Saturday, 29 September 2012

Living water

Straiton Falls
The recent rainfall ensured that these waterfalls were flowing well today. The water spilled fast and furious and the noise was deafening - a cacophony that spoke of energy and life. The autumn sunshine completed the uplifting effect of walking beside not still but roaring water. The God who leads us by still waters also walks beside us in the far from tranquil moments, bringing peace and calm in every turbulence.

Thursday, 27 September 2012

With arms open wide

Looking ahead to this Sunday's gospel: Jesus said: "Whoever is not against us is for us."(Mark 9:40)  He was confronted with the disciples guarding their territory, complaining about someone using Jesus' name to cast out demons.
Sadly, this is a scenario played out again and again in congregations and communities. We're not good at making room for others. Sure we'll welcome people, especially new people, but once they start straying into our territory, treading on our toes, maybe even having the audacity to do some things better than us, it is then that we close ranks and hang on to our places and our traditions and our way of doing things. Change would signal weakness and may deposit us on a slippery slope. Our welcome grows cold when we feel ourselves threatened. Making room for others might diminish our sphere of influence or compromise our high standards. Jesus makes it clear that positions are not important. And, as Mark's gospel unfolds, so does the message that there is room for all in the Kingdom of God. And, what's more, we need to move over, give up some of our space, learn to serve with humility. God sees beyond the outward appearance, beyond the boundaries. In God's embrace there is room for all.

Saturday, 22 September 2012

Shades of autumn

A walk in the park this morning held lots of reminders that autumn is here. As I reflected on the change evident in the heavy morning dew, in the changing colours of the trees, and the presence of autumn berries, I was also reflecting on the seasonal changes that affect the lives of those we love and serve in ministry: Those adjusting to empty nests as young people go off to work or study. Those making provision for increasing frailty in loved ones as age takes its toll. Those living with partners affected by life changing conditions that have already dulled minds and imprisoned spirits. As well as grief and mourning though, I was thankful for all the resilience I have witnessed and the wonder and inspiration I have experienced as, time after time, folk plumb the depths and emerge with hope and fortitude. I am left with a new awareness of the capacity for growth and the potential for joy in all things. Even in the darkness it is possible to believe in the relentless inevitability of light.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

Full steam ahead

Cass Railroad, West Virginia
I work best under pressure - which might be another way of saying that I leave everything until the last minute. But, I believe that the pressure of a deadline enhances creativity!
This past year or so, working on Spill the Beans, an all age worship curriculum, has forced some discipline into seasonal worship preparation. Advent is done and dusted and we're currently working on Epiphany. It feels really strange to be writing reflections about stars and shepherds and stables and angels when summer is barely over. And I do know that other liturgical publications are much more demanding, requiring submissions well in advance of editing.
The exciting thing is that, as the weeks unfold, when I get around to preparing to lead worship Sunday by Sunday, the ideas crafted months ago still have the capacity to challenge and surprise. Our is not a stagnant text that we can interpret or discern once and for all. It is a moving target that beckons us to follow in its wake, to try to keep up, to be assaulted by joy and beguiled by wisdom. A living word, sufficient for each day.

Thursday, 6 September 2012

No horizons

Looking ahead to this Sunday's gospel in which Jesus, seemingly grudgingly, heals the daughter of a foreign woman who is persistent in her demands.
Set against the back drop of the Paralympics drawing to a close in London right now, there is a sense of barriers not just being dismantled but smashed. Of new, unparalleled horizons hoving into view. Of dreams emerging from the mist and being born with determined clarity.
In the gospel story in Mark 7, it seems as if the gospel is given its imperative - to share the grace of God universally, irrespective of race, gender, or any other defining and limiting characteristics.
The power of the love of God knows no limits and respects no boundaries. It is contained only by our flawed perceptions.
We are called to re-imagine a world beyond our meagre expectations, a world in which the love and grace of God collide to enable men and women to live in their abundant giftedness. Freed to soar.

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