Wednesday, 9 October 2019

Rekindling

2 Timothy 1:6-7
For this reason I remind you to rekindle the gift of God that is within you through the laying on of my hands; for God did not give us a spirit of cowardice, but rather a spirit of power and of love and of self-discipline 


Rekindling gifts
buried by put downs
or smothered by condescension
Reclaiming power
diminished by fear
and by the tiredness
of the ever pressing need
to be seen.
Cowardice is the easier option
Undemanding
Compliant
Submissive
Yet, God of love
and power
and self discipline 
you call us
to the way of courage
and compassion
A way that demands
that we move out of the shadows
escaping the confines
in which others might prefer we stay
You call us to embrace the spark
to fan into flame
to unleash
all that you made us to be 
Created in your divine image
with the breath of your Spirit
coursing through our marrow
Your summons 
is a call to witness 
to the power of one
whom death could not defeat
whose light
and love
will not be diminished 
You compel us to re-imagine
your creative spirit
at work in us
and in the world
You enable us to be
Co-creators with you
May the fire of your Spirit flow through 
all that you task us to do this day 
rekindling your gifts in us
for the good of all creation.

Tuesday, 8 October 2019

Too deep for words


Romans 8:26
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.

Fears, hopes, dreams
All jumbled up
in a tangled mess
I want to separate
and compartmentalise
make things neat
and presentable
instead of the bourach it is
I want to focus
on one thing at a time
and then move onto the next
But you, God
know me better than I know myself
You keep me grounded
reliant on your transformative love
You counter my
“I’ve got this”
with your “Really?”
You make me laugh out loud
at the absurdity
And, when I catch myself,
you remind me gently 
that your love
is unconditional.
And, on those days
when I don’t even know how to pray
Your Spirit intercedes
with sighs too deep for words
And that is enough
More than enough

Sunday, 6 October 2019

Communion on the beach

Luke 5:15-16
But now more than ever the word about Jesus spread abroad; many crowds would gather to hear him and to be cured of their diseases. But he would withdraw to deserted places and pray.


The beach after dark
may be even more wondrous
than in daylight
The roar of the breakers
speaks of power
The noise of the shingle
being dragged by the tide
speaks of tenacity
The smell of salt and seaweed
speaks of healing freshness
And the flash of lighthouses
along the coast
speaks of safety and home
And I like to think of you, O Christ
inhaling the scents
and savouring the sounds of the beach
as you sought to escape and recharge
Just as I know you
walking with me
in the dark
dodging the incoming tide
stepping over jellyfish
slipping on patches of seaweed
breathing in
the energy of love and healing
found in communion
with the divine
Creator
Redeemer
Sustainer
God.

Friday, 4 October 2019

Signs of the kingdom


A reflection on time spent with colleagues, sharing, resourcing and equipping one another, holding out hope for renewal as we respond to the invitation to be involved in the mission of God.

Luke 17:20-21
The Coming of the Kingdom
Once Jesus was asked by the Pharisees when the kingdom of God was coming, and he answered, “The kingdom of God is not coming with things that can be observed; nor will they say, ‘Look, here it is!’ or ‘There it is!’ For, in fact, the kingdom of God is among you.”


We gathered around a table
and told our stories
of change and challenge
of blessing and breakthrough
we shared our hopes and dreams
and our hurts and disappointments
We gave thanks for companions on the road
and mourned those who had dropped out along the way
And as we dredged below the surface
and reached depths that we seldom visit
we offered our brokenness
with trepidation
fearing how it would be received
But what we encountered
was support
and what we discovered 
was community
Community forged around
one who was broken for us
one who poured himself out for us
We experienced 
the kingdom among us
celebrated in fresh bread
and good wine
Communion
that will nurture and sustain
as we go back
to all the places we’re called to serve
taking our brokenness
and the possibility of redemption
Our brokenness held
in the brokenness of the One
who holds and shares
and assures us
that the kingdom is here.




