Thursday, 27 January 2011


HMD 2011 Untold Stories from Holocaust Memorial Day Trust on Vimeo.

The S2 year group at Kyle Academy gave a very moving presentation - speech, music and drama - for Holocaust Memorial Day. They displayed lots of talent and innovation and enabled others to meaningfully mark this important day. It was wonderful to see young people getting behind these Untold Stories, recognising that genocide is something in which our world is still embroiled. Their involvement will truly make a difference. Thanks to all involved.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Social Networking

This quote came from Inward/Outward today:

I feel the vacuum, the loneliness, the silence, the dehydration of the soul as people who want desperately to save our constitution, country and planet still wander the streets without knowing how to say hi to one another.
Source: Writing to Change the World by Mary Pipher
I spent the morning in wonderful conversation with two ladies, one of whom is 102, the other 98. Separate visits but they both recalled clearly times of community, times when neighbours trusted each other and went the extra mile for one another. Times when folk didn't rush past, heads down, listening to ipods or talking on the phone. Two ladies, enriched and not embittered by such memories and who are amazingly grateful when today's busy people simply take time to be with them.
I love facebook - but, today, I got to experience the real thing!

Sunday, 16 January 2011

a church for rejects?

The church in which I was nurtured embraced all sorts. I was unaware of that as a youngster and simply took the amazing ministry of hospitality for granted. It is only on my infrequent returns as an adult that I have appreciated the community and grace that abounds there.
I was reminded of one of my favourite cartoons of the '80s - The Raggy Dolls - the story of 7 dolls made in Mr Grimes' toy factory, who are less than perfect and consigned to the rejects' bin.
By definition our churches are places for rejects.
Just like in the cartoon, Jesus invites us on an adventure and sees not our imperfections but our many gifts.
If only we could see ourselves - and others - in that empowering light.

It's not much of a life when you're just a pretty face.
Just to be whoever you are is no disgrace.
Don't be scared if you don't fit in,
Look who's in the reject bin!

It's the Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Dolls like you and me.
Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Made imperfectly.

So if you got a bump on your nose,
Or a lump on your toes,
Do not despair.
Be like the Raggy Dolls,
And say I just don't care.

'Cause Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Are happy just to be...
Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Dolls like you and me!

It's not much of a life when you're just a pretty face.
Just to be whoever you are is no disgrace.
Look around and you will find,
People of every kind.

Like the Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Dolls like you and me.
Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Made imperfectly.
So if you're not at ease with your nobbly knees
And your fingers are all thumbs.
Stand on your two left feet,
And join our Raggy Doll chums.

'Cause Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Are happy just to be...
Raggy Dolls, Raggy Dolls,
Dolls like you and me!

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

the swings of ministry

Today, I said goodbye to a giant of faith. A man who nurtured me from the earliest days of my faith journey. Although there was a great sense of celebration for his life and for the new adventure on which he has now embarked, the pain I felt was physical. I believe wholeheartedly that he is already receiving his reward but it hurts to let go. And, though I know he is now even more present, as part of that cloud of unseen witnesses, I am not yet ready to receive the comfort that that promises.
I felt the chill of loss blow keenly as I moved on from that to my next appointment of the day - supervision.
Part of the work I did in supervision was a review of Advent and Christmas and it was good to process some of the issues around all the exhausting work involved in that and the wonderful gift that crept in along with the Christ child - just in the nick of time.
The train journey home afforded some time to put together an outline for a talk I was giving to the church Guild tonight about my visits to the States, both work and pleasure.
When I got home there was just time to illustrate the talk with some pictures and then go and deliver it. It was fun to recall the many good friends and opportunities that I've had there - and I also shared plans for my next trip.
Someone asked me where I get my energy from - if they could see me now!!
It's been quite a day.
In many ways, just another typical day in ministry with highs and lows and huge emotional swings.
Tomorrow is another day, and will, I'm sure, be fueled as was today by the God of boundless energy and watched over by those saints of God, among whom tonight is a very special giant for me.

Sunday, 9 January 2011

No such thing as a lone gunman

In the wake of the shooting in Arizona, one phrase from an online discussion has stuck with me: "There is no such thing as a lone gunman". 

It is sobering to be confronted with the reality that there is a degree of culpability in all of us.
We are culpable when we set out to prove others wrong and ourselves right.
We are culpable when we resort to ridiculing others to discredit their views and political positions.
We are culpable when we think less of others because they are different.
We are culpable when we practice exclusion based on compliance to some nefarious set of conditions.
Few of us might resort to taking up arms but we belong to and have contributed to forming societies that promote venomous attack and violent opposition as an acceptable form of protest, a society in which it is the norm to dehumanise those we consider our enemy.

Whatever the rhetoric, whatever the revelations to be uncovered in this latest act of social and political violence, this incident is neither isolated nor divorced from any of us but calls all to account.
Our condemnation must be tempered by a willingness to examine closely our relationship with those with whom we disagree and an honesty about the violence living in us even as we seek to discern the voice of the God of peace inhabiting such darkness, prompting us to change so that our world might be different.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Epiphany - making it real

Even in the mist
there are gems to be discovered
Always in the familiar
there are depths unplumbed
If we will put aside
what we think we know
and be prepared
for new revelations
we too might experience epiphany
We do not need to be wise
or to have travelled far
but we do need an openness
and a humility
and the willingness
to be surprised
To accept
that faith
is not all neatly parceled up
at a single point of discovery
but invades our space
time and again
confronting and challenging.
That's why it's not for those
who are afraid of challenge
or who sidestep confrontation
Epiphany is no respecter 
of place or context
or time or season
is not confined by reason
or constrained by culture
Epiphany crashes in
sometimes where it is not welcome
just like the magi
who were forced to lower their sights
from lofty palaces
to a lowly stable
 bringing disaster to rain
on the defenceless and vulnerable
leaving carnage in their wake.
Sometimes it takes such destruction
to bring about our awakening
because we too
are removed from reality
and fail to see God revealed
in our daily lives
and so bluster on
in our misconceptions
and prejudice
wreaking havoc
when, bidden or not,
God breaks in
simply and lowly
changing the face of history
challenging the comforts of faith
until we can really see
Emmanuel - God with us.

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