Wednesday, 29 March 2017

A work in progress

1 Peter 1:24 - 2:3
For
“All flesh is like grass
and all its glory like the flower of grass.
The grass withers,
and the flower falls,
but the word of the Lord endures forever.”
That word is the good news that was announced to you.
The Living Stone and a Chosen People
Chapter 2
Rid yourselves, therefore, of all malice, and all guile, insincerity, envy, and all slander. Like newborn infants, long for the pure, spiritual milk, so that by it you may grow into salvation— if indeed you have tasted that the Lord is good.

Rid yourselves...
Old habits die hard
Salvation is for growing into
It's not instantaneous
We don't suddenly become saints
Growing into the gifts of God
and throwing off old ways
takes time
and practice
and a thirst
for pure, spiritual milk,
the food that will nourish
and sustain
our walk with God
into marvellous light
embracing the word of Gof
that lasts forever.

Tuesday, 28 March 2017

Do you want to be well?

John 5:2-6
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?”

Not one to make assumptions
Jesus asks: Do you want to be made well?
While others might think
that question out of place
or hypothetical
or just daft,
Jesus knows only too well
the complexity of human nature.
Not everything is obvious.
And folk make all sorts of choices
that aren't easily understood.
But Jesus respects choice.
Never one to impose
his notion of what is right and proper
Jesus asks the difficult question:
Do you want to be made well?
Do you?

Monday, 27 March 2017

A vision

Isaiah 65:19-21
I will rejoice in Jerusalem,
and delight in my people;
no more shall the sound of weeping be heard in it,
or the cry of distress.
No more shall there be in it
an infant that lives but a few days,
or an old person who does not live out a lifetime;
for one who dies at a hundred years will be considered a youth,
and one who falls short of a hundred will be considered accursed.
They shall build houses and inhabit them;
they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.

A vision of healing and wholeness
beyond the war and carnage.
Of peace and planting
beyond the destruction.
Of fruitfulness
beyond the rubble.
A vision of life.
But how can we glimpse God's promise
through the dust of destruction?
How can we imagine God's future
in the burnt out ruins of a city?
How can we envisage longevity
when the lives of children seem so cheap?
How can we glimpse hope
in the midst of desolation?
Gods promise is for a world 
we cannot imagine
in a time we cannot tell.
Our hope is in a God
who delivers on promises.

Sunday, 26 March 2017

What do you say?

John 9:16-17
Some of the Pharisees said, “This man is not from God, for he does not observe the sabbath.” But others said, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” And they were divided. So they said again to the blind man, “What do you say about him? It was your eyes he opened.” He said, “He is a prophet.”

Rumours
Gossip
Condemnation
Conjecture
Deemed a sabbath breaker
A sinner
But to the man who found sight
- a prophet
We, too, if we are of a mind
can see beyond
the testimony of others
can see beyond the rule breaker
and experience the healing of God
who created sabbath rest
and reveals to us
the things before our eyes
in a new light every day.

Saturday, 25 March 2017

Let it be...

Luke 1:38
Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Let it be...
Let me do your will
Even though that means
I'll be cast out
Ostracised
Gossiped about
Even though
some will hate and revile me
and others will shake their heads 
and feel sorry for me
Let it be...
For I am God's servant
And one day
when mothers need a song of protest
they will take up my song
One day
when women need strength
to break out of their oppression
they will take courage
from my story
Let it be...
For there is strength in weakness
and courage in obedience
and joy in surrender
Let it be