Wednesday, 2 October 2019

You anoint my head with oil

Reflecting on another part of Ps 23 from Dallas Willard’s paraphrase - You anoint my head with oil is paraphrased as:

You give me hot showers
and warm fluffy towels
joyful experiences
and deep relationships
to make me feel clean, special and powerful


Your anointing, O Lord
does not compare 
with that time we knelt at the altar
and had oil dabbed on our foreheads
Or even the time
when we passed around the nard
carefully rubbing it
on one another’s palm
Your anointing
is full on
extravagant
luxurious 
It takes us to a depth
almost unimaginable
A soul connection
that transcends boundaries
in which there is no holding back
 - but quite simply 
unmitigated love
Our Spirit leaps within us
in response
Knowing ourselves
held in your esteem
how can we ever play small
or eschew our power
or turn away
from the joy
and the depth
that you freely give?
May we be open to receiving
the more that you give
when you anoint our head with oil.


Sunday, 29 September 2019

There’s a woman in the pulpit


Mark 14:9
Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her.”


“Do you have a desire to preach?” The question posed by 11  men seated around a manse lounge as they explored with me my sense of vocation to full time ministry in the church. “Do you have a desire to preach?”
My voice left me that night - both literally and metaphorically. I was unable to answer affirmatively the one question that mattered to them. 
This was not the first time and, sadly, would not be the last time I was silenced by men.
Now, some 30 years on, despite going forward for selection without their blessing, I dare to call myself a preacher! A preacher in a great long line of women who preach. Women who take the Word, give it flesh, embody and share it wherever life takes them. Be it in Zumba class or belly dancing, in the supermarket or nursery. In the pub or coffee shop, school or shipyard. Sometimes, even, in the pulpit. Occasionally with words, more often in action.
Standing on the shoulders of a great line of mouthy women, women like:
Sarah
Hagar
Shiphrah
Puah
Hulda 
Deborah
Vashti
Esther
Ruth
Mary
Martha
Photene
Phoebe
Dorcas
Julie
Kathryn
Amy
Rachel
Sally-Lodge


... And countless others who have persisted in finding their voice and enabling others to do so too so that, history becomes herstory as the word is spoken and lived out wherever it needs to be seen and heard (Everywhere!)  
I give thanks for those women who discovered their desire to preach, not as defined by men, but as a response to the action of God in all of life and I take my place in that company, beloved of God today. 

Saturday, 28 September 2019

The Lord restores my soul

 

He heals and reintegrates my broken depths in his eternal life

Reflecting today on Dallas Willard’s paraphrase of “He restores my soul” from Psalm 23. (Life Without Lack; Thomas Nelson 2019)



He heals and reintegrates my broken depths in his eternal life

There are days when it feels
as though I am fragmented
So many pieces of myself
being given
in so many directions 
And not all who demand
are careful with the pieces offered
or appreciative of the gift received
Yet to withhold
would diminish me
And, after a while
I am left
to gather up the discarded shards
and try to fit them together
to make a whole
But as I sit there
with my complex jigsaw puzzle
I become aware
of God
at my shoulder
Isn’t that always the way
when we’re trying to complete a jigsaw
that someone will appear
to help or advise
But God just stands beside me
not interfering
or directing
just patiently 
and companionably waiting
until I’m satisfied
that all the pieces are slotted 
back into place
albeit that some are now
a bit tarnished
a bit rough round the edges
God waits
And I feel God’s hand in mine
as I smooth my hands over
the incomplete picture
and as I poke my fingers
where pieces are missing
And God does not join me
in a frantic search
to recover the missing pieces
or to fill in the gaps 
God continues to sit with me
gazing in love
at a less than pristine picture
that shows all the signs
of wounds 
and scars
gaping holes
toned down hues
that once were vibrant
and even some still shiny fragments
and in God’s loving gaze
I am reminded
I am loved
just the way I am
and in God’s eyes
all of those pieces
speak of a journey
into wholeness
accompanied by the rhythm
of the beating heart of God
And when I sit back
and listen
I hear God whisper
and know
I am enough 

(Liz Crumlish 2019)

Wednesday, 25 September 2019

All day long

Psalms 25:4-5
Make me to know your ways, O Lord;
teach me your paths.
Lead me in your truth, and teach me,
for you are the God of my salvation;
for you I wait all day long.

