Thursday, 28 February 2013


At a friend's service of Induction to her new ministry tonight, I was reminded of what a blessed space ministry is. We accompany folk through so many sacred moments - in joy and in sorrow and are privileged to be allowed access to incredible intimacy and grace filled moments. And it's always good to be reminded of how blessed is that call to journey with God and with God's people.
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Wednesday, 27 February 2013

Carrying the word around

On a few occasions so far this year, I have reprinted the gospel reading and cut it into pieces for folk to take away - so that we all meditate on a different piece of the gospel.
It has been interesting to carry a piece around, reflecting on it at odd moments, working out what that particular slice has to say in my life today.
And it's good to know that there are others meditating on different portions. Together we enable and empower each other to reflect on - and practice - the living word.
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Tuesday, 26 February 2013


Even in the city
can be found a quiet corner
where signs of a byegone era
and a slower pace
is reflected
alongside the high rise
teeming with life
that mirror
the everyday
that we navigate
sometimes unconsciously
with scant regard
to the wonder
and the marvel
with which each day
is crammed
full to overflowing.
in the buzz of the city
Appreciated in the quiet
of a moment for reflection

Monday, 25 February 2013

Cheerful persistence

These crocus today remained bright and cheerful and open while disputes and scandal in the church and in the government brought darkness and gloom and a closing of ranks.
Meanwhile, the hungry are not fed, the poor remain in their poverty and the oppressed continue to be trodden underfoot.
And God weeps...
And we, in our journey through Lent contemplate the things in which we invest our time and energy and how we can match those priorities to God's.
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Sunday, 24 February 2013

Out of focus

The edges blurred
all out of focus
leaves swirling around
as though in a vortex
no sharp edges
but fuzzy curves
that merge
and fuse
A mistake
too beautiful
to be deleted
and assigned to the trash bin
Retained as an example
of something gone wrong
but useful in its own way
A symbol
of redemption
and reclamation
of seeing the good
in all things
of finding God
in the mixed up
crazy world we inhabit
and honouring the God
who surprises us
in the confusion
of our lives.

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Saturday, 23 February 2013


Involved in role play this weekend in a training situation has raised again, for me, how much of a role we play every day in ministry. And particularly in worship.
Given the stresses and strains and demands of a week in the parish how does one, first of all, faithfully carve out and ring fence time to prepare worship? And then, how does one lay aside the weariness and exhaustion of the week, to "perform" in worship.
At the risk of being accused of incongruity or of shallowness, I feel the need to explore these pressures on worship that simply come with the territory.
I am aware that one can only be oneself and that that is whom God calls into worship. But do our congregations really want to see the worn down, bedraggled worship leader at the main weekly diet of worship? While God might be happy to welcome the person beneath the cassock, isn't it true that our congregations expect and demand the shiny, polished up version? And so,though our pastoral encounters invariably influence our preaching and our energy levels affect our preparation and performance, we put on our best act for our Sunday congregations.
And while we encourage other worshipers to "come as they are" to an all-embracing God, we daren't allow ourselves that luxury.
It's not a case of feeling the need to cheer folk up in worship or even lift their spirits. We're happy to affirm that there is room for everyone, happy, sad, faithful or struggling but do they really want or need to see how we feel on every occasion, especially those times that find us grappling with life ? Do we want our congregations to be more concerned about us than about the love of God that is encountered in worship?
There are times to share our vulnerability but perhaps not in worship.
So what does that say about our authenticity?
Is it OK, in the interests of helping others worship, indeed, is it necessary to put on a front and "do our stuff"? Is God honoured by such leadership? And aren't there moments in our "performance" when God surprises us and somehow authenticates the show of strength that we put on? Our efforts, offered sincerely and often at a cost are offerings of love for God and for our congregation. And no act of love is ever wasted. This I believe - enough to continue to carry on performing.
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Now you see it...

Frost flower
Created momentarily
Just when conditions are right
When the cold
forces the sap
to breakthrough
creating fleeting beauty
Beauty that is fragile
and short lived
A feast for the eyes
A passing phenomenon
to be simply enjoyed
as a wonder of creation.

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Thursday, 21 February 2013

Laying down

We laid the first of our Lenten stones at the cross last night as we continue our journey in community.
Written on the stones are two words: words and worries.

We reflected on Jesus in the wilderness, discerning God's plan for him and the clever play on words that the devil was making as he quoted Scripture and invited Jesus into temptation.
Words and worries What impact will we allow them to have as we journey on through Lent?
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Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Through the rain

I trace the rainbow through the rain
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be

George Matheson
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Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Dry spell

Not space
Not vegetation
Not even isolation
But the arid starvation
of ideas and inspiration
The place where creativity
is stifled
and it is impossible
to imagine
a way out
or a way back.
Where all is monochrome
devoid of colour or variety.
Where the temptation is
to throw in the towel
and call it quits.
But, one step at a time
there is a path through
and a way out.

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Monday, 18 February 2013

Quiet in the midst

Some folk have a gift for switching off even in the midst of chaos. Others have to really get away to create some space. I'm somewhere in the middle. I can usually find a quiet corner and tune out the white noise. But it seems that Lent might be a time to find a new practice. A time to be much more intentional about carving out room for reflection and discernment. A time to push back the walls that have closed in and obscured the view. A time to explore the wilderness in the hope of discovering a new vista that is filled with quiet potential. It's not so much about changing the landscape as changing the perspective.

