carried reverently
or tossed about
to be presented
to a mother
whose head dress has come adrift
and who holds her baby upside down
while her husband smiles mischievously
distracted by the angelic throng
of tutu-clad nursery children
with sparkling wands
bringing Good News to all.
The scuffle between the camel and the sheep
is soon forgotten 
as these angel voices strike up
"Away in a manger".
And the adults, with a tear in their eye
think they have truly seen portrayed
the Christmas story.
Is it any wonder
we think of this baby God
as benign and ineffective
born in such cloying sentimentality?
Divorced from the reality
of crushing poverty
and oppressive regime.
Ignoring the fears of a pregnant teenager
giving birth and then taking to the road
with her partner 
not much older.
The angels that visited them
were scary, not cute.
And the kings - well meaning
but almost got them killed.
No wonder baby Jesus
grew up tough
and still hangs out
with the poor and exiled
in our communities
and cries at what we have done
to the Christmas story.



Thursday, 16 December 2010

Tuesday, 14 December 2010

Away from the stable

It's an occupational hazard that ministers get rather oppressed in the run up to Christmas. There are so many fun opportunities to get involved in - tea parties, lunches, school shows and nativities - all on top of the ongoing pastoral needs and crises that arise. But, the pressure of honouring all these commitments and keeping sane is considerable.
Tonight, I went ice skating with Girl Guides - not on the river I hasten to add - and I hope everyone will remember how dangerous the river is even with thick ice - but on the Ayr synthetic Christmas ice rink. For the first time, I felt slightly Christmassy. As I drove home, I reflected on the Christmas detachment I seem to be experiencing this year. And I'm not sure it is a detachment but more a reality. When God sent Jesus, the world was busy, people were oppressed, physically and spiritually. They couldn't drop everything and make their way to the stable. Nor was that what God required or desired. God sent Jesus into the real world, where people go about their business - the business of birth and death - the business of life. God doesn't want to stop us in our tracks but wants us to let God carry us over the ruts in the track when the going gets tough and float with us when life is buoyant. Christmas isn't about pausing to experience that Christmassy feeling but about knowing God present in the reality of life.

Monday, 13 December 2010

God with us



Walking down the High Street
listening out for the sound of the Salvation Army band
hearing instead the funny hooter of the candy floss maker
trying to snare the children or those with sweet tooth
and the call of the news vendor
peddling depressing headlines.
Being assaulted by bubbles
spewing out of the early learning centre.
And then the band appears
accompanied by carol singers
and collectors with bells
and the angels unfurl their wings
and blanket the earth with peace and goodwill
There’s a pause in the music as they decide what to play next
As the cornet player blows on his fingers to warm them
he sends up a prayer for the homeless family he found shelter for last night
As the collector waves her bucket
she prays for the youngster who needed an emergency payment
because he’s not on the system yet
As the carol singer passes the boiled sweets around
she gives thanks for the food parcels she will distribute later
As the conductor raises his hand to begin another carol
he sees the hand of God
reaching out to all the lost and lonely
and weary and vulnerable
and hungry and poor
and homeless and forgotten
beloved of God.
Joy to the World the Lord is come!

Sunday, 12 December 2010

Joy comes in the morning?


Despite our fears and anxieties,
God promises joy
Despite our loss and grief
God promises joy
Despite our neediness and lack of resources
God promises joy
Despite ourselves
God promises joy
In the arid places
water will gurgle up
in the barren places
life will sprout
frozen wastes
of hearts and lives
will be lovingly thawed
and nurtured
and infused with joy
We cannot stop it
God infiltrates our best efforts
and our worst
and causes joy to bubble up
in the hopeless places
However unlikely it may seem
Be prepared
to experience joy

(Based on Isaiah 35)

Saturday, 11 December 2010

The big thaw


We retreated to safety
hurrying home out of the cold
and chaos of snow and ice
We lit fires and snuggled up
making the most of a season of quiet
in busy full lives
Only one who was used to being left out in the cold
remained behind to check on those
with no means of retreat
One who was born in a drafty steading
who knew the resignation and discomfort
of enforced exile
He snuck in under cardboard shelters
shivered around braziers
tucked newspaper covers 
tighter around his friends
He slugged from their bottles 
of warming spirit
listened to the chattering teeth
and hacking coughs
and wept frozen tears
that so little has changed
in 2000 years
And when the thaw came
those tears turned into a river
for a world
that still abandons the vulnerable
and deserts the poor
and prefers glitzy news
to cold reality
And just as his cries went unheeded then
so his tears are met with indifference now.

