Thursday, 24 April 2014

Open our minds

Luke 24:45-49
Then he opened their minds to understand the scriptures, and he said to them, “Thus it is written, that the Messiah is to suffer and to rise from the dead on the third day, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in his name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem. You are witnesses of these things. And see, I am sending upon you what my Father promised; so stay here in the city until you have been clothed with power from on high.”

Lord open our minds...
Open our minds to understanding
Open our minds to compassion
Open our minds to love and acceptance
Open our minds...
To see with your eyes of love
To care with your loving kindness
To know you at work in all of life
Lord open our minds
To understand Scripture
as it speaks into everyday life
To know your will
as we travel through each day
your will for us
and for those whom you send
to be our companions along the way
Show us how to serve
How to be served
And how to discern your Spirit
in all things.
Lord, open our minds...

Sunday, 20 April 2014

He is not here...he has been raised

Matthew 28:5-6
The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; I know that you are looking for Jesus who was crucified. He is not here; for he has been raised, as he said.

It trickles in slowly
Just like the soft light of dawn
It's not the sudden trumpet fanfare
that we have made it
but a slow, gentle unfurling.
As Easter creeps forward
its touch slowly awakening
all in its path
the effect is gradual
long lasting.
Even when the dawn of Easter
provoking excitement
it is the calm that is left in its wake
that remains
the warmth and the joy
that continue to infuse
and change lives.
And it is the soft memory
of eternal promises
that persists
even when night has come again.
Easter - not an all at once
life changing moment
But a slowly dawning
gift for eternity
a treasure
with layers
upon layers 
of wrapping
to be gently unveiled
and savoured
in the fullness of time.

Saturday, 19 April 2014

The waiting...

Matthew 27:57-61
The Burial of Jesus
 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who was also a disciple of Jesus. He went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus; then Pilate ordered it to be given to him. So Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn in the rock. He then rolled a great stone to the door of the tomb and went away. Mary Magdalene and the other Mary were there, sitting opposite the tomb.

So often the hardest part
We who are doers
are not so good at waiting
And even now,
though we know the outcome
and know that it is good
we still want it to be over.
We want the tomb
to be burst open
so that we can celebrate
and then get on
with the rest of living.
We are impatient to tidy away
the vestiges of the wilderness
the Palm branches
the temple clutter
the oil of pure nard
the foot washing paraphernalia 
and the black draped cross.
We want to release the Alleluias
from their exile,
reclaim the space taken up
by the Labyrinth or the prayer garden
and restore our sanctuaries
to their usual order.
But, thankfully,
Easter will not allow that.
For Easter changes everything.
Two thousand years ago and now.
Easter seeps in with the slow light of dawn
and changes everything it touches
until we give up trying
to restore order.
The much anticipated Easter dawn 
promises yet more havoc.
But, for now, we wait...

Friday, 18 April 2014

Black - the colour of death

Black (Friday)

Black speaks of death and dereliction,
of abandonment
and betrayal.

Black covered the earth as Christ died,
having endured
the agony of the cross.

Black steals every colour: the green and the red, the purple and the white, all sucked up

absorbed into black.

So, in Jesus’ death
are captured
all the colours of the Passion:
the green of field and palms,
the red of resilience and hope,
the purple of priesthood,
the white of table fellowship
all melding into
the black of death and dereliction.

With such a mix
perhaps it is inevitable
that some of the colours should leech that some should seep through.

But, for now,
black is the colour of death 

The Son of God

Mark 15:37-39
Then Jesus gave a loud cry and breathed his last. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. Now when the centurion, who stood facing him, saw that in this way he breathed his last, he said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!” 

"Truly this man was God's Son"
Proclaimed by a centurion 
the agent of the oppressive occupying regime
who oversaw his crucifixion.
Believed by the women
who gathered around the cross
unable to leave Jesus
even though witnessing his agony
was searing their soul.
The Son of God
who had spoken of his impending suffering and death
breathed his last
and died.
And the truth was revealed:
Truly this was the Son of God.

