Friday, 27 February 2009

Lenten Labyrinth

Its always fun installing a Labyrinth in a new setting. I love to have time and space to set it up prayerfully. Its wonderful to be working with a sanctuary large enough to accommodate several things going on at once and the opportunity to experiment. For me, the Labyrinth has become a useful focal point in Lent, affording opportunity to gain some perspective and depth in the journey. And its my hope and prayer this Lent that others will find it useful too.

Wednesday, 25 February 2009

Remember you are dust

Remember you are dust and to dust you shall return. The words we spoke tonight as we chose to wear ashes as a sign of our commitment to our Lenten journey. Not unusual words for Ash Wednesday but uncommon in the Church of Scotland. Sometimes its good to reclaim symbols and allow them to speak powerfully. To see them in a new light and be touched in new ways by God's spirit. 
So begins our contemplation of Jesus' sojourn in the wilderness. Will our Lenten discipline be one of denial or one of discovery ? Perhaps we will manage both. Donning ashes is a good place to start.

Saturday, 21 February 2009

Making dreams realities

Enjoyed taking time out today with office bearers, dreaming dreams and trying to discern where God wants to engage us in mission in our parish. Celebrating communion together to wind up the day was a useful reminder that, though we're in a state of flux right now, still we are rooted in that eternal body and blood of Christ, that sacrament that links the past, present and future, a feast that transcends life itself and reminds us that we are cradled in the embrace of eternal love. It is that soul food that will allow us to make dreams realities and get to the work of kingdom building.

Thursday, 19 February 2009

Is there life?

I love these words from the message translation of Matthew 9:
Then Jesus made a circuit of all the towns and villages. He taught in their meeting places, reported kingdom news and healed their diseased bodies, healed their bruised and hurt lives.
Then follows an account of Jesus calling and commissioning the disciples.
Its a call to mission and discipleship.
How often do we get bogged down, though, in things that straitjacket the kingdom, that stifle the Spirit and squeeze the life out of any enthusiasm there might ever have been? How often is compassion sidelined in the interests of proper procedure? We don't need a load of paraphernalia. The gospel goes on: You don't need a lot of equipment. You are the equipment.
Jesus makes it sound easy. But maybe that's because on one level it is. It's us who put in all the stumbling blocks and barriers to simply being disciples and sharing the good news.
There is life in becoming what we profess to believe.

Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Order, order

Doing some preparatory Lenten reflection. You'll find another offering over on the sermon blog:

Risking Jesus

Order, order, order
We’re big on our order.
Everything carefully arranged,
Each word skilfully chosen
For maximum impact.
No margin for error
This may be the only chance we get
The only encounter possible
So lets make it count.
There’s that old urgency about the gospel
That we need to get a hold of
Its now or never
We don’t want to be responsible for those left behind
In the final paroussia
If they don’t hear that challenge to choose from us
Then who else?
What arrogance
What self importance
If it really was down to us
Heaven would be a pretty empty place
Thankfully, the spirit does not rely on us
Does not leave things to that slim chance
But eddies and swirls, even upsets our carefully planned liturgies
and skilfully crafted sermons
and then, to crown it all,
sometimes even Jesus shows up
and then there’s real chaos
the kind of chaos that embarrasses us
the sort that makes us squirm
Because we don’t leave room for that kind of excitement
That unpredictability
It can’t be controlled
And it can’t be managed
But threatens to overthrow all we’ve worked so hard to protect
Just as easily overturned as were the tables in the temple
And we don’t like it any more than do the merchants
Whose livelihoods were threatened
For we too stand to lose
When Jesus shows up
To show all our strivings for what they are really worth
We too have fenced in that house of prayer
And narrowed down that field
Wherein the Spirit is allowed to operate
And we do not like risk
It’s a four letter word
Sullied and shamed and feared
Risk Jesus? – not us.

Friday, 13 February 2009


Since we moved to Ayr, I have really enjoyed train travel. Just now we're travelling through the most beautiful snow covered landscape, admiring works of art posing as snowmen. The sky is blue, the sun is shining. The wonders of technology also make it possible to share this excitement with others. Trains have always been good places for me to work and I'm often able to write creative reflections while zooming along. So, even though I'm on holiday this weekend, I'm hoping to create some Lent and Holy Week liturgies.  No point in wasting all this inspirational beauty that's all around, crying out to be noticed and appreciated.

Saturday, 7 February 2009

Recreational snow

We have enough snow around to make the landscape very picturesque but not enough to cause problems getting anywhere or doing anything. That makes it quite difficult to understand the plight of  those for whom the snow is causing chaos.
I got to wondering if that's what its like for people outside the church - they can't work out what all the fuss is about?
Read a great quote on Kathryn's blog yesterday:
‘If you want to build a ship, don’t summon people to buy wood, prepare tools, distribute jobs and organise the work: teach people the yearning for the wide, boundless ocean.’
Unless we're able to share some of the excitement of faith and inspire/encourage folk in their yearning for something other, beyond themselves, they'll go on their way shaking their heads in wonder.
Besides, that quote comes from The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint Exupery, one of my favourite books. Maybe that should become a basic textbook for missional theology. Off to find it and, hopefully, discover some other nuggets for mission.

Thursday, 5 February 2009

Ode to a heron

Standing sentinel
a picture of calm
yet ready to pounce
on any unsuspecting fish
reflected beautifully in your surroundings
unaware of the imprint you make
and the impression you leave behind

Elegant and poised
but ready for flight at a moments notice
a moment's clumsiness in the taking off
and then back to your poise
your grace and your majesty

You too have days when you are ruffled
and you show it
hunched up and grumpy looking
back arched against the cold
but you shake yourself out
and preen your feathers
and stand tall
to greet another day

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

The scenic route

I asked for directions today. The publican of whom I enquired said: "There are two ways - through town or the way I would go." I chose his way which took me along the seafront - on a beautiful ,sunny, if cold, day. In fact it was so beautiful that, once I had finished work I headed back to the beach, this time on foot, and caught the sunset.

There is almost always a choice of routes, some which feed the soul and others that get us from A to B. I am grateful today for some soul nourishment.

Monday, 2 February 2009

Left out

Listening to the lunch time news, I learned that the UK was in the grip of snow chaos. Not here in sunny South Ayrshire! Plenty of snowdrops around but, other than a very light dusting before first light, there is no snow. Perhaps I shouldn't speak too soon. But just because there is snow in London doesn't mean that the UK grinds to a halt. We Scots are tougher than that!

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