Friday, 10 December 2010

The heart of Christianity

It is hard to imagine why anyone would want to destroy the Holy Thorn tree in Glastonbury. But I have to take issue with the director of Glastonbury abbey who is reported to have said that "this crime strikes at the very heart of Christianity." Fortunately Christianity, in all its vulnerability, is much tougher than that and is built on much more than myth and legend. Herod could not destroy the love that came into the world at Christmas and centuries of flawed human adherents to the faith have not destroyed it. In this season when we prepare to celebrate God in our midst, we celebrate the light that shines in the darkness and can never be put out.
The heart of Christianity continues to beat on.

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Out of the mouths of babes

A Presbytery meeting last night was considerably brightened by a report from two youngsters who recently attended the Church of Scotland Children's Assembly on Iona. Both boys were very articulate and gave an impressive report, illustrated by pictures and mimes. Great hilarity erupted when one of the boys stumbled over the name of the council responsible for organising the Children's Assembly - and Mission and Discipleship Council became Mission and Despicable Council. We should give them the names of other councils to see how those would be rendered.

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Stranded

There is a distinct lack of snow in Ayr. But, since all the transport networks are closed down, it is difficult to venture out of the County boundaries. It feels surreal to watch the rest of Scotland collapsing under the weight of the snow and the havoc it has wreaked. If the predicted thaw comes at the end of the week, no doubt activity will be frenetic as folk get themselves back to where they belong and stock up on supplies before the next predicted onslaught.
Displaced folk are making headline news just now but what about those who spend their lives as displaced people? Where are they tonight? Will insights gained and lessons learned from this crisis make any difference to their lives?

Monday, 6 December 2010

Inconvenient


Gridlock
Airport chaos
Snow days at home
Busy lives disrupted
Nights out postponed
Plans put on hold
A census
with folk traveling 
to their place of birth
Dusty roads
Overcrowded inns
Cities teeming 
with lives disrupted
by occupying forces
Calm and bright moments
when neighbour helps neighbour
Be it with shovelling snow
or birthing pangs
Signs of light and love
Signs of Advent


Sunday, 5 December 2010

Getting closer?

The animals were added to our Nativity Scene this morning as we butchered Good King Wenceslas, each section of the congregation making a different animal noise - because everyone knows it's too early to be singing Christmas carols. We also considered Edward Hicks' Peacable Kingdom, as we listened to the beautiful vision portrayed by Isaiah(Isaiah 11:1-10). Preparations are really gathering pace. The question is: How close are we to bringing about that kingdom that Jesus came to demonstrate by his life and death?

Saturday, 4 December 2010

Mirror images


John the Baptist romps right through our domesticated Nativity scenes, upsetting the balance, challenging and confronting, compelling us to look in the mirror - always unsettling. He's so out of place in the cosy scene we have created. But John the Baptist is vital to our Advent preparations if we really want to see God's kingdom - where there is peace and justice - become a reality.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Connected

This light dusting of snow that visited last weekend was the most we got this week. Life carried on pretty normally. We watched, initially with a degree of envy and then perhaps rather smugly, as other parts of the country came to a standstill. But our clement microclimate could not protect us from the knock on effects of a country in crisis. Mail deliveries were delayed or failed to materialise, fuel tankers failed to deliver, bread supplies became sporadic, while bus and rail links were disrupted. Staff living in outlying areas struggled to get to work as did residents working further afield. We could get out and about and return home and keep warm but we could not be unaffected. Such is life. We depend on each other more than we'd ever care to own.
The Son of God came, helpless, depending on the care of others, relying on everyone to play their part, to get involved, to feel the connection and to respond. And still, he calls us to act in community, loving and caring for one another. Snowy days give us opportunity to get it right.