Lord, I long to know your ways
to be so attuned to your heartbeat
so caught up in your rhythm
that I can sense
your perfect timing
and move
with your pulse.
Let me be content
to stay close
to nestle in
to be still
but always alert
to the slightest breath of change
that signals
that the time has come
to follow your lead
into pastures new.
And, still tucked into your side
embracing all that you have taught me this far
may I follow your love
that dwells deep within me
a secret love
that has been growing
in volume
and in passion
a beguiling love
that can no longer be denied
but must be embraced
with all that I have 
when you signal
that the time is right.
May I know the joy of surrender
the wonder of abandonment
that comes
from hearing your call
and following your lead 
wholeheartedly
with no reserve
assured
that courage
and compassion
are the graces that you share
for a new season
and a new dance
held still in your caress.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Tagging along


Luke 8:1-3
Some Women Accompany Jesus
Soon afterwards he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. The twelve were with him, as well as some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities: Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out, and Joanna, the wife of Herod’s steward Chuza, and Susanna, and many others, who provided for them out of their resources.

I wonder what those women brought to the party
- apart from funding
How did they influence the shenanigans
of men on tour?
Did they bring a level of propriety?
Or did they incite profanity?
Did they use their hard earned resilience
to give as good as they got?
Did they counter the men’s competitive banter
with talk of scars
and stretch marks
and menstrual cycles?
Did they soften the hard edges
of impulsive idealism
with the love and compassion
of mothers 
who know what it is
to struggle and fight 
to birth new life
Did their witness
mingle with Jesus’ teaching
to ameliorate the harshness of  life
and bring a glimmer of hope
that change was possible
not just for men who moved in the right circles
but for all regardless of status.
I like to imagine
that the women changed the conversation
and opened up new possibilities
of life in abundance.

Thursday, 19 September 2019

Another Threshold?




Revisiting a couple of posts from 5 years ago - when there was the opportunity for change. Wondering if, in the light of Brexit division, we can ever recapture that sense of hope and possibility?

On the Sunday before the Referendum for Scottish Independance:

Genesis 12:1-3
The Call of Abram
​ Now the Lord said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”

Reflecting on the Call of Abram and the covenant God makes with him.
Abram was a man who didn't have any answers as to what the future held but you would never have known that from his actions. He caught the scent of a promise of a better future and stepped out boldly. His actions shaped history for a whole people.
If Scotland elects to leave the UK next Thursday in the Referendum, perhaps, in our quest for a better Nation, we are not abandoning our neighbours in the rest of the UK to the ravages of unjust policies and ineffective politicians or to further decline and a widening gap between the rich and the poor (as have been just some of the accusations made),perhaps we are not abandoning our neighbours.
Perhaps we are leading them, by our example, into the conviction that there is another way, that we can make a difference, that things can be other than they are at present and that our communities, our Nation and our world can be a better place, where all are valued for who they are, where all are afforded opportunity, where wealth and resources are shared, even if that costs some of us a bit more.
What if our calling is not to fear the unknown (and, at this stage, an independent Scotland is very much an unknown) but, believing in a better future for all God's people, to lead the way to make that future a reality? To model a future that others will want to follow and, by our example, will be inspired to pursue?
That old Scots saying "Better the devil you know" serves to keep us sticking with less than we might encounter simply because we fear the unknown. Conventional wisdom urges us not to become foreigners, not to give up all that to which  we can already lay claim.
Abram modelled a response to God's call that took him from certainty to uncertainty, from a familiar landscape to unknown territory,from tentative options to bold faith. What if this is our time to do the same?

