Thursday, 23 April 2015


Being pulled up gently
Like a tender sapling
Disturbing the soil
Shaking it loose
Each tendril
claiming its own space
before being replanted lovingly elsewhere
to bloom and to grow 
knowing the nourishment of good soil
and the nurture
of caring and competent hands.
Being ripped out of the earth
Pulled violently
from a place of deep longing
Broken apart
with no way back
Uprooting comes in many ways
For some an every day occurrence
accepted as a part of existence
For others, a fiercely resisted intrusion
that wreaks havoc
And yet uprooting 
always carries the potential
Of life and growth
however it comes to us. 

Wednesday, 22 April 2015

Relinquishing shepherd hood

Ruth Everhart, teaching on Pilgrimage said: "So much of what we do is about shepherding other people's spiritual experiences." And she asked: "What is it you do to reclaim your spiritual authenticity?"(or something along those lines.)
I began to think, firstly, of some of the physical ways I would attempt to remove myself from being in pastor mode. I have a T shirt I love to wear which bears the question: "Ask me if I care?" That serves to remind me that, at this moment, in this setting I am not the pastor. I am not the one called to be the carer. It is a T shirt for time off.
If physically possible, I head to the beach and can usually find a spot with no other human company. Then it's just me and God. The wind and the waves and the beauty of the scenery conspire to renew my energy and to draw me to something other than my bone crushing weariness. My senses are tantalised. I breathe deeply, deeper than I have for some time and, even though this beach pilgrimage is a fairly regular occurrence, I'm always surprised to discover in it, the presence of God. When I move out of God's way, God materialises, sitting alongside me on the beach, walking next to me at the water's edge, blowing around me, messing my hair and placing the tang of salt on my lips. And in those moments I am reminded that God cares for me too. The God I work hard to reveal to others is revealed to me in those sacred moments. That shift in perspective is surely pilgrimage.

Down the Line

One of our number was delayed yesterday enroute from England to Scotland to participate in a Continuing Education Event by an incident on the Railway Line.
I found it difficult to embark on the Conference until I'd taken some time to reflect on/pray about this:

Sitting on the train
On a journey
Destination determined
Perhaps musing on events before the journey started
Or anticipating what is to come
An announcement is made:
"There's been a fatality on the line."
Inconvenient - to say the least.
Inconvenient for me
delaying my arrival 
Inconvenient for those with whom I am meeting
pushing back the start of a carefully planned programme
Inconvenient for train crews
those on either side of "the blockage"
Inconvenient for those whose task it is to schedule
arrivals and departures
and rolling stock
being in the right place
at the right time.
But much more than inconvenient
for family members
whose loved one has died
and who will never know
why that was the time and place and method chosen.
Much more than inconvenient for a community
saddened and shocked as the news travels through.
Much more than inconvenient for emergency crews
responding to a call
and becoming embroiled in trauma.
Way down the line
the effects roll out 
connections are made
and humanity
knows itself embroiled
in the drama of life
united in fragility
and vulnerability
and in being mortal.

Thursday, 16 April 2015

There's a woman in the pulpit

Every single day, ministry brings incredible challenges and opportunities. It embraces the sublime and the ridiculous. It is a vocation liberally peppered with poignancy, confidences and stories. Many of these stories deserve to be shared. "There's a woman in the pulpit" is a book full of such stories contributed by clergy women who are members of RevGalBlogPals, a supportive network for women serving, seeking or discerning a call to ministry. These are stories laced with sadness and joy, with honesty,,openness and a great deal of humour.
RevGalBlogPals started in 2005 as a handful of women clergy reached out to one another through their blogs offering prayerful and practical support. The community has grown exponentially as word spread and, as well as daily blog posts, the community now also supports a Facebook Group of almost 3000 members, where posts are moderated to ensure that a safe and supportive space is maintained, along with Twitter and Tumblr accounts. Honesty,humility and humour underpin much of the work undertaken as RevGals and pals support each other through life and ministry. Rev Martha Spong is the Director of RevGals and editor of the book. RevGalBlogPals demonstrates how virtual community can be real. There's a Woman in the Pulpit is testimony to that.

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Risen indeed!

Matthew 28:5-8
But 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. Come, see the place where he lay. Then go quickly and tell his disciples, ‘He has been raised from the dead, and indeed he is going ahead of you to Galilee; there you will see him.’ This is my message for you.” So they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy, and ran to tell his disciples.

The sanctuary is prepared
to greet another Easter dawn
The white cloths
The flowers 
All is quiet
Just waiting on the congregation to arrive
And the service to get underway
So that we can proclaim
Christ is risen
He is risen indeed!
Those who utter those words of life
utter them with varying levels of conviction
with varying levels of need.
For some, there is no hesitation
Words spoken with joy 
For others, they are spoken through gritted teeth
The grit of hope 
The hope that God enters
all the tombs that feature in our lives
However we greet this Easter dawn
in sorrow or in triumph
the Risen Christ meets us
and goes ahead of us
fulfilling our hopes
fulfilling our need
Affirming time after time
that love is stronger than death
And in every darkness
God walks beside us
breathing life.
Christ is risen
He is risen indeed.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

Laid in the tomb

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.

Laid in the tomb
The hopes and dreams of a nation
Laid in the tomb
That bitter taste of disappointment
Laid in the tomb
The stories, the promises, now meaningless words
All replaced with a grief filled silence
And in that silence
rudderless folk
who had desperately wished
for a different outcome
scattered to lick their wounds
not even far enough along to wonder
What next?
They sat with their grief 
and bitterness and disappointment
in silence
as all that they loved
was laid in the tomb.

Friday, 3 April 2015

In the shadows

Matthew 27:45-46
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?”

The shadows lengthen
And in them crouches Judas, the betrayer
And Peter the denier
And Thomas the doubter
And Mary the anointer
And Simon the cross bearer
And Pilate washing his hands 
And Barabbas, a freed man
And the soldiers casting lots
And the women quietly crying
And Joseph, preparing the tomb
All with bit parts in the unfolding drama
Of the death of Jesus
And the breaking of the heart of God

Thursday, 2 April 2015

With friends...

Matthew 26:31
Peter’s Denial Foretold
Then Jesus said to them, “You will all become deserters because of me this night; for it is written,
‘I will strike the shepherd,
and the sheep of the flock will be scattered.’

Celebrating the Passover with friends
Taking time out in an upper room
Caring for their tired and weary bodies
with water, wine and bread.
Then, stories shared and hunger sated,
going into the garden in the cool of the night to pray.
Going into the garden 
where betrayal and arrest awaited him.
And one by one, the friends disappeared
slinking into the night
watching form a distance
feeling the hurt and betrayal
but powerless to change it.
And the Son of God
who removed his robe to serve his friends
was left exposed and abandoned
on the night before his death
as the light burned dimly
just before dawn.

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Who is this?

Matthew 21:10
When he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was in turmoil, asking, “Who is this?”
Riding a donkey into the city
Clearing the temple
Cursing the fig tree
Dining with friends
Telling stories 
Being anointed with precious ointment
Trying to keep a low profile
Constantly glancing over his shoulder 
To see if his time had come
Lengthening shadows
And gathering clouds
Time's running out
And the question remains:
Who is this?

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