Thursday, 17 April 2014

You also should serve...

John 13:12-15
After he had washed their feet, had put on his robe, and had returned to the table, he said to them, “Do you know what I have done to you? You call me Teacher and Lord—and you are right, for that is what I am. So if I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Doing for others 
as our Lord did for us.
Fulfilling our calling
to serve one another.
Lord, you know how hard that is 
You know how exhausting
and draining
and soul sucking it is
to give and give
and give again.
You also know
that we are far from perfect
as you were.
So what's the deal?
When does enough
become too much?
When can we give in
to our weariness
and come and sit by you?
We are not you
Nor do you expect us to be
But it is so hard to discern
where to draw the line
and when we can say:
"Enough already"
And in this Holiest of weeks
when we see you overwhelmed
and when we ourselves are overcome
by the depth of your love
and your sacrifice
we pray for strength
and wisdom
and incredible love
to fill us
uphold us
and nurture us
so that we 
can feed your sheep.
For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

Maundy Thursday

Matthew 26:26-30
The Institution of the Lord’s Supper
 While they were eating, Jesus took a loaf of bread, and after blessing it he broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” Then he took a cup, and after giving thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink from it, all of you; for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins. I tell you, I will never again drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it new with you in my Father’s kingdom.”
When they had sung the hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Maundy Thursday
White - 
The cloth
thrown over the table
settles and comes to rest 

covering and beautifying. 
Covering up the scratches
of wear and tear
and family use,
transforming the kitchen table                                                                                                                                                 
making it a welcoming space 
not just for family but for visitors too.
A place to greet old friends and make new.
A place to catch up with life and each other.
A place to encourage, persuade and cajole.
A place to listen and console.
A place to celebrate and commiserate.
A place to share food
that nurtures and sustains.

The bread of life, 
broken and shared around a table.
Gathered up
as each gives and takes what they need
and returns to give
and to take some more.

White, the colour of fellowship, a colour of the Passion. 

Wednesday, 16 April 2014


Matthew 27:45-56
The Death of Jesus
 From noon on, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And about three o’clock Jesus cried with a loud voice, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” When some of the bystanders heard it, they said, “This man is calling for Elijah.” At once one of them ran and got a sponge, filled it with sour wine, put it on a stick, and gave it to him to drink. But the others said, “Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to save him.” Then Jesus cried again with a loud voice and breathed his last. At that moment the curtain of the temple was torn in two, from top to bottom. The earth shook, and the rocks were split. The tombs also were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised. After his resurrection they came out of the tombs and entered the holy city and appeared to many. Now when the centurion and those with him, who were keeping watch over Jesus, saw the earthquake and what took place, they were terrified and said, “Truly this man was God’s Son!”
 Many women were also there, looking on from a distance; they had followed Jesus from Galilee and had provided for him. Among them were Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Many women were there
Women who had followed Jesus
ministering to him.
Some whose sons were travelling with Jesus
Some who had known the power of Jesus' healing
Some who were touched by his teaching
Some whose lives had been transformed 
by their encounter with the Son of God.
Looking on, from a distance,
they supported each other.
They did not require
an earthquake
to be convinced
that this was the Son of God.
Not even resurrection.
But they were rewarded
by being the first to encounter
the Risen Christ.
Many women were there...

Tuesday, 15 April 2014

A woman's dream

Matthew 27:15-23
Barabbas or Jesus?
 Now at the festival the governor was accustomed to release a prisoner for the crowd, anyone whom they wanted. At that time they had a notorious prisoner, called Jesus Barabbas. So after they had gathered, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you, Jesus Barabbas or Jesus who is called the Messiah?” For he realised that it was out of jealousy that they had handed him over. While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent word to him, “Have nothing to do with that innocent man, for today I have suffered a great deal because of a dream about him.” Now the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to have Jesus killed. The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” Pilate said to them, “Then what should I do with Jesus who is called the Messiah?” All of them said, “Let him be crucified!” Then he asked, “Why, what evil has he done?” But they shouted all the more, “Let him be crucified!”