And, on the day after the Referendum: 

As the sun rose on the day after the Referendum
I made my way to the beach.
Not all the results had been declared
But it was clear that dreams of an Independent Scotland
were not to be realised 
My heart was heavy
My spirit subdued.
But as I trudged along the sand
the stillness of an unseasonably warm autumn morning
bathed my soul
as surely as the ebbing tide
bathed the shore.
The sense of the Creator's presence all around-
In the sun creeping over the horizon
In the waves gently lapping the sand
In the quiet and the calm
reminded me
that grief too is a part of life
and broken dreams
are preceded by the spirit of hope.
Hope that cannot be snuffed out
but that continues to burn.
And when part of the dream dies
or is extinguished
the flicker that is left
must work harder
to illuminate the darkness. 
We are not defeated.
People of all hues
The yes and the no
have glimpsed the promised land
albeit from different perspectives.
It is now that, together,
they can step out in faith
to claim that promise
for themselves
and for generations to come.
Hope has not died
but has been rekindled
in ways we would never have imagined.
The fight is not over
but has only just begun.
All is not lost
and there is everything to gain.
And the tasks of grieving
for those who mourn involves 
acknowledging the dream
that we have lost,
gathering up the passion
that remains,
Moving on with renewed energy
and new friendships
to achieve that promised land
that we envisaged
where all are valued,
and where we share resources
with the poor and the vulnerable.
Together we can fan the flicker
of our wavering hope
into the flame
of love and justice
and peace in our land.
We have it in us
to realise the dream 
The work has only just begun.

(Liz Crumlish 19th September 2014)

Wednesday, 18 September 2019

Reconciling love

Matthew 5:21-24
“You have heard that it was said to those of ancient times, ‘You shall not murder’; and ‘whoever murders shall be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that if you are angry with a brother or sister, you will be liable to judgment; and if you insult a brother or sister, you will be liable to the council; and if you say, ‘You fool,’ you will be liable to the hell of fire. So when you are offering your gift at the altar, if you remember that your brother or sister has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother or sister, and then come and offer your gift.


Lord, when I am tempted
to consider my virtues
rather than my vices
When I can readily take stock
of the good that  I do
conveniently overlooking
all the opportunities I miss
Remind me of your call
to reconcile
to restore
to repair
And break down
my walls of complacency
and my tendency to spin favourably
the difference I make
while completely forgetting
the harsh judgments I pronounce
in an instant
- the ways I consign others
to categories that confine
that leave no room for growth
or for change
and especially not
for redemption
Bring me back to you
so that, with the assurance 
of your encircling love
I may find compassion
for self and others
With the knowledge of your acceptance
may I expand my horizons
until the lines that I draw
are obliterated
by the incoming tide
of your grace
And, as I meet you at the altar
and feed on your abundance
may that love food
nourish every encounter
inform every decision
and sustain the flourishing
that is your will
for all of creation.

Friday, 13 September 2019

Thresholds, Gateways and Margins

Jeremiah 7:1-7
The word that came to Jeremiah from the Lord: Stand in the gate of the Lord’s house, and proclaim there this word, and say, Hear the word of the Lord, all you people of Judah, you that enter these gates to worship the Lord. Thus says the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel: Amend your ways and your doings, and let me dwell with you in this place. Do not trust in these deceptive words: “This is the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord, the temple of the Lord.”
For if you truly amend your ways and your doings, if you truly act justly one with another, if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, and the widow, or shed innocent blood in this place, and if you do not go after other gods to your own hurt, then I will dwell with you in this place, in the land 
that I gave of old to your ancestors forever and ever.