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Sunday, 17 February 2013

Free gifts

Krakow was full of reminders that it was St Valentine's day when we arrived. From folk walking about with single red roses to this giant heart constructed in the city square and composed entirely of soft drink bottles.
Once the installation was complete, bystanders were invited to help themselves to juice. It seemed like an offer too good to be true and folks were, at first, hesitant. But, seeing that there was no catch, they soon made the most of this free offer and encouraged others to do likewise. Now, that reminds me of something....

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Saturday, 16 February 2013

Out in the cold

Left outside
in the cold and wet
watching the passers-by
Occasionally supplying
a convenient stopping off point
while a cigarette is stubbed out.
Left outside
in the grey and damp
while mist from the breaths
of the brightly coloured revellers inside
steams up the window panes
and their noise spills out
onto the rain-slicked street.
Left outside
clutching a tram ticket
and a dried-out bouquet
imagining another time
and place
and different company
warmed by memories
chilled by predicament
Left outside.

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Friday, 15 February 2013

Digging deeper

A harrowing day learning more about the Holocaust. Learning more, too, about the group of teenagers accompanying us who were so respectful , taking care to tread gently through traumatic recounting of history.
In every situation we can choose to see what we want to see or we can be open, scratch beneath the surface and be amazed by new discoveries.
Digging deeper during this season of Lent is sure to open up a whole new vista and bring to light startling opportunity, affording the possibility for growth.
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Thursday, 14 February 2013

Widening horizons

Giving thanks today that travel is still enough of a novelty for me to experience wonder that it is possible to leave a dark, wet early morning in South Ayrshire and, by lunchtime, find oneself in snowy Krakow.
From the snow to the strange and beautiful architecture, everything seems, well, so foreign. The twenty minute journey from the airport saw us travel through a plethora of cultural and political history.
My Lenten journey this year is unplanned as yet and that fits with the pace of life at present. But the discipline of looking for the authentic in all the choices presented is, so far, proving life enhancing.

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Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Ashes and Bread

Tonight, we will use up the pancakes left over from yesterday as we share communion. We won't use ash from last year's palm crosses burned down but from a packet. We will read the words in Matthew 6 that speak of Jesus admonition about making our piety public so that others will take notice.
It all seems rather confused and jumbled and, dare I say it, incongruous.
But we rely on the God of the wilderness to lead us in sincerity on our journey to holiness and to bring us from emptiness to fulness, nourishing and sustaining us along the way.
And so, Lent begins.

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Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Mardi Gras

Clowns and carnivals
Pancakes and King cakes
Purple, green and gold
Tastes and colours
that speak of revelry
the storm before the calm
For suddenly
the cacophony is hushed
and Epiphany moves on to Lent
and we wait.
We wait quietly
for an emergence
from the wilderness
whiling away the hours
in penitence
learning the language
of silence
and revelation
and in the waiting
discovering life
in all its fulness.

Thursday, 7 February 2013

Those aha moments

This Sunday brings us to the end of the Christian season of Epiphany.
In the church calendar, Epiphany begins with the visit of the magi who followed the star to find the Christ child and goes on until the beginning of Lent. Since Easter is so early this year, the season of Epiphany has been brief.
But I like to think of every day being filled with little epiphanies in life.
Those aha moments, when we see God at work, in odd encounters, in glimpses of majesty in moments of awareness of something other - and grander than ourselves: glimpses of God in the glaur of life.
A couple of years back, we accepted an invitation to go to Bellahouston and see Pope Benedict.
We had to be in the park really early although the Pope wasn't going to be there until much later in the afternoon.
So we took a picnic lunch and joined the tens of thousands of people with Festival wristbands in a very carnival atmosphere to enjoy the entertainment or just sit in the sunshine and read and blether - and wait.
But long before the Pope actually appeared on the platform set up in the park, a whisper went around the crowd - "he's here"
There was a buzz of tension and then an incredible hush - everyone was electrified by the sense of sharing a special moment.
Whatever age, however devout (or not) folk became caught up in a moment of encounter with the holy.
That encounter wasn't simply about catching a glimpse of the man elected head of the Roman Catholic Church.
That encounter was, for me at least - and I'm sure I wasn't alone - that encounter was about an awareness, in that moment of the presence of God in our midst.
An aha moment in which God revealed our shared humanity and our shared access to holiness.
And so, as this season of Epiphany draws to a close, we give thanks for the continued potential for the revelation of God in our everyday.
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Wednesday, 6 February 2013


Spending time on the mountain top is exhilarating,
It sets us up,
equips and inspires us;
but we can’t live on the mountaintop insulated from the stresses and strains, for we are called
to be involved
in the guddle that awaits us,
in the real stuff of life
at the foot of the mountain,
to use those mountain top moments to equip us
for the stuff of everyday.
So lets give thanks
for the transfiguring moments
that bring change
to the workaday routine.

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Sunday, 3 February 2013

Just there!

Musing on these words...

The Place God Calls You To
Frederick Buechner

There are all kinds of different voices calling you to do all different kinds of work, and the problem is to find out which is the voice of God, rather than that of society, say, or the super-ego, or self-interest. By and large a good rule for finding out is the following: the kind of work God usually calls you to is the kind of work (a) that you most need to do, and (b) that the world most needs to have done.
If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing deodorant commercials, the chances are you've missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you've probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you're bored and depressed by your work, the chances are that you've not only bypassed (a), but probably aren't helping your patients much either.
Neither the hair shirt nor the soft berth will do.
The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet.

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