A disturbing dream
A persistent wife
An indecisive man
A government that wanted to show strength
A fickle crowd that wanted blood
All conspired to a fate sealed
Crucify him!
And so Jesus, called the Messiah
who had haunted the dreams
of Pilate's wife
bought the release of the notorious Barabbas
and signed his own death warrant.
How often are we besieged
by insidious voices
that come to us unbidden
and sway us into decisions
we might not ordinarily have made
if we had been given time
to consider the facts
and not been pressured
by the clamour and the noise
into irreversible action?
"Have nothing to do with that innocent man"
And so Pilate washed his hands
and let the crowd decide.
And a woman's dream 
helped to seal the fate
of our Lord.

Monday, 14 April 2014

The bystanders

Matthew 26:69-75
Peter’s Denial of Jesus
 Now Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard. A servant- girl came to him and said, “You also were with Jesus the Galilean.” But he denied it before all of them, saying, “I do not know what you are talking about.” When he went out to the porch, another servant- girl saw him, and she said to the bystanders, “This man was with Jesus of Nazareth.” Again he denied it with an oath, “I do not know the man.” After a little while the bystanders came up and said to Peter, “Certainly you are also one of them, for your accent betrays you.” Then he began to curse, and he swore an oath, “I do not know the man!” At that moment the cock crowed. Then Peter remembered what Jesus had said:“Before the cock crows, you will deny me three times.” And he went out and wept bitterly.

There are always the observers
and the bystanders
Those who see all
who take it in
who watch
and wait
and weigh
and measure.
There are those who
stay on the fringes,
who hang back,
don't get involved.
And then there are those
who pitch in.
Those who, from the shadows
want to be in on the action.
Those who perceive wrongdoing
and want to make things right.
"He was there"
"That's one of his friends"
Both offered as indictments
not encouragement.
To be identified
as one of Jesus of Nazareth's cohorts
was not a compliment
but a judgment
a risky calling.
The women who served
had noticed.
Call it a woman's intuition
Call it curiosity...
It was the women
who called Peter out
on his friendship
and his loyalty.
The women
who confronted Peter
with his denial.
And Peter wept bitterly...

Sunday, 13 April 2014

The mind of Christ

Philippians 2:5-11
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus,
 who, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God
as something to be exploited,
 but emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
being born in human likeness.
And being found in human form,
 he humbled himself
and became obedient to the point of death—
even death on a cross.
 Therefore God also highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
 and every tongue should confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.

What does it mean
to empty oneself?
How can we shed
our sense of self,
our sense of importance,
our sense of identity?
How can we become like Christ?
Empty enough
to don humility
and to take on
the character of God.
What would it mean
to be obedient
to the point of death,
the death of self.
The death
of human desire
to be loved
and recognised.
Death that allows
for service.
Dead to self
and open fully to God.
Journeying with Christ
in hope 
that the nature of Jesus
will rub off
and be born in us.
Bringing the light of love
into every situation - 
Even the cross we bear
Let the same mind be in you that was in Christ Jesus.

Saturday, 12 April 2014

Out of the wilderness

John 11:54-57
Jesus therefore no longer walked about openly among the Jews, but went from there to a town called Ephraim in the region near the wilderness; and he remained there with the disciples.
 Now the Passover of the Jews was near, and many went up from the country to Jerusalem before the Passover to purify themselves. They were looking for Jesus and were asking one another as they stood in the temple, “What do you think? Surely he will not come to the festival, will he?” Now the chief priests and the Pharisees had given orders that anyone who knew where Jesus was should let them know, so that they might arrest him.