Friday, 24 March 2017

Transitional Growing Pains


Minister without charge

In June 2015, I felt called to pursue a new role in the Church of Scotland - that of Coordinator of a Pilot Project from the Panel on Review and Reform - Path of Renewal.
I saw, in the description of the Pilot, an opportunity to mentor other ministers and congregations in discerning opportunities and making room for mission in their parishes and communities- something I longed to do where I was then but simply didn't have the capacity to prioritise in a parish of 11,000 with 5 school chaplaincies and 90 funerals a year, where promised, presbytery planned, ministerial assistance didn't ever materialise in my 7 years in the charge.
Path of Renewal offers not another programme for Renewal but participation in a movement, creating space to discern and act on the leading of the Spirit to places in our communities where God is already at work.
Confirmation of the call came when I was offered the post, after interview and, a few hours later, as I conducted one of the local Primary School's end of term service, I knew that, by the time staff and pupils returned after the summer holiday, I would no longer be their school chaplain.
And so began a journey, through demission, into the strange territory of a minister without charge.
Reactions from colleagues were many and varied but mostly, disbelief that I would demit my charge and leave parish ministry.
Reactions from the congregation were mainly expressions of hurt or declarations that they "knew I was destined for higher things" and no reassurance on my part seemed to convince folk that ministering with them was one of those "higher things" but that God had now called me elsewhere.
Demission involves leaving church, leaving home, leaving community - all, on their own, painful experiences.
Although we found a new place to worship, a place of welcome and nurture, it was a full six months before I could manage through the service without tears.
I simply missed the community of which I'd been a part and grieved that loss.
And, after six months grieving, I realised that I was also grieving a loss of status.
Who was I if I was no longer a parish minister? (Ironically, I had been ordained into Hospital Chaplaincy some 20 years before.)
15 years a Parish minister had subsumed my identity.
And then, at Easter, change began.
Archbishop Justin Welby, speaking into the revelations about his paternity, asserted: " My identity does not come from genetics. My identity is in Christ"
Hearing this was a turning point for me.
Post Easter, with these words speaking powerfully into my life, and pondering the post resurrection Jesus feeding his disciples on the beach, I began to emerge from grief to reconsider my identity in Christ.
It ceased to rankle quite as much when consigned to the bottom of a sign in sheet in Presbytery as a minister without charge - or when colleagues were dismissive of me as "a 121 person now". (Staffing the Institutional body)
Although, thankfully, I loved the new tasks in which I'd been involved, the training, the teaching, the mentoring, the travelling, I now felt able to embrace those in the new security of my status as a beloved child of God.
I thank God for conferring that status and for calling me to fulfil a new role in kingdom building.
But, as I moved out of parish ministry, I had no idea how long it would take to get the parish out of me - or how painful that journey would be. I have much more empathy with the Israelites in the wilderness!
Numbers 11:4-6
The rabble among them had a strong craving; and the Israelites also wept again, and said, “If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we used to eat in Egypt for nothing, the cucumbers, the melons, the leeks, the onions, and the garlic; but now our strength is dried up, and there is nothing at all but this manna to look at.”
 One thing is for sure - Demission is not for wimps!
   

Priorities

Mark 12:28-31
The First Commandment
One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The first
and the greatest
but also the most difficult
Love
with all your heart
with all your soul 
with all your mind
with all your strength
And 
Love your neighbour 
Heart, soul, mind and strength
consume us.
This command leaves no room
for omission
but demands
wholesale embrace.
For nothing less
will do.
The first
the greatest
demands all.

Thursday, 23 March 2017

Free?

John 8:31-32
Then Jesus said to the Jews who had believed in him, “If you continue in my word, you are truly my disciples; and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.”

Simple words...
Simple message...
But a concept that sends folk off
into an unending spiral
of conflict
and doubt
and worry
and concern
and question
and debate...
Words that are used
for inclusion
and exclusion
for acceptance 
and rejection
So much for... and the truth will make you free.”

Wednesday, 22 March 2017

Pass it on...

Deuteronomy 4:9
But take care and watch yourselves closely, so as neither to forget the things that your eyes have seen nor to let them slip from your mind all the days of your life; make them known to your children and your children’s children

The things we have seen
The truths we have heard
The difference we have known
are all for sharing
for giving away
for making known
for bearing witness
to the amazing love
and boundless grace
of God
Faithful
for all generations.
We are tasked
with passing it on.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Cold comfort

Jeremiah 12:5-6
God Replies to Jeremiah
If you have raced with foot-runners and they have wearied you,
how will you compete with horses?
And if in a safe land you fall down,
how will you fare in the thickets of the Jordan?
For even your kinsfolk and your own family,
even they have dealt treacherously with you;
they are in full cry after you;
do not believe them,
though they speak friendly words to you.

