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


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


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?
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
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


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.

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