Forced into hiding
Lord, why didn't you stay there?
You could have continued your ministry underground
People who needed to would find you
You could simply have slipped off the radar
of those who sought to harm you.
The wilderness is a pretty big place
avoided by many.
Those who venture there
are pretty firm of purpose
Some might say desperate.
You could have remained elusive
for the authorities
who wanted to kill you
while still available
to those who needed you.
But, as ever, your plan
was much bigger 
than we could ever imagine.
And it involved you emerging
from the wilderness,
facing up to the wrath
of religious bigots
whose teachings you thwarted.
It involved you emerging 
from the wilderness
to bring the dazzling light of love
into the open.
Yours wasn't a plan
to be fulfilled quietly.
It needed the cold light of day
A high profile 
A public space
Bringing God's love
out of the wilderness 
and into glorious light.

Friday, 11 April 2014

Even in the darkness

John 10:31-42
The Jews took up stones again to stone him. Jesus replied, “I have shown you many good works from the Father. For which of these are you going to stone me?” The Jews answered, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you, but for blasphemy, because you, though only a human being, are making yourself God.” Jesus answered, “Is it not written in your law, ‘I said, you are gods’? If those to whom the word of God came were called ‘gods’—and the scripture cannot be annulled— can you say that the one whom the Father has sanctified and sent into the world is blaspheming because I said, ‘I am God’s Son’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me. But if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may know and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father.” Then they tried to arrest him again, but he escaped from their hands.
 He went away again across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing earlier, and he remained there. Many came to him, and they were saying, “John performed no sign, but everything that John said about this man was true.” And many believed in him there.

Taking up stones to harm
An answer to a threat perceived
and misunderstood.
Taking up stones to harm
A way out of confronting the truth
that was staring them in the face.
Taking up stones to harm
A reaction that covers the predicament
of feeling way out of our depth.
Even in the darkness
Light may be found
Even in the darkness
Good overcomes evil
Even in the darkness
Hope prevails
And so we continue
to look for signs
of love at work
in the darkness
And seek ways to avoid the instinct
to take up stones.

Thursday, 10 April 2014

Watching and waiting

John 8:48-59
The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?” Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon; but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is one who seeks it and he is the judge. Very truly, I tell you, whoever keeps my word will never see death.” The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died, and so did the prophets; yet you say, ‘Whoever keeps my word will never taste death. ’ Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? The prophets also died. Who do you claim to be?” Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, he of whom you say, ‘He is our God,’ though you do not know him. But I know him; if I would say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you. But I do know him and I keep his word. Your ancestor Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day; he saw it and was glad.” Then the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” Jesus said to them, “Very truly, I tell you, before Abraham was, I am.” So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

The forces gather
Authorities conspire
Time is running out for Jesus
Accused of being possessed
Almost stoned for speaking truth
that folks could not comprehend.
Forced out of the temple
and out of the city
while plots are hatched
to bring about his death.
On a crash course
with saving the world
And nothing will save him now
from the cruel death that awaits him
For the kingdom of which he spoke
was too far outside the realms
of human imagination.
Only realised
by his sacrifice of love.
Even the brief respite
of being hailed as a king
as he enters the city
to celebrate Passover
will not turn the tide
that is set against him.
And so we wait 
and watch
as the story unfolds.
And still we condone
persecution of those who are different
and oppression of those
who speak truth
that we don't want to hear today.
And we wait
and we watch.

Wednesday, 9 April 2014

The request

Matthew 20:20-28
The Request of the Mother of James and John
 Then the mother of the sons of Zebedee came to him with her sons, and kneeling before him, she asked a favor of him. And he said to her, “What do you want?” She said to him, “Declare that these two sons of mine will sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your kingdom.” But Jesus answered, “You do not know what you are asking. Are you able to drink the cup that I am about to drink?” They said to him, “We are able.” He said to them, “You will indeed drink my cup, but to sit at my right hand and at my left, this is not mine to grant, but it is for those for whom it has been prepared by my Father.”
 When the ten heard it, they were angry with the two brothers. But Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones are tyrants over them. It will not be so among you; but whoever wishes to be great among you must be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you must be your slave; just as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many.”