Thursday, 2 December 2010

Be a part of it


Our Nativity scene is beginning to take shape -
 first, the stable backdrop, then the animals, 
the holy family, the angels and the shepherds - 
and, eventually the wise men, led by the star.
Building up, layer on layer, character by character - 
all with a part to play in the story.
A story that is never complete, that has no ending, 
a scene that is never finished 
but where there is always room for one more.
A layout that calls for no particular precision - 
haphazard will do. 
For there was nothing tidy about the advent of God 
into a world toiling under oppression.
Still we are invited.
Still we are welcomed.
To occupy a corner, to make ourselves at home.
And contemplate the Christ child, born in our midst.

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Advent 1


video


Welcoming God's light.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Poverty of spirit

For the first time ever, this phrase - Poverty of spirit - was explained to me today in a completely new way.
It has always held negative connotations for me but today, I was enabled to consider it in a new light.
Emptying oneself of things that prevent the Spirit from getting to work and allowing the Spirit of God to fill those spaces - or not - as she chooses seems like a good Advent discipline that I look forward to exploring.

Sunday, 21 November 2010

Dark humour and wonderful scenery

I managed to see the new Harry Potter movie yesterday. I was surprised at how much humour it contained - not sure if that's a result of  Harry, Ron and Hermione growing up. But I liked it. The scenery was also stunning. Was mainly shot in England and Wales but lots of the scenes could have been shot in the Scottish islands. The film seemed to go really quickly - didn't seem like two and a half hours. Just disappointed that the concluding part of the film is not due until next summer. Really glad I took the time out yesterday to see it on the big screen and managed to leave work behind just for a wee while.

Friday, 19 November 2010

Planning ahead

Willow Tree Nativity
Had lots of fun this morning planning Advent Services with a friend. I took my husband along too to supply technical advice and to save us getting too complicated - he's the one who has to execute our brilliant ideas! Now really looking forward to seeing how they work out. Sourced some wonderful looking nativity figures from here. Can't wait to see them in real life.
We met in a local garden centre and there was lots of hilarity coming from our table. I couldn't help wondering what folk would think if they knew that we were forward planning for worship.
Anyway, that's Sundays taken care of into the new year. Just need some space now to think about the reflective midweek services and the advent meditations.

Tuesday, 16 November 2010

Life mirroring lectionary?

In the Christian Calendar, we are preparing to celebrate Christ the King Sunday, the end of the Christian year, when we reflect on the kind of kingship Jesus modeled - born in poverty, forced into becoming a displaced person, eking out a living as an itinerant preacher, before being executed.
The announcement of an impending Royal wedding seems a gift for this season.
Although the engagement has just been announced, already there is speculation about the scale of pomp and circumstance that must surround the wedding of a future king.
Will the couple's low key preferences to date continue to be displayed in their wedding plans or will pressure prevail for something much more extravagant? Will any allowance be made for the current national and global economic crisis? Only time will tell.
Meanwhile, we prepare to celebrate a wholly different version of kingship, leading us forward to welcome again God with us as we'd hardly imagine.

Monday, 15 November 2010

A metaphor

Looking puzzled but on top of things.
An all too familiar place that I frequent.
Making things seem effortless, well prepared and thought through even when the slope I have conquered is very slippery.
And always looking out for the next predator who is getting ready to throw me off my perch.
Love it!

Saturday, 13 November 2010

Energising

When I'm facilitating conferences I always like to put in something after lunch that wakes folk up and provides some fun. Today's office bearers were game for a laugh and finally got on top of the Helium sticks. I'm always amazed at how much folk put into and take away from envisioning days - even and maybe especially- when my preparation hasn't been all it could be. We all learn from one another and the Holy Spirit blazes a trail for us to follow.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Talent

Lots of fun tonight at a concert by the church choir to raise funds for refurbishment of our Rushworth and Dreaper organ. As well as the vocals, ably accompanied by our organist, Christopher, Matthew Hynes, organist at St Columba's in Ayr demonstrated the range and depth of the organ. It's great to be surrounded by such talented folk.

