Sunday, 27 May 2012

Enlivening Spirit

I LOVE Pentecost. At this morning's service I was beside myself with joy, celebrating God's gift of the Holy Spirit. We had lots of fun, hearing God's word in different ways, listening to God's word read in different languages - Spanish, Dutch, American Scots and even a Pentecost rap! It felt like what we did this morning - the babble and the buzz - must have echoed that first Pentecost when the Spirit blew through festival goers, ready to party.
I don't subscribe to the notion of Pentecost as the birthday of the church, so I do my best to avoid the cake and the candles but I'm always ready to celebrate the gift of the Spirit that radically and irrevocably changed the church - and the world - forever. Pentecost - not a birthday - but a wake up call.

Thursday, 24 May 2012

Paws for thought

Meet Ruca, our nine week old border collie pup. It seems to be the season for ministry colleagues adding puppies to their families. I suggested, tongue in cheek, that we feel the need to have a cute fluffy bundle in our manse to secure our tenures. The Ministries Council certainly isn't doing much to affirm full time ministers of word and sacrament at present. When I broached this I was told that I was just insecure. That may well be true but it was hardly a very pastoral response. Yesterday's report to the General Assembly seemed to focus on asking yet more of parish ministers already stretched by shrinking resources. Just one reason it's good to come home to the enthusiastic welcome of a four legged friend.

Sunday, 20 May 2012

Heart and Soul

During worship at Heart and Soul (The General Assembly of the Church of Scotland's celebration in Princes Street Gardens) today, I couldn't find a seat in the arena, so sat on the periphery under some trees. That only added to the awesomeness of the worship experience. Because there were folk wandering through these public gardens who hadn't intended to worship but who found themselves drawn in, surrounded by folk singing God's praises.
I was particularly enthralled by the Jambo's fans who, after parading their victorious team and their colours down the Royal Mile, wandered through the gardens and found themselves bang in the middle of a worship fest. Lost in a little reverie about this, I then realised that the Moderator was speaking about how Jesus always welcomed those on the periphery. The Church of Scotland - mirroring Christ today. Thanks be to God.

Monday, 14 May 2012

A new look

We love to spend time in the grounds of Culzean Castle. Despite spending many hours there, still there are new paths to be discovered, new areas to be explored. It is always interesting to take visiting friends there. To see some of the more familiar features through another's eyes always brings surprises. I hadn't appreciated how many crosses there are featured in the windows and on the roof tops of Culzean.

I had also failed to notice this strange looking fellow before - supporting a sun dial on his head.
It is always good to be able to see things from another's perspective. Seeing things with fresh eyes can bring a refreshing depth and reveal facets previously hidden.
In every day there are surprises lying in wait for us to uncover.
Surprises bringing joy and sorrow and intrigue - the spice of life.
Lord give us new eyes for seeing.

Saturday, 12 May 2012

The handiwork of God

As we approached this pond, I could see the rhododendron blooms reflected in the water but couldn't see the actual blooms through the trees that bordered the pond. They were still beautiful, however, reflected as they were in the water, alongside the sky and other elements of God's handiwork. Sometimes reflections and shadows are all we have to go on. Sometimes our reflection and our shadow are the things that make an impression, the things that remain. Do those convey enough to still be considered beautiful? Are there hints in them of the beauty of God?

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Least said... soonest mended

Broken beyond repair
the jagged edges cannot be stuck together
the severed pieces are strewn around
refusing to fit.
Reproach changes nothing.
Regret is insincere.
Maintaining integrity
demands moving on
recognising brokenness
and letting it be.
Resisting the temptation
to scoop up the pieces
and glue them back together.
Accepting that some things broken
cannot be fixed.
Not edifying
but death defying.

Sunday, 6 May 2012

the craft of preaching

Putting together words
springing out of thoughts
engendered by The Word
brought together 
sifted, sorted
as raw material
not the finished article
Encouragement for others
to pick up on
and improve
or develop
like traveling unfamiliar paths.
Journeying deep enough
to stimulate growth
losing sight of the beginning
but forging new journeys
into the unknown.
A veritable warren
of trails
some that peter out
some that lead
to new discoveries
inspiring hope
and truth
and belief.
And, sometimes,
simply inviting:
Come, sit here awhile,
find rest and refreshment
balm for the soul.
So many tasks demanded
of one act.
The craft of preaching.

Thursday, 3 May 2012


As the celebrant lifts the cup
the highly polished silver captures
the worshipers gathered around the circle
their faces mirrored in the sheen - 
reflected in the vessel
that holds the blood of Christ.
Light too is caught up and sent
swirling around the room
a riot of rainbow colours.
Love and light fusing together
in communion.
This is the blood of Christ
radiating love and life
and stories and sharing
bringing together
hopes and fears
and confidences whispered.
As the sacrament is shared
and the promise it holds
is savoured
life itself
is nourished
and cherished
and the journey goes on
Thanks be to God.

(Having shared two days training with colleagues involved in the ministry of supervising students, listening and learning, holding space and honouring experience, communion celebrated in a sun filled room prompted this reflection.)

Wednesday, 2 May 2012

Taking stock

Meandering in the early morning light
through the ripples and reflections
seemingly aimless
though there is purpose
the quiet
and the space
allow unfolding
and unravelling
of tightly wound emotions
the lack of pressure
brings focus
growth occurs
without striving
breathing space
brings clarity
begins healing
balm brings refreshment
its own kind of epiphany.

Tuesday, 1 May 2012

Swapping tales

Girvan harbour seems to be a stopping off place for life boats in transit- there are often visiting lifeboats moored alongside the Girvan vessel. I wonder if the crews get together and share stories of the shouts they've been on.
It's always good to find folks with whom you share a passion, folk who are fired up by the kinds of things that get you going. Good to have an opportunity to share stories.
There's a lot of that going on just now at Gartmore House where I'm involved in a ministry training event. Lots of stimulating discussion and conversation - always the best bit of any conference.

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