Who would blame a mother
for wanting the best
for her boys?
The mother of James and John
Just trying
to give her sons
a punt up.
But running alongside Jesus
demands more 
than she could ever have imagined.
To enter into the passion of Christ
To suffer as he suffered
To give as he gave.
What mother would wish that
for her son?
What mother could stand
to witness that
for her boy - 
except Mary, the mother of God
who endured the agony
of seeing her son
put to death
on trumped up charges
by authorities
establishing control
afraid of anything
that was different
or unpredictable.
Authorities who,
in the face of selfless love
chose violence
to rid themselves
of one
who threatened order
and stability
by heralding a kingdom
not of this world.
Who would blame a mother
for pushing her sons forward
even though 
she had no idea
what she was asking.
And, when the other disciples
began to jostle
for their positions too,
Jesus gently reminded them:
The kingdom of God is different,
Upside down.
To be great
means serving others.
To be first
means being last of all.
The kingdom of God- 
A kingdom full of surprises.

Tuesday, 8 April 2014

Painting the legacy

Psalms 102:1-3;16-21
Prayer to the Eternal King for Help
A prayer of one afflicted, when faint and pleading before the Lord.
 Hear my prayer, O Lord;
let my cry come to you.
 Do not hide your face from me
in the day of my distress.
Incline your ear to me;
answer me speedily in the day when I call.
 For my days pass away like smoke,
and my bones burn like a furnace.
For the Lord will build up Zion;
he will appear in his glory.
 He will regard the prayer of the destitute,
and will not despise their prayer.
 Let this be recorded for a generation to come,
so that a people yet unborn may praise the Lord:
 that he looked down from his holy height,
from heaven the Lord looked at the earth,
 to hear the groans of the prisoners,
to set free those who were doomed to die;
 so that the name of the Lord may be declared in Zion,
and his praise in Jerusalem.

Recording the works of the Lord
For a generation yet unborn
What a responsibility
Painting God
As the God who listens
The God who hears the groans of creation
And brings release
from all that holds folk captive
Loosing bonds
Defeating death
Dropping clues all around
and building up a picture
so that those still to come
gain a sense
of what has gone before
and know
in whom to trust:
The Eternal King

Monday, 7 April 2014

No condemnation

John 8:1-11
Early in the morning Jesus came again to the temple. All the people came to him and he sat down and began to teach them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery; and making her stand before all of them, they said to him, “Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?” They said this to test him, so that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, “Let anyone among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once again he bent down and wrote on the ground. When they heard it, they went away, one by one, beginning with the elders; and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus straightened up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, sir.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you. Go your way, and from now on do not sin again.”

Writing on the ground
Doodling in the dust
Buying himself some time to think?
Or doing his best to ignore the folk
who were trying to catch him out?
I like to think that Jesus
was just trying to get it right
Working out the best way
to ensure the woman's freedom 
and to make her accusers think.
As he forced them to face
their own failings
they trickled off
into the shadows.
And Jesus was left
alone with the woman 
who expected
that Jesus, too,
would bring condemnation.
Just imagine her surprise,
her bemusement
perhaps her disbelief
as Jesus
sets her free
encouraging her
to "sin no more"
A story
doodled in the dust
then smoothed over 
the traces no longer visible
The charges
no longer standing.
A woman changed forever
by forgiveness.
And where, today
can we kick over the traces
of the past
changing the future
by refusing to condemn
and by practising forgiveness.

Sunday, 6 April 2014

Lazarus - Part 3 - The Community

John 11:41-45
So they took away the stone. And Jesus looked upward and said, “Father, I thank you for having heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I have said this for the sake of the crowd standing here, so that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said this, he cried with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out!” The dead man came out, his hands and feet bound with strips of cloth, and his face wrapped in a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.”
 Many of the Jews therefore, who had come with Mary and had seen what Jesus did, believed in him.