Sometimes
in our meandering through life
we need to hear
the voice of those
who do not agree with us
who will not readily encourage
or go along with
our wallowing 
or self pity.
Those who challenge
and incite us to do better
to "up our game"
those who provoke us
into becoming
better versions of ourselves
more courageous
more daring
the people we need to be
fuelled by the wisdom
of critical friends
and a God who demands
that, occasionally,
we bring our best selves
into the fray.

Monday, 20 March 2017

One of us


Matthew 13:54-58
The Rejection of Jesus at Nazareth
He came to his hometown and began to teach the people in their synagogue, so that they were astounded and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these deeds of power? Is not this the carpenter’s son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “Prophets are not without honor except in their own country and in their own house.” And he did not do many deeds of power there, because of their unbelief.

Rejected
as one of their own
Written off
because "They kent his faither"
Restricted
Overlooked
Seen as an irritant
An offence
An upstart
Disempowered
by assumptions
and lack of expectation
Not so different today
and all the ways
we manage
intentionally
or unintentionally
to play down
to write off
to dishonour
and disempower
the Son of God
born among us.



Sunday, 19 March 2017

Step by step

Exodus 17:1
From the wilderness of Sin the whole congregation of the Israelites journeyed by stages, as the Lord commanded. They camped at Rephidim, but there was no water for the people to drink.
Journeying by stages
Learning along the way
all the lessons
they did not even know
they needed.
Resisting at every turn
Longing for the safe and the familiar
- even the slavery and oppression
preferable over a changed landscape.
The effort of changing mindsets
of adapting to a new culture
deemed too difficult
too demanding
requiring more energy
than they were prepared to expend.
And so the wilderness stretched on
for generations
until there was the will
to embrace the Unknown
and to follow
the way of God
and God's faithfulness 
for every generation.

Saturday, 18 March 2017

What it takes...


Luke 13:6-9

The Parable of the Barren Fig Tree
Then he told this parable: “A man had a fig tree planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and found none. So he said to the gardener, ‘See here! For three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree, and still I find none. Cut it down! Why should it be wasting the soil?’ He replied, ‘Sir, let it alone for one more year, until I dig around it and put manure on it. If it bears fruit next year, well and good; but if not, you can cut it down.’ ”

A lot of manure
That's what it takes
Hard work 
And a lot of manure 
The willingness to graft
to do what we can
to provide the best possible conditions
to encourage growth and fruitfulness
And then patience and acceptance...
Patience to wait
on forces beyond our control
to play their part
to enhance and bless...
and acceptance of the outcome
whatever it will be
when another judges our effort.
Hard work
and a lot of manure.
That's what it takes.

Friday, 17 March 2017

Under construction

Matthew 21:42-43
Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the scriptures:
‘The stone that the builders rejected
has become the cornerstone;
this was the Lord’s doing,
and it is amazing in our eyes’?
Therefore I tell you, the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people that produces the fruits of the kingdom.

Faith is not ours to keep
not ours by right
or default
or heritage
Faith
that elusive
enigmatic
mysterious
bundle of becoming
is a gift
to embrace for a time
(for it doesn't remain static)
a way to live into
a hope to which to aspire.
a series of teachings
and truths
and beliefs
which gather
unassembled
and which,
just when it seems to make sense
just when it seems to have some coherence
or cohesion
falls apart
and the pieces
don't fit together neatly
ever again
but in their place
is a new set of building blocks
from which to put together
another semblance
another portrayal of belief
with which we can live for a time
until that, too must be given up
as more is revealed 
and as the kingdom of God
emerges
in the lived out
grappling with faith
that defies boundaries
but is evident
in changed lives
In changed communities
and in holding loosely
even giving away
what we imagine is ours
but belongs to God
and returns to God
when we surrender
our constructs
to the will
and purpose
of God.

Thursday, 16 March 2017

Soak up life

Jeremiah 17:7-8
Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when heat comes,
and its leaves shall stay green;
in the year of drought it is not anxious,
and it does not cease to bear fruit.