Thursday, 11 November 2010

The tasks of remembrance


Twas the war to end all wars
not sure now to which war that referred
- but it didn't.
Wilfrid Owen wrote not so much of war
but the pity of war
his words too have fallen on deaf ears
so today we remember the fallen.
It is right and good that we do
but is that the best we can do?
Remember?
What about the promises extracted and made
What of the lessons learned
what of the indescribable tragedy and loss
Are those costs simply to keep on mounting?
Will peace forever involve violence?
Is any other option merely the stuff of dreams?
The machinery that maintains a warring nation
in a warring world
seems to have all the power
while the Prince of Peace
waits on the sidelines
pierced by every bullet
shocked by every shell
rocked by every love he grieves
weighed down by every investment made
in destructive forces
while children go without food
and families live in graveyards.
How can we remember the fallen 
with the resolve they deserve
and the commitment
that we will find another way
a way to honour the dead
and live in the peace
for which they fought
and learn compromise
and sacrifice
that costs much less
than life
yet leaves love
that lasts
forever.
EAC Nov 2010

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

Train Technology

On my train journey earlier this week, I was accompanied by a group of secondary school pupils. They were all wired up - listening to ipods, texting, catching up on facebook. (I was quietly reading Tony Blair's autobiog on my Kindle). I almost laughed out loud when the teacher accompanying them ( who looked about 19) pronounced: "I don't know how we managed train journeys in my day - we didn't have all the gadgets you have to pass the time with today."
It was a hard life indeed!

Tuesday, 9 November 2010

The alternative


I have to confess... I much preferred the spirit's shelf- mate. Lust was much more appealing than Breath of God. And it cost less! What can I say?

Bottled Spirit



It's official - it now comes in a bottle, an atomiser and in a rub - the Breath of God.
Have to say, though, I didn't particularly like it.

Monday, 8 November 2010

The new and the newer


Will they always be such amicable bedfellows?
Or is it only because one is corralled
safely out of commission.
Once they are both of equal status
will they be able to share?
Or is it then that they become competitors
both touting for the same market share
unaware of the unique and different journey
that each alternative offers
oblivious to the choice they afford
Why must the next new thing
be such a threat to the tried and tested?
Isn't there room for both
and for more besides?
Time will tell which has staying power
There's no reason why it can't be both/ and
rather then either /or
So reminiscent of the liberal/conservative debate
that needn't be in a broad church
in which each affirms and needs the other
and in which both can rub along
holding out options
that embrace and encompass
Co-existence has potential.

Sunday, 7 November 2010

Support in the shadows

For every negative there are a thousand positives, but we often allow negativity to have so much more power than it merits.
In moments of compassion we can try to get alongside those who wound by their criticism, try to get some insight into the world they live in that makes them so destructive. Often we can't change their perspective but we can maintain ours and not get sucked into the negative spiral they would have us travel.
And, when our compassion has been eroded by constant wear and demand, we can refuse to be sucked in and seek instead our own places of affirmation and sustenance. Easier said than done -  but vital for survival. Negativity is wearing. Unfounded criticism hurts. It is unlikely that we can change someone else's outlook and way of being but we can work on ourselves and find ways to avoid being sucked in, steering a course that leads to life - in all its fulness.
Where are you finding support when shadows loom large?

Saturday, 6 November 2010

When autumn leaves begin to fall

Someone told me recently how sad they feel at this time of year, when the trees start to look a bit stark and the ground is covered with leaves. The vibrant colours that others see are, for her, depressing shades of gray.
I've always loved that song Autumn Leaves. I learned to play it and appreciated the melody of it before I realised it had some beautiful words too.


The falling leaves drift by my window
The falling leaves of red and gold
I see your lips, the summer kisses
The sunburned hands I used to hold

Since you went away the days grow long
And soon I'll hear old winter's song
But I miss you most of all, my darling
When autumn leaves start to fall


Melancholy words, for sure. But words that speak of beauty in loss - of sweetness in memories.
Autumn speaks to me of richness and depth and colour. And, even in the dreich days, of a God who is faithful through all the seasons.