Lazarus released from the tomb
But still bound
by the clutches of death
It was the task of his community
to "Unbind him and let him go"
Without that release
he could not have drawn breath
Without that release
he could not have lived again.
Communities today
still bear responsibility
for giving life
For loosing
For unbinding
For giving permission
For being witnesses
to resurrection
For moving beyond the stench
to reach out
and bring life
And communities
bear the responsibility
of nurturing
and sustaining
the stirrings
of new life
wherever it is found.

Lazarus Part 2 - Martha

John 11:21-27, 38-40
Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that God will give you whatever you ask of him.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Those who believe in me, even though they die, will live, and everyone who lives and believes in me will never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord, I believe that you are the Messiah, the Son of God, the one coming into the world.”
 Then Jesus, again greatly disturbed, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone was lying against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, already there is a stench because he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed, you would see the glory of God?”

Martha - one of the first proclaimers of faith.
Martha - proclaimed Jesus as the Messiah
before she witnessed
the marvellous resurrection
of her brother
Martha - often overlooked
for her great faith
because of her busyness.
Because, as well as a proclaimer of faith
she was a doer of good works.
Martha,trying to be practical
Trying to be faithful
Trying, trying, trying...
to be all things to all people
Mourning her brother
Caring for her sister
Feeding the mourners who came
to be with them
Going to meet Jesus
excusing him for not being there
and for not having returned sooner 
Trying desperately
to make everyone feel better
The reconciler
The excuser
The peace maker
Even,at the last,
giving Jesus a way out:
"Lord, there is a stench"
And learning
so powerfully
that resurrection
involves pain
involves stink
is hard work.
Resurrection- not for the faint hearted!

Lazarus Part 1 - Mary

John 11:17-21,28,29
Jesus the Resurrection and the Life
 When Jesus arrived, he found that Lazarus had already been in the tomb four days. Now Bethany was near Jerusalem, some two miles away, and many of the Jews had come to Martha and Mary to console them about their brother. When Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, while Mary stayed at home. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died...
 When she had said this, she went back and called her sister Mary, and told her privately, “The Teacher is here and is calling for you.” And when she heard it, she got up quickly and went to him.

Mary stayed at home
the better to nurse her wrath
Knowing that as soon as she saw him,
Jesus, the beloved,
she would cave as she always did
She needed solitude
to stoke the fires
of her anger and self pity
She needed to be alone
to add fuel to her resentment.
But she couldn't hold out
once Jesus got there
She couldn't resist the pull
of his charisma
She had to shake off her fury
and go to him - 
To confront him?
To accuse him?
Who knows?
But once he was near
She could not stay away.

Saturday, 5 April 2014

The overlooked

John 7:40-43
Division among the People
 When they heard these words, some in the crowd said, “This is really the prophet.” Others said, “This is the Messiah.” But some asked, “Surely the Messiah does not come from Galilee, does he? Has not the scripture said that the Messiah is descended from David and comes from Bethlehem, the village where David lived?” So there was a division in the crowd because of him.

How often have we overlooked
Christ in our midst
because he was in the wrong place
at the wrong time?
Or did not appear
from the direction we expected
or in the guise for which we were looking?
How often has Christ surprised us
by being unrecognisable
and too close for comfort?
And while we argue
about where The Messiah
can be found
Christ hangs out
with the lonely
and the hurting
the outcast
and the stranger
and gets on with the 
work of God.

Friday, 4 April 2014

When the time is right

John 7:1-9
The Unbelief of Jesus’ Brothers
 After this Jesus went about in Galilee. He did not wish to go about in Judea because the Jews were looking for an opportunity to kill him. Now the Jewish festival of Booths was near. So his brothers said to him, “Leave here and go to Judea so that your disciples also may see the works you are doing; for no one who wants to be widely known acts in secret. If you do these things, show yourself to the world.” (For not even his brothers believed in him.) Jesus said to them, “My time has not yet come, but your time is always here. The world cannot hate you, but it hates me because I testify against it that its works are evil. Go to the festival yourselves. I am not going to this festival, for my time has not yet fully come.” After saying this, he remained in Galilee.