Prophets
Willing to speak truth to power
Willing to call out injustice
Willing to draw attention
to the plight of those on the margins
whose voices are not heard 
and whose cries go unheeded 
Accomplices of Poets
who describe
and prescribe
a better way
Who put into words 
a vision of inclusion 
A vision in which nothing
is right side up
and where influence is found
in the least and the last
Alongside Dreamers
who remind us
that transformation is possible
for those who believe
who reimagine
a future
that is not yet
but will be.
An unholy Trinity
those three
Prophets, Poets, Dreamers, 
who mark out the thresholds
and stand in gateways
and remind us of the margins
where the rejects and the outcasts
and all whom we exclude
gather together in hope
and in certainty of the knowledge
that God’s favour rests
on those who are overlooked
Prophets, Poets and Dreamers
showing us where and how
the Kingdom of God is
in every place and time.

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

God’s eye view

Matthew 6:22-23
“The eye is the lamp of the body. So, if your eye is healthy, your whole body will be full of light; but if your eye is unhealthy, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!

I imagined I’d made progress
when I could look within
and see wholeness
made up of dark and light
and love all of it
I imagined maturity consisted
of making friends
with the imperfections
even when they choose
on occasion
(or frequently)
to be exhibitionist.
I imagined that,
as I cut myself some slack,
I afforded the same to others
Yet all the while
I was making humility
a badge of honour!
And inviting huge disappointment.
I’m still not very good at it
- but now I know
(though I’ll always be tentative)
there is more.
Going deeper involves
getting down and dirty with God
plumbing depths
that only God
as creator
has fathomed
and invites us to inhabit
(now and again)
to connect fully
with that spark 
of the Divine
that God places in each of us
A spark waiting to be released
into dazzling light
as we become
all that God intended.
And more - 
as we connect 
with that divine spark in others.



Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Prayerful space

 Luke 6:12-13
Now during those days he went out to the mountain to pray; and he spent the night in prayer to God. And when day came, he called his disciples and chose twelve of them, whom he also named apostles.

Giving thanks today
for time spent in prayer
Snatched moments on the morning commute
on the station platform
or the standing room only carriage
Or long walks along the beach
leaning into the wind
and dodging the surf
when the spray infuses our tears.
Or in a space set apart
that beckons any and all
to rest and rage
and listen
and be still.
Giving thanks
for the presence of God
in all of those spaces
and more
and for friends
willing to sit with us
to walk with us
to wrestle alongside us
and to help us live into
the fullness of life
to which God calls.

Monday, 9 September 2019

Body of Christ

Rachel Held Evans, in Searching for Sunday,  describes talking about church as “attempting to explain the most important, complicated, beautiful, and heart-wrenching relationship of my life...without yelling or crying or saying any cuss words.” 

Lord, when we cannot stand it any longer
When we refuse to keep going back for more
More hurt
More rejection
More disappointment
You don’t help us find a way out
You compel us 
to make things different
You challenge us
to be ourselves
Not compliant
Not resigned
But persistent
Because we know 
we are called to be
in relationship
with you
and with each other.
So you keep on 
nudging us back
You keep on
teaching us how to compromise
You keep on
reminding us
that we don’t have all the answers
You keep on
showing us
that you hurt
when we are hurt
that you are diminished
when we withdraw
And you don’t let go.
So help us
to head back into the fray
knowing that just as we are not perfect
neither is your church
But we are called 
to stick it out
as far as we can
as much as we can
Because, alongside us
you share our frustration
For you too were rejected
You too became an outsider
You too were a disappointment
Yet you never stopped loving
You never stopped caring
And you never gave up hope
Lord, give us the strength
to stick with
faith, hope and love.


Thursday, 5 September 2019

Generosity and call

Luke 5:8-11
But when Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, “Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man!” For he and all who were with him were amazed at the catch of fish that they had taken; and so also were James and John, sons of Zebedee, who were partners with Simon. Then Jesus said to Simon, “Do not be afraid; from now on you will be catching people.” When they had brought their boats to shore, they left everything and followed him.