Soaking up the cool water 
of learning
Of affirmation
Of nourishment
The trickle of energy
that penetrates
that feeds
and sustains
Soaking up the cool water 
that calms
and reassures
that goes deep
and keeps on feeding
Soaking up the blessing
of trust
in one
who continues
to provide
feeding
and nourishment
and sustenance
just when we need it most.
Trust
Blessed.

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Difficult words...difficult way

John 6:60-68
The Words of Eternal Life
When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?” But Jesus, being aware that his disciples were complaining about it, said to them, “Does this offend you? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But among you there are some who do not believe.” For Jesus knew from the first who were the ones that did not believe, and who was the one that would betray him. And he said, “For this reason I have told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted by the Father.”
Because of this many of his disciples turned back and no longer went about with him. So Jesus asked the twelve, “Do you also wish to go away?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the words of eternal life.
Jesus didn't exclude those who didn't believe
He involved them too
giving them opportunity
to keep on hearing the message
to keep on absorbing his example
to keep on being part of his life
Always holding out hope
The way of Jeaus wasn't, isn't easy
There are those who will turn back
Our role
is to keep on offering
those words of life
the hope of eternal life
lived out in the everyday
Spirit and life
for those who believe

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

Together

Psalm 133
The Blessedness of Unity
A Song of Ascents.
How very good and pleasant it is
when kindred live together in unity!
It is like the precious oil on the head,
running down upon the beard,
on the beard of Aaron,
running down over the collar of his robes.
It is like the dew of Hermon,
which falls on the mountains of Zion.
For there the Lord ordained his blessing,
life forevermore.

Abundant
Overflowing
Excessive
Running over
Extravagant
Anointing
Quenching
Restoring
Life giving
Outrageous
The sheer joy
of living together
in harmony with God
and with one another.
Blessing upon blessing.

Monday, 13 March 2017

Be kind

Luke 6:37-38
"Don't pick on people, jump on their failures, criticize their faults—unless, of course, you want the same treatment. Don't condemn those who are down; that hardness can boomerang. Be easy on people; you'll find life a lot easier. Give away your life; you'll find life given back, but not merely given back—given back with bonus and blessing. Giving, not getting, is the way. Generosity begets generosity."

In the spirit of our generous God
we are called to be generous
To see beyond faults and failings
To go easy
To remember how often we get it wrong
and cut others some slack
And our generous God,
seeing our ability to forgive others
forgives us
with abundance
and blessing 
and love.
So hold back on the harshness
and try a little kindness
Today.

Sunday, 12 March 2017

If you choose

Matthew 8:1-3
When Jesus had come down from the mountain, great crowds followed him; and there was a leper who came to him and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, if you choose, you can make me clean.” He stretched out his hand and touched him, saying, “I do choose. Be made clean!” Immediately his leprosy was cleansed.

I do choose!
Be made clean!
The words of one
who always chooses 
life over death
health over sickness
love over fear
The one who chooses
to lift up the downtrodden
to free the captives
to honour the poor
to heal the sick
to restore the dead to life.
The one who chooses us
as companions on the way
disciples, 
charged with walking and talking alongside Jesus
charged with sharing
the good news of Christ
who chooses us.

Saturday, 11 March 2017

Treasured

Deuteronomy 26:18-19
Today the Lord has obtained your agreement: to be his treasured people, as he promised you, and to keep his commandments; for him to set you high above all nations that he has made, in praise and in fame and in honor; and for you to be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he promised.

Praise
Fame 
Honour
Holy
In agreement
to keep the commandments
of our God
A promise
and a commitment
that goes both ways
and makes us
a treasured people
who belong to God.
What a notion -
that the God of all creation
treasures you and I.
To live and love as treasured people
keeping the commands of God,
to lean into that promise
would change our lives
and the life of the world.

Friday, 10 March 2017

What about you?


Luke 9:18-20

Peter’s Declaration about Jesus
Once when Jesus was praying alone, with only the disciples near him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They answered, “John the Baptist; but others, Elijah; and still others, that one of the ancient prophets has arisen.” He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, “The Messiah of God.”