Friday, 5 November 2010

Full of beans again

An encounter with "the institution" earlier in the week left me feeling as if I'd had a brush with the Harry Potter-esque Dementors - all hope was sucked out of me. However, 24 hours creativity with the Spill the Beans team, writing all age worship material, has me buoyed up again and ready to fight on.
We've written another pilot for next Lent that certainly excites us.
That's Lent and Easter sorted - just a shame I've no idea what I'm doing this Sunday! LOL

Tuesday, 2 November 2010

Rudderless

Heading home after a meeting at church HQ today (aka "121"), this tram marooned in Princes Street, with no where to go and no power on which to run reminded me painfully of the ethos of the Church of Scotland today - out on a limb, with little direction and no driver. Off the rails. Not a good place to be.

Edit: It has been pointed out to me, by one who remembers these things that trams do not have rudders. I am rather disappointed at that - my metaphor fails miserably - but the premise remains that the Cof S has lost its sense of direction and its leadership has lost the plot.

Friday, 29 October 2010

In the midst of the crowd

What a week! I've met so many folk - some for the first time, others I've had the opportunity to get to know a little better. And I LOVE it. This girl, who loves the beach, loves the peace and quiet of walking alone, the space for reflection, is buzzing from being surrounded by people. It's been a different kind of reflection and inspiration this week. Yet again, the sheer privilege of ministry, being allowed to get alongside people in so many ways, the opportunity to constantly experience new things is overwhelming.
I give thanks.

Friday, 22 October 2010

Not very astute

HMS Astute ran aground off Skye today, prompting lots of jokes amid assurances from the Royal Navy that this was not a nuclear incident.
Naval officers also helpfully informed a worried public that submarines were watertight vessels and that Astute (renamed galoot by locals) had run aground on silt and not on rocks. That's alright then - we'll all sleep easier knowing that!

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

LOL

Gossiping the good news
I was transported back to Dibley tonight: Chairing a kirk session meeting in a delightful rural parish, a finance report turned into a discussion on who gets their fuel oil from where and how much they are paying - with receipts being produced from shirt pockets! But we still got through the business in less than an hour.

Monday, 18 October 2010

Attitude



As this gull struts his stuff
and comes across with attitude
I long to follow suit
As a tonic to all those who doubt
those who disparage
and those who are just too arrogant
to move over
and stop inhibiting progress.
Just some of his courage
and confidence
might make all the difference.
But I wonder.
Would the ground gained
be ground I would want to tread
knowing that I'd gone against the grain
turned myself inside out
changed my nature
just to make a difference?
There are other ways
and the longing to have attitude
can be transformed
into gentle persistence
and the patience required
to effect long term change 
rather than short term gain.
Attitude is great.
Long term strategy is better.
So - I'll continue to admire
even continue to long
but selling out
is not on the cards.

Sunday, 17 October 2010

The bustle of worship

Wasn't sure whether to worship at the local church this morning or on the beach. So I did both. The walk along the sand blew away some cobwebs and brought freedom after the busy feel of formal worship. In Scotland, we are creating a climate in which more and more ministers are expected to rush from one service to another on Sunday mornings. I'm wondering if it is inevitable that this leads to the feeling of worship being hurried along that I experienced this morning. Is it a luxury to have some space in worship - a luxury that is sacrificed by the linking of charges and the expectation that worship will be conducted by "the minister" between the hours of 9am and, say 12:30pm?
I'm sure God roars with laughter at the notion that worship can be packaged and condensed.
But what elements are to be sacrificed in order to create space -
the space that we need in worship as a counter to the hustle of daily life?

Friday, 15 October 2010

Dredging life


As the dredger brings up all the silt and debris
allowing the water to flow freely back into the harbour
my thoughts turn to the things hidden away in the depths
clogging up my innards
slowing me down
restricting movement
and spontaneity
the flotsam and jetsam 
that lurks unseen
stifling creativity
pinching exuberance
rendering sluggish
the natural ebb and flow
and I am reminded
that regular maintenance
soul sifting
is a discipline
to follow
with benefits
unseen
yet felt
and valued.

Thursday, 7 October 2010

Harvest Sharing

I've had lots of fun this week, helping primary schools celebrate harvest. Round these parts, there is still the opportunity to witness the harvest of the land, even if it is only the irritation of being stuck behind a tractor on the road. The young folk I've encountered this week really seem to grasp the idea of giving thanks and of sharing what we have. The essence of our Harvest Celebration.

Wednesday, 6 October 2010

Unless the Lord builds the house...