Leaving everything
That’s some commitment
Leaving everything
That’s a step too far
Leaving everything
For what?
A leap into the unknown
where nothing is guaranteed?
- even though there’s no reason to question
the generosity already shown.
Do not be afraid?
I don’t think so!
Not when your call
disrupts and disturbs
and brings to light
all that we lack
 - the depths of our unworthiness
-/the shallowness of our trust
- even transferable skills!
I’ll just sit here in the boat
and listen
I’m no Simon 
I’ll lend you my boat 
I’ll even get my toes wet
but no swimming for me
Yet even as I protest
Even as I make my half hearted response
You are waiting on the beach
as though you have all the time in the world
your arms are open wide
there’s a smile on your face
And I just know
I’m about to get in 
way above my head.
Thanks, Lord.



Sunday, 1 September 2019

Dredging the heart

Psalms 139:23
Search me, O God, and know my heart;
test me and know my thoughts.

God, you alone know my heart
Motivations
Longings
Desires
Hopes I dare not speak
for fear of being ridiculed
or rebuked
or rejected
God, you alone know my heart
What sets me on fire
What extinguishes the spirit
God you alone know my heart
The bit I wear on my sleeve
for others to see
The parts I’m happy to risk being out there
God, you alone know my heart
The deep hidden mystery
so hard to access
shoved so far down
for protection
God, you alone know my heart
Dredge with me its  depths
clearing away the detritus
that prevents me from risk
reassuring me
that whatever emerges
will not take me beyond your love
God, you alone know my heart
Help me to know it myself
so that I can be all that you want me to be
Freed to live abundantly
in the circle of your knowledge
and of your love.

Friday, 30 August 2019

Re-membering

Luke 22:19-20
Then he took a loaf of bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it and gave it to them, saying, “This is my body, which is given for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” And he did the same with the cup after supper, saying, “This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.


Kneeling at the altar
with the bells and smells of liturgy
wafting all around
sidling up close
reaching up to be served
Or standing in a line
that snakes around the sanctuary
like the morning queue at Greggs or Starbucks
Or sitting in rows in pews
designed to induce passivity in their occupants 
with even the subversive elements of communion
diced and spliced and portioned
However we receive
Whatever our preference
Accepting a wafer
and sipping from the proffered cup
Or tearing huge chunks of bread
and glugging deep draughts of wine
Or taking the cube of bread
and thimbleful of grape juice
Nothing can tame
the rush of radical passion
and humility of the feast
that calls our name
and drags us into relationship
with one who
kicks pretence into touch
dispels niceties
and gets down to business
the business of love
and transformation.
Pouring love into every crack and crevice in us
holding and loving our woundedness 
and empowering us
to love and hold others.
That bread, that wafer 
That wine, that grape juice
were given
out of brokenness
ARE GIVEN
for the transforming of the world in love
We hold it in our hands
Taste it on our lips
and are fuelled by its power
in all our living and being.
And still - we are offered more
And still -there is more to give
We have what it takes
Christ gives what we need.
We do this
to remember him
Re-member him

Wednesday, 28 August 2019

Poetry and Parable

Judges 9:8-15

The trees once went out
to anoint a king over themselves.
So they said to the olive tree,
‘Reign over us.’
The olive tree answered them,
‘Shall I stop producing my rich oil
by which gods and mortals are honored,
and go to sway over the trees?’
Then the trees said to the fig tree,
‘You come and reign over us.’
But the fig tree answered them,
‘Shall I stop producing my sweetness
and my delicious fruit,
and go to sway over the trees?’
Then the trees said to the vine,
‘You come and reign over us.’
But the vine said to them,
‘Shall I stop producing my wine
that cheers gods and mortals,
and go to sway over the trees?’
So all the trees said to the bramble,
‘You come and reign over us.’
And the bramble said to the trees,
‘If in good faith you are anointing me king over you,
then come and take refuge in my shade;
but if not, let fire come out of the bramble
and devour the cedars of Lebanon.’

