Friday, 31 May 2019

The Visit

Luke 1:39-45
Mary Visits Elizabeth
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

Two women
One older
One younger
Sharing the moment
and the miracle of life.
Bearing within them
joy and delight
dread and foreboding 
the heights and depths
of mothering.
And sensing, in their joy and wonder
the portent of grief and despair 
as the child each is carefully nurturing
escapes the confines of the protective womb
and grows to adulthood
released into a world
that is cruel and uncaring
harsh and unfeeling
to be used and abused
by those whose cause needs evil
for its fulfilment.
Two mothers
who stand with all mothers
who witness the wounding of their children
and who bear those wounds
deep in their souls.
Wounds that will never be healed
never be eased
because they strike at the heart
of the essence of love
they cut to the core
of what gives life
they leave a gaping hole
that will never be filled.
Two women
Sharing the joy of the moment
Anticipating the grief that is to come.

Thursday, 30 May 2019

Ascension Day

Acts 1:6-11

The Ascension of Jesus
So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, is this the time when you will restore the kingdom to Israel?” He replied, “It is not for you to know the times or periods that the Father has set by his own authority. 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.”

40 days since Easter
40 days since we applauded Jesus’ sacrifice
then hauled him out of the tomb
and got on with our lives
40 days that Jesus has walked beside us
offering us myriad glimpses 
of his Risen presence
It was the Risen Christ who sat on the bridge
holding out his cup for a coin
and then took our hand
and looked into our eyes 
and said thank you
as we glanced his way
and gave him some change.
It was the Risen Christ
who sat between us
as a colleague unloaded 
and processed
the costliness of her work
and rediscovered her inner wisdom 
and strength
to carry on serving.
It was the Risen Christ 
who dried our tears
and stoked our anger
and determination
as we tramped the beach
imploring, beseeching God
to show us how
to serve authentically
in an institution
that is besieged 
by power struggles
and injustice.
It was the Risen Christ...
It IS the Risen Christ
The Risen, Ascended Christ
who continues to penetrate
our consciousness
in our every day
looking into our eyes
through the eyes of all whom we encounter
reminding us of his teaching
imploring us to love
and willing us
to go and be disciples.

(Liz Crumlish Ascension 2019)

Wednesday, 22 May 2019

The elephant in the room?

As the Church of Scotland meets in General Assembly this week, it is clear that reform is on the cards. And we take pride in our call, as a Presbyterian Church in the reformed tradition to be constantly reforming.
As we seek to be engaged in the mission of God today, however, there seems to be a reluctance for the Church of Scotland as an institution to own mistakes of the past and attitudes in fact that continue to affect its present and future. Just today, the Church of Scotland was commended by the First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, for its ”highly valued” role in the life of the nation. However the Kirk, like many of our institutions, continues to model insidious gender injustice.
In particular I am concerned by the church’s paternalistic attitude and its contribution to a patriarchal culture.
As one who’s role within the Church of Scotland is about changing the culture to better enable engagement with the mission of God in our communities, it is excruciating to be employed within an institution that not only glosses over the past but continues to exert a patriarchal ethos that is so ingrained that many fail to notice it any longer.
I don’t believe there is time to wait until we have put our own house in order before we engage with God’s mission but I long for us to at least attempt to start paying more than lip service to inclusion and to enabling of the role of women fully within the Kirk.

Wednesday, 15 May 2019


Psalms 139:11-14
If I say, “Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night,”
even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.
For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.

Known and loved
This, O God,
This is your promise
That we are known 
and loved
Even in our darkness
you hold out
the promise of light
In a world in which
that which you created
goes unvalued 
where human life itself
rests on the whim
of an Instagram poll,
your will, O God
is for so much more.
Your love knows no limits
Show us how to value life - 
our own
and others’
May we know
and may we share
your love
beyond our wildest imagination
Known and loved

A reflective prayer written after hearing of the death of a Malaysian teenager by suicide after asking her Instagram followers to vote on whether she should live or die.

Thursday, 9 May 2019


Like Zaccheus in the sycamore tree
Like the woman at the well
Like the woman caught in adultery
Like the blind man on the road to Jericho
Like the woman who touched the hem of his garment
Like Levi son of Alphaeus sitting by his booth
Like James and John mending their nets
Like Mary sitting by his feet
And Martha busy being host
Like the women at the cross
Like Mary at the tomb
Like the disciples on the Emmaus Road
Some named
Some unnamed
All seen
Not for their potential
But for their unique created being
Made in the image of God
by the one who sees beyond
by the one who sees and loves
May you know the wonder
of being seen today.

Wednesday, 8 May 2019

Post Conference

The melancholy 
of the empty conference space
When folk have left
and the buzz of voices
raised in debate 
and encouragement
in bewilderment 
and aha moments
is silent for now.
The screen is blank
and the room settles back
into its inanimate state.
When the adrenaline rush has subsided
and the rapidly firing brain cells
striving to ensure
that everything is covered
and that no one
is left behind
slowly begin to rest
and recover..
And there is time to breathe
and gain some equilibrium
for just a moment
before it’s time
to turn around
and do it all again.
This is mostly
Living the dream!

Saturday, 4 May 2019

Come and have breakfast

John 21:12
Jesus said to them, “Come and have breakfast.”

“Come and have breakfast.”
Really, Lord?
You invite me for breakfast?
In the early morning
When I’m not altogether.
When I have serious bed head going on
- not to mention morning breath...
“Come and have breakfast.”
When I’m still coming to
Thinking of all that the day holds
Fearing that I’m not up to the task...
“Come and have breakfast.”
In that fragile hour
between sleeping and waking
You bring intimacy
into my vulnerability
You sit with me
Minister to me
Materially and spiritually
- one and the same for you...
“Come and have breakfast.”
And in that shared moment
You breathe peace
You breathe forgiveness
You breathe identity
Life itself
Calling me
your disciple
Calling me
to feed your sheep.
“Come and have breakfast.”

Wednesday, 1 May 2019

Rejoice in the Lord

Philippians 3:1
Finally, my brothers and sisters, rejoice in the Lord.

The temptation proved too much
Early morning
A deserted play park
- a family of bunnies the only audience
and a zip slide
inviting play.
I grabbed the swing
hauled it up onto the platform
climbed on
whizzed down the hill
and experienced joy.
Joy that comes 
from breaking free 
and from the assurance
of  belovedness
Joy that bubbles up
and cannot be contained.
Joy that overspills
into the day ahead.
Joy that continues
to break forth
at odd moments of the day
in the midst of sacred work.
Joy that leads to thanksgiving
for opportunity
for impulsiveness
and for the freeing
Spirit of God.

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