Preparing for the Gifts
Evelyn Underhill

The Holy Spirit is called the Giver of Gifts, but the Spirit's cherishing action is only really felt by those who acknowledge their own deep poverty--who realize that we have literally nothing of our own but are totally dependent on God and on that natural world in which God has placed us and which is the sacramental vehicle of God's action. When we grasp this, we are ready to receive God's gifts.
Some souls are so full of pious furniture and ornaments that there is no room for the Holy Spirit. All the correct things have been crammed into the poor little villa, but none of the best quality. They need to pull down the curtains, get rid of the knick-knacks, and throw their premises open to the great simplicity of God.

Saturday, 2 October 2010

Harvest for the world

Nuclear sub and support vessels on Clyde
Tomorrow is World Communion Sunday. In Castlehill, we are also celebrating Harvest Festival. The two go well together. Giving thanks for the basics of life - bread and wine - and committing ourselves to sharing with others.
The sight of this nuclear sub on the Clyde last weekend, seeming to dwarf the beautiful landscape around, raises questions, however, of what kind of seed we are sowing and what sort of harvest we shall reap.

Friday, 1 October 2010

Outed!

One of my colleagues, perusing my ipod exposed a well kept secret this week - My name is liz crumlish and I'm a Bay City Rollers fan.
I've just acquired their newly released greatest hits CD. Pictured is an album I picked up for 50p a few years ago in Oxfam in Largs. Don't still have the tartan trousers or scarf - but do have a tartan duffle coat from that era. Sad or what?
We all relive our youth in different ways - healthy or otherwise.

Monday, 27 September 2010

Riffing the gospel


We had wonderful fun in worship yesterday with the West Jesmond Rhythm Kings jazz band. Although permission WAS given at the start of the service, folk didn't take up the opportunity to dance in the aisles, something many of them now regret. Maybe we can address that next week... :)

Saturday, 25 September 2010

Multi talented



Our organist produced this wonderful birthday cake for our son this week. Aren't we blessed to have such a multi talented musician? Go Christopher!!!

Wednesday, 22 September 2010

Going home

It was great to be a part of the thousands of pilgrims at Bellahouston Park in Glasgow last week as the Pope celebrated the Mass. The whole event was so well orchestrated - the travel arrangements, the pre-mass entertainment (including Susan Boyle), the precision of the serving of communion, and the journey home. All those involved, in security, in stewarding, the police officers, the rail staff, were good natured contributing positively to an historic occasion. Even the sun shone bravely. Of course I couldn't share in communion but to be part of such a massive worship experience held its own magic.
The task for all of us pilgrims now is to share our enthusiasm with our neighbour, renewing and enlivening faith on our doorsteps.

Sunday, 19 September 2010

In context

I'm looking after three parishes at the moment. This morning I had an early start, driving out to conduct worship in the two rural parishes.As I drove, I was listening to BBC Radio Scotland, enjoying discussion of the Sunday papers. However, I realised that I wasn't really paying that much attention when I heard the presenter say: "That would be a big coup going into an election". Driving past a field of cows at the time, I made totally the wrong connection. I prefer the picture I had in my head of one of these big coos clutching voting papers. Sometimes it's good to drive to work.

Wednesday, 15 September 2010

Lost Generation


When Pope John Paul II visited Scotland in 1982, I had a real day job and was not able to go and see him. This Papal Visit, I have been invited by our local parish to attend, so I am taking the opportunity to go with them to Bellahouston. In 1982, 300,000 pilgrims attended. Tomorrow, 65,000 are expected. A wake up call for the church - of all denominations? 
The media this week have been particularly brutal about this pope. He needs no defense from me. However many of the atrocities cited and corruption exposed were not just the preserve of the Roman catholic church but of many of our institutions entrusted with a duty of care for the vulnerable. The legislation under which we currently toil when we attempt to serve those at risk is testament to the failings of the past and, hopefully, a signal to the present and future that such abuse of power is not possible in a society that is learning harsh lessons from its past. Too late for so many but a necessary sign of hope for generations to come.

Monday, 13 September 2010

Night in


Summer has turned to winter in a mere 24 hours. It's blowing a hoolie outside. Seems like a night for curling up with a warming drink and a good friend.
Jesus and me?

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