Monday, 24 December 2007

A little child shall lead them

We had a really busy family Christmas eve service tonight. Lots of families with very young children, lots of excitement around. I tried hard not to wind them up any more than they already were so that they would go home and go to bed! There were lots of new faces too. One mum told me that her daughter had been at the school end of term service last week and, ever since had been pestering her mum to take her to the Christmas eve service. How wonderful. I'm off to do the midnight service now. I love it too but somehow it doesn't have that air of "anything might happen" that accompanies the early family service. But who knows? Maybe God will surprise us! Have a blessed Christmas.

Sunday, 23 December 2007

Mary, Did you know?

Today we lit the fourth candle on our advent wreath - the pink one in honour of the virgin Mary.
A reading that has spoken to me this advent is called Theotokos - Broken Dreams, by Anne Lawson.
Here is part of it:
Mary, did you say ‘yes’ to God’s angel so quickly?
Did you offer yourself to God so fast?
Was there no feeling of wanting to think?
No sense of anger, injustice even,
that God could take your body and life so easily?
Did you really understand all that was being said?
All that was being asked?
And would I have been so willing?
Sometimes it seems that God asks too much of us and its difficult to get a real perspective without minimising the cost of service. However I don't believe that obedience demands ignoring real feelings. We can own our frustration and acknowledge real loss, even of ideals and, yet with heavy hearts, still go on and say yes to God's big ask.

Friday, 21 December 2007

Blurring the edges

This city street in Dublin actually looks better in its reflection where the wintry sky is also visible. I love the way the clean lines of the buildings become a bit wobbly in the reflected image. Does that happen with people do you think? When we try to mirror others, can we go that bit further, taking good examples and portraying them even better? And blur the sharp edges? Even the colours look better reflected in the water, more vibrant somehow.
What an aspiration - to take something fine and make it even better.

Thursday, 20 December 2007

Whoops a daisy!

Some sanity was restored yesterday as children brought us the Nativity story in Whoops a Daisy Angel . Who could fail to be cheered by their enthusiasm and excitement and by the simplicity of their message. God sent love to our imperfect world. Whatever our plight, that is a reason to find hope and to know that things can be different. Love can still transform our lives and our world.
Thanks to all the children at Glenburn School in Greenock for reminding us so simply of the important things in life.

Monday, 17 December 2007

Life's too short

To get bogged down in minutiae. To be the butt of everyone's complaints and petty point scoring. To be caught up in yet another pathetic power struggle. I've had it. Enough's enough. Life's too short.
If folk can't see outside the box. If they are content with limited visibility and small minded games then perhaps I have to leave them to it.
There is I still believe a parallel universe out there where God is still at work. And where love is being shared, not just talked about as an interesting concept.
How long must I waste my talent, squander God's gifts when these are questioned and twisted and maligned at every turn? Maybe its time to shake the dust off my feet. Not through defeat - oh no. But something much more positive than that - survival.
And then, even as I ask: How long, O Lord, I feel a strange kinship with the psalmists and with the prophets who were called by God to return again and again, going against the grain with their message. A voice crying in the wilderness : Prepare the way. That sense of call still haunts me. I just don't know that I have the stamina to keep on picking myself up, dusting myself down and go on - even in the strength of God.

Saturday, 15 December 2007

Bubbling again

Its not just around these parts that pranksters doctor the fountains with soapy solutions. This one in Dublin had been doctored too. It is right next to a four lane road. When we returned later that evening, at rush hour, the road was jammed with peak time traffic assailed by soap suds flying everywhere.

It doesn't take much soap stuff to make a huge difference. We have numerous opportunities everyday to change the world around us using ingredients that last longer than bubbles. In this season of advent we celebrate light entering our world, a light that could not be extinguished. We can reveal that light and spread love around, making all the difference in the world.

Friday, 14 December 2007

We all need encouragement

Sometimes, encouragement is elusive and has to be sought high and low. Sometimes it comes unbidden, from the unlikeliest source. Today I was offered a gift of encouragement. It took me a while to recognise it for what it was. And, just as the penny dropped, I'm sure I could hear God's deep, rich laughter booming all around - gotcha!
Impeccable timing as always. Cheers!

Wednesday, 12 December 2007

Bunking off

I'm sure bunking off at this time of the year is a cardinal sin, but, yesterday, we took off for a day in Dublin. And somehow today, back at work, everything feels much better, less stressful, less frantic.
In Dublin's fair city
Where girls are so pretty
It was really weird to be in a country where folk, ostensibly, speak the same language and yet not understand a word they were saying. Ordering food and drink was hilarious but we managed.
Today, I spent some time reflecting on the language of love, coming to a partial recognition that, in this community, folk express love using a language that's different from the one I am familiar with. Does that make it any less valid? I think not but I need to listen more carefully to the different dialects and not expect everyone to speak my language.

Sunday, 9 December 2007

Sleeping Warrior

A famous landmark around these parts is the sleeping warrior, a range of hills just discernible in the clouds in this pic.
I've been doing a lot of processing recently. It feels good to be able to snatch a few moments to ponder the meaning of life and the like.
Years ago, training in counselling, my supervisor suggested that I had a real strength within that I was either unaware of or in denial of. This past wee while I've become very conscious of that steely core and I've needed every ounce of it. A sleeping warrior, lying dormant within, surfacing when most needed. Its a quality I want to befriend and, though that won't please everyone, its a quality I need to survive.
Will people still love me if I release this sleeping warrior? Does it matter?

Tuesday, 4 December 2007

Advent hope

On a rare night off tonight, we looked out our Nativity scene. These are pieces we have built up as time and finance allowed, so its special to assemble them each year.
So far, this advent there has been a little space for contemplation, for lighting candles, breathing in the Christmas scents and reflecting on the incarnation.
I'm really being captivated by the sense of hope and expectation of Christ's coming into the world, trying hard to capture something of that hope and let it permeate our situation here.
It might just be working.

Monday, 3 December 2007

Sunday, 2 December 2007

Fiddling around

I stopped fiddling yesterday for a brief affair with classical Christmas music and had a ball playing with the New Scottish Orchestra in Glasgow. Killing time before the performance, however, found a few of us in a bar on Maryhill Road. I honestly don't know if I've ever been in a real Glasgow, once City of culture, bar, though I would think that the Blythswood Cottage where I regularly retired on Fridays with my Divinity student colleagues must have come pretty close.

The patter was brilliant, if loud. I had two firm offers of a "lumber" OK, they did have white sticks - but nonetheless - a most entertaining experience. Would it have made any difference to these guys to know they were propositioning a Vicar of Dibley wannabe? I think not. Weegies are very indiscriminate. Unique and priceless.

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