Whatever the crowds say
Whatever history records
Whatever religion teaches
Jesus asks:
What about you
Who do you say I am?
There's no falling back
on what we've heard
No reciting of what others have taught
But a challenge to express
from the depth of our being:
Who is Christ for you?

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Choosing

Jeremiah 6:16
Thus says the Lord:
Stand at the crossroads, and look,
and ask for the ancient paths,
where the good way lies; and walk in it,
and find rest for your souls.
But they said, “We will not walk in it.”

Like toddlers
being directed
and assisted
to make good choices
Choices that will
set a path
for wisdom - 
The people of God reject
the wisdom of the ages
for a moment of defiance
And, turning their back
on all the hard won battles
of their forebears
they refuse to walk
in ways mapped out.
They choose to forsake
the lessons learned at a cost
to forge their own paths
to who knows where
replacing the promised
rest for their souls
with a weary stumbling 
and searching
to chart
a new and untested route.
Such has been the choice
of people in all ages - 
to forsake the ancient
to make their mark
on a brave new world.
And which of us can say
that we, given the choice
would have chosen
any differently
any less recklessly
preferring to find our own way
than trusting the way
of hard fought wisdom?

Wednesday, 8 March 2017

Reluctant

Jonah 3:1-3
The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, “Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.” So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. 

Sometimes it takes a while
for the message to get through.
Sometimes it needs time
to sink in.
To be confirmed.
While there are other times,
when it's not our understanding
that is slow
but, rather, our willingness
to follow through,
to act on what we discern.
There's nothing wrong with our hearing
but our spirit is reluctant.
Sometimes we get a second chance.
But at other times,
the moment is lost forever.
How will we know
unless we listen carefully.
Unless we rein in our restless spirits
and follow the way
our Creator reveals?
How will we know
what might have been?
We trust in the God
of second chances.
But just now and again, 
hearing and responding
first time around
unlocks amazing potential...

Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Forgiveness

Matthew 6:14-15
For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.

Holding on to hurts
and resentments
carves a channel
that erodes our wellbeing
Like a river charting its course
or a stream burrowing its way
through a valley
slowly
persistently
making its mark
leaving a scar
gradually deepening
claiming more and more space
until it becomes
a part of the landscape
nigh impossible to reroute
or diminish
or change course.
Making the work
of forgiveness
all the harder.
And all the while
those from whom 
we withhold forgiveness
retain power over us
and continue to wound
perhaps in blissful ignorance
and almost certainly
without a care.
And our hurt is compunded
and the fire of our resentment
is stoked and banked up
by our inability
our refusal
to forgive.
All the more senseless
when release
is within our power
and healing 
is within our reach.
Forgiveness
a gift for ourselves.

Monday, 6 March 2017

The least of these...

Matthew 25:37-40
Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when was it that we saw you hungry and gave you food, or thirsty and gave you something to drink? And when was it that we saw you a stranger and welcomed you, or naked and gave you clothing? And when was it that we saw you sick or in prison and visited you?’ And the king will answer them, ‘Truly I tell you, just as you did it to one of the least of these who are members of my family, you did it to me.’

Who are the least of these?
In your community,
whom would you consider
the least of these?
The ones we are to feed
and clothe
those who thirst,
those whom we are to see free
from all manner of bondage.
Those who are estranged from loved ones,
and crave our company.
The least of these
live in our community
hang out in our neighbourhoods
populate the places we frequent.
They do not wear convenient labels
so that they can be easily identified.
They do not present themselves
for our ministrations.
Identifying the least of these
means we have to get beyond
the faces we see
elicit the stories
behind the facades,
strike up conversations
and build relationships
with the least of these
in our communities.
And then we can set to work:
Feeding the hungry
Quenching thirst
Welcome the stranger
Clothe the naked
Visit the sick
Free the prisoner
Serve God in the least of these.

Sunday, 5 March 2017

The image of God

Matthew 4:1-2
The Temptation of Jesus
Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterwards he was famished.