Not yet time
is not simply
putting off the inevitable.
Not yet time
is not
Not yet time
is not
of the evil that lies in wait.
Not yet time
is faithful obedience
to the perfect
timing of God.
until the time
is right.

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Faith enough

Exodus 32:11-14
But Moses implored the Lord his God, and said, “O Lord, why does your wrath burn hot against your people, whom you brought out of the land of Egypt with great power and with a mighty hand? Why should the Egyptians say, ‘It was with evil intent that he brought them out to kill them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth’? Turn from your fierce wrath; change your mind and do not bring disaster on your people. Remember Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, your servants, how you swore to them by your own self, saying to them, ‘I will multiply your descendants like the stars of heaven, and all this land that I have promised I will give to your descendants, and they shall inherit it forever. ’” And the Lord changed his mind about the disaster that he planned to bring on his people.

There are times
when our faith
small as it is
Has to be enough
for others too
Enough for those
who cannot see
beyond the confusion
or the hurt
or the evil
that affects their lives.
The God of compassion
listens to prayer
and honours faith, 
however wavering
gathering those 
who are beloved
of God
upheld by the prayers
of the faithful.

Wednesday, 2 April 2014

Grieving time

Matthew 14:6-14
But when Herod’s birthday came, the daughter of Herodias danced before the company, and she pleased Herod so much that he promised on oath to grant her whatever she might ask. Prompted by her mother, she said, “Give me the head of John the Baptist here on a platter.” The king was grieved, yet out of regard for his oaths and for the guests, he commanded it to be given; he sent and had John beheaded in the prison. The head was brought on a platter and given to the girl, who brought it to her mother. His disciples came and took the body and buried it; then they went and told Jesus.
Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a deserted place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore, he saw a great crowd; and he had compassion for them and cured their sick.

So sought after,
So in demand
That, even when he needed time
to grieve the loss of a friend
the space was denied him.
Even in retreat.
folk sought him out.
found him
and claimed what they needed.
And, far from resentment,
He had compassion.
Even in his grief,
He reached out 
and touched them
with healing
and with love
putting his own needs aside
to minister to others.
And while I recognise 
this selfless care for others
and admire his stamina
it is, I have to say
not a trait
I wish to emulate
however tempting it may seem
in the pressures
of contemporary ministry.

Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Being whole

John 5:1-10
Jesus Heals on the Sabbath
 After this there was a festival of the Jews, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.
 Now in Jerusalem by the Sheep Gate there is a pool, called in Hebrew Beth- zatha, which has five porticoes. In these lay many invalids—blind, lame, and paralyzed. One man was there who had been ill for thirty- eight years. When Jesus saw him lying there and knew that he had been there a long time, he said to him, “Do you want to be made well?” The sick man answered him, “Sir, I have no one to put me into the pool when the water is stirred up; and while I am making my way, someone else steps down ahead of me.” Jesus said to him, “Stand up, take your mat and walk.” At once the man was made well, and he took up his mat and began to walk.
Now that day was a sabbath. So the Jews said to the man who had been cured, “It is the sabbath; it is not lawful for you to carry your mat.”

"Do you want to be made well?"
A question to ponder.
How much dis-ease
do we find it convenient
to hold on to?
Perhaps our weakness
brings status
that we are not yet ready
to let go.
Because we believe
that wholeness
might somehow
diminish us.
We have found refuge
in our vulnerability
and cannot imagine
ourselves apart
from what afflicts us.
And so we continue
to pick over the scabs
that witness to healing,
opening up wounds,
exposing ourselves to hurt
wrapping our sorrow
around us
like a comfort blanket.
Until, along comes Jesus
and asks:
"Do you want to be made well?"

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