This passage keeps drawing me back to have another look. It demands time. It wants to percolate and penetrate. It is beautiful poetry and an arresting parable, not often found in the Law and Prophets.
A parable shouted from the mountain top by Jotham as a rebuke to his brother Abimilech. A warning to the people who have just crowned Abimilech king, in defiance of God and in spite of the fact that he has just killed all but one of his 70 brothers (all sons of Gideon!) to achieve his monarchic ambition. God’s intention was that the people should live collaboratively, pooling resources, sharing wisdom, without the need for a king. When his father, Gideon, refused to be crowned king, Abimilech saw an opportunity to step up and satisfy the longing of the people to be ruled over by a king. He simply had to dispatch his brothers to clear the way. Abimilech’s ambition met the people’s longing and the combination was lethal. A sinister context for a gutsy parable.
And in the parable, I love the way each of the trees, in turn, is able to name their particular gifts and affirm their vocation - and their willingness to carry on doing what they do well and not be distracted from their task:
The olive tree affirms her task as producing beautiful oil. (The same oil that anoints kings!)
The fig tree is content to carry on producing her sweet fruit.
And the vine knows the value of the wine she produces and the effect it has on those who partake.
All are powerful and resilient, valued by self and others.
But I’m intrigued by the notion of the bramble, thorny, low growing, being the most likely to provide refuge and shade, the best contender to reign. How often does it turn out to be the very thing we overlook or even reject that takes precedence in the divine economy? The effort of getting beyond the prickly bits that might deter is worthwhile. Beyond the thorns there is beauty and welcome.
I’m left questioning, are we already fulfilling our vocation where we are or do we need to brave the thorns to find refuge in unlikely places? Is it either or - or both/and?

Monday, 26 August 2019

Faithful


1 Thessalonians 1:2-5
The Thessalonians’ Faith and Example
We always give thanks to God for all of you and mention you in our prayers, constantly remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. For we know, brothers and sisters beloved by God, that he has chosen you, because our message of the gospel came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction; just as you know what kind of persons we proved to be among you for your sake.

Giving thanks
for those whose example
inspires and informs
the faith of those they touch
Friends
who, in everyday
bring hope
inspire faith
and share love
whose wisdom
enables perspective
instils calm
kindles Peace
and whose example
promotes ambition
to live out of embracing each 
as beloved of God.

Sunday, 25 August 2019

In the midst

Luke 13:10-17
Jesus Heals a Crippled Woman
Now he was teaching in one of the synagogues on the sabbath. And just then there appeared a woman with a spirit that had crippled her for eighteen years. She was bent over and was quite unable to stand up straight. When Jesus saw her, he called her over and said, “Woman, you are set free from your ailment.” When he laid his hands on her, immediately she stood up straight and began praising God. But the leader of the synagogue, indignant because Jesus had cured on the sabbath, kept saying to the crowd, “There are six days on which work ought to be done; come on those days and be cured, and not on the sabbath day.” But the Lord answered him and said, “You hypocrites! Does not each of you on the sabbath untie his ox or his donkey from the manger, and lead it away to give it water? And ought not this woman, a daughter of Abraham whom Satan bound for eighteen long years, be set free from this bondage on the sabbath day?” When he said this, all his opponents were put to shame; and the entire crowd was rejoicing at all the wonderful things that he was doing.

Lord, while we are still arguing the toss
about rights and wrongs
about privilege and entitlement 
about form and decorum
you march in
and make a difference
While we’d rather sit around discussing
who’s in and who’s out 
and what inclusion entails
you extend your arms
to welcome all
While we set up procedures and protocols
and routines and rotas 
in order to serve
you get on
with transforming the muddle
Giving each a name
Welcoming all as family
Seeing and addressing need
despite what rules decree
You rewrite the rules
in favour of those who are unseen
those who are not heard
those who have become
simply part of the landscape
You rewrite the rules
in favour of inclusion
and compassion
and infinite possibility
You rewrite the rules
to include us 
Children of Abraham
Seen and loved by you
Seen and freed
to stand up straight
and embrace
the abundant life
you set before us.
Thanks be to God.

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