Still the tempter comes
on the days when we are hungry
Hungry for rest
Hungry for affirmation
On the days when we've lost sight
of the One in whose image we are created
Still the tempter comes
whispering lies
sowing doubt
stealing joy
obscuring the truth of our identity
as beloved children of God
in whom the divine spark of the Creator
was planted before birth.
Still the tempter comes
to push that truth away
and render us needy
setting us at odds with one another
out of touch with the wonder
that resides in our core
- that we are fearfully and wonderfully made
by the God whose image dwells in us
by the God whose love for us knows no bounds
by the God who invites us to claim our birthright
as beloved - created in the image of God.
Still the tempter comes...

Saturday, 4 March 2017

On his way...

John 4:49-50
The official said to him, “Sir, come down before my little boy dies.” Jesus said to him, “Go; your son will live.” The man believed the word that Jesus spoke to him and started on his way.
Believing 
Believing the word
Believing the word enough
to go on his way
in faith
expecting healing
Trusting
that Jesus would deliver
whatever he said.
How does such faith come?
From seeing?
From hearing?
From hoping?
From recognising
one whose words
are promises.
One whose actions
exceed expectations.
One who invites us to share
and, listening, inspires hope
and offers healing
as we go on our way.

Friday, 3 March 2017

Not for ourselves


John 4:27-30
Just then his disciples came. They were astonished that he was speaking with a woman, but no one said, “What do you want?” or, “Why are you speaking with her?” Then the woman left her water jar and went back to the city. She said to the people, “Come and see a man who told me everything I have ever done! He cannot be the Messiah, can he?” They left the city and were on their way to him.
 Come...see a man..
They came and saw the Messiah
This woman
who came to the well in the noonday heat
to avoid her neighbours
was the same woman
who led her neighbours
to the Messiah.
Transformed 
by her encounter with Jesus
she recognised
that the gift she had been given
was not just for her
but for her community too.
Her transformation
was to transform
the life of her community.
The people
and the encounters
that we are given
are for the life of the world
beginning in us
to transform the world
Come...see a man...
Come...meet the Messiah.

Thursday, 2 March 2017

Pushing boundaries

John 4:5-8
So he came to a Samaritan city called Sychar, near the plot of ground that Jacob had given to his son Joseph. Jacob’s well was there, and Jesus, tired out by his journey, was sitting by the well. It was about noon.
A Samaritan woman came to draw water, and Jesus said to her, “Give me a drink.” 

Jesus the rule breaker
asking a woman
a Samaritan woman
for a drink
Breaking a taboo.
The Samaritan woman
a rule breaker too
going to the well
in the heat of the day
avoiding others
yet encountering Jesus.
For encounter
true encounter
involves venturing beyond
stepping over those boundaries
real or imagined
stepping into
a mutual space in which
meeting begins.

Wednesday, 1 March 2017

What kind of fast?

Isaiah 58:6-7
"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
cancel debts.
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.

Smudging our foreheads with ash
Fasting from whatever normally consumes us
- be it technology, food or drink
Focussing on our intentions
to give thanks
or to de-clutter
or to be more intentional in our living 
may be good reminders
of the season 
or of our intention to make space for God
in our all too busy lives...
But it's not enough 
It's not enough when there are beggars in our High Streets 
It's not enough when those who serve our country (any country)
are homeless 
or unemployed
It's not enough
when we turn our back
on those exiled
forced to flee from their homes
and their lands 
because of war
or persecution
or genocide.
It's not enough
when we'd rather funds arms
or oil
than clean water
or health care
or education.
Unless each grain of ash
symbolises our commitment
to embrace repentance
to seek forgiveness
and to work on restoration
of justice for all...
Unless each smudge 
signals our whole hearted desire
to embrace the other - 
Those in our midst
and those far off
Unless we are prepared
to wear our love
as visibly as the ash
by which we show our privilege
of birth,
Unless we feed the hungry
and clothe the naked
and shelter the homeless
and welcome the stranger
God is not served
and the kingdom is not built 
and our fasting is in vain.
May the ashes we don
be a symbol of intent
followed up by action
that ushers in
the reign of God.


FEEDJIT Live Traffic Feed