Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Where is the love?

Christians should be revolutionaries. Our entire faith starts with a change of mind and a change of path to a new direction. We are new creations; old things have passed away and new things have come (2 Cor. 5: 17). The gospel itself is all about transformation—change. We should be the ones bringing a revolution of heart to the world. Instead, we spend our time debating theological stances, moral codes, and political issues.(Neil Cole: One Thing: A Revolution to Change the World with Love)

Recently, at a conference on Re-imagining the Reformation, I felt shallow when asked to define the most important element for reformation in the church today. Most folk made profound theological statements while I said, simply, that reformation arose out of love - when we love folk enough to want to change, beginning with ourselves.
Today, as I listened to a debate on future patterns of ministry in the Church of Scotland, I was again struck by the necessity and vitality of love. Until we love one another we cannot grow together. Love is what will see us through the difficult work of changing patterns and mindsets that are no longer serving God's kingdom
Yes, it calls for radical action.
Yes it calls for a review of education and ministry formation.
Yes it calls for new ways of working together, with God in God's mission.
But if we do not first learn to love one another, we cannot move forward with whatever new ways God reveals.
Often the most wounding encounters in ministry are with colleagues.
If stating the obvious and stripping things down to basics makes me shallow or makes me sound like a hippy, then those are charges I will gladly accept.
We've also heard a lot about getting back to basics and rediscovering ancient paths.
Form Jesus' command to love one another to Paul's pronouncement that the greatest of these is love, we have a gospel imperative and an apostolic encouragement to seek out love - in all things. Even in reshaping church for today.

Wednesday, 11 May 2016

God on the beach

In a wee deserted corner of the beach
nestled among rocks 
that are drying out 
in the setting sun, 
with the tide on its way out
the waves lapping in their comforting rhythm
disturbed only by the cry of gulls
and the sound of clubs hitting golf balls 
on the course just above the beach
I hunker down and wait for God
And God is there -
Already awaiting my invitation 
to sit by me 
and help me unjumble 
the crazy mess of emotions 
jumping around in my head 
and the medal worthy acrobatics 
tugging at my heart
Your kingdom come
Your will be done, O Lord
Just tell me where I fit in,
where I belong
What is your call 
and your gift to me in this moment?
As the sun sinks behind the hills
I wander back the way I came
not with an answer
but with a peace
and renewed affirmation
I am where I need to be right now
and the rest will be revealed
in God's own time.
Your kingdom come
Your will be done, O Lord.

Thursday, 5 May 2016


Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.” (Like 21:12)
It's not often these days that I get to consecrate bread and wine and serve communion to others - so that makes it all the more special (for me) when I do. I celebrated with colleagues this morning.
It was only after the service that I realised that today is the day we celebrate Ascension.
I'm still in Easter - and I want to stay there.
I want to linger with Jesus on the beach in all his post resurrection woundedness and vulnerability.
I want to hear more of his teaching, more of his affirmation. I want to share food with him, physically and spiritually. I want to hear him call me, knowing all my weaknesses. I just want to sit awhile at his feet, hang out, soaking up his wisdom.
But today is a day to step up and to step into the role to which Jesus calls and commissions. To step out, not alone, but in all the companionship he offers, surrounded by the Spirit that he leaves to empower and equip.
Acts 1:8-11
But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” When he had said this, as they were watching, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. While he was going and they were gazing up toward heaven, suddenly two men in white robes stood by them. They said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking up toward heaven? This Jesus, who has been taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”
Ascension is a day to leave the beach behind and walk the road in the wake of Christ, called, equipped, sent.

Monday, 2 May 2016

Tender moments

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.

I've been blessed, recently, with a scattering of "tender moments" that serve to console and affirm.
Moments that somehow mop up the rivers of loss and begin to soak into a new terrain, making the ground seem more familiar, the landscape less scary.
Conversations that demonstrate careful listening from another. 
Encounters in which I've been held in love.
And personal growth and understanding that signal conviction and calling.
Whether virtual or face to face, these moments are life giving, God-filled spaces that provide some solid ground amidst all the floundering.
To be really listened to - and not just in the gap while another prepares to speak is a gift beyond price.
To be held as a confidant and a counsellor when it seems that for so long I have loitered on the fringes feels like a warm embrace.
And to know God using these teaching moments to pour love and understanding, calling forth courage and conviction brings healing and blessing.
For I have set you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.

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